Paying for College

There is no one-size approach to paying for college and it is best to educate yourself on all the available options. Below are helpful articles and tools about paying for college. Please use these as references and always reach out to a financial aid expert for detailed questions.

What are net price calculators?

All colleges are required to post a net price calculator. They can be helpful in forecasting how much financial aid a family may receive. They are located on individual college websites

(NY Times | Charlie Jarvice | 12-19-17)

(Washington Post | Nick Anderson | 1-17-17)

MyinTuition is simpler cost predictor for 31 schools and growing (none in Alabama). It is a GREAT tool in the early application process.


  • Need-blind admission: When students are admitted on the basis of their academic and personal records of achievement, not based on whether their family has the money to pay.
  • Financial aid: Money given or loaned to help pay for college. Financial aid can come in the form of gift (scholarships and grants) and self-help (loan and work).
  • Need-based financial aid: Money given to students whose families need assistance with the full cost of paying for college.
  • Merit-based financial aid: Money offered to students who have an exceptional accomplishment, leadership, commitment to service, and intellectual ability. Typically, merit scholarships do not require students to demonstrate financial need.
  • Cost or price of attendance: The estimate of each year’s total cost of college includes tuition and fees, room and meals, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation.
  • Expected family contribution (EFC) or family share: The total amount students and their families are expected to pay toward college costs from their income and assets for one academic year. This amount is determined on an individual basis using information you report on the financial aid applications (FASFA). The information includes the size of your family, number attending college, income and assets, and other personal circumstances.
  • Net price: The amount of money the family pays for one year of college, calculated as the price of attendance minus grants and scholarships from all sources.
  • Demonstrated need: This is the cost of attending college minus your family share (EFC).

adapted from Notre Dame