October 5, 2023

How to Make College More Affordable

College can be expensive. With rising tuition costs, even families with healthy college savings are
looking to reduce the cost of a college degree. Our goal is always to work within a family’s budget and
to help families pay less for college. After helping thousands of families pay less for college (and often
pay nothing for college!), we have a few “secrets” to share. Hint – they aren’t really secrets! You’ve likely
heard of some of these secrets before, but the important thing is the follow-through and be intentional
about timing. Don’t wait until Senior year to implement these secrets – getting a head start can make
all of the difference.

Developing A College List
The first secret is to develop your college list. How does this save you money? Making a college list helps
to narrow your focus on the schools you are most interested in and rule out any colleges that may not
be a good fit for you. Once you have your list, you can begin to do the things that can impact your
acceptance and scholarship at those institutions, like demonstrate interest, research scholarship
opportunities and the requirements for those scholarships, make campus visits, etc.

When making your college list, we recommend narrowing it down to your top ten colleges and
universities. Be sure to consider the following when looking for colleges and save the information in a
spreadsheet – your future self will thank you!
● Location
● Distance
● Major
● Cost
● Size

Test Prep

We’ve shouted it from the rooftops, and we will continue to say it until it’s not true: test scores still
matter! (Check out our blog for an explanation here).

One of the best ways to make college more affordable is to maximize your SAT and ACT scores. While
some colleges have moved away from requiring test scores for admission, most institutions still take
test scores into consideration when it comes to awarding top scholarships.

To start, you need to know your baseline test score. You can get a baseline score by taking a practice
test that mimics the real test. While it’s not usually the way any teenagers we know want to spend their
time, it is a very important first step in developing a plan to achieve the best test score you can get.
Practice tests allow a college advisor to capture your testing trends and dial in on opportunities for
improvement. Start early and give yourself time to take the tests multiple times.

Upgrading Your Resume
Upgrade that resume! Class 101 students know not to submit a college application without their
resumes. When it comes to comparing students for scholarships, an impressive resume can be the
deciding factor.

We recommend building your college resume starting freshman year. You can add onto your resume
each year as you accumulate activities, volunteer hours, work experience, internships, etc. To have a
competitive chance at scholarships, we recommend aiming for ten activities, five honors, and including
at least one leadership role.

Securing Financial Aid
While applying for financial aid may seem like an obvious way to pay less for college, we have been
surprised at how many families do not complete the application. Regardless of your family’s financial
situation, we always recommend completing the FAFSA application. Completing the FAFSA is the only
way to take out student loans and qualify for certain types of financial aid.
Don’t skip this important step!

Merit-Based and Special Scholarships
Putting yourself in a position to be competitive for scholarships is one of the most important ways to
make college more affordable. The previously outlined steps set the foundation for confidently applying
for scholarships in Senior year. We recommend conducting research on area scholarships to be aware
of and utilizing online scholarship finders like the College Board’s Big Future search starting Junior year.
With GPA being an important factor in merit-based scholarships, the foundational work for
scholarships starts Freshmen year. There isn’t a short cut for getting good grades and putting in the
work to take a challenging course schedule across four years of high school. While this varies greatly by
institution, we typically find that students in these GPA and test score ranges are most likely to receive
competitive and automatic scholarships from colleges and universities.

Outside Scholarships

Outside scholarships also play a key role in making college more affordable. These scholarships can be
found by talking to your school college counselor and utilizing online scholarship finders. Some
examples of outside scholarships are:
● Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship
● Burger King Scholars Program
● National Merit Scholarship Corporation
● Gates Millenium Scholars Program

Make college more affordable with the help of Class 101.
We helped last year’s seniors earn $245,000 on average to cover college costs. To learn more about
making college more affordable and to schedule a free consultation, reach out to us at one of our

Class 101 Brandon FL | Class 101 Carmel, IN | Class 101 Bloomington, IN

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