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The Financial Aid Handbook: Getting the Education You Want for the Price You Can Afford Paperback – May 15, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Carol Stack is the former Director of Admissions at Macalester College and Augsburg College. For the past 15 years, Stack has worked as a principal at Hardwick-Day, an enrollment consulting firm that works with the admissions and financial aid offices of private colleges and universities. Through Hardwick-Day, she has consulted on financial aid policy at dozens of colleges, including Whittier, Grinnell, Mills, Randolph-Macon, and Xavier University.



Ruth Vedvik has held the position of Director of Admissions at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Ball State University, and Agnes Scott College. For the past 9 years, Vedvik has worked as a principal at Hardwick-Day, an enrollment consulting firm that works with the admissions and financial aid offices of private colleges and universities. Through Hardwick-Day, she has consulted on financial aid policy at dozens of colleges, including Whittier, Grinnell, Mills, Randolph-Macon, and Xavier University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Career Press; Original edition (May 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601631669
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601631664
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is essential to any high school student planning on attending college, and for whom paying for college is a concern, and for any parent of a such a student. The authors of the book, Carol Stack and Ruth Vendik, lay out very clearly how colleges determine the amount of financial aid a student will be offered based upon what the colleges consider to be a desirable student. Tools and resources are given for determining how desirable specific students will be to specific colleges and what financial aid could reasonably be expected. An important point made in the book is that computations of "need-based" financial aid can result in significantly lower awards than many families expect and can lead to painful choices between declining offers from first-choice schools or taking on massive amounts of debt. For those tempted by the latter choice, the book lays out in stark detail how this can later severely crimp lifestyle after graduation and limit career choices. Proactive advice is given on how to avoid this situation. The book describes how to find colleges which are a good fit for the interests of a particular student, provide a great education, and are likely to make a good financial aid award. To help with that task the book provides numerous worksheets and gives specific information about resources available online. I highly recommend this book, and I have given a copy of it to the college counselor at my local high school.
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The way this book works (and boy did it work well) is that parents AND the student are to read the book and form a team. The adults explore their resources and the student explores college costs. Then the team determines what "affordable" means to the family and also what a "reasonable" amount to borrow for college costs BEFORE the student gets their heart broken when their top 6 college choices are out of financial reach unless a 6 figure loan is taken out. The authors believe that debt over $20,000 total for undergraduates is neither reasonable nor necessary for a student to find a good school that is an excellent fit.

The book is well organized, separated into logical chapters, and neither patronizes nor overwhelms the reader, be they parent or student. It's matter of fact, but not dry; all 3 of us wound up chuckling occasionally.

My spouse, student and I read the book and teamed up to follow the advice suggested by the authors. My student was confident in their research,as were we. Rather than narrow the search, my student found an overwhelming number of colleges that were affordable for our middle class family. They were able to narrow their list to a dozen viable choices. After several phone interviews and college visits, our student asked to apply to 8 schools. They were accepted by 6 colleges, all within our means. Three of them offered substantial financial aid packages.

Our student is happily settled in their first year of one of the 3 colleges. My STUDENT suggested they take a work-study job to reduce the amount of their student loan. They got that wisdom from the book!

I gave a copy to my student's college counselor; he read it, loved it as well and is recommending it to parents. I strongly recommend it to you.
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I thought I was pretty up on this subject, but this book was written up in my newspaper and talked about some things new to me. I was please to learn a lot. Not happy with the facts I learned about the "business" of universities and how they operate; but it is better to know the truth. Help your kids, and help yourself by arming yourself with the information as you explore colleges.
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I am a volunteer mentor for high school students and advise them on selecting and paying for college.

This book greatly enhanced my knowledge on these topics. In addition it really is readable.

I'd highly recommend it for high school juniors and their parents.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is so much confusion about college financial aid today - nothing like 20 years ago when I went. I love math but today's college aid math is a too puzzling as their is no clear formula for everyone. This book is a really good resource. I have read it 2-3 times already and have used the bookmarks in the Kindle edition to keep reviewing parts that I really need to know. I highly recommend it for all parents of high school kids. The sooner you read it, the better.
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We have a junior in high school and the college planning process is in full force. Let's face it, college is outrageously expensive and it's kind of a scary financial proposition. This book has been very helpful in removing the stress involved in finding the right college, and then being able to pay for it. The authors really gave my family some great insights into the fact that education is a business, and a big business. It really helps to take away the emotional component as well as the fear around the entire process.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is starting the college process, especially juniors. There are things you can do now to better prepare yourself and to not be at the whim of all the marketing BS that colleges are putting out there. The authors also put some humor into it which makes the book much easier to read. The book is well arranged into sections so that a busy or not-so-interested parent can read 2 summary chapters and get something out of of it. This book will shift the entire way you think about college selection. In my opinion, this book is entirely worth the price and I think it will end up saving us thousands if not tens of thousands in the future.
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