Financial Aid Award Letter

What is a Financial Aid Award Letter?

When you are accepted by a school, the financial aid process begins, and you will start receiving financial aid offers and college acceptance letters, soon after you will start receiving award letters from colleges as well.  An award letter outlines what financial aid you can receive from the prospective college. If you have applied to multiple colleges, you will receive multiple award letters and it is important to review and compare each to determine the most affordable for you and your family.

Offers can be shared in different forms; online on college’s student portal, email attachment, printed letters mailed to student. These award letters have a lot of information, and it can be confusing to understand.

Key Components of an Offer:

Keys components to understand and help you know if an offer is a good offer or not.

  • Cost of Attendance (COA)
  • SAI
  • Estimated Financial Aid
  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Loans 
  • Work- Study 

Cost of Attendance:

It is important that you and your family understand the cost of attendance at the different schools.  What are direct and indirect costs?  Unfortunately, the award letter would look different from the different colleges and may use its own format and terminology, but they should all have the same key components.  The offer will reflect the financial aid award for one year only.  You will get an award letter for every year that you apply for financial aid.

Compare Award Packages:

Use the Financial Aid Award Letter Comparison tool to help determine the “bottom line” for each college to which you applied and received a financial aid award letter.  This tool will help you calculate the financial aid awarded, what will be the financial need what is your unmet need, or what will be your out-of-pocket cost.