If you are a student preparing for college, you will probably apply to between 5 and 8 different institutions. Every school is different, and prices can vary enormously, depending on a million different factors. You may be stuck in the middle, unsure of where you want to go. As always, the finances clarify matters quite a bit. But deciphering financial aid letters and navigating private student loans can be a bit daunting. We’ve broken down the finer points found in every financial aid letter you receive, everything you’ll need to understand the finances of your further education.

Each letter you receive will look a little different, but they will all contain the following figures:

  • The Cost of Attendance – This total includes everything you’ll spend on your textbooks, dorm room,  on campus food plan, and tuition costs.
  • The Expected Family Contribution – When you completed and filed your FAFSA, it informed the government just how much your family can afford to assist you in school costs. It determines what student aid you’ll apply for and the amount you and your family will spend out of pocket.
  • Grants/Scholarships/Loans – These totals are deducted from your out of pocket costs.
  • Loans – This breaks down your potential loans into federal and private loans.

That about does it. Really, it’s not so complicated in the end. If you are thinking about taking on some loans, make sure you understand how long you’ll be paying them off, how much your monthly payments will be, and your rate of interest. Someone at your bank can help you understand all of this. From here, you should have no problem choosing which college is best for you, your goals, and your unique financial situation.

Financial Aid Award Letter Sample

Consider private student loans from Citizens Bank

About Robert Farrington

Robert Farrington has written 77 articles on this site..

Robert Farrington is the founder and editor of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to young adult and college student finances.

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