Written by: Gregg Cohen, President and Founder of Campus Bound
Ever since I started Campus Bound over 20 years ago, I have been passionate about helping people navigate and decipher the complicated financial aid process. Assisting families with various ways to make college costs more manageable has always been a meaningful part of my job.
The financial aid process is going to look A LOT different this year. For the first time in decades, there will be major changes to the FAFSA form, language, and formula. Campus Bound will be taking a look at these seismic changes in a five-part blog series over the next few months. Today we’ll review some of the common terms in the financial aid vernacular that will be changing and how these changes affect you, the consumer.
New, Limited-Time Offer- Aid Eligibility Assessment
In the process of developing and finalizing a well-rounded college list, financial considerations can be one of the most complicated pieces. Many colleges offer need-based grants and merit scholarships. However, understanding how much your family will receive is perplexing. There are potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake but to say that colleges lack transparency is an understatement! Adding to the challenge for students is that they have to narrow their potential targets without knowing what the costs will be until much later in the process.
A critical component of the college search that often goes overlooked is how the role of the cost will factor into the selection process. Along with finding colleges that will offer the right academic and non-academic features (location, size, culture, etc), it’s important for families to find colleges that also meet the right financial fit.
Could you imagine walking into a high-end car dealership with no idea if the price of the car is going to be $60,000 or $30,000 until after you have done the test drive, talked to the sales manager, and done a credit check? Well, that’s somewhat like what the college financial aid system is like except it can be multiplied by 4-5x of those amounts or more for the 4 years of college.
A question we receive often at Campus Bound is from families wondering what the best ‘strategy’ is for applying for financial aid. When you google financial aid strategies you are inundated with personal opinions about the financial aid process. Some of these articles are curated by professionals with years of experience in the field while others are written by individuals without credentials. Either way, it can be hard to know who to listen to and what information is valid.
This is an exciting time of year when seniors are finalizing their college lists and getting applications and essays completed. Juniors may be starting to explore different types of colleges, which is thrilling as well. But for many families, the cost of college looms over the entire process. If you’re one of the fortunate families for whom the cost of college doesn’t matter, this blog isn’t for you. But for the rest of us, here are some effective strategies for making sure that cost doesn’t hinder the overall excitement.Read More
You’ve been accepted and received your merit awards. You have some great options to choose from, but your top choice’s out-of-pocket cost is a little out of reach. You may be wondering if it’s possible to appeal your merit award, and the short answer is, “Yes, you can!” Each college has its own policy on whether it reviews merit appeals and the basis for which it reviews them. It can’t hurt to appeal for more. You never know if the college is still seeking students like you, or if it is hopeful that a small increase to your award package will help put you on the campus. Let’s review some quick tips for deciphering if a merit appeal is right for you.Read More
Changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are on the way! With the passing of the Federal pandemic relief legislation in December, Congress also approved several updates to the FAFSA effective with the 2023-2024 academic year. Tucked into the nearly 6,000 pages of the Covid relief bill were many associated with the financial aid system. There is some good news in there such as the removal of many confusing questions on the FAFSA. There are also many changes that will directly affect the methodology used to determine a family’s financial aid eligibility. Let’s explore some of the changes expected to have the greatest potential impact on families:Read More