Preparing for College

Funny Financial Aid

As financial aid letters trickle down from college acceptances all across the nation, students and families begin to see how colleges help with paying for those sky-high fees. There are those wonderful outright grants, which mean that there is no requirement to repay them. They are a gift, free and clear. Some grants are quite significant, depending on a family's demonstrated need, as assessed by the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), CSS Profile (CSS = College Scholarship Service), and sometimes the college's own specific financial aid form. Grants can also be considered as a "discount" off of the so-called "sticker price" of college costs.

Then there are the pure scholarships, which are usually awarded based on merit. That means that a college looks at an accepted student's overall profile, especially academics, and decides how much merit money they would like to offer the student in order to encourage the applicant to enroll. Merit scholarships (sometimes referred to as merit "awards") can be big. Some colleges award what they refer to as their Presidential Scholarship, which is generally their most prestigious award. It is usually a renewable award, contingent on continued excellent academic performance. Then there are the "weird" scholarships.

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