College Funding: 10 Things To Ask

To Get the Right Answers, Ask the Right Questions:

Each college has its own financial aid policies-how outside scholarships are treated and whether aid awards can be appealed. Make the most of your next campus visit and schedule an interview with a member of the financial aid staff. He or she will be able to answer specific questions about costs, the financial aid process, and options for financing your education.

Here are 10 questions to get you started:

  1. What’s the average total cost-including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, travel, and other personal expenses-for the first year?

  2. By how much will total costs increase each year? How much have tuition, fees, room and board increased over the last three to five years?

  3. Does financial need have an impact on admission decisions? How is financial aid affected if I apply via an early decision or early action program?

  4. Does the school offer need-based and merit-based financial aid? Are there other scholarships available that aren’t based on financial need? Do I need to complete a separate application for merit-based scholarships?

  5. What is the priority deadline to apply for financial aid?

  6. When will I be notified about financial aid award decisions?

  7. If the financial aid package isn’t enough, under what conditions, if any, will the aid office reconsider the offer?

  8. How will the aid package change from year to year? What will happen if my family’s financial situation changes? What will happen if my enrollment status (or that of a family member) changes?

  9. What are the terms and conditions of the aid programs included in the aid package? What are the academic requirements or other conditions for the renewal of financial aid, including scholarships?

  10. When can I expect to receive bills from the college? Is there an option to spread the yearly payment over equal monthly installments?