Keep your eye out for
these things
• Cost of Attendance (COA): the estimated total cost for a school year, which includes things like tuition, books, meals, transportation, and other expenses.
• Expected Family Contribution (EFC): a number used by the school to calculate how much financial aid you’re eligible for. (The actual amount you pay may be different).
Still owe money? What now?
If your financial aid package doesn’t cover the full bill, you have options.
• You can try to request more financial aid from a school.
• You could look into scholarships, dip into saving, or consider private student loans. Talk to a parent or counselor about the options that are best for you.
Take your time
Give yourself enough time to think about your options. Money’s important, but location, classes, and vibe matter too. Make sure the school’s what YOU
Compare your offers
Weigh the + and – with a spreadsheet.
Add up all your financial aid, then subtract
that from the COA.
Your MVP checklist
Check out the basics
Does the school offer your major or, if you’re undecided, lots of options? You’ll also want to contact the campus career center about its track record for getting students into their field of choice.
Check out the scene
Use your social media skills and search by location to see what’s going on beyond the school’s official website and social channels. Does it look like a place you’d like to hang out?
Check out the forecast
If your ideal study routine is reading a textbook on the beach…maybe don’t go to school in Seattle. Knowing your weather deal breakers can help you narrow your list and feel happier at the school you choose.
Check out your surroundings
Prefer a peaceful campus with rolling hills? Or would you feel lost without the hustle and bustle of the city outside your dorm? Location, location, location.
Check out how social your school is
Do you love the idea of large dorms, lots of organized fun, and Greek life? Or do you prefer a quieter vibe with smaller class sizes and a few good friends? Chat up current students or recent grads to learn more.
Check out opportunities outside the classroom
Research internships, co-ops, and study abroad programs for experiences and opportunities to learn outside the classroom.


Check out the following resources to help students and families review their financial aid award letters:

Financial Aid Essentials (.pdf/489KB): This guide offers the basics on financial aid award letters and a glossary of common terms.
BigFuture™ Compare Your Aid Awards: This tool provides students with an online worksheet to assist with understanding costs, types of aid, and net price.


US Dept of Education Resource Guide:


US Citizenship and Immigration Services:

Resources for undocumented students: