William T. Conley
Dean of Enrollment & Academic Services
Johns Hopkins University
First and foremost, it is important that you and your parents have an open discussion about the general realities of how much your family can pay for college. There should not be specific dollar figures mentioned, just a sense of what factors need to be considered: other expenses, younger brothers or sisters, employment, and whether taking on student loans to help pay for college will be an option. But even if resources are limited, you should not exclude higher cost colleges from your list of colleges. Need-based grants and/or merit scholarships could make the most expensive sticker price college the most affordable one. If financial aid will be critical in your choice of colleges, your entire list of colleges should be #1 colleges!
To get more quick and helpful advice, check out answers to other important questions in our Financial Aid—Ask The Experts section.