Why did my financial aid change from year to year? Should I expect to get the same amount each year of college?

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Marguerite Dennis, Higher Education Consultant

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Not many families ask whether the financial aid awarded in the first year will continue after freshman year. Some schools give generous financial aid packages to freshman students that look a bit different in the second year, even if the family’s income has not changed. For example, the ratio of loans to grants may have changed. The total amount may be the same, but the loan bill might have increased.

Please be certain to clarify how the school’s financial aid is given, not only by admission counselors, but also by financial aid staff. Many schools assign incoming students a financial aid counselor who will remain their counselor for all four years. Ask whether the same person will be awarding you financial aid each year that you are in school.

Your aid award shouldn’t be a surprise — read on for an expert’s take on demystifying the financial aid process.

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