Speaking from experience, one of the daunting things facing parents of multiples is paying multiple college bills simultaneously.
In an earlier post, I listed some of the college scholarship options available to twins, triplets and other multiples. Another consideration is the impact on the Expected Family Contribution (or EFC) of having several children in college. As the name suggests, the EFC describes the amount of money a family is able and expected to chip in to pay for the cost of college, as calculated in the federal student aid application process. It is used to determine "financial need" in this process. After taking the EFC into account, a loan and/or grant package can be developed to bridge the gap and help pay for schooling. Of course, the lower the EFC, the higher the financial need. Families that can show high financial need are eligible to receive more financial assistance.
The "silver lining" in the case of multiple siblings attending college at the same time is that the EFC is a family-level calcuation. In other words, if it is determined that a family can contribute $21,000 per year to college and there is one child in school, it will be expected that all $21,000 of that EFC will be available for that child. If three kids are in school, it will be assumed that roughly $7,000 is availabe for each student. If those kids are triplets that all complete their schooling in four years, and they all have a $21,000 total bill for school each year, each student will be eligible for $14,000 per year of aid. On the other hand, if three children were each born two years apart but otherwise followed the same path and paid $21,000 each (ignoring inflation), the family would a) have eight years of college ahead of them, and b) in four of those years they would not be eligible for traditional federal aid at all. In the middle four years they would only be eligible for $10,500 per student of such aid.
It should be noted that the calculation of the EFC and financial need is a somewhat complex process. In reality, the numbers will not work out this precisely. Although this is a simplistic example, the message is valid regardless of the numbers used.
This all may seem like cold comfort to my fellow triplet parents, but why not look on the bright side when there is one?