How to Get Into & Pay for College


As a lower middle class family, how are we going to afford college?

QUESTION: I’m the parent of a high school sophomore and I’m starting to think about how my husband and I are going to pay for our daughter’s education. We’ve saved up some money but not enough. As for our income, we’re lower middle class and we’re certainly not raking in big bucks. What is federal financial aid, and how do I find out more about it?
–Middle Class Mom

Dear Middle Class Mom: One of the misconceptions about college is that you have to be in the socioeconomic upper crust to be able to pay for it. The government awards almost $97 billion in federal financial aid each year to ensure that students from a variety of backgrounds are able to gain higher educations. Federal aid comes in three forms: grants, which do not need to be repaid; loans, which are repaid after the student graduates; and work-study, which allows the student to work while attending school. When your daughter is a senior, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal aid. To find out more about federal aid eligibility and requirements, visit the Department of Education’s website at or call 1-800-4-FED-AID.


Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.

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