Q:

My parents only want me to apply to the least expensive colleges in our state. I have my heart set on a private school that costs a lot. Would it be possible for me to get enough financial aid so I can attend my dream school? -- Not Much Money

A:

You might actually be able to attend the more expensive school for the same amount of money as the cheaper one. Here is how it works: After Jan. 1, 2013, you need to send in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Next, you must apply for financial aid at the schools where you have applied for admission.

When you are admitted to a college, the school will send you a letter outlining the aid the college is offering you based on the financial information that you have submitted. Each college will calculate what your expected family contribution (EFC) will be. If your dream school covers the difference between the EFC and the cost of the college, it will cost you no more than less expensive schools, as your family's contribution will be close to the same.