College financial aid packages should be at your doorstep pretty soon. MONEY writer Kim Clark took a look at how financial aid statements differ from school to school.
Don't be worried if you're confused when you read your statement; Clark found them confusing too, and she's an expert in this stuff. According to Clark, each statement is slightly different, so it helps to read any supporting materials, like brochures, that the school sends along with the financial aid letter.
Keep in mind that all of the items in your financial aid package are NOT guaranteed. Parent PLUS loans, for example, or work study programs, both of which are entirely separate from any guaranteed financial awards from the school.
Clark found that it works in the students' best interest if they apply to a variety of schools. So look in-state and out-of-state to determine where you'll get the best deal.