After completing the FAFSA and being accepted, you will receive an"award letter" that outlines how much the school will cost and what kind of financial aid package you will receive.Use the information below to help determine what your financial aid award letter means and compare your options. If you have any questions about your financial aid award letter, called the college's financial aid office or bring it the guidance office.
Unfortunately, not all award letters use the same format. Here are important aspects to decipher from the award letter in order to understand your financial aid package:
Cost of Attendance = Tuition + Fees + Room and Board This is the “sticker price” of the college for one year. It is how much the college costs before calculating in financial aid. A college may or may not include book and supplies in this cost.
Gift Aid = Scholarships + Grants Gift aid is made up of grants and scholarships. These do not need to be repaid.
Loans = Subsidized + Unsubsidized Loans + Any other loans you’re eligible for (Perkins, Parent Plus, etc.) Loans are money you borrow and must be paid back with interest.
Work Study A part time employment program that allows students to earn money to pay for college. These employment positions are not guaranteed and the student must seek out a position. This amount is an estimate and must be earned.
Total (out of pocket expense) = Cost of Attendance - Gift Aid Out-of-pocket expenses refers to the amount that you and your family must pay, earn, or borrow to cover the remaining costs of college.
Award Letter Comparison
It important to compare your financial aid award letters. Use these tools to do a side by side comparison or create your own spreadsheet.