Mapping Your Future: Paying for college - it's about more than the tuition

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Paying for college - it's about more than the tuition

By Catherine Mueller

December 03, 2019

The cost of college and how to pay for it is a big concern for many students and parents. Even some students and parents who have saved for a college education aren't sure if they have saved enough.

It can be overwhelming – especially because it's not just the tuition bill to consider. It's important for students and parents to remember that the cost of attendance at a postsecondary school, college, or university is not the same as the tuition bill. Tuition is just part of what it costs to go to college.

Cost of attendance includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses. Every postsecondary institution participating in federal financial aid programs posts their cost of attendance on their website.

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The cost of attendance is used in determining the need for financial aid. The expected family contribution (which is determined by the information supplied on the FAFSA) is subtracted from the cost of attendance to determine the student's need for financial aid.

A student won't always receive enough financial aid to cover their financial need. It depends how much funding is available at the institution and the student's eligibility for certain types of aid. Students whose families can't cover the expected family contribution and/or don't receive enough financial aid, can talk to the financial aid office at the school they plan to attend. The financial aid office may be able to help in finding other resources to pay for college.

For more information on paying for college or financial aid, contact Mapping Your Future at (800) 374-4072 or