The College Solutions Blog

Valuable insights from Lynn O’Shaughnessy
a nationally recognized college expert.

Financial aid award
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March 24, 2014

Don’t Be Tricked By Misleading Financial Aid Letters

FInancial aid letters are often confusing. I believe many colleges and universities intentionally make financial aid awards hard to decipher to trick families into thinking that their institutions are being generous even when they aren’t. Obfuscation is an effective way to keep parents off balance. Since this is the time of year when students are receiving their financial aid letters,...
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March 27, 2013

A Financial Aid Letter That Gets It Right

Many colleges do a horrible job of presenting their financial aid awards in an easy-to-understand way.  As I’ve been explaining in my last two posts, I believe this is largely intentional: What’s Wrong With This Financial Aid Letter Evaluating a Financial Aid Award Recognizing this shameful behavior, the federal government has created a financial aid template called the Shopping Sheet....
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March 25, 2013

Evaluating a Financial Aid Award

This is the second day that I’m devoting to evaluating financial aid letters. If you missed it, here is the first post that I wrote on this important subject: What’s Wrong with This Financial Aid Letter? Today I’m sharing another financial aid award that I obtained from Paula Bishop, a CPA from Bellevue, WA, who received this letter from a...
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March 19, 2012

An Inside Look at Financial Aid Appeals

When you appeal a college’s financial aid award what happens to your request? During the last admission season, The Chronicle of Higher Education provided an inside glimpse into how a financial aid appeal is handled internally in a fascinating article entitled: When Families Ask Colleges for More Money A Chronicle reporter observed financial aid deliberations that took place among senior...
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March 12, 2012

An End to Bad Financial Aid Award Letters

Last week I wrote two college blog posts that included examples of confusing financial aid letters. If you missed them, here they are: Are These Financial Aid Letters Misleading? What’s Missing From This Financial Aid Letter? I received a couple of notes from independent college counselors saying that they were going to use the awards that I highlighted as templates...
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March 9, 2012

Are These Financial Aid Letters Misleading?

If you didn’t see my college blog post from yesterday, I’d urge you to take a peek. I wrote about misleading financial aid awards, which can cause parents to think that a school is going to be more affordable than it really is. Here is the post: What’s Missing From This Financial Aid Letter? Today I want to offer three...
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March 8, 2012

What’s Missing From This Financial Aid Letter?

Many financial aid letters  — heck almost all of them —  are confusing. I’ve always wondered why award letters are so difficult to understand. Perhaps the staffers generating these letters in the bowels of universities have been conversing in financial-aid speak for so long that they have lost their ability to communicate in standard English. Of course, the cynical explanation...
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November 9, 2011

Confusing Financial Aid Awards: Where’s the Money?

One of the frustrations of applying to college is the confusing nature of many financial aid awards. Even when a teenager has received a puny financial aid award, schools don’t necessarily want families to know this.  Some parents will look at a misleading financial aid award and think their child has won scholarships to cover much of the cost of...
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March 21, 2010

Student Aid: 5 Ways to Negotiate for More Financial Aid

Student aid letters are hitting mailboxes across the country this month. My son has been getting these financial aid letters and so have millions of other families. All this mail inevitably leads to a question that’s on many parents’ minds: If you are distressed with the dollar amount in a student aid letter, is it possible to negotiate for more...
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