Spring 2014 - College Financial Aid Award Letter Tool

March and April are College Acceptance Months: Students receiving their college financial aid award letters can compare differences, calculate net costs and estimate total cost of college education, including student loan repayment scenarios

HESC has launched a College Financial Aid Award Letter Comparison Tool to help college-bound students and families interpret their award letters and get the bottom line cost of each college before making their final decision.

Students usually apply to several colleges and most award letters don’t follow a standard format. It can be challenging for families to accurately compare their financial aid awards and get to the bottom line cost for each college. Without a full understanding of the total costs, including which aid is grants that don’t have to be paid back and which are student loans, it may be difficult to choose the best college at an affordable price for the family.

The College Financial Aid Award Letter Comparison Tool allows students and families to see side-by-side comparisons, highlights net costs and estimates the full two or four-year cost of each college.

If student loans are offered, the bottom line report will also recommend the potential income needed to comfortably pay student loans after graduation based on an occupation chosen by the user. HESC uses current data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook to provide median salary estimates for the selected occupation.

Not only does this feature allow the student and family to understand the impact of borrowing as it relates to their current real life circumstances and future circumstances, it encourages students to consider their major field of study carefully so they can make adjustments in either career or college choices, if necessary. Students can be informed about loan costs up front, before they commit to a college or career path. The comparison tool provides details about the student’s total estimated debt at each institution, approximate monthly loan payments, and the minimum annual salary required to afford these payments.

The comparison tool’s flexibility allows students and families to go back and make adjustments to the data to make alternative occupation choices, include additional out-of-pocket money or other adjustments that will help them review the scenarios and make a completely informed decision about their college and field of study.

No personal data is collected or saved.

Click here for a poster you can print and display in your counseling office and at other locations at school to let your students and families know how this important tool can help them make an informed decision about their college choice.