Post By: Dana Sunderlin
When most high school students start looking at colleges, they think about what the college offers in terms of academics and extracurriculars. But when the financial aid packages from schools come in the mail this spring, the final decision will likely be made with dollars and cents in mind.
"A good financial aid package is as important as the major, course of study and geographic location," says Bob Friedman, the university director of student finance at Yeshiva University in New York. "It comes at the end of the search, and it's absolutely a top concern."
Though financial aid officers have some latitude in how much they can offer students, don't expect that securing a better aid package will be as easy as snaring a deal on a vacation or a flat-screen TV, says Marty Carney, DeLand, Fla.-based Stetson University's director of financial aid.
"Don't come in with the expectation that financial aid offices are in the business of negotiating like used-car salesmen," he says. "In many cases, schools don't negotiate financial aid awards."