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College Financial Aid: Where is the Money?

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College Financial Aid: Where is the Money?


By Dr. Gina La Monica

As parents are analyzing their financial aid awards before the May 1 college decision day deadline looming close ahead many are confused about their child’s financial aid awards. Additionally, some families made the common mistake of only applying to public colleges with the thinking that private schools were out of their financial reach. As I dissect each family’s financial aid award letter, it becomes evident which college is the most affordable for the family.

Generally speaking, public colleges have a tighter budget than private because their budgets are based on public funding, although, there are some public colleges that have done a tremendous job of acquiring huge endowments. Also, public colleges have complex funding restrictions that private colleges do not have to adhere to. With that said, a review of a college’s endowment and past history of giving will provide you with an insight into its financial aid practices.  Furthermore, identify if the college’s student awards are need-based versus need-blind.  Need-based means the institution funds strictly on the financial need of the family, which the majority of public colleges fall into this category. Whereas need-blind funding means the college funds are based on who they admit to the college, and most importantly, being of lower income or not having the funds to afford the college will not affect your chances of being admitted. Many private universities are need-bind and even…

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