Pay for College

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Understand Your Award Letter

Which financial aid package offer is right for you?

Colleges and universities usually send out financial aid award letters in the spring for the following fall semester. If you receive multiple award letters, be sure to compare them. You'll want to make the best decision on where to go for school, and your award can be one factor in making that choice. Here is a short guide to understanding your award letter.

Ingredients of a financial aid award letter

When you completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you chose to have your FAFSA information sent to certain schools. These schools used this data to calculate your financial need, a key component for determining your eligibility for financial aid. They then put together an aid package designed to help you meet that financial need. This package consisted of available federal, state, and institutional aid that you qualified for. Your award letter lists the kinds and amounts of this aid, which might include:

What to do

  • Chosen a school? Keep in mind you have a choice when it comes to the financial aid offered. You can accept all, some, or none of it. If you accept the entire offer, sign the letter, make a copy of it for your records, and return it to the school.
  • Want to find out your options with regard to aid? Contact the school that sends you the letter.
  • Accepted by several schools? Don't rush to sign the first award letter you receive. Wait and compare financial aid packages.


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