College is a serious financial undertaking. At first glance college can look like an unaffordable venture. However, there are multiple vehicles that can help you attend your goal institution without fear of not being able to afford it. These vehicles include scholarships, grants, and student loans. Despite the existence of financial aid, the anxiety of affording school can afflict students and their families up until the summer as they wait for their financial aid packages to be released! Applying for student aid through FAFSA and the CSS Profile is like playing the lottery - except everybody is a winner. Like the lotto, you don't know what you will receive until the results come in.
In order to help bridge the gap to the unknown you can estimate your financial aid using calculators. Why use a calculator? Calculating your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a difficult process on its own and takes 51 steps to compute using the government's formula, then you have to subtract out the additional items that the CSS Profile asks as a part of the institutional methodology in order to estimate your potential financial aid package! Oy! That's a lot of work.