It's time to learn the language of financial aid

Published: Friday, Aug. 2 2013 11:50 a.m. MDT

University of California, Berkeley students walk through Sather Gate on the Berkeley, Calif., campus, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced a middle-class financial aid plan during a news conference for families whose gross income ranges from $80,000 to $140,000 annually. The new plan caps the contribution parents make towards the annual cost of a UC Berkeley's student's education at 15 per cent of their earnings. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)


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Paying for college is hard enough, which is why trying to speak what Inside Higher Ed’s C. Anthony Broh calls the “language of financial aid” with college representatives can feel overwhelming at times.

But as Broh argues in his article “The language of financial aid,” learning how to communicate clearly with college representatives could mean the difference between a positive, informative series of meetings and a stress-filled experience for the parent of a college student.

“Financial-aid speak is a precise language; the verbiage describes what enrollment managers do when they decide about price discounts and eligibility for jobs and loans,” Broh wrote. “Becoming articulate requires years of experience and training.

“When spoken well, it allows financial aid officers to compare pricing among a large number of college applicants from a variety of financial and academic backgrounds.”

Even though Broh advocates for more fluency in financial-aid speak, he also believes college representatives could do more to bridge the communication gap.

“Many education experiments indicate that simple, straightforward explanation about college pricing increases the college-going rate and available college options to low-income families,” he wrote.

“Meaningful communication is a necessary condition for informed choice.”

Read more about financial aid on Inside Higher Ed.

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