CARE: Credit Abuse Resistance Education

Why Every College-Bound Student Should Have a Financial Safety School

Why Every College-Bound Student Should Have a Financial Safety School

Let’s face it. College applications aren’t much fun. They’re time-consuming, brain-draining, and more than a little mystifying. Not to mention the stakes are pretty high.

So it’s not hard to understand why a student may want to fill out applications for only a few schools.

But here’s the problem: The only time students get to see which schools offer them the best combination of academic quality, scholarship money, financial aid and loans – is AFTER they find out if they’ve been accepted.

And by then, if it turns out that the schools where they were accepted didn’t offer as much financial aid as expected, it’s usually too late to add more schools or look into other ones.

The solution: Do the same thing smart investors do to increase their potential for success. Take a diversified approach.

According to Nancy Goodman of College Money Matters, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping high school students and their families make informed decisions about applying, choosing and paying for college – any college-bound student should apply to at least the following:

  • Their dream school
  • Several colleges that are a good fit both academically and financially. State colleges are good options here.
  • An academic safety school – one that is very likely to accept the student. (These are
    sometimes referred to as “less selective schools.”)
  • At least one financial safety school – one the student’s family knows they can afford.


Students and families seeking an affordable education should also look into a two-year Community College, since some of the credits gained there could transfer to a 4-year school, make the overall college experience cost less.

It’s also good to consider the benefits of being “a big fish in a small pond.” In other words, the student should look for schools where they may have certain positive qualities that differentiate them from other likely applicants to that school – such as special talents, heritage, community service, higher grades, etc.

Sometimes, the more unique a student is, the more that school may be likely to offer financial assistance to attract them. For more information, here are some helpful links from the College Money Matters website


About the Author

Nancy Goodman is the founder and executive director of College Money Matters,  College Money Matters’ mission is to ensure that students and parents know how to avoid excessive college debt.  Nancy is a retired VP of Citibank.

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