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    See What's Inside Your Award Letter

    Understand the information listed on the financial aid award letters you receive to compare costs at different schools and make smart student loan decisions.
    Updated: December 21, 2016

    Infographic about how to read your financial aid award letter

    How To Read Your Financial Aid Award Letter

    University Of Your Dreams

    Dear Student,

    Congratulations!

    You've been accepted by one or more colleges. Now, you just need to figure out how you'll pay for your education.

    Fortunately, each school will send you a financial aid award letter. Unfortunately, different schools use different layouts and terminology on these letters—which may make it challenging to evaluate costs and compare offers.

    This diagram explains the key information to look for, so you can make informed decisions and avoid taking on more student loan debt than necessary.

    Sincerely,

    Salt

    Cost Of Attendance

    The school's price for tuition and fees—plus their estimate of other expenses like books, transportation, rent, and supplies (which can vary for each student). Tuition and fees are nonnegotiable, but you may be able to save on the other items. You can only receive financial aid for up to the amount listed here.

    Cost Of Attendance

    Tuition And Fees $28,000

    Room And Board $9,000

    Travel And Transportation $2,000

    Books And Supplies $1,000

    Total Cost Of Attendance $40,000

    Accept/Decline

    Some schools require you to indicate the aid you'd like to accept right on your award letter. You don't have to accept all or any of the funding you're offered. In fact, you should decline any loans you don't really need.

    Grants

    You'll likely want to accept any grants you're offered, because they don't have to be repaid. They're usually based on your financial need and could come from the federal or state government, the school, or a nonprofit or private organization.

    Award Type: University Of Your Dreams Grant

    Fall Semester: $2,500

    Spring Semester: $2,500

    Total: $5,000

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Award Type: Federal Pell Grant

    Fall Semester: $2,500

    Spring Semester: $2,500

    Total: $5,000

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Award Type: President's Grant

    Fall Semester: $1,500

    Spring Semester: $1,500

    Total: $3,000

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Scholarships

    Another type of free aid that doesn't need to be repaid. They're awarded based on academics, athletic achievement, a special talent, or financial need by schools, nonprofits, and private organizations—and they usually require a separate application.

    Award Type: Dreamer's Scholarship

    Fall Semester: $200

    Spring Semester: $200

    Total: $400

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Award Type: Local Scholarship

    Fall Semester: $100

    Spring Semester: $100

    Total: $200

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Federal Work-Study

    Funding you can earn by working at a designated job for the school. It's awarded based on financial need, and paid directly to you—not applied toward the balance you owe the school. Your award letter lists the maximum amount you can earn each semester, but you have to apply for a position, get hired, and work the maximum hours to earn this amount.

    Award Type: Federal Work-Study Program

    Fall Semester: $500

    Spring Semester: $500

    Total: $1,000

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Subsidized Stafford Loan

    A need-based federal student loan. The government pays the interest on your subsidized Stafford loans while you're in school at least half time, and during grace and deferment periods.

    Award Type: Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan (3.76% interest)

    Fall Semester: $1,750

    Spring Semester: $1,750

    Total: $3,500

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

    A federal student loan that isn't based on financial need. Interest accrues on these loans while you're in school, which makes subsidized Stafford loans the better option for students who qualify.

    Award Type: Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan (3.76% interest)

    Fall Semester: $1,000

    Spring Semester: $1,000

    Total: $2,000

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Perkins Loan

    A federal student loan that schools award directly to students with exceptional financial need—but only current Perkins loan borrowers at participating schools can receive them. They only have a 10-year repayment period and higher interest rates than Stafford loans, but many prefer them because they offer more deferment and cancellation options, and a longer grace period, and the government pays the interest while you’re in school and during grace and deferment periods.

    Award Type: Federal Perkins Loan (5% interest)

    Fall Semester: $2,500

    Spring Semester: $2,500

    Total: $5,000

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Institutional Loan

    Loans that schools offer directly to their students. The names of these loans, as well as their terms, repayment options, and interest rates vary from school to school. Not sure if the aid listed is a loan or something else? Check with your financial aid adviser before accepting it.

    Award Type: University Of Your Dreams Institutional Loan Program (4.5% interest)

    Fall Semester: $1,000

    Spring Semester: $1,000

    Total: $2,000

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Parent PLUS Loan

    A student's parents, step parents, or legal guardians can apply for these loans, but they must pass a credit check. If approved, the parent is responsible for repaying the loan (not the student). If denied, the student can borrow additional unsubsidized loans.

    Award Type: Federal Parent PLUS Loan (6.31% interest)

    Fall Semester: $1,000

    Spring Semester: $1,000

    Total: $2,000

    Accept Or Decline:

    • Accept
    • Decline

    Expected Balance

    The remainder you'll owe the school if you accept all of the aid offered to you. This amount will increase if you decline any of the aid. You can pay the school a lump sum, set up a payment plan, or borrow private loans to cover this amount. The terms, interest rates, and repayment options for private loans vary by lender—so shop around before you borrow if you choose private loans.

    Expected Balance

    Fall Semester: $5,450

    Spring Semester: $5,450

    Total: $10,900

    Unsatisfied With Your Award?

    If your award leaves you with a balance to pay, you may be able to secure additional aid by appealing it. You should only appeal under an extenuating circumstance that will impact your ability to pay for school and is not reflected on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This may include:

    • A job loss in your family.
    • Extraordinary medical expenses.
    • A financial hardship.

    If you think you may be entitled to more financial aid due to financial circumstances, start by learning about your school's appeals process on their financial aid website, or by speaking with a financial aid counselor.

    Source:

    American Student Assistance® (ASA): Internal Research: asa.org

    Understand the information listed on the financial aid award letters you receive to compare costs at different schools and make smart student loan decisions.
    Actualizado: 21 diciembre 2016
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