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Getting Started

 

Wondering how to pay for college can be a frightening prospect. Education costs seem to always be on the rise, and if your family isn't wealthy, you may be afraid you can't afford to go to college at all.

Fortunately, there are a lot of options available for students today to assist with the costs of college. Before you start panicking about how expensive it is going to be, do your homework.

Things to Know When Applying for Financial Aid

1. What's the average total cost (including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and other personal expenses) for the first year?
2. How much am I going to spend on room and board? What are the pros and cons of living in university residences as opposed to private accommodation?
3. How much will total costs increase each year?
4. Does financial need have an impact on admission decisions?
5. How much do I have saved and how much can my family contribute?

Top 10 Things to Ask Your Financial Aid Officer

1. What are all the different types of financial aid available? What are the differences between them?
2. What application forms are required to complete the financial aid process? What is the priority deadline?
3. When will I be notified about financial aid award decisions?
4. How much financial aid will I receive?
5. If the financial aid award package isn't enough to make it possible for me to attend my preferred college, under what conditions, if any, will the aid office reconsider the offer?
6. How is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculated? If my family can't meet the financial responsibilities from current income or assets, what financing options are available to help me pay my share?
7. How will my aid package change from year to year? What will happen if my financial situation changes?
8. What are the terms and conditions of the aid programs included in my award package (e.g., treatment of outside scholarships)? What are the academic requirements or other conditions for the renewal of financial aid, including scholarships?
9. What amount of student loan debt does the typical student borrower have once he or she finishes college? Where do I fit on this scale?
10. When can my family expect to receive bills from the college? Is there an option to spread the yearly payment over equal monthly installments? If the bill is not paid by the deadline, will there be penalties? Does the college accept payment by credit card?

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