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Financial Aid Questions to Ask

Figuring out how to pay for college can be one of the most stressful aspects of the college process. Many students struggle with navigating all of the financial aid options, and end up overwhelmed or even more confused. This is why it is important to become familiar with a school's financial aid office! Admissions professionals may not always be privy to the financial aid information you need, so you may have to do some research to find the right person to contact. A financial aid officer will know all of the ins and outs of the financial aid system, so make sure to utilize this resource either by making an appointment, or by attending workshops during accepted students day / weekend.

To help you determine if the school is the best fit for you financially, here are some questions that you can ask a financial aid officer when you are applying for college admission, and after you have been accepted to ensure you are making the most informed college choice.

Questions to ask before you apply to college

  • What percentage of students have 100% of their financial need met? If my needs are met the first year, will this change?
  • How will my financial aid change from year to year?
  • If I apply early action or early decision, does that make me less likely to receive aid?
  • Does the university practice need-blind, need aware, or meets need in full admissions? If I apply for financial aid will this hurt my chances of being admitted?
  • Are there any specific scholarships or grants from your school that I may be eligible for? Do I need to apply or am I automatically considered if I qualify?
  • Is there a work/study program available at this college? If i don't qualify for work-study can I still get an on campus job?
  • What is the expected increase in tuition cost for the next 4 years?

Questions to ask after you apply to college

  • How do I apply for financial aid? Which (if any) forms are required besides the FAFSA?
  • What are the deadlines for applying for financial aid?
  • When should I receive my financial aid award letter?
  • How much debt do students usually graduate with? What percentage of need is met with student loans?
  • Are there any academic requirements or conditions for the renewal of financial aid?
  • Are there any other conditions or terms of the programs included in my financial aid package?
  • Are there any hidden fees we have to cover that aren't listed on your web site?
  • If the financial aid package that is offered is not enough, can it be appealed?
  • Are there any changes in my situation that would make me eligible for more aid? Less aid?
  • How does the billing process work? Is there an option to disperse the yearly payment over equal monthly installments?

Getting Answers to Financial Aid Questions

Even if you are armed with a list of great questions (like the ones above), you might not get the answers you are looking for. Sometimes the answers you get lead to more questions! In the end, picking a college after receiving your award letter can still be a tough decision. If you have additional financial aid questions, visit our page on financial aid: Financial Aid 101, and visit the Financial Aid Forum to get answers to more specific questions about funding your education.