GREENSBORO, N.C. — It's that time of year when high school seniors are getting acceptance letters to college. 

They might also get financial aid offers. Those offers are crucial since they can determine how much you pay for college, during and after.

So it's important to know how to decipher aid offers.

The good news -- the department of education has simplified the process. It revamped the template for aid packages to make it simpler. It also offers a planning sheet called a College Financing Plan to help students map it out.

First, you need to figure out the real cost, which includes the cost of attendance, books, transportation, and personal expenses. Consider work-study programs too. On-campus jobs can really cut down on the amount of money you need to borrow. 

Also, think long-term about your financial aid. You might have enough for the year, but know whether your scholarships can stick around longer.