Comparing College Offers
You’ve finally completed all of your college applications and you’ve filled out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) online. Now what? Well, it won’t be long until you start receiving college acceptance letters and college offers of financial aid.
Multiple college offers can be confusing since there are so many factors to consider when deciding which is your best offer. At first glance, it may seem like the school that offers you a large scholarship or grant would be your best choice, but slow down because you’re not comparing apples to apples.
First, let’s do this the old-fashioned way and create a list of the costs involved for each of the colleges.
- Tuition & Fees
Total these items and this will be your cost to attend each school. Some schools even list average cost to attend on their websites.
Next, take your EFC (Expected Family Contribution), which doesn’t change from school to school because it’s based on your parents’ federal income tax return, which they provided when they filled out their portion of the FAFSA. This is the amount your family is expected to pay without assistance.
Third, look at the financial award from each school. This includes scholarships, grants, work study, and loans. Make sure you understand the different forms of aid because there may be certain requirements you must meet in order to continue receiving it throughout your college career.
Now, compare the costs as well as the amount and forms of financial aid.
Here are few things to consider:
- How much of the financial aid is in the form of loans?
- How much of your need is being met?
- Will you need to private loans to meet your needs?
- If one or more of your dream schools sent you an offer, how does the final out-of-pocket cost compare to the cost of your target school’s offer?
Remember to also consider the cost of travel, especially if your offers are comparable or if any of the schools are far away from your home.
Choosing the right school can be a tough decision. It’s one that you and your family must weigh heavily before committing, but it will also be an exciting time for all of you.
Once you’ve made your decision, you’ll want to let the school know you are planning to attend.
Need advice (large or small) comparing college offers? Contact us today to set up an in-home meeting or phone consultation with Michael.