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My experience has been that people talking about financial aid haven't been through the process yet or in quite a while and tend to think that "financial aid" translates to all grants.

Mine,too. The EFC calculator at is a useful tool. I know the theory behind the net price calculators at the college sites but haven't used those.

For anyone looking a colleges with kids, keep in mind that the merit aid(scholarship) process can be on an entirely different schedule than need-based aid. Look carefully at the college site and the particular major department as well. The ROTC scholarship review starts even earlier.

Also, it's a really good idea to have a discussion with your kid as early as possible about what you are and aren't willing to do. Beginning of ninth grade is not a bad time. If you have money invested in less safe things, this is also a time to begin the move to safer ground.
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