During March and April, each day may be bringing news of college acceptances and financial aid packages to your college bound freshman. Your excitement over being accepted can, however, quickly turn to the stress of having to make a college choice by May 1st. For so many families, evaluating and comparing financial aid packages is a big factor in the college decision. There is, however, almost no standardization in the way colleges present their financial aid award packages to you, so comparing financial aid packages is no simple task.
In order to help you make meaningful sense of all of the numbers, sites like www.finaid.org have developed financial aid comparison tools to help you compare apples-to-apples-to-apples when looking at various financial aid packages. Making sure that you compare your financial aid packages accurately is important because the merits of a financial aid package should be judged on more than their bottom line. The school with the biggest total on the financial aid package doesn’t necessarily win. It’s important to look at and evaluate the components of the financial aid package so that you know if one has significantly more loan money and less grant money, for example. Remember too, that work study does NOT get deducted from your bill at the vast majority of schools. Instead, it is simply an estimate of what the student might earn, and you must pay this amount up front. Using sites like www.finaid.org will help you to be a better consumer and ensure that you are making a sound, well-reasoned decision.