There was an interesting article in The New York Times today offering a rare behind-the-scenes look at a university financial aid office. If you're still baffled by your financial aid award letter, or you just are curious to find out how it was created, this article is a good read. While it focuses on Boston University, an elite and expensive private college, many of the processes discussed carry over to other schools, both public and private.
The article does an especially good job of explaining how financial need is determined, using the FAFSA, the CSS profile and an institution's policies. It also includes a couple of concrete examples of financial aid packages and family circumstances that provide a valuable window into the logic behind determining financial aid awards, [...]