I finally got confirmation on the final piece of financial aid.
I never expected any need-based financial aid whatsoever. But our State has a middle class grant (if you attend a public college). It just takes forever to process. & the whole thing seemed very vague, but the dollar amount showed up in MM's 'financial aid' stuff this week.
This confirms free tuition for Year 1. Woohoo!
I had actually just left it very "whatever" because I hadn't realized you had to pay tuition to get college tax credits. So either he had free tuition or we had a college tax credit, it was going to all be the same in the end anyway. I was guessing he'd get $2K-$4K for this State Grant.
In the end it works out to: $6K scholarship + $2K Grant + $2K tax credit = Free Tuition Year 1.
As to room/board... The dining plan is a wash with what we already pay to feed that kid. So I am not expecting to have any added expenses on this front.
Dorms were a big question mark due to the pandemic. They've gone back and forth if they will do full capacity and I didn't know where things landed. Less roommates would equal more cost. I personally would prefer less roommates and more cost. (The dorms are far below market rent, and it's pennies more to get a solo room. Not literally pennies, but when it comes to the market cost of housing it's just like nothing). We were able to state that preference on the housing application.
The dorm ended up being much lower than I expected (probably went back to full capacity, after quoting us up front with 'half capacity' costs). I had also completely forgotten about the deposit I paid with stimulus/unemployment money. The total cost is $9,000. He ended up with the cheapest option, and more roommates. That does include utilities, laundry, everything. For reference, is cheaper (substantially) than the rent I paid in San Francisco when I was 18.
I decided to pay quarterly (this school is quarter system) because as much as I prefer to pre-pay things, there was no financial benefit to doing so. Keeping track of a monthly bill would drive me crazy. So quarterly will end up being the sweet spot. First quarterly payments will be due September 1.
It works out to the following (after deposits already made):
Tuition $700 (will save this in taxes, but have to pay it up front)
Total $4,500 1st Quarter
So I will be draining $4,500 from the $12K I have set aside for College Year 1. That looks more like $15,000 Total (for the year), but will be offsetting the $2K tuition with a tax credit. & I expect to save $5K-ish in groceries over the next year. So really I was estimating $12K for dorm when it only ended up being $8,500 (after funding deposit with other monies). Which leaves a lot of cash to throw at food, if my grocery estimate is way off. If we still have 'Year 1' money left over, that's a good start to 'Year 2'. We will spend the next 12 months coming up with the money for Year 2.
Our credit card bill is absurd, at $4,000 already for the month. That's roughly $2K medical + $1,200 laptop + $500 auto insurance. Plus regular spending. I am going to pay off $4K-ish this week. Was just waiting to nail down college costs before I start pulling money from savings (wanting to transfer just one lump sum). I'd say on an average month we spend about $700 on this card. So seeing that $4K balance like 5 days into the month... I need to pay it down for my sanity.
Edited to add: Finally, I saw a tip where to figure out this CA financial aid stuff. MM(18) had a login and so we just looked at it. They are only rewarding him 3 years of the CA middle class grant, because he is starting technically as a sophmore. (Which might be useful for other majors, but he can't apply any of his one bajillion credits to his engineering degree). I am writing this down here because I will never remember this. Jotting it down for now, and will get more organized later.