How to understand your letter regarding the granting of student grants

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When it comes to college, students these days worry more about paying the bill than about admission, according to a current survey by college-bound students and their families.

College education already costs more than most families can afford, and college costs continue to rise. Tuition and fees plus room and board for a four-year private college averaged $53,430 in the 2022-2023 school year; at the four-year state public colleges it was $23,250, according to the university council.

For most students and their families, the choice of college depends on the level of financial aid on offer, which is set out in each school Letter of Approval for Financial Assistance.

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Understand the college grant letter

One of the first things to understand when evaluating support letters is the formula colleges use to determine expected family contribution.

“It’s not so much about what you can afford as it is about what you can afford to fund,” said Kalman Chany, a financial aid advisor and author of The Princeton Review’s “Paying for College.”

Chany advises families to wait until all offers are available and then compare. What may seem like the biggest offering may not be the best, he said.

“A school might give you $5,000 more grant, but their cost might be $8,000 more.”

It’s not so much what you can afford as what you can afford to fund.

Kalman Chany

Financial Aid Advisor

Furthermore, not all colleges include both direct and indirect expenses in the total “Cost of Attendance”.

While most schools outline basic tuition and fees, and room and board, some may not include “indirect expenses” such as textbooks, supplies, transportation, and other extras. For each school, list all expenses, including personal expenses, before deducting any grants or scholarships.

As a rule of thumb, add an additional $4,000 for those indirect costs if they’re not included in the aid offer, Chany said.

“You have to look at the network,” he said.

Distinguish between free and borrowed money

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Conditions may also apply to donations, e.g. B. whether a scholarship can be extended for every four years or whether a minimum grade point average must be observed. A school that appears more generous initially may also offer less funding later on, Chany said.

Schools often end up offering more financial aid than you need, especially with loans.

In general, most experts say you shouldn’t borrow more than is absolutely necessary. Many people make the mistake of borrowing too much and later struggle to repay.

It’s not too late to get more student aid

Even if you haven’t applied for financial assistance, “it’s not too late,” said Mary Jo Terry, a managing partner at Yrefy, a private student loan refinance firm.

In normal years, high school seniors miss out on billions in federal grants by not completing the Free Federal Student Assistance Application (FAFSA). Many families mistakenly accept them won’t qualify and won’t even bother to apply.

As of March 2023, only 42.7% of the high school class of 2023 had completed the FAFSA, according to the National College Attainment Network.

The FAFSA season for the 2023-24 academic year opened on October 1, but students who have not yet registered can still apply.

supplemented by private grants How to understand your letter regarding the granting of student grants

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