Paying for College

When it comes to paying for college we cannot emphasize enough the importance of planning ahead. Although you and your family may have received financial aid from St. George’s, you may or may not qualify for financial aid when applying to college.  Because the money is federally regulated and internally disseminated and because there are a lot more students going to college than to boarding school, financial aid at the college level can be harder to come by.  The best thing a family can do to prepare for the college process is to have an idea of what your family will be expected to pay at the next level. You can get an idea of what your estimated family contribution (EFC) will be by going to a variety of college web sites and filling out their net price calculators (they are required by law to have one online). Typically, we recommend that families who are not full pay should build financial “likelies” into the list so that in the end, the student has some affordable options.

Financial Aid Glossary

There are many terms that you need to know as you get ready to apply for financial aid.

Basic types of aid available

Scholarships/Grant - Some schools will offer scholarships and grants to students.  Scholarships and grants do not need to be paid back, and can be given based on need or on merit.  To learn more about available scholarships, go to or download the iOS/Android app called “Scholly”.

Loan - There are a number of loans available to students, many of which have reasonable interest loans and delayed start-dates.  Loans are usually included in a financial aid package.  Before signing any loans, students and families should understand the rates, the terms, and the actual start dates.

Work Study - Students who are awarded financial aid are expected to earn some of the money necessary to pay for school.  Schools will help students acquire an on-campus job to cover some of the costs of college. This amount can vary from school to school.

Determining if you qualify for financial aid

Net Price Calculators - Even though you will not have a package until late winter of the sixth-form year, net price calculators can help families estimate what types of aid they may or may not qualify for.  Here are a few that can help:

College Board-

Federal Student Aid -

Applying for financial aid

Once your student gets his/her list down to a reasonable size, look online and reach out to each school to see what forms you will need to fill out for the financial aid process. This process is concurrent with the application process, so do not wait to understand the deadlines in the process. When you apply, you will be asked to fill out one or both the CSSProfile or the FAFSA form. You should make sure to look on each school’s websites for directions, but listed below are links to each of these forms: 

CSS Profile -

FAFSA Form -

Questions to ask colleges

When you begin this process with your child, you want to be as informed as possible about how schools create their financial aid packages.  Below are some questions you should ask of the schools as you move through the process with your student:

  • What percentage of your students are receiving aid from your school?
  • Are you a need-blind school, or are you a need-aware school?  That is, do you factor in a family’s ability to pay when you make admission decisions?  If so, at what point?
  • Do you meet 100% of need for families that demonstrate this need, or do you gap students?
  • What is your school’s philosophy about financial aid and applying early decision?  Would we be able to have a good sense of the type of package we would qualify for before our child committed to early decision?
  • What kind of scholarships are available at your school?  How is the money for these scholarships awarded?  Is the award for one year, or for each year in school?
  • How much do costs go up each year?
  • How is my financial aid adjusted each year relative to the cost of the school?

Tips for third-form and fourth-form year

  • Go on to the net price calculators at a state school, a private small liberal arts college, and a large private university to get a sense for the number you may be asked to pay for college.
  • Have conversations with your student about how finances will be a factor in their college process.
  • Research possible scholarships and merit aid.  
  • Save as much money as possible.  Saving for college is always a good thing to do.

Tips for fifth-form year

  • Continue researching scholarships and merit aid.
  • Continue saving for college.
  • Try not to change your financial profile in the next year or two (ie., sell a house or cash in retirement) as that will change the financial aid application.

Tips for sixth-form year

  • Once you have developed a focused list with your student, look on the website of each school to see what forms are required and when.  Applying for aid is a deadline driven process, and schools often start giving out aid before the deadline.  
  • Make sure to do your taxes as early as possible to be in a good position to submit forms on time.
  • Call each financial aid office in order to have a contact who can help you with the forms you will need to submit.  It always helps to have a friend in the financial aid office!