Lucia Tyler Ph.D.

The word affordable means something different to each family so I like to talk about actions families can take to make college more affordable. Parents and students need to commit time, energy, and travel money in order to end up with affordable college options at the end of the process.

Tips for families to improve affordability

1.    Start early.
For those who need the most funding, sophomore year is the best time because it allows time for outside scholarship applications and college visits when campuses are in session.eflake2.    Take challenging courses and work hard
Colleges themselves award most of the scholarship money and they offer the most money to those students who get good grades in a challenging curriculum.

3.    Prepare for the SAT and ACT
Standardized test scores are used to compare students from different high schools. They count for scholarship money even at many test optional schools.  As a rule of thumb, students should prepare for at least 6 weeks prior to the test.

4.    Save money for college.  
Contrary to popular belief the financial aid formulas do not penalize you for saving unless you save more than a third of the cost.

5.    Apply to some colleges below your profile (grades/test scores).
Colleges are competing for the best students so colleges that are a notch or two lower in selectivity will offer more money for good students. Colleges provide more scholarships than outside organizations.