This month HRVHS students will receive acceptance letters and student aid offers from colleges. After the hugs and high-fives, it’s time to evaluate the financial aid packet, and you may find yourself asking, “What’s the difference between a loan and a grant?” “What is work-study?” “How do I even evaluate these aid offers?” We’ll discuss all of this and more in our April social media series: Understanding Financial Aid.
This series is meant to be a basic introduction and overview to financial aid offers. Throughout the month we will be adding online resources to this blog post that students and families may find useful. If you have specific questions about your financial aid offers, we recommend reaching out to the HRVHS Guidance Office, and emailing ASPIRE coordinator Ms. Lisa Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org).
There is no standard format for financial aid statements. The offers you receive will be organized differently in the offer letter and colleges may calculate items like expenses and estimated cost of attendance differently. This means that a financial aid offer that seems best at first glance could end up costing you more. If you are evaluating offers from multiple colleges, we recommend making a spreadsheet. We’ll dive into the details later, but when starting out you may consider including:
- Estimated Expenses
- Tuition / Fees
- Miscellaneous Expenses (housing, meals plan, books, etc.)
- Loan Offers
- Work-study Options
- Estimated Net Cost (the amount you are expected to pay after aid is applied to expenses)
This information should be clearly stated and itemized in your financial aid offer, making it easier to copy over to your spreadsheet. We recommend listing each offer individually — so don’t lump all of your grants together under “grants.” Instead list each item separately (i.e. Federal Pell, Oregon grants, university grants, etc.).
Keep track of each offer as it arrives and you’re off to a great start.