How To Find The School With The Best Financial Aid

Dear College Made Simple reader,

We all know that the vast majority of households need financial aid in order to afford college.

Even wealthy families need – and are eligible for – help. Familes earning $160,000 to $180,000 got an average of $26,450 in need-based aid from Princeton University, as just one example (as reported in a recent cbsnews.com story)

What many people don’t know is that not all schools are equal in their generosity. In fact – only 63 out of 1,700 colleges and universities even bother to claim they’ll fill the full need of students.

The rest will give varying degrees of help – with varying combinations of money. Read on to find out how to determine where your favorite schools rank.

-Scott

How To Find The School With The Best Financial Aid

For starters, do the research online, or call the schools individually.

All sorts of good information is out there, if you know where to look. If you dig deep enough, you can find:

•           How many incoming students applied for financial aid

•           How many were judged to have need

•           How many then received financial aid

•           How much of that need was met (100% is the goal, but rare)

•           How big the average package is

•           How much came as grants and scholarships (free money), or loans and

            work-study jobs (not free at all).

•           What the percentage breakdown is between grants and loans

•           How indebted the average student is at graduation

Will you get a fair financial aid offer?

Put all of those together, and you’ll have an excellent idea what kind of financial aid package you’re likely to get. For instance…

If the average need met is low, you’re not going to be happy with your package. If most of the package comes in the form of loans, you’re going to graduate with a big pile of debt.

Likewise, don’t assume anything at the start when looking at schools. More expensive schools may appear daunting when you see their retail cost – but those schools also tend to have the biggest financial aid packages. You could easily find that, after financial aid is taken into account, the expensive schools can actually be the same cost – if not cheaper – than the “lower-priced” schools.

Finally, don’t wait until you’ve got a favorite school, or you’re accepted somewhere. Many schools have financial aid deadlines that pass before they send out acceptance letters. Apply for financial aid at one of these schools, and you’ll probably have fewer eligible students chasing the money.

Of course, if that will truly work in your favor, you should see it in the stats. Start there, have some conversations and questions for the financial aid office – an important one being: Will the financial aid package change after the first year? This way you’ll have a very good idea what kind of help you can expect.

Once you know that, you can start to make informed decisions where to spend your time – and hopefully, where you won’t have to spend too much of your money.

To your college funding & admissions success,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network LLC

Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com – The free educational resource of College Planning Network

 

Related Articles:

How to Pick a College or University That’ll Give You the Best Financial Aid Package

8 Vital Questions Every Parent Must Ask Colleges Before Applying for Financial Aid

7 Strategies to Help You Get the Maximum Amount of Money for Your Child’s College Education

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.