In the midst of a pandemic, finding a college that is the right financial fit has become even more important than it was just a few months ago.
Before COVID-19 became a household word, you might have thought that you knew where your child would be attending college in the fall.
What happens now if the colleges on your child’s list are no longer financially realistic?
A clever way to find better college offers
A valuable tool exists that can help you quickly recalibrate your college search for better financial fits in this new reality.
The resource is TuitionFit, which can be a game-changer for students and families who need to find a college that fits their price range.
How Tuitionfit Works
Students and families upload financial aid award letters that they’ve received onto TuitionFit’s website and provide basic information such as test scores and high school grade point average and financial need that is represented by a child’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
TuitionFit redacts all of the private information on each letter and organizes them by a student’s academic figures and financial need to create a “Kelley Blue Book” of true college prices.
Looking at this year’s award letters
Students who share one or more of their own award letters will get to see all of the real prices (and corresponding financial aid offers) for free that were shared by other students and families with a similar financial need and merit profiles.
With this online platform, you can compare the prices your son or daughter has received with the prices that similar students are getting offered by colleges and universities all over the country in real-time. In doing this, you could discover college candidates that never previously crossed your radar.
You can use TuitionFit to instantly identify those colleges and universities that are already offering students like yours a price that fits your new budget.
In addition, if you want to try to negotiate a better price with a school that has already accepted your son or daughter, now you have information and leverage that can be helpful in gaining a better price.
If you don’t have offers to share, you can look at award letters shared with TuitionFit last year, which was the non-profit’s first admission cycle.
How many offers on the Tuitionfit?
Tuitionfit ended up with just over 4,000 award offers for its inaugural 2019-2020 cycle.
The site is closing in on 2,000 for this cycle and expects to end the admission season well above last year since its biggest wave of letters/offers comes in the summer. (It’s important to remember that many colleges, especially this year, are open to getting applications into the summer. And that’s true even if they aren’t publicizing this fact!)
From the perspective of students and families, almost everyone who comes to TuitionFit and shares award letters will find 50 to 100 offers from other colleges and universities shared by students or families in the same academic merit and financial need profile.
Tuitionfit also allows colleges to find students
The website serves as an intermediary between families and colleges that are eager to offer a teenager greater awards. Colleges can become members and have the opportunity to reach out to students, via TuitionFit, after seeing a student’s grade point average, test scores and Expected Family Contribution.
For instance, let’s say a student with a 3.3 GPA and an 1180 SAT got a $15,000 award from a school that brought the net price of attendance down to $35,000. A college on the TuitionFit platform could see that offer to the anonymous student and offer the student, via TuitionFit, an award that would drop his/her cost down to $31,000.
Lynn – I’ve tried TuitionFit and did not find it impressive at all. I did not want to upload my child’s financial aid offer because of sensitive information that was included and did not trust that the information would be redacted. I chose to pay, which is the only way to see other offers. There were only about 150 offers shown to me (none of which were useful) but I could not even tell if they were from “comparable” students because I couldn’t see any test scores, GPAs, or even EFC or household income. I also can’t find any way to update my profile with my student’s test scores. I also find it very disingenuous that a for profit company uses the .org extension. Just be transparent that this is for-profit and use .com. It seems to me this is more of another marketing channel for colleges than it is helpful for families.
Liz – when you set up your account and provided your test score, GPA, and EFC, that set up your parameters so that the only offers you saw – the 150 you mentioned – were ALL comparable. Every one of those offers were shared by students with the same merit and need profile that you entered. That is the reason we asked you for that information in the first place.
I’m sorry you ran into some trouble. Next time, please feel free to email us and we will be glad to help you sort through any questions you have.