Why You May Want to Have a “Financial Safety” School On Your List

By now you have likely heard of a “safety school” and have some understanding of what that means. (Read more here) In that sense, we are talking about changes of being admitted to a particular school. But there is a newer phrase in the world of college counseling that you may want to understand better, and it is, “financial safety.” In this blog we will go over what it is, and why it makes sense to have one on your list.

What is a Financial Safety School?

A financial safety school is a college that is likely going to be affordable by the family or student. That could mean one of two things:

  1. The cost of the college is affordable out of pocket, or with minimal loans, for the parents and/or student. Generally, in-state tuition at colleges or universities is lower than out-of-state or private universities. So a financial safety school could be a state 4-year university, or even a local community college.
  2. A college where the student will be at the very top of the admission pool and likely to get significant merit money from the school. You should always get advice from a college expert about how to determine this given the student’s application profile.


Do I Have to Have One?

Well, no. Of course, there are some families for whom the price of college can be easily covered. However, circumstances canchange and it certainly can’t hurt.


Why Should I Have One on My List?

The financial aid game is extremely unpredictable, as is life, quite frankly. Despite many colleges offering Net Price Calculators on their websites to give families an idea of what the costs will be, the final cost could wind up being very different. In this day and age where financial circumstances are uncertain for some families, and colleges can’t make any promises about the financial aid a student will get, it makes sense to have one backup on the list.


How Can I Find a Financial Safety That I Like?

A college counselor can be extremely helpful with this.  There may have to be some slight concessions on the student’s part, ie if a student wants a school far away, parents may insist on their child applying to one state university as a financial safety. Even though that isn’t what the student wants rightnow, circumstances can change, and it may be the best option down the road. To determine if a private college is likely to offer a student generous amounts of scholarships and grants, a college counselor or financial aid officer at a college can provide some insight.


Just as with an admission “safety” school, there are no guarantees with a “financial safety” school.  But it’s wise for students and families to hedge their bets and add one school to the list that is affordable under the toughest financial circumstances.



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