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2006: A look back - A look ahead  
  Change was the name of the game in 2006 while the biggest push for reform in 2007 will be aimed at college-related debt.
 College financing
 Personal finance calendar  Personal finance calendar 

College Planning
How much aid can you expect?

· Click here to see the work sheet below
So Junior's about to head off to college. And while his head is full of frat parties and co-eds, yours is full of panic as to how you're going to foot the bill. If finances are tight, chances are you're going to have to rely on some combination of savings, financial aid and student loans. While all this may seem daunting, keep in mind that millions of students march off to college each year -- most with parents like you who need some assistance with the expense.

It would all be a bit less overwhelming, of course, if you had a good sense of just how much you will be expected to pay yourself. Our worksheet can help. It's based on the widely-used federal formula for calculating need and will give you a good sense of what state and private schools will expect you to contribute. (Based on the most recent data available: private school, 2007-08; public school, 2006-07.)

The bottom line represents the college's official view of how much you should be able to contribute. We'll also tell you to what degree your finances may fall short. Since each application (and school) is different, however, keep in mind that this figure is not set in stone. If it seems unreasonable, be sure to also check out our story, Student Loans Demystified, which will give you an introduction to the world of student loans.

  Work sheet © 2007 SmartMoney. SmartMoney is a joint publishing venture of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and Hearst SM Partnership. SmartMoney is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved.

-- Updated: Nov. 1, 2006
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