Hey there! I am a junior starting to research college options and I'm concerned about financial aid. My family's financial situation isn't great, but I'm not sure if we'll qualify for much aid. What factors do colleges look at when determining aid packages? Should I focus on applying to schools with good financial aid programs? Thanks for any help!
Hello! It's great that you're starting to research college options early. Financial aid can be a significant factor in choosing a college, so it's good to be aware of the different aspects that colleges consider when offering aid packages. Here are a few factors that colleges typically look at:
1. Expected Family Contribution (EFC): This is an estimate of the amount your family is expected to contribute towards your education. The EFC is calculated based on your family's income, assets, and other financial information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
2. Need-based aid: Colleges often provide need-based aid to students whose families cannot afford the full cost of attendance. This can include grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans.
3. Merit-based aid: Some colleges offer merit-based aid to students with strong academic, athletic, or artistic achievements. This aid is not dependent on financial need.
I would recommend looking into colleges with strong financial aid programs, but also consider other factors such as location, academic programs, and campus culture. Good luck with your college search!