TuitionFit: How to find better college award offers in minutes


By now, most students, who will be college freshmen in the fall, have received their award letters from colleges.

Families, however, are at a disadvantage when they look at these college awards. They typically have no idea if the offer of financial aid or a merit scholarship is a good one.

Families don’t know if teenagers with similar financial circumstances and academic profiles received better awards from the same schools.  Knowing this inside information would provide them with better leverage if they appealed their awards. Of course, many families don’t even know they can appeal awards even though many should!

Here’s another disadvantage that families face:

Students only know about the awards from colleges and universities where they applied. Teenagers might have received fabulous offers from other schools, but they weren’t in their funnel.

TuitionFit:  A clever way to find better college offers

Families, however, don’t have to remain at such a dramatic disadvantage when making what is often one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives.

A valuable tool exists that can help parents and teenagers decide whether individual awards are the best possible and, if desired, quickly recalibrate their college search for better financial fits.

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.

In a recent webinar, I talked with Mark Salisbury, the creator of TuitionFit and a long-time college administrator/insider, about how his free resource can help families.

In our conversation, we also talked at length about the state of college admissions in 2022 and beyond and how to use that knowledge to capture better deals.

Check out the recording of my webinar below:

How TuitionFit Works

High school seniors or parents upload financial aid award letters that they’ve received onto TuitionFit’s website.

They also provide basic information such as test scores and high school grade point average and their financial need that is represented by a child’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). An EFC represents what a household would be expected to pay, at a minimum, for one year of college.

TuitionFit redacts all of the private information on each letter and organizes them by a student’s academic stats and financial need to create a “Kelley Blue Book” of true college prices.

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 profile.

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 budget.

In addition, if you want to try to negotiate a better price with a school that has already accepted your son or daughter (usually a smart idea), now you have information and leverage that can be helpful in gaining a better price. Just don’t use the word “negotiate.”

Using TuitionFit scoop after admission deadlines

Don’t worry about being too late for admission deadlines! It’s important to remember that many colleges are open to getting applications into the summer. And that’s true even if they aren’t publicizing this fact! Many colleges quietly do this because they are still trying to fill their freshmen slots.

What if you don’t have an award letter(s) to share?

If your child isn’t a high school senior and doesn’t have offers to share yet, there are two options, but in neither case does the user see prices offered to current seniors.

1. With the free option, users can see all the colleges from which TuitionFit has offers shared by similar students during the prior two admissions cycles.  A user can filter that list by their preferred price range.
2. For a one-time $49 charge, you can see all of the pricing details and a copy of the anonymized offer letters that TuitionFit possesses that were shared by similar students during the prior two admissions cycles.  Individuals can filter that list by their preferred price range.

TuitionFit for high school counselors, educational consultants and non-profits

High school counselors, educational consultants and nonprofits can use TuitionFit in a couple of ways.
They can create their own free professional accounts and use TuitionFit to help students/families set up accounts, upload award letters and share access to the student’s results so they can provide better guidance.
Individual counselors or organizations can subscribe to the advanced search feature and search the dataset any time they want for $35 a month. Organizations can get a group discounted price.
The best way, Salisbury says, for these folks to get involved is to join the TuitionFit Collaborative.
High schools, independent college consultants and non-profits can do this by making using TuitionFit a part of their core process.  Every student would create a TuitionFit account, use it to help build a college list and then upload all of his/her award letters. TuitionFit gives free access to the search feature to all counselors participating in the TuitionFit Collaborative.




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