How to Foot The College Bill

Our eldest daughter is attending college, a second child will start in a year's time and a third child at some point in the future. We applied for grants to help fund our children's college education but we were turned down. Unfortunately, we did not save money for their college education and now we make too much to qualify for government programs. Is there anywhere we can turn for additional financial help?

--A Parent Soup member
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Bruce Hammond

Bruce Hammond is an expert on college prep, applications and cost, and author of Discounts and Deals at the Nation's 360 Best Colleges and... Read more

The good news is that with two children in college you may qualify for more aid than if you only had to pay for one. The federal aid formula calculates an "expected family contribution" that applies whether you have one in college or five. Since your tuition bills will be (roughly) twice as large a year from now, perhaps you will qualify for help then.

Another thought is to try and angle a merit award somewhere. Many colleges, especially the expensive, private ones, offer tuition discounts to good students -- not only superstars. At some schools, more than half the students who enroll do so with a "merit" award (almost like factory rebates). If you are really strapped for cash, your child could consider attending the first two years at community college and then transferring to a four-year university. Your son or daughter will earn a degree from the four-year school at significant savings to you.

Finally, you could look for an outside scholarship, but be aware that the tales about "unclaimed billions" sitting under a rock are just so much hype. The best scholarship search online is FastWeb at www.fastweb.com.

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