Financial Aid Pilot Program

ScholarFITS is pleased to partner with select Maine high schools with this free pilot program to add affordability planning to the college search.


Working with a limited number of juniors and seniors in the classes of 2016 and 2017, Bill Smith will help families:


Compare college costs – apples to apples – for several colleges of the student’s choice

Estimate merit- and need-based aid, matching each student’s unique characteristics to each college’s aid awarding policies.

Help the student create a payment plan based on family savings and earnings

Estimate debt – the amount the student needs to borrow – for the entire 4 years of college

Analyze what the student will need to earn after graduation to pay back student loans

Program Goals

Too many times I’ve met with families whose students have been accepted to their dream college only to find when they receive their financial aid award letter that they can’t afford it. If they had known the likely cost of college earlier in the process they could have included affordable colleges in their search.

I’m hoping this approach to financial aid will help families learn how to easily estimate their real cost of college. If successful I hope it can serve as a model for more students in the future. Call or email me throughout the program if you have questions. Bill Smith

The program has two goals:

1. Help families compare their personalized cost of a four-year degree after financial aid at several colleges.

2. Teach families to use internet tools to make additional comparisons and projections on their own after the program is over.

How the Program Works

First meeting

We’ll review the program plan and goals and learn about the student’s academic profile and interests. It will be helpful if the student has a list of up to 5 colleges s/he is interested in.

Before meeting 1

Participants will complete a form including the student’s choice of five colleges you’d like personal cost estimates for. The form also asks for academic background, and household information. They’ll also use an online EFC calculator to estimate their FAFSA and Profile EFCs. Return the form and report the EFC values to Bill at least one week prior to the first meeting.

Before the meeting, using the reported EFCs, Bill will create a simplified financial scenario designed to generate an equivalent EFC when used in colleges’ Net Price Calculators. (This minimizes the need to share financial data. It will allow the student to use NPCs independently without needing to have detailed financial information available.) We will complete several NPCs together generating cost estimates that will enable a side-by-side comparison of the costs after financial aid at the colleges identified by the student.

Between meeting 1 and meeting 2

Families will be asked to identify amounts available to pay for college from savings and income earned during the college years. We will use these estimates during the third meeting to project college loans.

Second meeting

We will complete a four-year projection of the cost of a degree at one college chosen by the student. If available we will use estimates of contributions the family can make toward college costs from income earned during college and from savings. We will identify the probable amounts that will need to be borrowed to make up any cost difference, and will project the total debt at the end of college including monthly and annual payment amounts. We will identify the suggested income needed to repay the debt based on debt not exceeding 10 to 15% of gross income.

Forms and handouts

Data Form – for first meeting

Choose to download a Word version you can edit: DHS-FA-DataForm.docx

Or a pdf version you can print and fill out: DHS-FA-DataForm.pdf

Estimating EFC

Link and instructions for Using the EFC Calculator

Savings & Income Worksheet

Between meetings 2 and 3 please estimate what savings and income amounts will be available to pay for college. This Resource Worksheet has some tips and will help you organize the information.

Note: Financial aid amounts are determined by rules set by colleges and the federal and state governments. This free educational program will teach you how to understand financial aid, but there is no guarantee of whether or how much financial aid you may receive. Cost figures generated during the program will be estimates, the actual cost of college may be different.

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