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There are many different types of financial aid, and knowing what you’re eligible for can be overwhelming.  This article explains the different kinds of aid offered so that you can begin the discernment process.

Merit-based aid is awarded based on your academic achievement or other merits and does not consider your financial need. Colleges and Universities often offer this aid to attract top students to their campuses. Check out this article by Rob Lieber from the NYT and his book is MUST for all parents!

Need-based aid is awarded based on your financial need as determined by your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This type of aid can come in the form of grants, which don’t have to be repaid, or loans, which do have to be repaid. Need-based aid is awarded based on your financial need, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This aid can come from grants, loans, or work-study programs.

Loans are a form of financial aid that must be repaid with interest. There are federal student loans and private student loans. Federal student loans usually have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private student loans. We encourage families to do EVERYTHING else before they take our student loans!

The best way to find out what type of financial aid you’re eligible for is to fill out the FAFSA. The FAFSA is a free application that every student should fill out to get an idea of their financial aid options.

Tools for Estimating College Cost

Every College must have a net price calculator designed to give parents an idea of what they’ll pay after subtracting grants and scholarships. Generally, the most questions they ask, the better estimates you will get. These calculators aren’t known for being as reliable, so don’t use these calculators as your single source!

College Aid Pro has a free version that offers excellent information on financial aid and scholarship eligibility for up to three colleges. The tool Calculates scholarships and need-based grants and compares the results. There is no doubt that the paid version does a much better job predicting the cost over four years, and the fee may be worth considering. Pro tip: Check with your financial advisor to see if they have a subscription before you purchase!

Tuition Fit relies on user-submitted financial aid packages to help families estimate their own college prices. A premium account allows parents to see college prices, and you can compare your students’ situation with others who have gone before you!

College Raptor: This tool asks parents to input their colleges of interest. Therefore, your student must have a list of colleges so the platform can generate a set of college matches dependent on your information and show the estimated net price for each.

If you are interested in joining a community of parents to continue the conversation, Please Join Our Parent Community for more information about the college admissions process.  We have created an amazing space for parents to engage with experts and each other!