Comparing Costs and Award Packages
Understanding the Cost of Attendance
The actual cost of attendance is unique for each school. It is established each year by the college or university using guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education. Some expenses, such as tuition, fees, and room and board are fixed. Other expenses are controlled by the individual student's circumstances, for example, the transportation distance from home to campus.
When considering awards from an individual school, or comparing financial aid packages from multiple schools, you should carefully review each school's cost of attendance in addition to the amount of aid the student was awarded.
To learn more, see How Your Financial Need Is Determined.
Financial Aid Packages
Because each university or college has its own set of available resources, there can be differences in their financial aid award offers.
The Financial Award Package Comparision Spreadsheet below will help you and your family to accurately compare costs and aid offers. When reviewing the results, consider your expected family contribution (EFC) from the FAFSA, and the types of aid offered (gift aid vs. self-help aid).
It is also important to understand how financial aid packages are awarded for future years. Requirements for renewability may vary between awards. Consider the following:
- Will the percentage of costs covered by loans, for example, remain constant from year to year?
- Do tuition rates increase from year to year, and if so by what percentage?
- Are grants restricted to the first year, or guaranteed for each year of attendance?
- What are the requirements to renew merit scholarships?
- If your financial need changes, will awards change?
Download the Financial Award Package Comparison Spreadsheet [XLSX].