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Top Ten Tips for Getting College Financial Aid

Tyler.Finaid.Albany and Crab Crawl 024.Resized 1Attending college is a big investment. The cost of a private four-year college, including room and board, has climbed to an average of $49,000 a year, while the annual price tag for a public four-year public college is $21,000, according to the College Board.

Yet if you are worried that college is unaffordable, keep in mind that you will not pay the sticker price advertised on a college’s website. With a strategic plan for applying for financial aid, you can offset the cost with a combination of grants and scholarships offered by the school that are based on need.

Applying for financial aid is a key part of the college admissions process. Yet many parents have misconceptions about how to apply, or even if they should apply, for need-based aid.

Here is a list of ten tips that will help you get the most financial aid you can:

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Newfield Student Finds the Perfect College in Elizabethtown

elizatown 19reduced2Tommy Gerow wasn’t sure what type of college he was looking for when he started his junior year at Newfield High School. He enjoyed science and technology, but he didn’t know what he wanted to study in college.

To help him start his college search, his parents contacted Lucia Tyler, owner of Tyler Admissions Consulting. After meeting with Tommy four times, Tyler created a list of seven colleges that would fit his needs, and the family began visiting schools in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

“That made a big difference, just feeling what it would be like being there,” said Jean Gerow, Tommy’s mother. “We went to the open houses, and seeing the classrooms and seeing the kids walking around and trying the food — that was very helpful.”

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When to Take the SAT or ACT

Tyler.High School Students Taking the ACT2A critical part of the college planning process is deciding when and how often you should take either the SAT or ACT.

Both tests are offered seven times each school year, beginning in late August for the SAT and early September for the ACT. To determine which test is right for you, take some practice SAT and ACT tests to see whether you score better on one or the other.

Getting your best score on either test will ultimately depend on two factors: whether you give yourself enough time to take the test at least twice, and whether you commit yourself to prepare.

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How to Get the Most out of Your College Visit

DickinsonsmallThe college of your dreams may offer a virtual tour of its campus, but that is not a good substitute for visiting the school, walking around the quads, and meeting students who can give you first-hand information about campus life.

Visiting a college campus will give you the best picture of what it would be like to attend that school. You’ll be able to ask students questions, sample the food at the dining hall, and hopefully see what a dorm room looks like.

Spring vacation is one of the best times to see the colleges that are at the top of your list. And if you’re interested in several schools in one region, you can cluster your visits together to save time and money.

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