is the time of year when many high school students
decide where they will attend college.
big factor in that decision for many families is how
much financial aid they’ll receive.
key tool that will give you that information is the
financial aid award letter. It summarizes the types and
sources of student financial aid available to a student.
they’re not that easy to understand.
letters can be confusing, in part due to a lack of
standardization and in part due to confusing
terminology," said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of
Edvisors Network Inc., which publishes college financial
example, colleges often discuss the "expected
family contribution" or EFC. But that figure often
omits many costs. It may also include loans as part of
the aid package, even though those loans must be paid
college designs its own financial aid award letter,
Kantrowitz said. Nearly a third of them don’t mention
the college’s cost of attendance — tuition, fees,
room, board, books, supplies, equipment, transportation
and miscellaneous/personal expenses. Or they list a cost
that is incomplete.
list only the direct costs, such as tuition, fees, room
and board, which are paid to the college,"
cost of attendance is a factor in calculating the net
price of college. For example, most students will be
required to have a computer.
true cost of college is reflected in the net
price," he said. "The net price is the
difference between total college costs and just the gift
aid" such as grants and scholarships.
subtract the total amount of gift aid from the total
cost of attendance. This is the net price, which is the
amount of money the family must pay from savings, income
and loans to cover college costs.
remember that financial aid packages often include
loans, which do not cut college costs. They merely
spread out the costs over time.
you’re not satisfied with the amount of financial aid
you receive, appeal to the school to review your
financial aid package. If your family has undergone a
major change in your financial situation, you have a
good chance of winning an appeal.
parent losing a job or having salary reduced.
family member is critically ill.
are high dependent-care costs related to a special needs
child or elderly grandparent.
student and family should take action immediately,"
Kantrowitz said, "regardless of whether the special
circumstances are due to an ongoing need or a