9 Questions to ask a Financial Aid Advisor in the First Meeting

Graduation ceremony for Ted Bauer Undergraduate Business Scholars

Make regular appointments with your financial advisor to review various financial aid options to make your academic career more affordable. If this is your first-time meeting with a financial aid advisor, here are some questions you need to make sure you ask.

#1 What’s the true cost of attendance of this university? What’s the true cost of my prospective degree?

(Some degrees cost more than others. If you’re not sure exactly what you want to study, get a rough estimate of how much each college charges its students.)

#2 Can I save money by taking summer, winter sessions or alternative sessions?

I always recommend taking summer and winter session at a community college to save some serious cash. However, sometimes you can’t avoid taking a summer class at your home institution. That’s why you need to check the cost difference of attending class over the summer/winter.

#3 What is the average financial aid awarded to students?

This will give you an idea of how much to expect from the school. If the average is dismal, don’t let that discourage you. If you’re reading this, you are probably very proactive and above average. This just means you have to work harder to find private scholarship funding. (More on how to do that here.)

#4 Can you show me various resources offered through the main university? College? Alumni association?

Scholarships are not made equal. Some scholarships are only available for specific majors others depends on certain qualifications. Scholarships offered through the main university and sometimes the alumni association are for everyone. Scholarships offered through specific colleges are for those students specifically. Seeing the number of scholarships offered through specific colleges might influence what you choose to study.

#5 Can you process a specific type of aid first?

For example, if you have a combination of scholarships, student loans and personal funds paying for college, you want to make sure all the scholarships are processed first. Then you want to make sure that student loans offered through FAFSA are processed second. Then you want to make sure that your personal funds are processed third and lastly your private student loans from Sallie Mae or banks.

Making sure they process scholarships first will make sure you are using your loans sparingly. If you get more scholarships later in the semester then use those funds to pay off those student loans before the interest buries you!

#6 Are payment installments available?

Sometimes making all those payments upfront is an impossible task. That’s where payment installments can be a literal academic lifesaver. Look into the conditions of paying installments and make a plan to make sure you meet your deadlines.

#7 When is your the busiest? Least busiest?

As a general rule, you want to meet with your FA advisor when they are not slammed with back to back appointments. Meeting them on their “off-season” gives them more time and energy to attend to your specific situation.

#8 What else should I know?

There’s always more you should know. Ask for advice and access to other resources while you are there.

#9 Who else should I talk to?

Your FA advisor is bound to know someone else who can help you out.


The conversation these questions will prompt will lead you to more questions. If you run out of time, don’t freak out. Keep a record of your conversation and the questions you have left. If you need to make another appointment, do it right then and there or send a follow-up email with your questions if they don’t require another session.


If you found this article helpful, please pass it along. If you have any other questions, comments or concerns, share them here or in the comment section below! What did you ask your Financial Aid Advisor? Share your experience below!

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