Understanding Your Award Letter

February 2, 2016

FinAid-ScrabbleFor many of us, the Financial Aid Award Letter is a confusing document. Oftentimes, it just looks like a bunch of jumbled numbers. This blog will talk more about the Financial Aid Award Letter and how to understand it, as well as how to accept your awards.

    • It all begins with COA- COA, or Cost of Attendance, is not necessarily what you are charged, but an estimate of your total college costs. The COA includes housing, meals, books and other items, and should be reflected on your award letter. This amount will vary depending on enrollment status, i.e. full time or part time.
    • Locate the free aid- Grants and scholarships are considered “gift aid” and do not have to be repaid. Make sure you ALWAYS accept the free money.
    • Work Study- Your award letter may contain an offer of work study. Are you prepared, willing, and able to accept the assignment? If so, accept the award. This is money you will have to work for, but it will also reduce your need for student loan debt.
    • Locate the loans- This is money that will have to be repaid to the federal government when you graduate or when your enrollment falls below half time. There may be 3 different types of loans offered- know the difference. These can be accepted or declined. However, realize that if you decline the loans, you may need to make payments out of pocket to the college to pay your balance.
      • Subsidized Loans- The government will pay the interest on these loans while you are enrolled in school.
      • Unsubsidized Loans- The interest will accrue on these loans from the first date of disbursement to the college.
      • Parent Plus Loans- These are loans taken by the parents of dependent students and are the responsibility of the PARENT to repay.

Although award letters can be confusing, they are vital to receive your financial aid awards. If you do not return your award letter, we cannot process your aid. If everything looks acceptable, sign the form and accept the award. If you have any questions, reach out to your financial aid counselor. Signed award letters can be dropped off in the Financial Aid Office at either Chatfield campus.

-Dawn Hundley, Director of Financial Aid

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