my first f.a. package...

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Jul 20, 2003
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So I just got my "tentative" financial aid from Downstate, and I'm now realizing that I am absolutely clueless when it comes to this stuff. I need to accept or reject it, and I don't even know what half of it means!

I am basically given three loans - Perkins, Stafford, and Stafford Unsubsidized. This covers all but $4000 of my estimated budget. The biggest loan is the unsubsidized one, which I'm told (by them, in the same letter) is bad, and that I should try to not use it. Then what am I supposed to cover the $16,000 it's worth with? And what do I do to cover the $4000? Get a general loan from a bank?

Thanks everyone.

Clueless in Carolina....

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You should figure out how much you think that you will need during the school year, add a fudge factor of ~1-2,000 to that, and borrow that amount. I think that my school overestimates the cost of living for it's students, which is good because it allows you to borrow more if necessary, but it's not good if you are borrowing a ton and just letting that money sit in the bank while you pay interest and fees on it. You should definitely borrow the unsubsidized loan, if it is stafford, the interest rate is currently ~2.5%, which is a lot better then you would be able to get from any bank. Don't forget to add up all of the hidden fees your school will be charging you too! I'd also talk to the financial aid counselor and see if you can negotiate for more grant or scholarship money. These people tend to have tremendous authority in determining who gets what, and it's really true that the greasy wheel gets the oil.