Tips on financial aid

Martha C. Merrill, the dean of admissions at Connecticut College, gives a handful of tips to those going through the financial aid office:

Understand each institution’s policies. Aid policies, requirements and packages vary greatly from school to school.

Do your taxes early. In most cases, the financial aid deadline comes before the federal tax deadline.

Be accurate. When it comes to filling out the necessary paperwork, don’t guess! It won’t work. And it’s illegal.

It’s a team effort. Much of the required paperwork relates to your income and assets. Be prepared to help your student every step of the way.

Meet all deadlines. Even schools that promise to meet full need can’t guarantee aid if your paperwork is late.

Make sure the name you use matches your Social Security card. It seems odd, but often a parent was married or divorced and neglected to change her name with the Social Security Administration.

Provide an e-mail address you actually check. If we can’t reach you, we can’t complete your award.

Read her full commentary in The New York Times here.