top of page

3 Things You Must Know About Paying for College

Welcome to the New Year and to Royal College Consulting’s new blog!

Each week I will share solutions to the issues surrounding preparing for, applying to, and paying for college. My goal is to provide you with up-to-date, expert knowledge that will alleviate some of student’s and parent’s stress when it comes to applying to college.

The number one issue my families worry about most is how expensive college is – can we pay for it even if my child is accepted?

Here are three things you need to do before any college applications are submitted:

1.Always Use the Net Price Calculator

Net price calculators (NPC) are available on a college’s or university’s website and allow prospective students and their parents to enter academic and financial information to find out what students like them paid to attend the institution in the previous year, after taking grants and scholarship aid into account. Scholarships and grants are forms of financial aid that a student does not have to pay back.

The Net Price is the amount a student pays to attend an institution in a single academic year AFTER subtracting scholarships and grants the student receives.

Use This Tool During Your Student’s Junior Year

Parents should use this tool before their child finalizes their college list by the end of junior year. This way you avoid your child falling in love with a school that is well outside the family’s budget.

You will need 10 – 15 minutes to complete for each school. Gather your tax return and bank/investment statements along with your child’s GPA, standardized test scores, class rank, and activities. The more questions a school’s NPC asks, the more accurate estimate of net price you receive.

Where Do I Find the NPC for School’s on Child’s College List?

You can find NPC’s on a college’s or university’s website. The quickest way to find it is to type “net price calculator” into the search bar on the home page.

2. FAFSA4Caster vs FAFSA

You’ve Heard About the FAFSA - the FASFS4Caster Is Different

The FAFSA4caster is a free financial aid tool from the federal government that allows you to practice filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and estimate your eligibility for federal student aid based on student and family assets and income.

For income, you’ll need your latest tax return. For asset information, you’ll need details on bank accounts and investments including investment property.

You will learn the following information from the FAFSA4caster:

  • Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

  • Aid available to you

  • Out of pocket cost

The EFC is the dollar amount your family is expected to contribute to paying for college.

Junior Year in High School Is Good Time to Complete this Calculation

Once you’ve used the NPC tool and have an estimate for the cost of each college on the college list, run the FAFSA4caster to get a more complete picture of your out-of-pocket costs.

The FAFSA opens October 1 and needs to be completed the year before the student begins college. A future blog post will cover the FAFSA including what it is, who needs to complete it, and important deadlines.

3. The Secret to Finding Scholarships

The Top Source of Academic/Merit Scholarships Are Colleges

Most parents and students don’t know that the number one source of scholarships are the colleges and universities to which the student applies. These scholarships, referred to as merit scholarships, are based entirely on merit rather than financial need.

There are different levels of merit scholarships. The coveted full-ride scholarship given to the top applicant(s) pays for tuition, fees, room and board, books, travel, and supplies for all four years. Presidential and Trustee Scholarships are frequently the names for merit scholarships that cover tuition and fees for the student’s four years.

The idea is that these schools think certain students are special—so special that they want it to be an easy decision for the student to attend their school. The qualifications vary by school though the common threads are academic achievement, talent, perseverance, innovation, involvement, and leadership.

Next are merit scholarships awarded for a particular amount ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 or more each year for four years. These are often awarded based on GPA and standardized test scores (though many colleges waived the testing component for the 2020-21 application cycle) and are published on the college’s website in the financial aid section.

Scholarship Databases

Free scholarship search and application platforms such as GoingMerry, Cappex, and FastWeb allow students to create an account by entering in academic, major course of study, testing, and extracurricular information then search for regional and national scholarships they meet the eligibility requirements. Students should create a spreadsheet of all scholarships they plan to apply including application requirements, deadlines, award amounts. I recommend students submit all their college applications before tackling the part-time job of searching and applying for this category of scholarships.


With RaiseMe, students can earn micro-scholarships as early as 9th grade. Colleges on RaiseMe offer micro-scholarships to empower every student to define their own path to a four-year degree and celebrate the wide-ranging set of achievements that prepare students to succeed in college, career, and beyond. It’s easy to use and watch the micro-scholarships add up! Just complete your RaiseMe Portfolio by adding each of your course grades, club involvement, sports, volunteer activities, and more. For each achievement, you'll earn micro-scholarships from colleges you’re following, the sum of which you'll be awarded when you attend that college.

Your total earnings previewed in RaiseMe are a minimum guarantee of the financial award that you will receive from a 4-year institution if you apply and are accepted. There are over 330 colleges participating on the RaiseMe micro-scholarship platform including the University of San Diego, Oberlin, and Carnegie Mellon University.

This blog post was written Janice Royal, MA. She is the Founder and CEO of Royal College Consulting.

Let's get started! Click here to book a complimentary discovery call with Janice.


Phone: (714) 319-0399


bottom of page