When you receive a financial aid award letter, the first thing you should do is review it carefully. It’s important that you know the types of aid being offered, understand other details that are provided, and are aware of information that may not be included in the letter.
Types and Sources of Financial Aid
Below is a sample letter, which includes the following types and sources of aid. You can read more about the different categories of financial aid here.
- Grants/Scholarships: These are “gift aid” or free funds, which means that you don’t have to repay them. Your letter may include grants and scholarships from the federal government, your state government, or the college itself.
- Federal Work-Study: These are funds that are available for you to earn during the academic year through part-time employment.
- Student Loans: These are funds that you borrow, to be repaid after you leave school. Your letter may include several types of loans with varying features.
Other Important Information
As you review your award letter, keep in mind that:
- Your financial aid will be divided between the fall and spring semesters.
- The letter may not list the school’s total Cost of Attendance (COA).
- The letter may not indicate your remaining balance after the aid is applied (also called the “net price”).
- You may need to take action to accept the award, such as sign and return the letter or accept the award online.
If you have special circumstances that you think warrants you to receive additional financial aid, contact the college’s financial aid office. You may be able to submit additional information and documentation to be considered for greater financial aid (often called the “appeal process”). Reasons to submit an appeal may include:
- A recent job loss or reduction in income
- Unusual medical, dental, or disability expenses
- Nursing home or unusually high childcare costs
- Home damage caused by natural disaster
The appeal process can vary from college to college, so be sure to follow the instructions provided by each financial aid office.