College Financial Aid is a Zero-sum Game

My daughter and I got a nice letter from the state she’s attending college in. “You’ve been approved for a $2150 state grant assistance.” Yea! That felt really good.

I got on the phone and asked the college if they’d heard from the state, yet. “Well, I’ve been doing all the late arriving scholarship and I haven’t gotten to the ‘M’s yet. I’ll go check.” Sure enough, she came back a few minutes later and confirmed that the scholarship grant was inbound.

But she wasn’t done. “Of course, this means we’ll have to decrease your college grant so you don’t become overcompensated.” Uhh… what? You are going to take back money you already gave us?

“Well, I have to re-calculate your financial aid package and see if it’s going to go up or down.” I recoiled in shock. How could getting an additional $2150 reduce the financial aid package? Well, it’s all in the numbers, the grants, and the secret formulas all the college and states and federal government have in cahoots.

Turns out we came out $139 ahead. Well, in as much as my daughter has to take out a loan for $139 each semester less than she was going to. But we certainly didn’t get any money back.

So goes the business of college finance these days.

About Brian

Engineer. Aviator. Educator. Scientist.
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