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3 Must-Ask Questions for the Financial Aid Director: Unlocking Financial Aid Wisdom

3 must-ask questions for the financial aid director or office shared by financial aid expert Jodi Okun at College Financial Aid Advisors
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Whether you’re a senior weighing your financial aid options or a junior gearing up for college visits this summer, remember: the financial aid office is your friend! I know that it can seem like a super overwhelming and scary place to visit, but they really are there to help you! The folks there, especially the director, know their stuff. When you chat with the financial aid office, asking the right questions is key.

Here are three important questions to kickstart your conversation with the financial aid director and office: 

How much does it really cost to attend this college? 

 It can be frustrating to try to come up with cost figures because students all have individual financial circumstances, but the financial aid director will probably have the best understanding of the closest dollar estimate for attending the school. 

Start with a complete understanding of what it really costs to attend this college, not just tuition or room and board. You need to understand the typical costs for fees, books, living and travel expenses to have the full picture. Find out whether grants and scholarships are renewable, and what the anticipated increase is for next year’s tuition so you can plan ahead. From this amount you can subtract the amount of financial aid most students receive that does not have to be repaid, such as grants and scholarships. 

What are my chances of realistically being able to repay my student loans? 

You have to get a clear picture of whether this school is committed to helping you succeed. Find out how many students from the freshman class typically stay after the first semester, and ask how long it usually takes to graduate for your degree. Inquire about the percentage of graduating seniors who land jobs and what their average income is for various degrees.  This will help you determine whether you will actually be able to earn enough money to repay any student loans you might need. Otherwise, you could be looking at a future of debt piling up! 

What else do you suggest for students in my particular situation?

 Most financial aid directors have years of experience and they have worked with students in just about any financial situation imaginable. Explain the specifics of your financial background, let the director know if anything is anticipated to change within the next year, and ask about what other students have done to achieve success.  This can be helpful to gather a more personalized understanding of the finances of this decision.  

The financial aid director can be a wonderful source of information but if you are still not sure how to proceed, you can always work with a professional college financial aid advisor to make sure you understand all the implications of the financial decisions you make. Your advisor can help you put together a list of intelligent questions and will also help you decipher the answers. If you need help coming up with questions for the financial aid director, contact us! 

More about Jodi and College Financial Aid Advisors

Jodi is a FAFSA financial advisor who helps with the financial aid process to help families of college students maximize their financial aid. From completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options, Jodi is a fantastic resource when it comes to student financial aid. Schedule a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college.

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