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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 28 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: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Experience counts in a game with so many variables, and authors: Carol Stack and Ruth Vedvik have 70 years combined experience in the college admissions and financial aid fields. They've written a book that helps both parents and students to understand both the pieces and the totality of college admission and paying for it once you get in.

The book is 'new' in the sense that unlike some other handbooks the authors encourage college bound students and their parents to focus their college search on schools that 'will fund you' to go to their school. Even better, they show you how to do that!

In planning for filling out the FAFSA (for potential federal financial aid and low interest loans) and the CSS (a much longer, detailed form required by some private colleges to assist them in dispersing their funds), I was looking for a book to give me a baseline understanding of the process and provide honest advice regarding the process. Upon opening this book I was thrilled to find it was exactly what I'd hoped it would be - very helpful!

The book covers several topics related to admission and paying for college, but obviously (from the title...) it's mainly about paying for college and the process of how to get financial aid. The authors talk about the myths related to applying for aid, terminology related to forms, how much a family can expect to be responsible for (EFC - Estimated Family Contribution), merit awards, picking a college based upon cost, debt after college, comparing colleges, ratings and rankings of colleges, and having a plan 'b' when your first choice doesn't work out.

The book isn't on the most titillating of subjects, but it's fun to read. The authors write with a friendly tone, using humor when possible to bring home valuable points.
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