Warning: Your Financial Aid Package May Include Loans
Summary: How to tell whether you're being offered free money for college or money that you'll have to pay back, plus interest.
Time to read: 1 minute, 15 seconds
Who this is for: Seniors and Parents
Financial aid. It sounds helpful, right? Like someone is giving you money to help you out.
But that’s not quite what it means.
Because while some financial aid packages may include scholarships, grants and the other aid that students don’t have to pay back – they may also include loans.
And loans are not funds that are given to you. They’re money you have to pay back.
So when you and your family go over your financial aid packages that different colleges may offer you, it’s really important to notice and separate out the amounts being given to you, and the amounts you’ll have to repay.
Here are some other things to be aware of when evaluating financial aid packages:
- Are the grants for one year or all four? – Some grants may only be for one year as a special deal. Make sure you find out because you have 4 years of college, not just one.
- A college’s stated costs may not be yours – Sometimes, what a school lists as your costs may only include the things you pay to them (ie, tuition, room and meal plan). Remember that you’re going to have many other expenses during your time in college. See the Calculate your costs of college segment to learn more.
- Loan terminology can be very confusing – For a good idea of what to watch for, check out the report available here.
How to tell whether you’re being offered free money for college, or money you’ll have to pay back, plus interest.