How Much Will Higher Education Cost Your Family?

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As long as the annual cost-of-attendance governs the college choices of students and their families, families will rely on the award letter indicating the financial aid available to them.

Families need clarity in the financial aid award letters they receive. Unfortunately, whether intentionally or unintentionally, those letters can be rather murky indeed.

Financial aid can have many different meanings under differing circumstances. A college education often means a huge financial burden; any ambiguity in the means to pay for it can be devastating to students and their families.

Some schools are better at explaining their offer of aid; others are horrible. The worse the explanation, the more likely that a family makes a bad financial decision.

It’s clear that most letters are not drafted to speak to the student. In fact, most aren’t drafted to speak to the parent. They are best understood by the financial aid officer that prepared the letter.

The federal government has not established universal guidelines or requirements in drafting these letters. Sure, the letters could be standardized and Congress could get involved.

Even then, it doesn’t mean they’ll be understood by the student or the family.

For help in understanding your financial aid award letters and/or assistance with increasing eligibility for financial aid, please contact our professional college planners.


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