There are good college planners and there are great college planners. The easiest way to describe what we do is to share the results that are typical when families follow our process. We identify colleges that are an academic and social fit. Unlike other college planners, we also help families with strategies to maximize their financial aid potential. What good is finding the right college if you can't afford it?
Sierra is a recent 2015 graduate from Kennesaw Mountain High School. Sierra's parents earn about $120,000 per year and have about $90,000 in after tax assets. Sierra has a 3.9 GPA and scored a 31 on the ACT. An initial review showed that their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) was as high as $45,409 per year.
We showed Sierra's parents a strategy that helped them reduce their EFC down to $28,700, making them eligible for an additional $16,631 in need-based aid per year. Our research led them to 8 colleges that were a match to Sierra's academic standing and contained her majors and her back-up majors (if she changed majors, we wanted these colleges to still work). Our selection program also indicated that these 8 colleges would likely meet their need down to their new EFC of $28,700. Sierra listed all of the colleges in alphabetical order on the FAFSA and CSS Profile forms (you don't want a college to know your "favorite" since it can reduce your aid).
She applied to all 8 colleges with an acceptance rate of 100%. Financial grants and merit scholarships were awarded at 100% of all of the colleges. 5 out of 8 colleges awarded grants and merit aid beyond her EFC of $28,700 per year. 1 out of 8 awarded close to her EFC. 2 out of 8 colleges awarded aid, but used a substantial amount of loans. As you can see from the results below, Sierra was left with several great and affordable choices. As a benchmark, going in-state with the HOPE scholarship costs $20,000 a year. Even the University of Georgia awarded Sierra more aid beyond the HOPE scholarship maximum. Notice that the college with the 2nd highest "sticker" price comes in with the 2nd lowest "net" price.
University of AL - Tuscaloosa - Sticker Price: $39,199 . Net Price: $22,483
University of AL - Birmingham - Sticker Price: $37,116 . Net Price: $22,116
University of VA - Sticker Price: $56,312 . Net Price: $38,088
University of GA (in-state) - Sticker Price: $24,836 . Net Price: $14,746
Pepperdine University - Sticker Price $63,482 . Net Price: $42,082
Mercer University - Sticker Price $49,393 . Net Price: $21,473
Clemson University - Sticker Price $42,964 . Net Price: $30,464
Santa Clara University - Sticker Price $61,638 . Net Price: $16,338