College search: Other important choices
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Comparing colleges based on financial aid policies
- [Man] We are here with Sean Logan, director of college counseling at Philip's Academy. Sean, one things that students often ask themselves is, "Should I be thinking about financial aid "during the college search process, or is it something "that doesn't really come until "the very end, once I'm making my decision?" - [Sean] The financial aid piece has got to be right up front in the research process. It's a very important piece to consider. You know, a couple things with need-based aid, for most families the financial aid process is a scary process, you should never be afraid of asking what you would consider a stupid question. I've been doing this for 25 years, I still confused on how schools use their terms. So if you need things defined for you, ask the right questions until you get your questions answered. Applying for financial aid by their deadlines is critical. Many schools will exhaust their financial aid budget as they send out all their admission letters. So, if you get into a school and then decide, "Okay I'm admitted, now I'm gonna submit "my financial aid paperwork," they may not have any money left, so financial aid deadlines are critically important. And just in this research process, a couple of words that you're gonna hear, and things to think about, there's two terms you're gonna hear a lot. One of those terms is "need blind." A school might be need blind in the admissions process, or a school might be "need aware" in the admissions process. Need blind typically means that you will be admitted to the school regardless of whether or not you're applying for aid, so the school does not take into account if you're applying for aid or not. They're admitting you based on other criteria. The term need aware means that financial aid may be a consideration in the admission process. So, a school may take into account that you need financial aid, or that you don't need financial aid in the admissions process. - [Man] So I guess it sounds like if you have two students who are both sort of on the edge of getting in or not getting in to a school, and that school is need aware, then they may preference a student who doesn't need the financial help, versus a student who does. But certainly, if you're a competitive applicant, then whether or not you need financial help, the school won't care about that at all. - [Sean] Right. - [Man] Great, and one thing that I've oftentimes heard is that certain schools do meet 100 percent of need, other schools don't meet 100 percent of need. How does that sort of factor in in general, and connect with need blind versus need aware? - [Sean] Right, so if you're looking at information online or you have the opportunity to visit a school, that's a great question to ask a financial aid officer. "Do you meet 100 percent of demonstrated need?" And what that means is based on the FAFSA and the profile that you'll probably submit to that school, one or both of those documents, those documents will say that the family has a contribution amount, the college will meet the rest of your need based off of that. But, quite frankly, there's not a lot of schools that meet 100 percent of demonstrated need. - [Man] Sean, can you give me some examples of schools that are in that sweet spot? So, they are need blind, they're not gonna take into account my families financial circumstances when deciding whether to admit me or not, but once I'm in they commit to meeting 100 percent of my need so they'll make sure that college is affordable for my family. - [Sean] Sure, so, you know, one of the ways that this manifests itself is schools that have great endowments typically tend to use a chunk of that endowment towards really good financial aid packages. So, schools like Stanford University, Wellesley College, Williams College, these places that have very good endowments and put a lot of money toward financial aid fit that definition and use their resources that way. So, again, it's a really great combination when a school says "We're need blind and we meet 100 percent "of your demonstrated need," but there are many other schools that will meet 100 percent of your demonstrated need even though it's not a guarantee they give to all students. The bottom line here is, the better student you are, the stronger program you take, the better grades you get, the better financial aid packages you can avail yourself of.