Financial Aid Packages
How to break down your financial aid package and make sense of it all
Financial aid packages are the documents that outline all the financial support that a college or university proposes to offer your child once they've been accepted for enrollment. These documents are generally quite detailed and full of information that you may need help understanding. So it's important that you study them closely and ask questions about anything that's unclear, and that you do so before the acceptance deadline.
These college financial aid packages respond to the student's demonstrated financial needs as outlined in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA report. They include information about any grants, loans, scholarships, work-study opportunities and other awards that can help defray the total cost of tuition, room and board and other fees. Understanding and mastering these intricacies is an essential step in helping your child choose the right school, and the one that best fits the family budget.
Tips on comparing college financial aid packages
Since most students apply to more than one school, and often decide which to attend based on the award packages, here are several things to keep in mind as you review and compare these financial aid offers:
- Ratio of grant-to-loan - Packages with a higher proportion of grants (which do not need to be repaid) to loans are generally preferable.
- Loan terms - Compare the various repayment terms of all loans, including the interest rates.
- Future packages - Ask whether the terms outlined in your child's first year of attendance are renewable for subsequent years.
- Outside scholarships - Find out what the effect of your student earning outside scholarships will be on their financial package. At some schools, the policy is to reduce the institutional award by an equal amount.
While comparing and contrasting the various college financial aid packages from different schools can be a little complicated, finding a solution that works for your family's unique situation is crucial. Choosing the best offer often means the difference between a financial package that is ultimately affordable for your budget and one that is not.
Learn more about affordable student financing options today
You can find helpful information about our TruFit Student Loan™ and additional student financing resources from Charter One. If you still have questions, call a student loan specialist at 1-800-721-3969, and we'll help walk you through the process.
Additional student loan and college planning resources
- Details on the Student Aid Report
- What Type of Financial Aid is Right for Me?
- What is the FAFSA?
- Choosing a Lender for your Student Loans