The Journey to Financial Aid


Alexa-Jada Nelson

With college comes the big question: how do I pay for it? Completing the financial aid process can be a daunting task, but there are many tools that can help you smoothly transition into the nitty-gritty of financial aid. Our first stop on this journey to financial aid is research. Extensive research. Not skimming through the colleges’ websites, but diving in and finding the information that you need to determine the colleges you are interested in. 
The College Board is a great resource for high school students. Click the link ( and use the search bar to access information on 3,854 colleges! In doing this, you only have to use one website instead of going on multiple websites. DISCLAIMER: It is highly recommended to call the financial aid office of each college to ensure that the information you found is close to being accurate. Doing this will also provide you with even more information on financial aid. The chart below can make it easier to organize the logistics of colleges you are interested in and smoothly transition into filling out the. The blue headings on the chart correspond with the tabs on the webpage for the college you search. Use them to make your own chart!
Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 4.59.24 PM

  • At a Glance: Simply type the name of the college (abbreviations are suggested) and what state it is in. This can indicate which part of the country you prefer; location is a major factor in deciding which college to attend.
  • Campus Life: Gives you an overview of how many students attend the school and how culturally and ethnically diverse the student body is. Also, you will know if the school is male-dominated, female-dominated, or evenly split.
  • Applying: Provides an overview of what colleges are looking for in terms of academics and exam scores. This can help you set a goal if your GPA or SAT/ACT scores are lacking.
  • Paying: Very important! State the tuition cost (including room and board), how much the college gives in scholarships and grants, how much you’ll have to pay, and what financial aid form the college uses.

This chart will be a very helpful tool in your college quest! Not only will you gain a better understanding of the college (besides what’s in their usually vague brochures), but it can make the idea of financial aid a lot less intimidating. This chart also indicates which colleges are willing to provide more merit (non-need based) aid than others. Merit aid is aid given based upon your academic achievements. This is important for many students because the more “free money” they can obtain, the less student debt they will have once they graduate college.
See you on the next stop of our journey to financial aid!

Scroll over the dots on the chart to better understand the different components.