You have offers of admissions from several universities. In addition to congratulating you on being admitted, the colleges will send you information about their offer of scholarships or other types of financial assistance available.
When receiving financial aid, often one financial aid offer looks better. But is it really? How do you know? Compare financial aid offers using the same criteria to determine which award is truly the best offer. Here are 6 questions to ask:
- What is the Student Budget? The award should list expenses for: 1) Tuition & Fees; 2) Room & Board; 3) Books & Supplies; 4) Personal Expenses, 5) Transportation (getting to and from the campus). If the award does not include these items, search the website for the information or call the college.
- What is your Family contribution? The amount your family is expected to pay toward college is on the confirmation page you received when you filed the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid). This number should be listed on all your awards. If it’s not there, ask the college why.
- Is there a gap? Use the financial aid equation above to see if you are eligible for financial aid. Then check the college’s award letter. Is the college offering all the money you need? Or only a portion of it?
- How much is in grants and scholarships? How much of the award is money you do not have to pay back? Is the grant or scholarship renewable? What are the conditions for renewable?
- How much is in student and parent loans? How much of the award is parent loan? An offer of $20,000 parent loan alone is not a good offer.
- Is there a good mix? Look for a good mix. Are you being offered grants, scholarships, loans and work?
Your goal is to have good choices in your financial aid or merit awards.
It’s important to enter all your awards into a cost comparison tool. This gives you a list of all the awards colleges are offering you. Once all your offers are entered in one place, you can start comparing, using the six critical questions above.
To enter college AWARDS :
- Log into your GuidedPath account.
- From your dashboard, click on the blue Decisions box.
- Click on each college Decision Details.
- Click on Responses: Admitted? Waitlisted? Not Admitted?
- Click on Awards. Add each award from your award letters in this section.
- Enter Award type | Name of the award | Annual Amount | Total Amount (4 year amount)| Additional Information (if any)
Repeat this process for EVERY college. Get all your numbers entered to prepare for the next step: Comparing Financial Aid Awards
Next week: How to Compare your college awards.