Students Urged to Compare College Financial Aid Offers
As college-bound students start receiving admissions decisions and financial aid offers, they face a May 1st deadline to decide which offer to accept. Cost is an important factor in making the college decision, so it's important to understand how to evaluate the financial aid offers received.
"Each financial aid offer can look a bit different. This makes it difficult to compare offers from different colleges, but that's exactly what you need to do. You must gather the same information from all of your schools and look at it side by side," advised Julie Shields-Rutyna, Director of College Planning for the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, the state's authority on planning, saving, and paying for college.
Writing on the MEFA blog, Shields-Rutyna recommends MEFA's College Cost Calculator where students can input each school's cost and the financial aid offers received to determine the net cost to attend. From seminars and webinars to blogs, MEFA offers a variety of free resources to help guide high school seniors and families through the final college selection process.
Students and parents are also invited to attend any of MEFA's After the College Acceptance community seminars held at high schools across the state in March and April. The seminars help families analyze their financial aid offers, determine the balance due at each school, learn about college payment plans, and create a payment strategy. The seminar schedule is available online at mefa.org/webinars.
"There are so many factors involved in making this decision,'' Shields-Rutyna said. "MEFA is here to help your family review the information available and determine the best plan of action.''
Webinars and podcasts are posted on MEFA's website, mefa.org, along with a series of blog posts covering a wide range of topics.
Families can stay up to date with important college planning information by signing up on mefa.org to receive MEFA's email curriculum. MEFA's College Planning Experts can be reached by email at email@example.com, or by phone at (800) 449-MEFA (6332) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. MEFA is also on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
MEFA is a not-for-profit state authority, not reliant on state or federal appropriations, established under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 15C. MEFA's mission, since its founding in 1982, has been to help Massachusetts students and families access and afford higher education and reach financial goals through education programs, tax-advantaged savings plans, low-cost loans, and expert guidance. All of MEFA's work aligns with the ever-present goal to support the independence, growth, and success of Massachusetts students and families. Visit mefa.org to learn more or follow MEFA on Twitter @mefatweets and on Facebook at mefaMA.