How to Decipher a Financial Aid Letter

Some colleges blur the lines between loans and grants.

(Image credit: FatCamera)

Figuring out how much college will cost can be complicated. College websites and promotional materials publish sticker prices, which can easily top $65,000 a year at a private college or $25,000 a year for an in-state public school. But most families will pay far less. Need-based financial aid awards often cut a school’s sticker price in half for families who qualify. And non-need-based aid further reduces the costs for stellar students.

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Kaitlin Pitsker
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Pitsker joined Kiplinger in the summer of 2012. Previously, she interned at the Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse, N.Y., and with Chronogram magazine in Kingston, N.Y. She holds a BS in magazine journalism from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.