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Navigating College Financial Aid

The inside dope on college financial aid. The way it really works, who gets what, and how.

Students cheer and wave as President Barack Obama, not pictured, exits the podium after speaking at the University at Buffalo, in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, beginning his two day bus tour speaking about college financial aid.  (AP)

Students cheer and wave as President Barack Obama, not pictured, exits the podium after speaking at the University at Buffalo, in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, beginning his two day bus tour speaking about college financial aid. (AP)

It’s the season of decision for American families and their young high school near-graduates looking to head off to college. Where will they go? And what will it cost? The two are all mixed up together. The cost of college is truly daunting for most families in this country now. And figuring out real costs, financial aid and the bottom line is a challenge. Colleges can be anything but transparent. Financial aid letters are marketing documents. “Need” and “aid” can mean all kinds of things. This hour On Point: paying for college, and college financial aid. How it really works. Who gets what, and why.

– Tom Ashbrook


Beckie Supiano, staff reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (@becksup)

Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher of Edvisors Network. Author of “Filing the FAFSA.” (@mkant)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), senior U.S. Senator from Connecticut. (@SenBlumenthal)

From Tom’s Reading List

Chronicle of Higher Education: When Families Ask Colleges for More Money – “April should bring a sigh of relief to seniors with college acceptances in hand. But for some students and their families, the fat envelope isn’t the end of the road.

New York Times: What You Don’t Know About Financial Aid (but Should) — “But the price calculators, potentially powerful instruments, vary in thoroughness, ease of use and even accuracy, and most colleges do not use the shopping sheet, which is voluntary. Not only could the tools be better, but many students and parents are unaware of them.”

Slate: Small Private Colleges Are in Deep Trouble (as They Should Be) — “What we’re witnessing right now, then, is a small brush fire, clearing out some of the unhealthier institutions in higher ed. It will be wrenching for the schools and the people who work for them. But hopefully, it will also inspire some better ways of doing business.”

Check Out Our Blog For Some Links And Tips For Navigating Financial Aid

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