Part and parcel of the college planning and counseling process is helping you find -- and apply for -- the money to pay for college.

Some have already started searching and applying for "outside" scholarships (bravo!), while others will do so over the course on the ensuing weeks and months. [Alas, most will never bother to mine for the money, and many who do, without an assist, will be looking to chisel in to the mother load with a toothpick!] 

Aside from scholarship searches (and actually applying), there is the matter of seeking so-called "institutional" aid (money that comes from the colleges themselves, in the form of scholarships and grants), as well as federal aid (such as Stafford Loans, Pell Grants and Work-Study).  

Should you apply? Absolutely. Regardless of need or merit, follow the lottery's lead (as in, "Hey, you never know!") There are instances where families with six figure incomes have received "need-based" aid (without committing fraud, mind you :-), and many college scholarships, believe it or not, are not awarded on the basis of financial need.  

All colleges require the submission of FAFSA (to be completed on or after January 1) in order to be considered for aid of any kind, be it merit or need-based, scholarship or loan). Some schools (mostly private) also require the completion of the CSS Profile (available after October 1) in order to qualify for financial aid. 

To get the ball rolling, here are a couple of preliminary links of interest:  

Check out Colleges Participating In CSS Profile to see whether the schools you will be applying to require this College Board administered application.  

Go to FAFSA4caster, enter some basic info and data (don't fret. It does not get submitted anywhere, so neither the NSA nor Edward Snowden will be the wiser :-), and come away with a rough idea of how much money you may be entitled to from the feds.  

One more thing (for now) about paying for college. Every college website has what is called a Net Price Calculator [If not found on the college's home page, go to the school's financial aid section]. Using this calculator, you can get a ballpark figure for out-of-pocket expenses. Not etched in stone, by any means, but good enough to allow you to compare one college's costs to another.  

More to come. Stay tuned. . . :-) 
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