Financial aid offices are not set up like admission offices. They are often less well staffed, and they have the college’s existing student body to care for, as well as applicants and their families. What does this mean for you? You cannot ask a financial aid officer to hold your hand. You need to do as much as you can to master the process, and call on the aid officer with specific and informed questions. That is how you will obtain the best guidance.
The vast majority of aid officers do their jobs because they care about helping families afford higher education. Many were able to get through college themselves because of financial aid. They want to make this work for you as well— within the legal and institutional guidelines under which they operate. So treat your financial aid officers well. And don’t forget to say thank you!