1. Rank all of your schools according to their rankings nationally
The first thing that you need to do is to rank all of the schools that you have been accepted to. You will find these forms that can help you to rank these schools in your guidance office or the Internet. You can go to the US News Rankings to find where the schools on your list are ranked nationally. There are many factors to be taken into account when you are ranking these schools such as their retention rate, size of classes, percentage of classes been taught by TA, number of successful alumnus, rates of graduates finding employment, etc. This way you can see how your schools stack up to the schools around the country. You want to attend the best school on your list that you can afford. This process has to be very practical and doable for you and your family.
2. Rank all of your packages according to the amount of free money offered to you
Free money is any money that you and your family don’t have to pay back. These monies will come under scholarships and grants (Federal grants and State grants). Rank the school that gave you the most free money number 1 down to the school that gave you the least amount of free money. Keep in mind that your favorite school may not give you the best package. This is a practical and non-subjective process. They will offer you a package based on your household income and assets depending on whether the school is private or public school. The schools will give you their money and the government’s money based on your financial need and the type of profile that you have created.
3. Rank all of your schools from the school that you like to attend to the school that you are the least likely to attend: Conquering college attendance
Now, start with your favorite school. This is the number 1 school that you would like to attend from your accepted list to the least favored school on you list. This is that one school that you would like to attend if you and your family can afford it without going into deep debt. Again, here, you and your family have to be practical and realistic because neither you nor your family should go into deep debt to get your education. You are investing in your future but your parents are getting closer to retirement so don’t ask them to take loans or refinance their home to send you to your dream school. Remember that you are going to have to pay for your loans and that you are not going to pay off their debt. It is your future, so invest wisely.
One consolation here is that you and your parents can always contact the financial office and explain your family’s financial situation and ask them if they can give you a little more help because you would really like to attend their institution.