What’s in Your Financial Aid Package?
Ryan Uricks, Fastweb
March 23, 2009
Now that you have been admitted to college, it’s time to weigh the financial aid package you will receive. The package should contain all federal and institutional aid that will go towards financing your education. Here are some of the more important parts of the aid package you should look for.
All loans awarded to you will either be Stafford or Perkins loans. Remember that undergraduates have annual maximums and can only take out a certain amount of federal loans each year. Depending on your financial need, Stafford loans will either be subsidized (no interests accumulates while enrolled) or unsubsidized (interest accumulates). All Perkins loans are subsidized.
If you demonstrate significant need, you will receive a federal Pell Grant in the amount of $5,550 for the 2010-2011 school year. If you continue to be eligible for Pell Grants, the amount will be increasing every year to keep pace of rising tuition costs.
Eligible students can qualify for work study jobs on campus to help pay for tuition. In exchange for working a set amount of hours each week, the federal work-study program finances part of your school costs. In addition, you will also earn an hourly wage and gain valuable work experience.
Some schools offer admitted students additional grants that cover tuition as part of their aid packages. Most, if not all, of these schools are private and have ample financial aid dollars to spend. These grants never have to be paid back and are awarded based on the expected family contribution (EFC) calculated from filling out the FAFSA.
Schools often award scholarships based on performance in school, athletics, or community activities. These scholarships often require meeting minimum requirements in GPA and test scores. Awards can range from a few thousand dollars to covering full tuition, room and board. Check the school’s admissions website for information on available merit scholarships.