Any time now, parents and students will be receiving their financial aid award package. Parents wait with great anticipation for these figures; because for many, it could mean the difference between a student’s dream school and their second or third choice college that offers substantial financial aid.
But before that day arrives, it’s important to be prepared with these few tips:
Complete these four activities: revisit the colleges that offered admission, discuss the money (what you will be willing to pay), take a look at the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choice colleges, and understand the components of the award letter.
Understand these terms: “gapping” (a college offers aid, but it doesn’t meet your full need), “admit/deny” (college offers your student admission but does not give any aid to attend), and “financial aid front-loading” (colleges make their most generous offer to lure applicants to attend).
Get ready to compare awards. If the college has implemented the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet it’s easy to compare. Familiarize yourself with the form. If a college does not provide it, you can download the sheet and complete it yourself for each college.
Prepare yourself for the emotions: joy, tears, and even disappointment. After the excitement of the acceptances, comes the decision of whether or not to attend based on the award package. Don’t give in to these emotions and decide to borrow heavily. Your son or daughter will thank you after they graduate. It’s tough love time–don’t cave.
If your award package isn’t what you expected, there are options available before discounting the college altogether. I address them in this post: Bummed About Your Award?.
Check out my guide for parents: Parents Crash Course