Many students and parents will have questions on the overall financial aid process. Today we have broken the whole process down into six steps. We will dive into each step more in depth and provide links at the end of each paragraph for you to learn in greater deal. The purpose of this post will simply be to give you an idea of the overall financial aid process and a high level view of how you or your student can receive funding.

  1. Filing for Admission
    • During this step the student will be encouraged to apply to the colleges they have shown interest in. High school students are encouraged to apply early in their senior year for admission into their school. There are multiple ways that the student can be accepted for admission to college and many will have varying factors dependent upon the accepting school.

  2. Filing for Financial Aid
    • There is no cookie cutter answer for each and every student applying to different schools. Each school may have their own unique deadline but it is very important to complete all of the necessary financial aid application forms are completed at the colleges the student is interested in. There may be a limited amount of awards available so students should apply by the outlined deadlines provided with accurate information in a timely fashion.

  3. Reviewing the Student Aid Report
    • Once the FAFSA has been completed the student will receive a Student Aid Report. The student should review this for accuracy and it would hurt to have an experienced set of eyes reviewing the information as well. This will help to cut down on time frames where students need to complete forms on a specific deadlines. If there are corrections that need to be made, they should be done promptly and then re-file this form.

  4. Verification (A Financial Aid Audit)
    • Students and their parents may be selected for verification. This process essentially is where the students must provide additional documentation to verify the information presented on the FAFSA was accurate. Students will become more likely to be selected for verification if the student is eligible for federal grants. While anyone may be selected, and certainly many people have been asked, the chances that a potential student is selected increases with increased Financial Aid.

  5. Reviewing and Comparing Awards from Different Schools
    • Once your paper work has been submitted, the school will issue what is known as an award letter. This award letter will have all of the awards the student has been preliminary awarded for if they were to attend. One important factor the student should take note of is the acceptance deadlines. Review the various award letters from competing schools to properly compare and contrast their differences. It may be wise again to have these award letter reviewed by an experienced set of eyes to ensure the comprehension of the true award. The true out of pocket expenses will be able to now be determined and the necessary planning can begin with detailed numbers provided.

  6. Appealing Awards
    • This is one that many people do not fully understand or comprehend. If the student feels there should have been more monies awarded for whatever reason, they can perform an appeal to the school for potentially a better award. There are number factors that can be considered and items that the appeal may be based on. But the students can inform the college of the appeal. Additionally if any circumstances have changed significantly, it would be grounds for the student to appeal the decision.


Often the financial aid process can appear to be quite intimidating and often there are some moving parts associated. It may be difficult to fully comprehend the overall financial aid process. Student award letters too can be quite confusing. We are here to help in any way we can to provide assistance to ensure both you and your student fully understand any step of the financial aid process. In future posts we will break each step down further to offer additional insights.