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Whether you’re ready to enroll in your dream college or you’re still considering your options, it’s important to know how to review and compare each college’s financial aid offer. Here are tips for evaluating a financial aid offer from St. Edward’s.

If you’ve been accepted to St. Edward’s, congratulations! If you’ve filled out your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), that’s even better. And if you haven’t — complete the FAFSA today. The priority deadline for filing a FAFSA was Feb. 1, but St. Edward’s will continue to make financial aid offers until funds are exhausted.

Once St. Edward’s has reviewed your financial information, we’ll send you a financial aid package in the mail. Inside, you’ll find a breakdown of 2017–2018 costs, a letter that outlines your financial aid offer, and a worksheet to help you calculate the bottom line.

Student talking with financial aid advisor

Student reading financial aid offer packet with advisor

Review your offer.

The financial aid offer in your letter may include both gift aid (money you don’t have to pay back, like academic scholarships or need-based grants) and self-help aid (such as loans).

  • If you were awarded a merit scholarship in your acceptance letter, this scholarship will be included in your offer letter.
  • You may be awarded other need-based grants, such as a St. Edward’s Grant or Texas Tuition Equalization Grant.
  • You may be offered student loans. You are not obligated to accept them, but they are an option for covering your balance.

Do the math.

It’s important to understand both your financial aid offer, as well as how it compares with the cost of attendance.

  • First, review the “2017–2018 Tuition and Fees” page in Your Financial Aid Package brochure, which explains the costs of tuition, housing options and fees.
  • Then complete the “Financial Estimator Worksheet” on the facing page. When you subtract your assistance from the total cost of attendance, what remains is the balance you’ll be responsible for.

Then ask questions.

Every student at St. Edward’s is matched with a financial services advisor who will help you from now until graduation. Your advisor’s name and phone number are included in your offer letter.

  • Your advisor can help you ensure you’ve calculated your estimated balance correctly.
  • If you are not able to pay the estimated balance outright, ask your advisor about other forms of assistance like parent loans, alternative student loans and work-study jobs. The sooner you contact your advisor, the more likely these are to be available.
  • Your advisor can answer questions about using a qualified tuition plan (known as “529 plans”).
  • The 2017–2018 FAFSA is based on your 2015 income. If your financial circumstances have changed significantly, it’s best to discuss with your advisor.

Trying to decide among several schools?

It’s important to compare apples to apples by calculating your out-of-pocket cost at each university. The cost of attendance—including tuition, fees, housing and meals, books and travel—varies from school to school. Financial aid offers vary, as well. The only way to understand the real difference between the cost of several schools is to compare your estimated balance at each one. (Our cost comparison worksheet may help.)

Remember that at St. Edward’s, the cost of attendance includes an average class size of 18, a lifetime of career services support, and a personalized education where faculty and staff know students well enough to connect them with internships, mentors, travel opportunities and graduate programs. When you’re comparing the out-of-pocket cost at different schools, it’s worth considering what return you receive on that investment.

Take the next steps.

  • Have you visited St. Edward’s yet? Contact the Office of Admission at seu.admit [at] stedwards.edu or 512-448-8500 to arrange a tour or comprehensive visit. You can meet with your financial advisor while you’re here.
  • Make your enrollment deposit as soon as you decide to attend St. Edward’s — by May 1 at the latest.
  • Log on to your myHilltop account and look under “Billing and Financial Aid” to accept the aid you want and decline the aid you don’t want. Do this by May 1, too.

By Robyn Ross