You might be wondering how you’re going to pay for all of this. One year at Columbia including tuition can take it’s toll on one’s piggy bank. This is why you want to start learning about our good friend FINANCIAL AID and it’s many faces.
What is the difference between Need-based Aid and Merit-based Aid?
Merit Aid is reserved for those students a college wants to recruit. They’ll throw it at you if you represent some kind of diversity that they need to balance their incoming class, they’ll throw it at you if you have perfect everything plus stunning essays, and they might throw it at you if you’ve been sitting on the couch for 16 years but your grandmother donated 5 billion dollars to their animal sciences department.
Need-based aid is for everyone in the first two categories who is not wealthy. Your parents will fill out a form called the FAFSA. This all-important form should be filled out as early as possible and it should be filled out by every family who doesn’t have that extra 5 billion lying around. Force this form on your parents no-matter-what. You would be surprised by how many families could receive lots of need-based aid if they had filled out this form.
It’s online. It’s easy.
The government oversees this form and after your family submits it, you’ll receive a message telling you your EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION. (This is the amount that your family is expected to pay toward your education each year). Schools are supposed to offer to foot the remainder of the bill. If they accept you, most schools will send you a package outlining all the details of the money part. It can seem somewhat technical, so make sure you get help translating the figures.