When it comes to seeking financial aid for college, many students and their parents feel at the mercy of the process. Actually, you can improve your chances of success—if you consider this issue from the very start. That means finding out about a school’s aid policies before you even think of applying there.
Some colleges provide excellent financial aid; some provide very little. Some offer generous grants only to the low-income students they admit, a few are able to give generous help to middle-class applicants, too.
If you just concentrate on the admissions process, with the hope of dealing with the cost of college later, you run the risk of being accepted at schools you can’t afford. Even worse, you might miss an opportunity at a great school because you didn’t realize how large its financial aid packages are.
Contrary to popular belief, the time to start thinking about financial aid issues is not during the winter of 12th grade. By then, all you can do is fill out the financial aid forms, cross your fingers and hope for the best. Instead, take at look at your financial aid prospects at least a year or two before that.
This is a guide to how to integrate financial aid planning into your college admissions process. To help you do that, here is an explanation of the many different forms financial aid can take. Understanding the interlocking issues can make all the difference to you and your family.