Must Read Book on Paying for College: The Financial Aid Handbook

Cover for the Financial Aid HandbookWith the availability of more free information on the internet than we know what to do with, the suggestion of reading a book to understand a topic may seem, well, old-fashion.  But it’s precisely because of the information overload spawned by the internet that books can be a great investment. A good book will present you with the information you need to know in a meaningful way without any distractions. That has value. And for those looking for such value, I want to recommend The Financial Aid Handbook by Carol Stack and Ruth Vedvik.

If you only read one book to understand the intersection of finding and paying for a college, this is it. Carol Stack and Ruth Vedvik have taken their experience as college admission directors and created an essential guide that will take families through a cost based college search. And best of all, it’s written for students.

There are plenty of reasons to read the book. It does an excellent job of explaining the financial aid process and related issues such as co-signing loans. Rather than go through them all (really, just read the book), I’m going to give you my three reasons to get the book.

Chapter 6: Merit Aid and the MAP. MAP stands for Merit Aid Profile. This chapter takes you through the process of identifying which schools are likely to offer merit aid. The student then inventories her own characteristics to target the best potential matches.

Scripted Conversation Starters. After all, people use scripts to practice interview situations all the time. Yes, there is a difference between a job interview and talking to your kids but how often have you had to sit down and discuss a six figure investment with them? You don’t have to use them word-for-word, but they’re useful to get started.

$8K Debt Challenge. Stack and Vedvik actually tell you the maximum amount of debt students should reasonably consider and why.

All of this is part of their cost-based college search of which I am a big fan. Because there’s no point in worrying about college fit if you can’t afford it. The Financial Aid Handbook does an excellent job of providing families with information they need to find the best combination of fit and affordability for their family.


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Why The Financial Aid Handbook is the one book you should read about finding and paying for college.

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