The college applications are submitted. The FAFSA is filed. Now the hard part: waiting. The down-time between submitting applications and hearing from colleges is tense. As you wait for the acceptance letters and the financial aid award packages, take the time to learn more about financial aid and what comes after acceptance. Here are the questions we hear most often from families as they prepare to pay for college:
Do I have to pay my admission deposit before I return my award letter?
The answer is no. Returning your award letter secures the financial aid the school offered, should you decide to attend; it does not commit you to attend. You can only commit by sending in the deposit. If you wish to appeal your financial aid award, you should do so before signing and returning your award letter.
When will I receive a bill from the college?
Typically bills for the upcoming fall semester will be issued in early to mid-July and will be due by the end of the summer. All financial aid, except work study, will appear as a credit on your bill. Remember that work study is money that must be earned through campus employment.
What can I expect in terms of financial aid for future years?
You'll be required to complete the FAFSA and other supplemental forms each year. If the information that you provided on the FAFSA remains the same, your total financial aid award will likely remain consistent. It is possible that some grants or scholarships are only valid for one year, so ask each school about their specific policy.
Can I borrow for more than the direct cost of my school (books, supplies, etc.)?
The quick answer is yes, however students should budget to cover the cost of immediate indirect expenses. Refunds from financial aid are usually not available until enrollment has been confirmed after the add/drop period, around one month into the semester. Think about saving money from a summer job to make sure you have plenty when the fall rolls around to cover books, rent, transportation, etc.
Can I negotiate an award letter?
This is a tough question because the answer is Yes and No. All schools have a formal appeals process. However, the school has done its best to create an equitable financial aid policy that offers the maximum possible aid to each student. However, if you have experienced a major change in circumstances since filing the FAFSA (such as parent’s loss of a job, marital status change, disability, etc.), or if you made a mistake when completing the financial aid forms, you should contact the Financial Aid Office to make them aware of the situation. In either case, an appeal would be appropriate. In addition, if there is a family circumstance that you feel the Financial Aid Office should know about, please contact them in writing. Although there is no guarantee that the Financial Aid Office can make any changes, it is always best to give them all the information they may need to make a decision.