Mosaic Admissions

Financial Aid

For many families, the economy has made paying for college an even more daunting task than ever before.  In its 2009 “College Hopes and Worries Survey,” the Princeton Review reported that 37% of college applicants and their parents worried most about not being able to afford their first-choice college.*  Colleges have been hurt by state budget cuts and shrinking endowments, and the cost of attending private and public universities continues to rise.  The good news is that many colleges are responding to the economic crisis by increasing need-based financial aid, and the Department of Education has encouraged schools to make financial adjustments to families who are struggling.  Parents should feel comfortable appealing their financial aid package if they feel it is insufficient.  There is more flexibility than they realize, and most college financial aid offices are happy to work with them.

Applying for Financial Aid

As a first step, familiarize yourself with the financial aid process and the kinds of aid available.  A great resource is the web site, which includes not only advice on paying for college, but also helpful tools for calculating critical numbers such as the EFC, or Expected Family Contribution (how much a college determines you can contribute toward your child’s education).

The next step is to complete the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  The FAFSA is used to apply for federal student financial aid, such as the Pell Grant, student loans, and college work-study.  Also, most colleges use FAFSA information to award financial aid.

It’s easiest to complete the submit the FAFSA online, at  The FAFSA is now shorter and easier to complete than ever before, but you still need to read the instructions carefully and note the terminology as you answer the questions.  It’s best to complete your tax return before you fill out the FAFSA, since you will have income and tax data readily available.

Schools will enter your FAFSA data into a formula (called the Federal Methodology), and determine your EFC.  You will see your EFC on the Student Aid Report (SAR), which FAFSA will send to you.  Financial need is defined as your school’s cost of attendance minus your EFC. Your school will develop a financial aid package (comprised of grants, loans, and/or work-study) to help you meet your financial need.

While many schools require only the FAFSA form, others will ask you to complete the College Board’s CSS PROFILE form as well, available online at

It is very important that you contact the financial aid offices of the schools to which you are applying.  You need to be aware of their specific deadlines and requirements to ensure that you are eligible to receive aid.


Scholarships, unlike student loans, do not need to be repaid.  There are more than 1.5 million scholarships worth more than $3.4 billion available.  In general, students with special academic, athletic, or artistic talents are qualified to receive scholarships.

There are numerous free scholarship databases available online that you can use to match your qualifications with specific awards.  The site is an excellent resource for searching scholarships.

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