Posted on August 10th, 2015 Posted by Jennie Nwokoye
Let’s take a trip down memory lane for a moment.
Remember when you received your acceptance letter in the mail from your dream university or college along with your financial aid award letter? Remember how relieved you felt when you saw the amount of money you were going to receive as a freshman? I know I was completely relieved, especially since I knew that my parents couldn’t afford to pay for my college education. I was delighted to see that my school was going to be covered by the plethora of grants for which I was eligible.
I completed my freshman year not having to take out a single loan. However, as my sophomore year began, I received my financial aid award letter and noticed that some of my grants were suddenly gone. By the time I reached my senior year, I was only receiving the Federal Pell Grant and the U.S. Department of Education Grant. Fortunately for me, I had other scholarships to help offset the loss of my grants. But I thought about other students who may not have had enough scholarship or grant assistance to pay for their education when the ground shifted under their feet.
Why did my grant money decrease after my freshman year, you might ask? Universities commonly entice incoming freshman with a robust financial aid packages to attract them to their institution, but withdraw the full extent of that first-year aid in subsequent years. It’s a classic bait-and-switch. This enrollment tactic ties students to the institution because of the difficulties associated with transferring to another school. Many times credits do not transfer to other schools and students need to re-take similar coursework at additional cost, which is the main barrier. But most importantly, this questionable tactic leaves students with less overall support and a greater potential to accumulate large debt loads.
College prospects should keep this in mind when they receive those generous aid packages. Make sure to get in touch with the financial aid office and find out how reliable their assistance will be in the long-term. It’s a phone call that could save you thousands.