5 Questions Every Student Should Ask the Financial Aid Office

Every college and university has its own financial aid office and policies. The aid office is there to assist you and will be happy to answer any questions you might have about aid awards, outside scholarships, work study programs and college costs.

1.) How Much Will It Cost to Attend this School?

It is essential that students ask about costs and understand how much funding will be needed to attend a specific college. Things to inquire about include tuition, fees, books, room and board, supplies and other necessary expenses. Students should also ask the financial office how much total costs typically increase from year to year. This is also a good time to find out what types of aid are offered by the school. The amount of aid the school gives is always limited to the amount of funding that the school has for that year. Students who inquire about aid first are often more likely to get what they need.

2.) What Is the Deadline for Applying for Aid?

Every school has different financial aid deadlines. Often times, these deadlines are different than the federal deadline. Some schools also have 'priority deadlines.' These deadlines are very important and should be carefully observed, especially by students who want to increase their chances of getting as much aid as possible.

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3.) When Will I Be Notified of Aid Decisions?

Knowing when the school will let you know about your financial aid package is always a good thing because it allows you to create your own personal finance timeframe. This timeframe will be useful if you have applied to more than one school or think that there is a chance you will need to borrow money to cover all of your college expenses.

4.) Do You Offer Different Tuition Payment Plans?

Avoid stress over paying your tuition by finding out what your options are before any billing deadlines. Some schools will expect to be paid right away. Others offer quarterly or monthly payment plans for annual expenses. The financial aid office will be able to give you detailed explanations of payment plan options.

5.) How Do I Finalize My Award?

Once you've received your award package, you'll need to find out what steps you need to take to secure your financial aid. You might need to visit the financial aid office or go online to accept your award. If you have a loan as part of your financial aid package, you'll need to sign a promissory note and participate in a counseling session. Some schools might also require you to sign off on your total bill even if you are using financial aid to pay your tuition.

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