How a College Financial Aid Calculator Can Help You Plan Your Finances

Financial Aid Appeal Letters How a College Financial Aid Calculator Can Help You Plan Your Finances

College Financial Aid Calculator—What It Is and How It Works

Do you need help with estimating the amount of financial aid you can get so you can prepare for your application and enrollment? This guide explains what a college financial aid calculator is, how it determines the types of assistance you can qualify for and what steps to take to make the most out of your school’s financial aid program!

The Basics of a College Financial Aid Calculator

A college financial aid calculator is a feature that helps students estimate the amount of financial support they can get from a school of their choice. Since a lot of factors contribute to the final financial aid offer, a calculator cannot show 100% accurate results, but it can help students with:

  • Finding out whether they can afford to go to a specific school
  • Planning ahead in case they receive less aid than expected

Prospective students should use college financial aid calculators alongside net price calculators to get a more realistic estimate for the study program they plan on enrolling in.

Most schools offer their own calculators, and you can usually find them on the financial aid page on their websites.

How Is College Financial Aid Calculated?

The process of calculating your financial aid offer contains two steps:

  1. Estimating your eligibility for need-based aid
  2. Checking whether you qualify for other types of aid

The amount of need-based financial aid you will receive depends on multiple factors, such as your:

  • Total cost of attendance
  • Expected Family Contribution
  • Financial need

Your financial need is the difference between the total cost of attendance and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Schools can choose whether or not to meet 100% of your financial need based on the information you provide in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and your College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile.

After a school determines the amount of need-based aid you can receive, it will check if you qualify for any other awards.

What Information Is Used To Calculate Financial Aid?

Check out the following table for examples of information schools take into account when creating your financial aid offer:

Category Information
Household information
  • Number of family members
  • State of residence
  • Number of college students
Parent income and assets
  • Parent income
  • Child support received/paid
  • Retirement plan contributions
  • Investments
  • Real estate
  • Businesses/farms
  • College savings
  • Trust funds
Student information
  • Student income
  • Student assets
  • Cost of attendance
  • Federal income tax paid (if applicable)

How To Secure the Most Financial Aid Possible From a School

Steps you can take to maximize your financial aid offer include:

  1. Submitting your application before the priority deadline
  2. Checking whether your application misses any of the required documents or has any errors that would require corrections and a longer processing time
  3. Preparing all documentation you may need if you get chosen for federal verification in advance

What To Do if You Receive Less Financial Aid Than the Calculator Predicted

Be aware that schools offer financial aid on a first-come, first-serve basis. The funds are often limited, so you shouldn’t be surprised if your award letter states a lesser offer than what the calculator predicted.

If you’re not happy with the amount of aid a school offered you, you can:

  • File a Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal if you’re a continuing student
  • Write a financial aid appeal letter if you’re a first-year student

Convincing a school to increase your award is no easy task and requires a good reason, for example:

  • Loss of a parent/spouse
  • Separation or divorce that leads to a spouse leaving the household
  • Loss of employment
  • Decrease in wage or work hours
  • Change of jobs resulting in a reduction of income
  • Loss of child support
  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Extensive care of a family member

If you don’t know how to write an appeal letter or you just don’t have the time, our app can help you get one on its way to your school in minutes! Subscribe to DoNotPay for the easiest way to create a convincing letter you can use to appeal your school’s decision!

Use DoNotPay To Request More Financial Aid From Your School

DoNotPay can help you reduce your educational expenses, and all you have to do is follow these simple steps:

  1. Open DoNotPay in any web browser
  2. Type Appeal for More Financial Aid in the search bar
  3. Explain the financial setbacks you experienced that demand a more significant amount of aid than you received
  4. Include offers you got from other schools

After you complete all steps, we will create and send a custom appeal letter to your school on your behalf.

If you’re getting acquainted with financial aid or looking to expand your knowledge, explore our learning center for more guides, such as:

If you’re still looking for your future school, check out some whose financial aid programs we explained so you can know what to expect:

Columbia University Financial Aid Cornell University Financial Aid Stanford University Financial Aid
New York University Financial Aid MIT Financial Aid Purdue University Financial Aid
Rutgers University Financial Aid Princeton University Financial Aid University of California, Santa Cruz Financial Aid
University of California, Los Angeles Financial Aid University of California, Berkeley Financial Aid University of California, San Diego Financial Aid
Harvard University Financial Aid University of California, Davis Financial Aid Yale University Financial Aid

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