Understanding the Financial Aid Award Letter

The Award Letter

The award letter details how much support the school can provide to help you pay for college.

For the schools you have been accepted to, you'll start receiving award letters as early as February, and you should have all of them by April. A letter may include grants, scholarships and work-study programs, along with eligibility for federal student loans.

Award letter templates can vary, so make sure you carefully review each letter as you compare financial aid packages from different schools.

To determine which financial aid package best meets your needs, you may want to create a document that compares the financial aid from each school, including:

  • Cost of attendance
  • Grants and scholarships
  • Work-study programs
  • Federal student loans
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • Amount needed to cover the total cost of attendance

Award Letter

Some schools will ask you to accept or reject each source of financial aid you are eligible to receive. If you reject a certain source of aid in your award letter, that does not mean another source of aid will increase.