15 Questions to Ask Your Financial Aid Office
What to ask to get the information you need.
By Carrie Greenberg and Mark Kantrowitz
January 21, 2013
1. What types of financial aid do you offer? What are the requirements for need-based aid and for merit-based aid?
2. How much debt do students have when they graduate? What percentage of students graduate with debt?
3. If I get a work-study job, how many hours will I be required to work per week? Are part-time jobs available to students who don’t qualify for a work-study job?
4. Do you offer a tuition payment plan that lets me pay the college bills in monthly installments over the academic year? If so, what fees do you charge for this service?
5. Does your college practice need-blind admissions? Or will applying for financial aid hurt my chances of being admitted? Do you consider financial need when deciding whether to accept students off of the waiting list?
6. If I don’t apply for financial aid this year, will that affect my eligibility for financial aid in subsequent years?
7. Does your college meet my full demonstrated financial need, or do you practice “gapping”? Will you meet my full financial need for all four years of college?
8. Do you practice front-loading of grants? Or can I expect to receive a similar financial aid package all four years, assuming my financial circumstances do not change by much?
9. If I win a scholarship, do you reduce my financial aid package? If so, does the scholarship replace loans or grants?
10. How do I apply for financial aid? Which application forms are required to apply for financial aid? Does the college require the CSS Financial Aid PROFILE or its own forms in addition the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
11. What are the deadlines for applying for financial aid?
12. How does the financial aid application process differ for early admission students?
13. When will I receive my financial aid award letter?
14. If the financial aid is insufficient or my circumstances have changed, how do I appeal for more financial aid?
15. Where can I find information about other sources of financial aid, such as state grant programs and scholarships?
Don’t forget to ask about special circumstances that are specific to your situation, such as divorce/separation or financial aid for study abroad.
See also the ten questions in Fastweb’s Quick Reference Guide to Evaluating Financial Aid Award Letters.