Tagged: Cost of Attendance

U of New South Wales for Study Abroad or a Degree

Sydney, Australia is home to the University of New South Wales, a research institution that hosts about 1000 American study abroad students each year and many more who earn a degree from UNSW.

Ten minutes from a gorgeous beach and 15 minutes from the thriving business and cultural center, UNSW attracts students from all over Australia and the world.  Ranked at #45 on the list of top world universities, most departments are in the top 50 world wide.

American students can choose this university for their degree studies and spend their study abroad time at a university in the US (or anywhere else!).  Tuition plus room and board run about $45,000 US dollars.  Law and medicine are direct entry meaning that you can earn your degree in the 4 years that your  friends are doing undergraduate work.  Both degrees are recognized in the US.

There are 15 flights daily from Philadelphia to Sydney.  That amounts to lots of people going from here.  All of the Fortune 500 companies have offices in Sydney, just in case you’re looking for an internship.

Undergraduate degrees take 3 years with an optional 4th year which most students choose.

Australia has its own college admission test; scores determine which universities the student can apply to.  Students from the US submit ACT, SAT, or IB scores and a transcript without taking the Australian admissions test.  In order to welcome more American students, admission requirements for US students are not as stringent as they are for top US colleges, although they vary by area of study.  Engineering requires a 26/27 on the ACT; 1240-1290 SAT; IB 32-34, depending on the engineering program.  Bachelors of Medicine is 29 ACT; 1390 SAT; 38 IB.  Architectural Studies ask for 28 ACT; 1280 SAT; 33 IB.

Here’s a glossary of terms you’ll need to know to convert Aussie Speak into standard US college lingo.

Australian                    US

Faculty                           College (College of Arts and Sciences)

Program                       Major

College                         Residence Hall

Example: “I’m applying to the Faculty of Built Environment to study city planning or computational design although I’m still interested in interior architecture.  I’ll be living in Fig Tree Hall, an alcohol free college.”

Translation: “I’m applying to the college of Built Environments where I’ll study urban planning or computational design; I’m still interested in interior design.  My dorm is Fig Tree Hall which is a substance-free living space.”

Should you be interested in more information for admission or study abroad, I’ll give you the local reps name and contact information.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

Comparing Financial Aid Letters

When you lay out your financial aid letters you may find it impossible to figure out what it will cost at each of the colleges.  The organization and terms on each letter can be very different and few will give you a bottom-line cost.   Try this plan to come up with a real cost analysis.


For each college calculate……

Cost of Attendance          Hopefully, you saved the Cost of Attendance numbers from your pre-application research.  If you didn’t, add the tuition cost per year to the room and board cost.  You may not know the R&B cost until you deposit and choose a residence hall and room type; use the figure on the website as a ballpark number.  Add $500/year for books and supplies unless studying art, architecture and perhaps, engineering as the cost of supplies will be higher.  Next, figure out how much it will cost to travel to and from college, specially if flying is part of this expense.  Consider how much spending money the student will need.  Add it all together.

OK, now you are ready to attack the award letters.  For each award letter…..

Your EFC          From the Cost of Attendance you calculated above, subtract the Expected Family Contribution.  The resulting figure is the “Need“, the amount of money you hope the college will cover above the amount you must pay.

Merit Aid          Need can be met in various ways.  If there is one or more merit scholarship or grant offered, Pell or other grants, subtract those amounts from the Need you calculated.

Work Study          Look at the letters for Work Study.  Work study is a campus job that can be funded federally, by the state or by the college.  Subtract from the last Need figure calculated above.

Loans          Now we come to “Self Help”, ie, loans.  There will be federally subsidized and unsubsidized loans totaling $5500.  This is the maximum for first year students.  You may also see Parent Plus loans in the financial award.   These are loans parents take out in their own name and are in addition to any loans taken to fulfill the EFC.  Use this link to find more information on loans                                                                                  https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidized

The Gap          When  you have subtracted all of the funding from the Cost of Attendance, you should  have a zero (or close if you’re estimating room and board).  Unfortunately, not all colleges meet all of  a student’s financial need and leave families with a Gap.

Your total commitment          Your commitment is the sum of your EFC,  servicing on-federal loans and the gap between the aid package and the Cost of Attendance.  Compare the  amount you will have to pay out of pocket for each college to find the one that is closest to your projected budget.

Scholarships from outside sources can reduce the pressure.  There are scholarships for all kinds of students and scholarships with application deadlines in every month.

Outside grants and scholarships          Students can begin to apply for college money at age 13.  The awards are held until the student matriculates in college.  These scholarships do not appear on financial aid letters from colleges.  Upon learning of the additional funding, most colleges will reduce the loans in the financial aid package, but there are some that reduce institutional grants.  When the FAFSA is filed for the student’s second year, the outside scholarships are condsidered student income when calculating the new EFC.If you will be borrowing to be able to meet the EFC,  outside scholarships can reduce the total amount of family debt.



Hidden Fees Rising Faster Than College Tuition

When I was a grad student I was irked when I saw each semester’s bill.  Every student was assessed more than $1000 for technology that wasn’t available in the buildings off campus where our classes were held.  We didn’t even have access to a working photocopier or printers.

Colleges, particularly public universities where tuition increases are capped by the state department of education, must find other ways to bring in additional revenue.  Fees aren’t capped and may not be fully disclosed to prospective students.  At many colleges they aren’t wrapped into the tuition payment, thus are billed separately.  Full tuition scholarships may not include fees, which in one state comes to $8,000 a year.

Building maintenance fees, graduation fees, professional development fees, fees for athletics and student activities, and a host of others can add many dollars to a student’s bill. Separate line items for a practice studio or labs, library access, technology, or connectivity used to be covered by tuition.  Now they are add ons.

The increase in non-tuition billing has been three times the rate of inflation and a higher per cent than the rise in tuition.  At some institutions the hidden costs can add 27% of the published tuition cost.

Here’s what you can do to avoid being blind-sided by stealth costs.

  1. Make certain that the Cost of Attendance at each school includes all fees.
  2. When you visit a college, ask the rep in the information session what fees are assessed, how much they tend to increase each year, and if they are covered by the bill for tuition or are separate items.
  3. Ask if tuition awards include all fees.

Hidden costs are encouraging many students to consider private liberal arts colleges where there is more aid and  fewer financial surprises.

More articles on the cost of college:

Does Football Make College More or Less Expensive? https://accessguidanceblog.com/2016/09/does-football-ma…xpensive-or-more/

Confused About The Real Cost of College? https://accessguidanceblog.com/2016/04/confused-about-t…-cost-of-college/

Graduate From College Debt and Regret Free  https://accessguidanceblog.com/2016/11/graduate-from-co…-and-regret-free/

Financial Aid Letters: The Critical Comparison  https://accessguidanceblog.com/2016/02/financial-aid-le…tical-comparison





Financial Aid Letters: The Critical Comparison

Are You Kidding Me?

Financial Aid letters are beginning to arrive along with lots of anxiety as parents compare the terms offered by colleges.  Here’s help on what to look for.

First, find the EFC, Expected Family Contribution.  This is the same number for every         college.  This figure is subtracted from the COA, cost of Attendance, and the amount below the line is called Need.

Need is met in a number of ways.

If the student is being offered Merit Aid in the form of Grants or Scholarships, this is subtracted from the Need (see above).

Next look for Self Help which is comprised of Work-Study which is an on-campus job., (This is also money that you don’t have to borrow) and Loans.

In the student’s name, federally subsidized and unsubsidized loans usually total $5,500 for first and second year students.

Subtract the Loans and Work-Study from the amount you had after subtracting Merit Aid.  What is left is money that parents will have to pay, in addition to the EFC.

Cost of Attendance                    $50,000

EFC                                            –    15,000

Need                                              $35,000accounting

Grants                                          – $10,000

Work-Study                                –      5,000

Student Loans                           –     $5,500

Unmet Need                                   $14,500

After deducting Merit Aid and Student Self-Help, there is still unmet need of $14,500.  The college may list Parent Plus Loans to fill in the unmet need.  These are loans that parents take out in their own names.  This would be in addition to any loans to meet the EFC.

Some colleges construct their Financial Aid packages with a gap between all the funding sources and the Cost of Attendance.  This is, unsurprisingly, called the GAP.  Yes, this is another amount that parents have to pay.

In total, parents must pay the EFC, Unmet Need and fill in the GAP.   When comparing your award letters the critical figures are those that parents have to pay, not the amount of Merit Aid.

Students who have earned scholarships from non-college sources must report them to the college.  Most colleges use the outside scholarships to reduce loans but a few will reduce the Merit Aid by the amount of the scholarships.

packs of dollarsIf you are a student or a parent who is in the midst of college planning, don’t be fooled by the college websites that state the average amount of student debt at graduation.  This figure does not consider the total amount of family debt –  student plus parents.

When you visit campuses, ask the admissions or financial aid representative the amount of parent loans in their average financial aid package.  They may not have an answer for you but it alerts them to your interest and concern.

I’m happy to compare Financial Aid Letters for anyone who is confused or needs help. Call or text 610-212-6679.