Questions to Ask Your College’s Financial Aid Office

A college visit is a prime time to ask any burning questions you have. You can ask your guide about the best study spots on campus, you can ask professors about class size, and you can ask the financial aid office questions about paying for college. College finance is often at the forefront of people’s minds when deciding what college to attend, so use your visit to your advantage and schedule a meeting with the financial aid office in order to clarify or learn things. Financial aid is incredibly important, and who better to ask then the financial aid office? Here are a few questions that you can ask when you visit:

A blackboard with "any questions" written on it.

What should you ask the financial aid office?

Here is a list of questions to ask—and while it’s certainly not an exhaustive list, it can definitely help get the ball rolling. The more information you have, the better decision you can ultimately make.

What are the financial aid application deadlines?

You don’t want to miss any deadlines, especially when it comes to your financial aid. If you miss deadlines, you may miss out on more financial aid opportunities or any financial aid at all. Make sure to keep a calendar of your deadlines!

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Do you require the CSS Profile, FAFSA, or other application forms?

Along the same lines, you want to make sure that you’re eligible for any financial aid offered, and it usually starts with an application.

Does your college have need-blind admissions? / Will applying for financial aid hurt my chances?

Unfortunately, sometimes your finances can affect your chances of getting into college. However, many colleges are need-blind and don’t take into consideration your finances when they’re looking over your admissions application.

Are your financial aid packages need-based or merit-based?

In other words, are the financial aid packages based on your financial need or your academic grades?

What sort of financial aid packages does your school offer?

You’ll want to know what financial aid packages are available and what’s offered to you.

Will my financial aid package be similar all four years? Or are your financial aid packages front-loaded?

Depending on the answer, your financial aid can change every year or you’ll know exactly what you’ll get for four years.

If my financial circumstances change, how do I apply for additional aid?

Let’s assume your financial situation changes unexpectedly. You’ll want to know if you can get more aid in that case.

Do you have work-study opportunities available? If so, what kind of work? What would the hours be?

Many colleges have a maximum amount of hours that students can work per pay period. This is so students still have time to focus on their academics.

What percentage of students graduate with debt here? What’s the average amount of debt?

It’s good to know how many students graduate with debt and around how much debt they graduate with. It’s a good estimate of how much debt you’ll graduate with if you attended that school.

What tuition payment plans are available?

Can you pay for your tuition via any payment plans that your college offers?

If I applied under Early Action or Early Decision, will that affect my financial aid package?

Depending on your application status, you’ll want to know if that changes how much financial aid you get.

What is the full cost of attendance?

Many colleges have that information online, but the financial aid office can break down how much the college costs.

What are the terms or conditions attached to the financial aid packages?

The financial aid office can give you the rundown, but you’ll want to read the terms and conditions yourself.

And remember, use can use College Raptor’s free match tool to discover personalized college matches, individualized cost estimates, your acceptance odds, potential financial aid from colleges around the country, and more!


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