Ok seniors, you have been working hard all year on the following items:
If you haven’t yet tackled any of the aforementioned items, do them NOW! Once completed, colleges will start to respond with financial aid award letters.
What is an award letter?
Think of this as an offer. In other words, if you want to attend “XYZ” college, then the award letter is the money that is available to help you pay for the upcoming year at that college. This includes any scholarships you’ve been awarded, grants, work-study, and student loans. For a refresher on the four types of financial aid, click HERE.
Remember, students need to seek out and apply for as many scholarships as possible. For grants, loans, and work-study, students need to fill out the FAFSA (and renew it yearly).
What else will the award letter tell me?
An award letter will list the financial aid you can use for the upcoming school year, and it usually includes the estimated cost. The cost can be broken up into the following categories: Tuition/Fees, Books/Supplies, Room/Board, and Personal/Transportation.
What if I haven’t yet received an award letter?
Double-check the following:
- Have you applied for admission to one or more colleges? Have they accepted you?
- Have you filed your FAFSA? Did you list that college on your FAFSA?
- Have you checked your email or your student portal account to make sure the Financial Aid office at that college isn’t waiting on you to submit documentation for the Verification Process?
What action needs to be taken with the award letter(s)?
Review your award letter carefully. Make sure you understand what sources of money you do not have to pay back (scholarships, grants, work-study), and what sources of money you do have to pay back (student loans, parent PLUS loans). Ask yourself the following:
- How does the amount of gift aid (money I don’t have to pay back such as scholarships and grants) compare to the total cost of each college?
- What kind of loans, if any, will I need to take out so that I can attend that college? Will parents need to take out a Parent PLUS loan?
After you have carefully reviewed your award letter(s), you can then choose to accept or decline the sources of money you want to use for that school year.
If you “Accept” a student loan, your college will follow up with instructions on how to receive those loans. Stay tuned to your student portal account for more information.
Whoa! My head hurts.
Hang in there. Take a deep breath. You got this. If you have any questions, feel free to contact your college’s financial aid office, or call your nearest EducationQuest office to learn more about these topics.