First Test For College Hopefuls? Decoding Financial Aid Letters | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

First Test For College Hopefuls? Decoding Financial Aid Letters

Play associated audio

Around the country, millions of parents of prospective college freshmen are puzzling over one big question: How will we pay for college?

The first step for many families is reviewing the financial aid award letters they receive from each school. But often those letters can be confusing. Some are filled with acronyms and abbreviations, others lump scholarships and loans together. And because they're often very different, they're also difficult to compare.

Chris Reeves, a guidance counselor at Beechwood High School in Fort Mitchell, Ky., tells NPR's David Greene that he fields lots of questions from families trying to decipher their award letters. "They don't always understand that part of the financial aid package includes loans," he says.

But loans "don't really reduce your costs," explains Mark Kantrowitz, founder of the financial aid website FinAid.org and publisher of Edvisors Network. "They simply spread them out over time. ... A loan is a loan. It has to be repaid, usually with interest — which increases your costs."

While the gap between the true cost of attendance and what a family can afford is often large, Reeves says there is sometimes wiggle room with individual financial aid offices.

Just last year, he says, one student was very close to being able to afford his choice school. "So, I just said, 'I think with a little bit more, he can make it.' And they came up with $1,000 more. And the student is attending and he's happy."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Dec. 22

Forget a white Christmas. This week, you can see an art exhibit and musical that explode with color.

NPR

Nuns On The Ranch Give A Heavenly Twist To Beef

At a Colorado ranch run by Benedictine nuns, prayer and farming go hand in hand. "We have kind of a corner on the market" for grass-fed beef, says one sister. "People just kind of believe in it."
WAMU 88.5

Gray Expected To Wrap Up Tenure As Mayor By Signing Pair Of Bills

The term for Mayor Vincent Gray wraps up Jan. 2, and he's expected to sign some legislation into law before his time is up.

NPR

The 5 Business Stories That Made 2014 A Memorable Year

From hack attacks to the bottom falling out of oil, 2014 has been a year of big swings at the top and stagnation at the bottom.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.