How to compare financial aid award letters

Posted on April 25th, 2013

Comparing financial aid letters from different colleges can be confusing. It’s hard to know exactly what you’re paying for, what your final sticker price will be, and whether one offer is better than another.

The College Abacus solves this problem. This tool allows you to enter data from any college’s financial aid offer and compares the net price of those colleges (total expenses minus money that doesn’t have to be repaid, like grants and scholarships). You can enter other types of aid like loans and work study, but these are not counted toward the net cost because they don’t change the total price you pay.

Comparing offers using this method makes it easier to tell which college is truly giving you the best deal. Here’s a sample of how you can compare offers (numbers are fabricated for the sample):


Since most financial aid awards include a combination of grants and loans, it’s important to carefully evaluate your offers instead of taking the amount of total aid at face value. Remember, due to high interest rates, student loans can end up costing you much than the total sum would indicate.

May 1st is quickly approaching, so if you need help deciphering your financial aid letters and determining which school is the wisest financial choice, we can help. Give Rick and Andy a call at 1-888-234-3907, send us a message, or tweet us @CFGCollege.

Category: Financial Aid

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