9 Uncomfortable-But-Necessary Financial Aid Questions You Need to Ask

No matter who you are or how much you have, talking about money is awkward. But it’s especially awkward when you’re asking for it.

Unfortunately, most students need to ask for money to attend college. And the number one beneficiary they’re asking? The college itself.

Navigating financial aid can be tricky; you need to know what questions to ask. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of ten key questions to ask your colleges of choice about their financial aid policies. Some of these may not apply to you, and there may be others you need to ask based on your unique situation. These ten, however, should get you off to a great start.

  1. What is the average total cost—including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other estimated expenses—for the first year?
  2. How much has this average increased over the last three years?
  3. What percentage of students graduate with debt?
  4. What is the average amount of student loan debt for graduates?
  5. Are there on-campus work opportunities for work-study students? What if I don’t quality for a work-study job?
  6. How is financial aid affected if I apply early decision or early action?
  7. If I am awarded a grant, can I expect it to remain constant all four years (assuming my financial circumstances don’t change)?
  8. If I win a scholarship, will you reduce my financial aid package? If so, will you reduce the amount of loans or the amount of grants?
  9. Do you provide financial aid for summer classes or study abroad programs?

Whether at a college fair, on a campus tour, or in an admissions interview, you need to find an opportunity to ask these important questions. Ultimately, the amount of aid you receive may dictate what school you are able to attend, so make sure you get answers! And the best way to make sure you do? Schedule a meeting with the financial aid office!