An Overview of Financial Aid at the College Level
Tuesday, November 13, 2012  |  In Recruiting Tips, Scholarships and Financial Aid

How does a college determine what your financial need is? The federal government has a process for determining this and it begins with the completion of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). From this completed form, your official EFC (Expected Family Contribution) is calculated, which is an estimate of what the government believes your family can pay for college. This is not the maximum that a school is allowed to give you for financial aid, but it serves as a very accurate estimate as to how much need based financial aid you will receive.

A school's Financial Aid Package is your official financial offer from the college/university. It is available after you are accepted into a school and after you have submitted all necessary forms and paper work. The Financial Aid Package outlines in detail what type of awards the school is offering you and the amount that each award is worth. As mentioned before, the potential awards fit into the following categories: Athletic Scholarship, Merit Scholarships, Need Based Aid, Non-Need Based Grants, Loans and Work Study. These figures will allow you to determine the bottom line cost of your education.
 
Please note that the first financial aid offer is usually not the last and usually not the best that a school will be able to offer you. If you are serious about that school, they may be willing to offer you more financially to help you make your decision. Do not be afraid to appeal your financial aid process and see if more money is available to you. Many times, a student will be receive enough on the second or third offer to make the school affordable.
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