Summer is a great time for travel and, for students preparing for college, a great time for college visits. Earlier this week we discussed how to use virtual tours as a tour preparation tool and offered tips for how to get the most out of your campus visit.
Undoubtedly, the best thing a family can get from a campus tour is information. Information about programs offered both academically and socially. But for many the real questions looking to be answered are often the hardest ones to ask: The ones about money. Colleges and universities know that finances weigh heavily on families and are ready to help answer those questions as best they can as part of campus visits.
To help get the best financial picture of how a student will fit at a college or university, ask these questions. It will help clarify just what the financial expectations will be for attendance.
- May I meet with a financial aid counselor today? (Making an appointment with the financial aid department when scheduling the campus visit is the best way to ensure availability, but many schools may have advisors on hand to answer questions as part of the campus visit)
- Is unmet aid included in your financial aid package?
- Does income from an ex-spouse or stepparent factor on your aid calculations?
- How much grant assistance do you provide to those with an Expected Family Contribution of $0?
- To maintain a grant, how many credits must I take each semester?
- Does grant aid continue across all four years?
- If my student receives an outside scholarship, how will it affect the aid package and any institutional grants or awards?
- Are institutional scholarships renewable?
- If my student is attending from out-of-state, do you have state reciprocity agreements? (Reciprocity agreements allow out-of-state students to attend certain programs at in-state prices.)
- What opportunities for work-study or other employment are on campus? Will that income effect aid eligibility?
- How long is it taking current students to graduate and what is their average debt load when they graduate?
- Will the school package loans in accommodation of loan forgiveness programs?
- Do you provide aid for summer classes?
These questions will not only help families better understand the differences in financial aid packages at schools, but will also show financial aid departments that families take a strong interest in understanding the financial options available for funding their students education.
By asking the same questions at various campus visits, families will have a thorough, and important, set of information that will further help them decide which schools are the best financial fit.