Talking money on a campus visit

Make an appointment with your prospective school’s financial aid office when you’re touring colleges

Talking money on a campus visit

On a college campus tour, you’ll probably be pretty excited to see how students spend their days and the chance to check out the dorms, dining facilities and lecture halls. A campus visit is also an ideal time to meet with the college’s financial aid counselor.
This way, you can make sure the school is your best fit in every way: academically, socially and financially.

Step 1: Make an appointment

To get a complete picture of an active campus, classes and student life, it’s best to plan a college campus tour when class is in session. Call before your campus visit to make an appointment with a financial aid counselor. Not all schools accept drop-ins.

Step 2: Be prepared to discuss your financial situation

During the visit, you’ll most likely get a chance to talk to the financial aid counselor about your specific financial situation. Be prepared to discuss your family’s income so the counselor can give you an estimate of your expected family contribution (EFC) toward the cost of attendance (COA).

Step 3: Get a sample aid package

Once you are able to determine what your financial need is, based on the COA and EFC, the financial aid counselor should be able to tell you how much aid other students in similar situations have received. This information can help you anticipate what your actual award letter might look like and identify the amount of scholarship money you’ll need to fill the gap.

Step 4: Chat yourself up 

A secret bonus to speaking with an aid counselor is that it may put you in the running for additional funds. Be sure to make them aware of your grades, class rank, test scores, community service, etc. Also consider that schools keep track of students’ visits to campus to determine who is truly interested in their institution.

Step 5: Inquire about department funds

If you already know your major, ask about available scholarships awarded by the appropriate academic department. Try to meet with an associate dean to discuss need-based or merit aid possibilities.

Step 6: Ask a lot of questions

Though meeting with an aid counselor won’t guarantee additional aid, not meeting with them won’t help you at all. Go in with an open mind and learn everything you can. Being informed is the best strategy.

Step 7: Follow up

Polite follow up is key to making a good impression. Write down the names of all the college personnel you met with, and send them thank-you notes after your college campus visit.

This article was provided by Peterson’s Nelnet, LLC, a Nelnet company, which provides education and career guidance, test preparation and information on educational opportunities, admissions and financial aid. For more information, visit

Financial aid questions to ask

• Do you leave unmet need in your financial aid package?
• How much grant assistance do you provide to those with an EFC of $0?
• Does grant aid remain constant all four years?
• Is a stepparent’s or ex-spouse’s income considered when you calculate aid?
• To maintain a grant, how many credits must I take each semester?
• If I receive an outside scholarship, how will it affect my aid, especially in terms of institutional grants and awards?


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