College Parents: Don’t Leave Money on the Table!

01/20/22 / Anita Drentlaw

My daughter Kayla’s post-graduation plans are taking shape. She looked at several great schools, including both private and public, starting the summer before her junior year. At first, I thought that may be too early, but I quickly determined that visiting schools is tiring and there is so much information to consider. I am glad we started when we did.

She started applying to schools in late summer before her senior year. In all, she applied to four of the seven schools we visited. Then started the waiting game for acceptances and the all-important question of how much a potential merit scholarship might be based purely on her academics and school involvement. Acceptance letters came in and finally the one she was waiting for … the University of St. Thomas! I’m so proud of her and thrilled she will be a third-generation Tommie. I had such a great experience there, I was secretly hoping she’d go there too. I swear I didn’t pressure her!

With that decision made, our family now has more definitive information to act on. We know roughly how much tuition, room and board are going to cost and how much she received for a merit scholarship. Unknown yet is the bottom line – or the “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC) – that we’ll have to finance personally. We have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA), which became available in early October, to find out what federal and state grants, additional scholarships, work study and federally subsidized student loans we may be eligible for. We knew the sooner we applied, the more aid that may be available to us so we made sure to get that done before Thanksgiving. The deadline to complete the FASFA for fall 2022 enrollment is June 30, 2022.

Like doing taxes, completing the FASFA might seem daunting. I’m a CPA, so I wasn’t scared. What does scare me is knowing a lot of families never take the steps to complete the FASFA. According to this post ( on the @CollegeAveStudentLoans blog, “Only 57 percent of high school seniors in the class of 2019 completed the FAFSA; those who skipped it were ineligible to receive federal aid, such as grants, work-study programs, and even federal student loans. Students could even miss out on school-offered scholarships since many colleges use the FAFSA to determine your aid.”

That’s crazy to me. Maybe there are a lot more people who can foot the entire bill for college than I think! It’s more likely that families are missing out on “free” money. As a banker, I cannot fathom!

If your family has a kid attending college or technical school in the fall, complete the FASFA. There are a lot of helpful articles about the FASFA and the financial aid process on the College Ave blog ( and on the website, where you can access the FASFA itself.  The website also has some great additional resources, such as college prep checklists based on the grade your student is currently in and a link to YouTube videos that can walk you through various processes. 

While you’re on the College Ave website, dig around to learn the ins and outs of college financing, the difference between private student loans, parent loans and loans offered by the government. There are also handy calculators and timelines to inform your decisions.

New Market Bank partners with College Ave ( to offer loans tailored to the unique needs of students and their families. College Ave has expertise and resources beyond the scope of what our bank offers and provides our customers with great service. It is never too early to start to plan for college!

#collegeave #FASFA #studentloans