As a high school senior you and your parents are trying to make the best decision about which college you will choose. You want to attend a great school, but also need to make sure it is affordable. You are leaning towards one of the schools but aren’t sure if their financial aid is really the best offer. Test it out with these six tips:
1. Don’t Get Emotional: Try to think of this decision in logical terms at the beginning. Don’t let your emotions about a particular college cloud your judgment regarding the financial aid package they are offering. Compare offers on an apples-to-apples basis. If everything else is equal money-wise, then you can let your heart make a choice.
2. Look at Outcomes: Check out the graduation rates at each college and find out how much money recent graduates earn. A great financial aid package from a school where you might not graduate could actually be worth less than another offer from a school where you have a better shot at graduating and landing a good job.
3. Ask for a Reassessment: Your financial situation may have changed since you filed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If it has, ask the school if it will consider accepting new information from you that can help clarify your current financial picture.
4. Let The College Know About Extenuating Circumstances: The FAFSA may not truly reflect your family’s ability to pay for your education because it just does not ask about every aspect of your life. For example, your family may still be recovering from a natural disaster, or may be caring for an elderly relative. These situations could have an impact on your financial capabilities.
5. Ask About Any New Scholarships: The financial aid office is constantly being advised about scholarship opportunities. Ask if any new scholarships have been created since your financial aid package was presented.
6. Calculate Exactly What You Will Pay Out of Pocket: Don’t just look at the starting figure. Calculate exactly what you will pay out of your own pocket for all four years when you take all expenses into consideration and subtract all of the financial aid offered.
Ask for Professional Help
It can be difficult sorting through the college financial aid maze on your own, especially if you have siblings who will be attending college in the near future or if there is some type of financial change on the horizon. A professional college financial aid advisor can help you compare the offers you have, think about your earning capabilities over the next few years, and put together various financial scenarios.
If you need help determining whether your financial aid is the best offer or understanding any component of the financial aid process, contact College Financial Aid Advisors (CFAA). We can help assess your offers to make sure you make the choice that’s best for you.