Paying for College

Help Deciphering and Comparing Financial Aid Offers

Question: I'm a high school senior headed to my dream college this fall. I'm very excited to start the next chapter of my life and so glad that I got into my #1 pick. All this being said, I am a little concerned about one thing. The college recently sent me a financial aid letter and it's more than a little bit difficult to understand. I don't have a guidance counselor and my parents are just as confused as I am. Since I'll be taking out loans to pay for college, I really want to understand what the school is offering me and if I'm getting a good deal. Where can I get advice?

As simple as it seems, often the best advice comes from the colleges themselves. If you don't understand a financial aid letter, call the financial aid office at the college that sent it and ask for an explanation. Don't hesitate to ask the college official to explain the letter in simple layman's terms. If he or she uses unfamiliar language, be polite but persistent and ask for further information. You've already been accepted and offered money, so don't worry about being annoying. You won't lose your place or your dough!

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