Financial Aid Award Letter
You should receive a financial aid award letter once you have been accepted, assuming your aid application is complete.
Award letters are sometimes referred to as financial aid “packages.” Your award letter should list your Cost of Attendance (COA), Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or Student Contribution (SC), and Financial Need, along with the various types of financial aid for which you are eligible.
Follow the instructions on the award letter carefully, remembering that you do not have to accept everything offered on the award letter, and that most of the loans—such as Stafford and Grad PLUS—will require you to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) once you select your lender.
Once your financial aid application is complete and you have been accepted, you should receive a financial aid award letter indicating your eligibility for various types of financial aid.
You should receive an award letter from each school to which you have applied, as long as your application is complete and you have been accepted.
Some of the information on your award letters will be similar, and some will obviously be different. Regardless, you should see the following information referenced on each letter:
- Total Cost of Attendance (COA)
- Expected Family Contribution (or Student Contribution)
- Financial Need
- Listing of all the types of financial aid for which you are eligible
- Instructions as to how to apply for each kind of aid listed
Some schools may “package” you up to your total COA, meaning that—in addition to any need-based aid you are eligible for (such as the Subsidized Stafford)—they may list unsubsidized loans such as the Unsubsidized Stafford and Grad PLUS on your award letter in amounts up to your total COA. This shows you that you could borrow up to your entire COA if you wanted to. Other schools may only list “need-based” aid, perhaps with a reminder that you may apply for additional loans.
The following is what a financial aid “package” might look like in an award letter:
EFC (or SC): $10,000
Financial Need: $40,000
Sample Financial Aid Award
Merit Scholarship: $ 2,000
Subsidized Stafford Loan: $ 8,500
Unsubsidized Stafford Loan: $12,500
Grad PLUS (or private) $27,000
Remember: How much you borrow is your choice—just because your school “packages” you up to COA (if they do), that does not mean you have to borrow that much during the year.