By Laurie Hempen
Iowa Student Liquidity Corporation Board of Directors
If a student in your household has applied for financial aid for the 2022-2023 year, financial aid offers should be coming soon.
You may receive a standard financial plan from the College, which can help your family understand the different types of assistance available.
Use the tips below to make sense of financial aid offers:
1. Understand exactly what constitutes the cost of participation.
You will usually see combined or separate costs listed for tuition, fees, accommodation, meals, and other direct costs charged by the college. You can see the estimated costs for materials, transportation, personal and miscellaneous expenses that will not be paid at the facility. To compare financial aid offers from multiple institutions, line up similar costs and calculate what the estimated expenses will cost you, based on each program and institution location.
2. Know how to count grants and scholarships.
Grants and scholarships do not need to be repaid. Know which grants and scholarships are valid for one year only, which are automatically renewed for several years, and which require action or qualification to receive in future years.
3. Review the expected family contribution.
Each institution determines an expected family contribution based on information reported on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or other financial aid application. Although this amount may be revised under certain circumstances, such as drastically changed income, your family is generally expected to contribute the amount shown for expenses. This may not match your family’s situation, and the actual amount you contribute will affect the net cost of attending the facility.
4. Carefully consider job options.
Work options, such as federal work-study programs, require the student to obtain qualifying employment and work a certain number of hours to earn money, which will be paid to the student rather than to the college. It may be beneficial for the student to pursue these options and apply the earnings to their expenses. Alternatively, a student may prefer to find another job.
5. Know the difference between the types of loans offered.
Where income, savings, scholarships, and grants do not cover the total expected cost of attendance, the financial aid offering includes Federal Student Loans and may include Federal Parent Loans and Student Loans institutional or private. Federal student loans are the best option if your student needs to borrow. Carefully review the terms and conditions of other loans to determine which ones are right for your family or if you prefer to borrow from an unlisted lender.
6. Refuse unnecessary loans.
A financial aid offer may include the maximum amount of federal student and parent loans available. Remember that any type of loan will have to be repaid, with interest, over time. A student may refuse an offered loan or accept only part of the loan amount. If expenses can be reduced without indebtedness, it is wise to refuse all or part of the loans offered.
7. Explore payment options.
The college or university may offer payment plans or other financing options. Be aware of the fees associated with using this type of plan and consider the flexibility gained by delaying part of a bill payment.
When reviewing student loan terms, also consider options for paying principal or interest while the student is still in school. Paying interest as it accrues can prevent capitalization, where unpaid accrued interest is added to the loan balance and also begins to earn interest.
8. Meet deadlines.
Review any deadlines for accepting the financial aid offer or individual components, requesting a payment plan, or making a payment. Make sure contact information is up-to-date so that you or your student receive notifications of upcoming deadlines or payment dates.
9. Ask for clarification.
If you have questions about the financial aid offer, contact the college financial aid office.
Visit the Articles tab on the Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation website for additional college financing information. Go to www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Articles/Parents to start.