There’s no question about it: college is a large investment. But there are a few questions students should ask regarding financial aid, says Mark Kantrowitz, author of “Filing the FAFSA” and senior vice president and publisher of Edvisors.com.
Those questions are:
1. Do you meet full demonstrated financial need or is there an unmet need? (Unmet need is the difference between the student’s demonstrated financial need and the student’s financial aid package.)
2. How does the college reduce the need-based financial aid package when a student wins a private scholarship? (Scholarship displacement can affect college affordability.)
3. Do you practice front-loading of grants? (Front-loading is a financial aid strategy used by colleges to award more grants and scholarships to a student in his or her first year of attendance. In subsequent years, the college will reduce the amount of grants and scholarships and offer more self-help aid, such as student employment and student loans.)
4. What percentage of students graduate with debt and what is the average cumulative debt at graduation?
5. How does one appeal for more financial aid if the financial aid award is insufficient or the family’s financial circumstances have changed or will change?
By asking these questions, students can make informed decisions about which institution to attend, as well as ensure a successful financial future after graduation.