Juniors: It's never too early to start learning about financial aidPosted on Thu, 04/25/2013 - 16:46
When it comes to financial aid, it’s never too early to start learning about what is a very complex and important topic. All colleges are required by law to have a financial aid calculator (sometimes referred to as a net price calculator) available on their website. Financial aid calculators can provide an early understanding of what you will be asked to pay at individual colleges and what your aid award might look like.
So as you research colleges now and through the summer, check out the financial aid calculator for each school on your list as you’re surfing the colleges’ websites. Use the calculator to help you figure out what the colleges offer, as well as to start thinking about what you will need to do to make your choices work financially. If possible, try out the calculators with your parents.
Your results— the cost to you and the aid you may receive— may differ fairly significantly from calculator to calculator and from college to college. Just to see how things compare, try out the calculators at a few less expensive colleges and some more expensive ones. It can often be at least as affordable to attend a more expensive college that offers a strong financial aid program. Find out now, so you can select the colleges that work best for you while factoring in price, without ruling out options that might initially seem unaffordable.
In addition to the calculators on the colleges’ websites, you can also find financial aid calculators at the College Board and at FinAid. In addition, the federal government also posts a calculator— the FAFSA4caster— on the website for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This calculator will show you the total federal aid you may be eligible for — but not what you may receive from outside sources, including the colleges themselves.
For more information about financial aid, see Chapter 16, "Financial Aid," in College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step. Also find additional free resources on financial aid and scholarships here-- simply page down to the heading "Financial Aid Resources."