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.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

To continue reading this article
please register for free

This is different from signing in to your print subscription

Why am I seeing this? Find out more here

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.