It costs a ton of money to go to college. Common sense tells you that. But figuring out how to get the cash you need isn't so matter-of-fact. To navigate the financial aid maze, you've got to know all those silly acronyms—and put them into practice. Are you up to the task? Take this crazy quiz to find out.
1. Your dad asks you to pick up the FAFSA from your high school guidance counselor. You say:
a) "You mean the Free Application for Federal Student Aid? I've already filled it out online at www.fafsa.ed.org
b) "Thatsa goodsa ideasa."
c) "My Swedish mail-order bride has arrived."
2. Your friends start discussing "Stafford" and "Perkins" during lunch. You:
a) scratch your head and say, "Wait! What's the difference between a Stafford Loan and a Perkins Loan, again?"
b) start feeling nostalgic. That "Stafford and Perkins" was a cool private-eye TV drama back in the day.
c) jump right in. "Are we talking subsidized or unsubsidized Stafford Loans," you ask, "and did you qualify for a Pell Grant?"
3. Your mom tells you she's worried that your financial aid package won't be big enough. You:
a) scoff. Big enough for what?
b) freak and tell all your friends you're skipping college for a career as a taste-tester for peanut butters.
c) suggest a family meeting to brainstorm creative ways to pay for your education.
4. Your pal Hoover says his parents are going to do the PLUS. You say:
a) "Lucky duck! That's less you have to pay off after college."
b) "Is that a grant, voucher, loan or scholarship? And how can my folks apply?"
c) "Yeah, my dad's a big-and-tall, too."
5. During a visit with your high school guidance counselor, she suggests you file with the CSS. You say:
a) "The College Scholarship Service? That would be an excellent idea if I hadn't already filled out my PROFILE application."
b) "I knew it—you're one of them! They just won't leave me alone…"
c) "More information, puh-lease."
6. As you're falling asleep one night, you overhear your parents talking about the SAR. You:
a) babble, "Student expected family report aid contribution expected aid student family…"
b) assume Mom and Dad have finally snapped and warn your siblings.
c) get up to tell them that SAR and EFC combined and scrambled makes "farces." Then grab a glass of OJ and listen in as they explain the terms.
7. Your best friend Magda tells you she's planning to do work-study at college next year. You:
a) call her a pawn of the system. You don't plan on doing either next fall.
b) tell her you'd like to be a part of the work-study program, too, if you qualify.
c) ask, "What's involved in work-study, anyway? And how did you apply?"
8. Dad says he's furnishing the federal government with verification. You say:
a) "Glad you kept records of your income tax return."
b) "Can't the government pay for its own vacation?"
c) "Verification, Schmerification. Why do they need that?"
9. During a campus visit to your prospective college, your financial aid officer says you should look into a Federal Hope Scholarship. You say:
a) "My parents have already received tax credit for me as well as for my two sisters who are also in college."
b) "Ummm…I'm not sure the government should be giving that away. It seems like it can use all the hope it can get."
c) "That sounds good. But first I'll need to check with Mom and Dad to see if their combined income makes me eligible for this scholarship."
Add Up Your Score
1. a)3 b)2 c)1
2. a)2 b)1 c)3
3. a)1 b)2 c)3
4. a)3 b)2 c)1
5. a)3 b)1 c)2
6. a)3 b)1 c)2
7. a)1 b)3 c)2
8. a)3 b)1 c)2
9. a)3 b)1 c)2
Money Master (22 to 27 points)
Congratulations! You've got the lingo down. The question is, are you doing something about it? Just being an expert on financial aid facts and figures won't get you the cash you need to pay for college. Dig deeper with "Cash Quest" (page 28), and put your money mind toward your future education. Since finances are one of the biggest causes of family conflict, meet with your parents regularly to discuss matters and commit the process to God.
On the Cash Course (15 to 21 points)
So you haven't sorted the form acronyms from the loan acronyms? That's all right—you're swinging par. Get your feel for the green (and we're not just talking about golf) by tearing out our "Terms to Know" worksheet (page 10). Then get a better feel for what you don't know by reading "What's Work-Study" (page 58) and "What About College Loans?" (page 48). If you're still confused, don't feel bad—visit your guidance counselor!
Behind the Bucks (8 to 14 points)
If you're planning on college for next fall, you need to wake up. Hit the shower, grab a soft drink, then sit down with "Terms to Know" (page 10) and "Countdown to College Cash" (page 14). See what you've got to do, then get going. You can also find tons of info on the Internet (see "Cash.com" on page 36), including most applications you might need; you can even save time by filing the FAFSA online. Ask your parents and guidance counselor to keep you accountable. —Martin Cockroft