Show Me The Money! Advice for Evaluating Financial Aid Packages

By now, seniors may have started receiving offers from Early Application (EA) schools. At first glance (or second, because you had to pause after jumping for joy when you realized you got in), your financial aid package may seem like just a jumble of numbers. However, this jumble of numbers makes all the difference in the world when deciding which school to attend.

There are two types of aid that your package will be divided in to:

Grant Aid
This is “free money,” or an award that will never have to be paid back. Grant aid will be awarded as a scholarship or grant (either from the government or the awarding institution).

Self-Help Aid
This is money that you will either have to earn or pay back after graduating. Self-help aid takes the form of work-study (on-campus, paid employment) or loans (money lent to you that you will pay back at a later date).

Needless to say, you will prefer the bulk of your award package to be made up of grant aid. However, you should expect to see a portion of your aid coming from loans. SEEDS advises that you try to keep the yearly loan amount as close to (or preferably under) $6,000.

Visit this page to learn about additional types of loans.