University of Vermont

Student Financial Services

Analyzing Your Financial Aid Award

We encourage all students and families to critically evaluate their UVM financial aid award. We recognize that comparing financial aid awards from multiple schools is an important part of your college decision process.

We've assembled the tips and resources below to assist you in comparing your financial aid offers and to help you make the best financial decision for you and your family. The counselors in Student Financial Services are available to assist you by phone, e-mail, or in person in understanding your UVM financial aid award and comparing your aid awards.

Compare Net Cost After Financial Aid

It's tempting to compare the amount of one school’s grants and scholarships to the grants and scholarships awarded by another school. However, the most important figure is the bottom line — how much will your family have to borrow or pay in order to attend each school. A school offering a larger grant or scholarship that also has a higher sticker price may be the more expensive choice; other times a school with a high sticker price ends up being the most affordable after grants and scholarships are accounted for.

  Cost of Attendance (Estimated total cost for 1 year) - Total grants, scholarships, and work-study* = Bottom line: Total to be borrowed in loans or paid out of pocket for 1 year.
*Students eligible for Federal Work Study may use work study earnings to cover miscellaneous expenses. Work study funds are not applied to the tuition bill.

PLUS Loan Information for Dependent Students

The Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan is available to assist families in financing their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) plus any financial need that was not met by grants, scholarships, work-study, and student loans.

Credit approval is required for a parent to borrow this loan. If a gap exists between the cost of attendance and the aid offered, then a PLUS Loan may be an option, or you may cover this gap with other savings/resources.

Think of the PLUS Loan amount as the amount you and/or your family will need to borrow (in addition to student loans) or pay for one year of education. If your family does not plan to pursue the PLUS Loan, you'll need an alternative plan. Alternatives to the PLUS Loan include setting up a short-term payment plan, paying directly (using savings or other income), or borrowing a private student loan (which typically requires a credit-worthy cosigner). Keep in mind that choosing not to borrow the PLUS Loan will not result in more grants, scholarships or federal student loans.

Consider value as well as cost.

We know that our applicant pool is exceptionally talented and sometimes a competing school’s award is more generous. We think that warrants consideration. We also believe that the value of a UVM education — the wide variety of majors available; the exceptional academic experience; the wide array of study abroad opportunities and extracurricular activities; our dynamic location in Burlington; and our track record of graduates who land great jobs that they enjoy — also warrant your consideration.

Watch for "Estimated" and "Tentative"

Check your award for labels of estimated or tentative. If any awards are estimated or tentative, know why and know what is required to finalize these awards.

Plan for all 4 Years!

As you evaluate your award, plan for all four years of your education.

Your financial aid eligibility will be re-evaluated annually so keep in mind that changes in family finances, demographics (including family size and number of children in college) and other factors may change your financial aid eligibility.

If your family financial situation remains the same, UVM will make every effort to provide you with a similar financial aid award each year provided you file your FAFSA on time each year. However, changes in your Expected Family Contribution and changes in the University's financial resources may impact availability of financial aid. In addition, it is unlikely that financial aid will increase sufficiently to keep pace with increases in tuition and/or housing & meals.

Consider whether local scholarships or savings used to cover expenses in your first year will be available in future years.

Award Comparison Tool

We’ve designed an award comparison tool to help you compare the bottom line costs to you at up to four different schools.

To use our comparison tool, you will need:
  • The financial aid award notices from your schools. Review your aid awards first and be sure you know whether the aid you’ve been offered is free money (grants and scholarships) or loan aid. If any of your awards are tentative be aware that they may change!
  • Tuition, fee, housing and meals and any other charges from the schools you’re considering (if current year's costs are not available, use previous year's).
  • If you’re receiving outside scholarships, make sure you’ve reported these to each school and know how each school’s aid award will change (if at all) based on this outside aid.

The links below will open Microsoft Excel documents: If you do not have Excel or are unfamiliar with Excel, please contact Student Financial Services at (802) 656-5700 and we can assist you in making a comparison.

Visit the VT resident comparison tool (Excel document)

Visit the out-of-state resident comparison tool (Excel document)

Last modified March 07 2016 08:45 AM

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