Recently, I was quoted on Leigh Richards’ feature on KYW Newsradio. Here is an expanded version of the topic:
Now’s the time that high school seniors anxiously await the letters that tell them if they’ve been admitted to the college of their dreams. But their parents are anxiously awaiting the financial aid award letters that follow soon after, because those will determine the bottom line, real net cost that will need to be paid for college. If you are a parent who is serious about your money, you need to know how to read an award letter. You think it would be simple, but there is no standard form, so you need to look at each award carefully to determine what types of financial aid you are getting. Not all financial aid is free money. Some may be in the form of loans – and you need to know the terms of those loans. Some free money can even have strings attached. Make sure to know the fine print. And you won’t generally find that on the award letter. The initial award package may not be the final offer, particularly at private colleges. If you’re not happy with a financial aid package, you can appeal it. But wait until you get all of the award letters before you take any action. One, you’ll want to compare all of the awards to determine your real best offers and lowest out of pocket costs. And two, you can pit one school’s offer against another to negotiate more aid. According to the Princeton Review, 30 to 50% of the families that ask for more money from private colleges, get it. But you need to know the proper way to go about the appeal process to get the best result. Every school has its own process. You don’t want to mess it up because the right result could save you thousands of dollars!
Judy Sciaky, CCPS, RICP
President and founder AP&G Financial, LLC/ AP&G College Planning