It is a mistake to assume every college will offer your homeschool student a similar financial aid package. While the amount your family can pay will be determined through information gathered on standardized financial aid forms, colleges may still act upon this information very differently. Many schools engage in a practice known as “gapping.” This means that there will be a gap, sometimes a very significant one, between the demonstrated amount of a student’s financial need and the award they receive.
Low and middle income families need to look beyond the sticker price and research colleges individually. Your lowest cost option will depend on your financial need, your student’s academic profile, and your regional options. The least expensive college may sometimes be the one with the highest sticker price.
U.S. News and World Report compiles and annual list of colleges that fully meet 100% of demonstrated student need with no gapping. Homeschool parents will want to encourage their students to take a look at this list. Many of the schools on the list have very large sticker prices – some in excess of $50,000 a year. Most of these are highly selective colleges with very competitive admissions, but for students who can be admitted they may find their cost is less the cost of a local state or private school leaves a big gap between cost and a student’s demonstrated financial need. List of Colleges that Meet Full Financial Need