The following 10 factors can and will affect an individual student’s chances at receiving financial aid, based on their specific school. It is important to find out how your school stands on determining financial aid offers. If you have questions or need clarification, ask your school’s financial aid office.10 factors determining financial aid

1. Your school’s policy on student loans
• Some colleges provide enough federal grants and work-study jobs to meet a student’s need
• Others schools will provide enough grants so that low-income students don’t have to borrow, while others students will have to take out modest loans
• Some schools even offer aid packages that include federal student loans of up to $7,500 a year

2. How your school calculates a family’s need
• Some schools are promising to provide enough grants to make sure families earning less than $180,000 pay not more than 10 percent of their income
• Some schools are promising enough aid so that the families only have to pay the expected family contribution (EFC) – which the school calculates based off the family’s income

3. How your school counts home equity
• Some colleges consider the equity parents have in their homes as a resource that should be tapped to help pay for college
• Other schools don’t consider equity of the parents’ home

4. The effect of the financial aid application on your chances for admission
• Some colleges reserve spots for students who can pay full price
• Other schools will meet the financial needs of their admitted students, and don’t consider a student’s financial aid application or their ability to pay when deciding about admission

5. Does the school offer merit scholarships?
• Some schools offer top students merit scholarships no matter what their expected family contribution is, or how rich their parents are
• Other schools do not offer merit scholarships

6. The school’s financial aid policy for international students
• Some schools will commit to meet the financial aid of noncitizens
• Other schools do not guarantee full aid for international students

7. The cutoff date for the meet-full-needs promise
• Some schools will only meet the needs of students who complete their aid applications on time
• Other schools commit to meet the need of those students admitted during the early or regular admission seasons and may run out of aid by the time they start admitting students off their waiting list
• There are some schools that say the timing of the application doesn’t affect the aid award at all

8. How the schools considers divorced parents
• Some schools analyze the incomes of both stepparents and birth parents to make their own judgments about which set of parents should be responsible for each student’s college costs
• Other schools only consider the incomes of the birth parents
• Schools that only use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) consider only the custodial parents’ income when determining financial aid

9. The college’s expectation for student contribution
• Some schools provide enough aid so that students aren’t required to pitch in summer earnings
• Other schools reduce the student’s need and aid package by at least $1,000, saying that the student is expected to contribute that much each year from their summer earnings

10. What the college considers as its cost
• Some schools keep their cost low by providing small allowances for books or miscellaneous expenses
• Legally a college’s total cost of attendance is supposed to include tuition, fees, room, board, books, travel, and miscellaneous expenses for other necessities

Source: U.S.News, http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/paying-for-college/2010/02/18/will-you-get-enough-financial-aid-ask-your-college-about-these-10-factors.html