Lesson 3: Financial Aid

Paying for college can be one of the largest financial burdens a family will endure. Furthermore, much of the documentation out there can get confusing. Though the sticker prices for colleges (especially top colleges) can be eye-watering, these costs are often not what you will actually pay. There are a great number of resources out there to aid you with college finances from loans to scholarships to grants and work programs. With some research and planning, great universities become much more economically attainable.

College Board – Big Future – Pay for College

College Board, the company behind the SAT, has created a useful website called Big Future that is full of information about the college process, including a great deal on dealing with college finances.

The College Solution

Lynn’s blog has a great deal of information about the financial aspects of the college process. She does a great deal of analysis on cost versus gain of going to specific colleges. Remember that sticker price is not always what you pay, and every situation is unique!


You might remember Yesenia, from Lesson 0, who was granted a full scholarship to Yale University from a small town in Colorado via the Questbridge program. From the Questbridge website: “QuestBridge designs and builds programs for talented low-income students to access and navigate exceptional educational and life opportunities.” They run an incredible program to which I highly recommend you apply if you are eligible.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the documentation you will need to fill out in order to request a financial aid package from your college.

Success Story

West Texas to Harvard – Larissa Baker

Larissa’s story fits perfectly into this lesson. Growing up in a town of ~2,000 people, she was able to stand out and gain acceptance to Harvard. Furthermore, she actually would have had to pay more for in-state tuition than she did at Harvard!

How did you like this lesson? Send me an email at any time (pat@smalltowntopcollege.com) with feedback and questions!