Can Upper-Middle Class Families Still Qualify for College Financial Aid?

The short answer is: YES! It’s a common misconception that upper-middle class families simply make too much to qualify for any sort of aid when paying for college. A lot of families think they’re simply stuck paying the sticker price for school. Thinking that they’re stuck with the sticker price, a lot of families rule out colleges that are actually great fits for the student.

It’s actually a myth.

But, that’s not really true.

Many public institutions have lower cut-offs for any sort of institutional aid (most households making over $99,999 won’t qualify), but many private institutions offer generous aid packages even for families that earn $175,000-200,000 per year. In other words, plenty of upper-middle class families qualify for financial aid, and they can even qualify for a lot of it!

An example:

Let’s examine a scenario where a female student inputs the following information into College Raptor:

  • GPA: 3.5 (unweighted)
  • SAT:1800
  • Parent income: $185,000
  • Parent assets: $100,000
  • Student income and assets: < $2,500

If we look at Hendrix College in AR (a great hypothetical academic fit for this student), we see this:

hendrix net price - upper-middle class families do qualify for aid

Although Hendrix’s sticker price is over $51,000, they have strong financial aid for families making up to $200,000 per year. Because this student is such a great fit for their school, the estimated net price of attendance is only $34,479 per year — a savings of about 33% off the sticker price. That’s a huge amount of money the family can save.

We looked at the estimated cost of Hendrix at different income levels too:

hendrix net price by income

This shows us where Hendrix’s tuition is the most affordable. Families make under $200,000 can expect a sizable aid package based on their income. Families making more than $200,000 are more likely to be charged full price for tuition. That’s significantly more affordable than what most upper-middle class families expect. In the same vein, a lot of colleges are more affordable than you may expect, no matter what your financial situation is.

File the FAFSA!

Absolutely file the FAFSA, even if you’re an upper-middle class family. It doesn’t matter if you think you don’t qualify — and obviously, this article shows you how it’s not true. Filing the FAFSA opens you up to scholarships, grants, and federal student loans, all of which are ways to pay for and afford college. Any amount of gift aid money is good, because that means either less student loans for you or less money your parents have to pay for your education. Even though many colleges have great financial aid packages for upper-middle class families, you can always save more money.

To find the right school, families just need to compare their net prices and different institutions and find the ones that are best suited for your academic goals AND financial situation. College can be much more affordable than many people think, even for upper middle class families. Again, it’s a total myth that upper middle class families don’t qualify for financial aid. College Raptor helps find the best college for you and your family based specifically on your individual circumstances.

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