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Paying for College

How to Decipher a Financial Aid Letter

Some colleges blur the lines between loans and grants.

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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