Understanding College Costs
Net Price vs. Sticker Price
College may seem expensive. But the truth is that most students pay less than their college’s sticker price, or published price, thanks to financial aid. So instead of looking at the published price, concentrate on your mentee's net price — the real price they'll pay for a college.
The net price is a college’s sticker price for tuition and fees minus the grants, scholarships, and education tax benefits your mentee will receive. The net price your mentee will pay for a particular college is specific to them because it's based on their personal circumstances and the college’s financial aid policies.
Click here for more information about college costs.
Applying for Financial Aid
Learn about FAFSA
As a mentor, you are uniquely positioned to meet your mentee exactly where they are in the financial aid process and support them to move forward. Every mentee will need a slightly different type of support, so your first step is to talk to your mentee and assess the type of support that would be most beneficial. For example, should you play the role of project manager, friend, counselor, or cheerleader?
Watch the video below to understand the FAFSA process yourself.
Consider asking the following questions:
- Do they understand the purpose and importance of the FAFSA?
- What questions do they have about the process?
- Do they know the information required within the FAFSA application? If not, do they have a plan to gather that information?
- Are they comfortable discussing the FAFSA with their parents? If not, can you help coach or role play with them?
- Are they aware of their school deadlines for completing the FAFSA?
- Are they aware of deadlines specific to colleges they may be interested in?
Always talk to your Program Manager if you are ever unsure of the type of support that your mentee needs.
Learn about Scholarships
When it comes to financial aid, applying to scholarships can be easily overlooked. Since most students will need more financial assistance than what is awarded, it is highly important that mentees apply to scholarships.
The process of researching scholarships can be daunting. There are so many available scholarships and it takes time just to find them, let alone complete them. This is where you come in. Throughout the year, make sure to encourage your mentee to continue to look for scholarships and to follow through with their applications.
Click here for information on scholarships.
Guidance for Support
Mentees are starting to think about and possibly talk to their family about finances as they prepare for their post-secondary decisions. Some may learn what their parents earn for the first time. Your mentee may (or may not) ask for your help in working on financial aid applications or FAFSA filing. If your mentee chooses to share their family finances with you, be sure to engage with that information in a non-judgmental way.
Remember that filing out the FAFSA can be a sensitive topic for students. Students might not be moving forward for reasons they don't disclose. These might include immigration status, their parents don't have taxable wages, their parents don't file taxes regularly or on time, or they are wary for sharing sensitive information. Your Program Manager is always available to talk you through potentially sensitive issues and you should reach out for assistance if you need it.