Aspiring college students and their families have many options. A student can attend an in-state or an out-of-state school, a public or private college, a two-year community college program or a four-year university program. Students can attend full time and have a bachelor of arts degree by the age of twenty-three or mix college and work, progressing toward a degree more slowly. To make matters more complicated, the array of financial aid available is more complex than ever. Students and their families must weigh federal grants, state merit scholarships, college tax credits, and college savings accounts, to name just a few. This book shows how students and their families really make college decisions—how they respond to financial aid options, how peer relationships figure in the decision-making process, and even whether they need mentoring to get through the admissions process. Students of all sorts are considered—from poor students, who may struggle with applications and with deciding whether to continue on to college, to high-aptitude students who are offered “free rides” at elite schools. The book utilizes the best methods and latest data to analyze the college decision-making process, while explaining how changes in aid and admissions practices inform those decisions as well.