Understanding the financial aid process can be challenging, both for students and parents. The financial aid officers at colleges and universities are there to help. Below is a list of questions that the Associated Colleges of the Midwest suggests families ask:
1. What kind of financial assistance does the college offer: need-based, merit-based or both?
2. Can the college provide an early estimate of what our financial aid award might be?
3. What forms are needed in order to apply?
4. When are financial aid applications due?
5. What costs for a student are taken into account by the financial aid office? Tuition, room, board, transportation? What about additional expenses such as books, fees, computers and personal expenses?
6. What is included in the comprehensive fee? For example, do students have to pay extra for computer time or to attend campus events (concerts, plays, films, lectures, athletic events, etc.)?
7. When will we be notified about the amount of assistance we can expect?
8. Does the institution have an appeal process to review special circumstances?
9. Is there a commitment for financial assistance beyond the first year?
10. How and when do we apply for financial assistance after the first year?
11. What if we do not qualify for need-based aid? Are there alternative financing options available?
12. What grants, loans and work-study opportunities does the college offer? Are there any we might be eligible for?
13. What is the average student loan indebtedness of the college’s graduates?
14. Is there a restriction to the length of time that financial assistance will continue?
15. How long does it typically take a student to graduate from this college? Four years? Longer?
16. What impact do scholarships from outside sources have on other financial aid?
17. Can we apply financial aid toward an off-campus study program, either in the U.S. or another country?
18. What happens if our family’s financial situation changes substantially during the school year?
19. Are there payment options available, such as monthly or quarterly?