Paying for college isn't as scary as you may think

(Source: 123rf.com)

If you are a parent, you've likely been worried about how to pay for college since your kids were in diapers.

But, as it turns out, college doesn't have to break the bank as long as you plan ahead because the tuition we paid 20 years ago has more than quadrupled for Arizona schools.

"Now we're looking at $25-30 thousand depending on honors college and we're some of the cheapest in the country here in Arizona," said Chris Ordway of the HEFAR Group.

[SPECIAL SECTION: GMAZ]

HEFAR stands for higher education financial aid resources.

He said the price colleges and universities charge for admission is not what you'll pay.

"You can't look at the cost of attendance. The cost of attendance means nothing in this entire process," said Ordway. "It's an arbitrary number. You will not pay that cost of attendance in 90 percent of the cases."

[RELATED: Local high-schooler takes 'shot' at funding college with delicious idea]

What you will pay is your expected family contribution or EFC.

It's the number he and his colleagues help you figure out by looking at your entire financial picture; things like assets, income, and debt.

"We tell parents, consider that your insurance deductible for college. So whatever that number is, they're going to tell every school this is what this family can afford for college," said Ordway.

This includes schools that seem out of reach.

He explained schools like that simply have more in their endowment funds so they can do a much better job helping parents pay for a college education.

[READ MORE: 5 mistakes students cannot afford to make in college]

"In a lot of cases, we can show them how to go to a Stanford or a Duke or a Georgetown for about the same they're paying at an ASU or even less."

Not only will they help you figure out your EFC, they'll help you lower it, offering parents and students peace of mind worth its weight in gold.

Ideally, families should figure out your EFC at the end of the sophomore year or early junior year.

The services HEFAR offers are completely free.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

CBS 5 Traffic Anchor

Recommended for you