I got accepted! Now, what do I need to do?
Congratulations! That’s a great achievement. And, it’s nice to have some choices if you got an acceptance letter from several colleges you applied to. But now it’s time to decide which college will be the one you’ll attend in fall.
Three strategies that can help you make a final decision.
1- Visit the colleges offering you admission
Even if you have visited a college before, another visit might be enlightening especially if you pay attention to details. Pretend you are a student there already. Take in the look of the college grounds, the facilities, the cafeteria, the general vibe – in case you are visiting a campus that has re-opened. Get an idea for how far this college is away from home. What transportation you would need to visit family back home. What’s near by, restaurants, city life or lots of nature. What’s important to you? Do you find it represented at that college?
While an in-person visit is obviously best, the ongoing pandemic might not allow for one. The next best way to “visit” a college is to book a personalized virtual tour offered by many colleges that haven’t reopened their campuses yet.
2- Schedule an appointment with a student ambassador
If you are pursuing an engineering major for example, try to get in contact with a student ambassador from that particular school or department . The admissions office is usually more than happy to connect you to someone, who can share more about what it means to study your major at that college. Ask questions regarding work load, academic support, student support in general, internships, research opportunities, student and school spirit.
3 – Compare financial aid award letters
This might be the most important step of all three. One, that can help make your final decision much easier.
Which one of the colleges is offering you the most financial aid and/or merit aid? It’s important to figure that out since this will have a big impact on you once you are finished with your studies and have to start paying back student loans. There are some great tools out there that make it easier for you to compare financial aid awards from various schools. One is Big Future’s “Compare your Aid Awards” https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/financial-aid-awards/compare-aid-calculator It gives you the option to compare offers of up to four schools. Find out who is the most generous of the schools offering you admission!
How to read your financial aid award offer.
First, read your financial aid award offer carefully. It’s important to understand which items in the offer are grants and scholarships (money that does NOT need to be paid back) and which are loans (money that does need to get paid back), and what is federal work study .
Grants are usually need-based and scholarships are merit-based. Both are awards that don’t need to get paid back.
Loans. Differentiate between direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans. The direct subsidized loans are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The direct unsubsidized loans don’t require you to demonstrate financial need. And, then there is the parent Plus loan, available for parents.
Federal work study provides part- time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need while they are enrolled in college. However, be aware, when making your calculations and comparing financial aid offers from schools. The money you see under federal words study will only be awarded if you work in one of the jobs offered by the school. It’s not automatic and it’s not a given that you will get one of the jobs offered. You need to apply for it.
Finally. Let Colleges know about your decision.
You did all your evaluations and made your final decision on which college to attend. Awesome!
It’s now time to let all the colleges that accepted you know whether you accept or decline their admissions offer.
1. Make sure to respond to the college that is your FINAL choice before/by May 1st .
Check your admissions offer for details that need to get submitted with your acceptance letter. Most often that includes the acceptance letter, a deposit, and a separate acceptance letter in case you were offered finical aid, among other items.
2. Respond to colleges whose admissions offer you decline
Write a note to the admissions officer of each respective college thanking them for their college’s acceptance and financial aid offer and politely telling them that you have decided to go with another college. The admissions officer will appreciate your courtesy (you never know when your paths might cross again) and your action might free up a space for a student on the waiting list for that particular college.
Check out these links for more information on everything financial aid related :
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