Important Questions to Ask About Financial Aid

January 23, 2012 Category: College Scholarships and Grants

If it wasn’t for financial aid, grants, scholarships and student loans, a huge number of students would not be able to earn their degrees. Receiving funds for college can be an overwhelming process for any family but especially for those putting their child through college for the first time. Because it is important to understand all of the options available when it comes to financial aid, newbies will want to become familiar with the questions listed below, which can help them get solid answers as to what they can expect.

Before diving into the questions, it is vital to point out that this information will be much more applicable once your child actually gets accepted into a college and university. This gives families actual figures to work with in terms of tuition, fees and other related costs.

What Types of Aid is Available?

To clarify, this question is in relation to whether the college or university your child is interested in applying to offers need-based or merit-based financial aid or both. Need-based means providing funds to students from low-income families that typically cannot afford to cover the college related costs themselves. Merit-based means being awarded money based on a student’s demonstrated accomplishments in a particular subject or skill set.

How Much Have Costs Increased In the Past 3-5 Years?

It’s normal for tuition and other costs at colleges and universities to increase but it’s vital that families are aware of how much these numbers have grown in recent years. Students planning on attending a college or university that is known for its recent trend of raising the tuition every other year or so, can expect to pay even more over the course of their college career.

What are the Guidelines for Renewing Financial Aid Packages?

Many financial aid packages come with a list of rules and guidelines. If needed, have a sit-down with the school’s financial aid officer in order to get an easy to understand breakdown of what action will need to be taken in order to renew the financial aid package for the upcoming term. Knowing this ahead of time gives parents plenty of time to prepare and get things in order so their child’s financial aid won’t be interrupted at the start of the new semester/quarter.

What is the Average Cost Overall Each Year 

Getting an approximate figure from a school’s financial aid officer about the average cost will help greatly when crunching numbers and trying to figure out just how much aid a family will need, compared to what amount they can cover out of their own pocket. Make sure the number given includes things like room and board, meal plans, supplies, books, etc. in addition to tuition and fees.

There is nothing wrong with setting up an appointment with a college’s financial aid office. Never be afraid to ask for clarification about something you don’t understand. It is a financial aid officer’s job to ensure that they provide the most up to date, understandable information for anyone seeking their advice.

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