finance

Gardening With the Net Price Calculator

With our FAFSA report and CSS profile complete, I started to dig into the Net Price Calculator. Each college and university is required by law to have a Net Price Calculator on their website. About 200 are sponsored by the College Board. The College Board saves your information and makes it easy to estimate your “Calculated Family Contribution.” The other colleges require you to put in basic income and family information.

Once I unearthed our Calculated Family Contribution for our top ten schools, I looked up, bug-eyed, from the computer.

“Give me the rose and the thorn,” my daughter said, using an expression from her counseling class at school.

“Okay, your top school wants to give you a really decent amount of aid. Your second choice, zero aid. Ouch. And your third choice something in between.” The rose, the thorn, and the stem.

But now I wanted to dig deeper. I started checking out lots of schools. Schools we’d never even considered. At the end of the day I think I had looked at about 40 schools, spent over six hours and too much caffeine. It was addicting.

“That’s nothing,” a dad of one of my daughter’s friends told me the next morning. “I ran the numbers for eighty-five schools and I’m still searching.”

The majority of colleges were around the same amount, but there were extremes. I called the top three choice schools asking how accurate those calculations were. The first school told me if my amounts entered were accurate then their calculation would be accurate. The second school, offering us no aid, suggested my daughter might be eligible for merit scholarships, which are not a part of the Net Price Calculations. And the third school said their final package could vary from their calculations based on other factors. I asked if they could tell me what other factors those might be. They said no.

My daughter is planning on applying Early Decision to her top school. This is very tricky since it’s a binding contract financially and I will have to gamble that those estimates are correct. I wonder if it’s better to hold off and have her apply regular decision so that we can weigh the options? Or have her apply Early Decision to her third choice which indicated the best financial aid package, but with unknown factors attached?

We have a week to make up our minds. The Early Decision deadline is November 1. It’s a gamble, that’s for sure. So with a week to go, maybe I’ll rustle around in those rose bushes some more.

Unique Ways to Save and Make Money

“Hey, do you want to grab dinner at the new sushi place?”

“No, I don’t have any money.” 🙁

 

Does this conversation sound familiar at all? Then, after not speaking to your parents for a month, you start calling them every single day. A week passes and here comes your signature line,

“Can I get some money for ‘textbooks?’”

“It’s the middle of the spring semester…Why do you need textbooks?”

“My ‘History of Israel’ professor told me I should get them.”

 

And so the lies pile on…

Eventually, you realize that your parents aren’t buying the textbook story, and you tell them the truth. You admit that you spent all your money in the first two weeks of the semester and that you’re now washing your clothes by hand. What do they say? Whatever good parents should say,

“Figure it out.”

 

But how? What can a student do to make, and more importantly, not break his bank?

 

Making money:

Get a part-time job.
This is fairly simple and by far the most common way of making some money to fill those pockets and be able to pay for laundry machines. Whether it be tutoring, babysitting, or serving people at a fast-food chain, all are extremely viable options for making some extra money.

Fill out surveys
There are many places online like Swagbucks and ProOpinion that will pay you to fill out surveys. In addition, colleges have places where you can go to fill out some surveys and earn a few extra bucks.

Sell your used textbooks
Some of your textbooks were pretty expensive when you bought them, and they’re probably just as expensive right now! So, go out there, on Ebay, Amazon, or even your friends, and try to sell someone all those used books.

Donate sperm
This one’s fairly self-explanatory. Sorry, ladies, you’ll have to pass on this one.

 

Not breaking the bank:

Set a weekly limit for yourself.
This is possibly the most important thing to do, but once you set the limit, make sure you abide by it.

Don’t buy unnecessary things.
Why do you need to buy those M&M’s if you already have Hershey Kisses that your roommate shares with you? That’s right, save those two bucks, and buy only the things that are necessary.

Find the cheapest places to buy textbooks.
A lot of the time that is not your college’s bookstore. Research used options on different websites or buy them off of myKlovr’s marketplace this Fall.

Take advantage of student discounts.
In addition to all of the local businesses that offer at least 10% discounts to students, a lot of online stores do so as well.

Don’t spend money on condoms.
You have a girlfriend, and you guys need a condom? Well, you don’t have to go to CVS! Just go down to the Health Center at your school and stock up your condom shelf! Stay safe…

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