What should I ask at the student financial aid office?

When current or upcoming college students are seeking financial aid, they will often make an appointment at a student financial aid office that is located on the campus of their chosen college or university.

When meeting with a financial aid officer, it is important to get as much pertinent information as possible, so that you can make an informed decision regarding what types of aid to apply for, as well as what the terms and conditions of receiving such funds will entail.

Student Financial Aid Question Checklist

Some of the most important answers that you need to have at the end of your meeting with the student financial aid representative include the following:

  • What type of financial aid do you offer?
  • What are the specific requirements for both merit-based aid as well as need-based financial aid?
  • Does the college or university offer a tuition payment plan that allows the student to pay for their educational expenses monthly as versus all at one time at the beginning of each semester?
  • Will eligibility for future financial aid be negatively affected if aid is not applied for at the present time?
  • What percentage of students at the college or university graduate with student debt?
  • If a work-study program is an option for receiving aid, how many hours are typically required for work each week?
  • Will applying for student financial aid have a negative impact on being approved for admission to the college or university?
  • If a scholarship is granted, will that reduce the amount of financial aid that may be received?
  • What is the application process for applying for student financial aid?
  • What are the deadlines for applying for student financial aid?
  • Does the college or university require the CSS Financial Aid PROFILE or does it use its own forms along with the FAFSA?
  • How long does it typically take to find out if one is approved for student financial aid?
  • If the initial amount of financial aid that is applied for turns out to be an insufficient amount, is it possible to apply for additional funds?
  • Are there other financial aid programs available such as grants and/or scholarships?

Once you have had all questions answered and you have applied for student financial aid, it may take some time in order to receive the notification of qualification as well as the notice regarding how much aid has been qualified for.

Students who qualify for financial aid will receive a financial aid award letter that provides them with information about the college or university’s costs and the financial aid that is available to help the student in paying for these educational expenses.

These award letters oftentimes will arrive at the same time or soon after the notice of admission to the school. In most cases, this is in the spring time of the year prior to enrollment. Today, there are some institutions that provide their financial aid award letters online through a secure website.

Some institutions will require a student to either accept or reject each source of financial aid that is offered to them. It is important to understand that if one form of financial aid is rejected, the college or university will not increase another type of aid in order to compensate.