You’ve submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and now you’ll soon be receiving financial aid packages from your top-choice colleges. Your financial aid package is very important, as it provides you with the cost details for you to attend a specific college. It’s a compilation of financial aid from various sources, based upon your financial need; highlighting the Cost of Attendance (COA) and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) difference. Your first exercise in college-cost planning can be tricky! As there’s no standard formula or presentation of financial aid packages. If you’re comparing financial aid packages to make a final decision based upon cost—be careful. You’re not comparing apples to apples. For instance, is room and board included in the tuition cost?Compare the cost of colleges you’re considering prior to reviewing their proposed financial aid packages. See how the college you’re considering compares nationwide with the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. So, how do you know you understand and are correctly comparing each package appropriately?Public college administration does their best to stay aware and forecast amounts that will be set aside, but nothing is final until signed by a state’s governor. A state's public education funds support many functions from campus upkeep and salaries to special programs AND the state-funded financial aid you may receive.What is a state, priority deadline?A portion of the money set aside in each state supports financial aid for state residents only. Once this reserve is gone, it’s gone. Your state’s financial aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.