10 Working with financial aid administrators Financial aid administrators help families obtain the financial assistance they need. College financial aid administrators put together financial aid packages for the students who qualify. As a rule, public colleges must follow strict government guidelines when awarding financial aid. Private colleges have much more latitude in how they use their funds and in how they award aid. Financial aid administrators take a number of factors into consideration when putting together a financial aid package. Three of the most important factors are 1) the cost of the college; 2) the availability of funds; and 3) the desirability of the student. u Cost of the college – Tuition at one college may be $10,000; at anothercollegeitmightbe$20,000.Themoreexpensivetheschool, the more aid the student is likely to receive. u Availability of funds – Some colleges receive large financial en- dowmentsfrombenefactorsandwealthyalumnimakingitpossible for them to provide additional financial aid awards. Other colleges have only limited funds for financial aid. u Desirability of the student – At one college, a student may be in the top 10% of the applicants. At a more selective college, the same student may be considered an average applicant. Colleges send award letters to the students who have applied for financial aid. These letters show what the colleges are able to offer, and they explain each part of a student’s package (grants, scholarships, work-study, and/or loans). It is then up to the parent(s) and the student to decide if they want to accept the offer, reject it, or accept parts of it. They could, for example, accept the scholarship and grant, but not the loan. Cost, availability of funds, and financial aid policies vary from college to col- lege. Financial aid packages, therefore, are often very different in the kinds and amounts of aid they include. Because public colleges must put together financial aid packages according to federal and state guidelines, packages from public colleges are likely to be fairly similar. There are often significant differences,however,betweenpublicandprivatecollegepackages.Therecan alsobesignificantdifferencesbetweentwoprivatecollegepackages.Students and parents need to carefully compare the financial aid packages they receive.