Shop Around

Once all the bargaining has come to an end, you’ll have to make a decision. All those years of hard work and study have now come to this. Which college will you choose? Your decision will hinge on far more than which school offers you the most money.

The Best Deal

Figuring out the best deal might seem like a relatively straightforward task: Look at overall college costs and see which school’s financial aid award will leave you with the lowest amount of debt upon graduation. The best financial aid awards have a high percentage of gift aid and offer institutional scholarships/grants that you can easily renew. Though rare, some colleges do entice students to enroll by offering one-year-only scholarships that leave students with higher-than-anticipated costs over the course of four years. Make sure you ask which scholarships you’ve received are renewable and what the criteria are for keeping them.

The Best Decision

Ultimately, you need to choose a college that meets your overall goals. It makes little sense to accept a great financial aid award if the college doesn’t offer the classes you want to take. Similarly, you might think the prestige of attending a certain college is an investment worth the added costs of a lesser financial aid package. You should also consider nonfinancial factors like the college’s size and location.

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