Applying for financial aid is no picnic, but in addition to the general confusion, some colleges also use sneaky tactics that can greatly affect your chances of being able to afford attending—or even gaining admission to those schools.
Washington Monthly has a list of ten things you might not know about the admissions and financial aid process, including the fact that the order you list colleges you want the application to be sent to could be used against you. Some colleges look at which schools you list first and make admissions and aid decisions based on that sometimes arbitrary listing:
[Some] schools look at a student’s "FAFSA position" to determine admissions decisions—completely unbeknownst to the student. A school does this to improve its yield rate, to ensure that it is able to enroll exactly the class it wants.
Some schools may also be taking the "FAFSA position" into account when awarding their own financial aid dollars to students—providing less generous aid packages to students who list the college first on the FAFSA. These colleges don’t want to waste precious institutional aid dollars on students who are already likely to attend without the help.
The problem is that not all students necessarily list schools in preferential order, or there may be very little difference among a student’s number one, number two, and number three option. Worse yet, the whole process is completely opaque to students. They have no idea that their chances of being admitted and receiving a generous financial aid package may ride largely on the order in which they list schools on the FAFSA.
It’d be fairer if students were told on the application that the order they list colleges could affect their admissions and aid, but that’s not the case.
Visit the article below to find more practices that could trip you up, including a "bait and switch" practice of providing less generous financial aid after the first year.