Paying for College
Comparing Financial Aid Awards
Completing your FAFSA and college applications early can increase the financial aid award prepared by your college. Financial aid award letters are typically sent in the spring for the following fall semester. The longer you wait, the less aid that will be available.
If you receive award letters from multiple schools, you should carefully consider and compare the awards when making the decision on where to go to school. For scholarships and grants, some are for an academic period (like a semester) and some are longer and paid out evenly across multiple semesters or years. Be sure to take the length and the amount of the scholarship into account when comparing.
When comparing loans, you don’t have to accept everything. Remember to borrow only what you need. There will be less to pay back after college, and more to put towards your financial future.
- Scholarships or grants
This is what the school is offering. Any additional scholarships or grants you have should also be included in your comparison.
There may be one or more options to consider, and you may need to apply and interview. Hours and location can also be important.
- Federal loans
There may be options on types and amounts.
- Private loans
Some schools may also provide information on private loans.
- Research your options
Contact the schools that sent you a letter.
- Compare aid award letters
Wait until you hear from all schools (take acceptance deadlines into consideration) and compare financial aid packages. Use this Financial Aid Award table to compare.
- Determine how much aid you need from your selected school
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. If not, work with the school to adjust your letter of acceptance.