Although college financial aid award letters may vary by design, a sample letter is included below for illustrative purposes. Award letters may include the Cost of Attendance (COA) for the academic year as well as a list of any financial aid programs that the student has been awarded. Check out the sample award letter that is included below:
April 1, 2013
Ms. Sally Student
123 Coldstone Avenue
SampleTown, MA 00099
Dear Ms. Student,
Congratulations on your acceptance to Sunny University! The entire staff in the Financial Aid Office looks forward to assisting you during your enrollment at Sunny University and are pleased to share this financial aid award letter with you!
We have reviewed your financial aid application for the upcoming academic year 2013-2014 and are pleased to make the following offer of financial assistance:
Your financial aid information was based on the following information:
Tuition and Fees $31,400
Room and Board $ 8,500
Books and Supplies $ 1,000
Personal Expenses $ 2,500
Transportation $ 600
Total Cost of Attendance (COA) $44,000
Calculated Financial Need $38,532
To assist in covering your calculated financial need, you are offered the following financial assistance:
Fall Spring Total
Sunny University Grant $ 10,000 $ 10,000 $20,000
ABC Restricted Scholarship $ 5,000 $ 5,000 $10,000
Subsidized Stafford Loan $ 1,750 $ 1,750 $ 3,500
Federal Work Study $ 1,500 $ 1,500 $ 3,000
Total Awards $18,250 $18,250 $36,500
This award is contingent upon your enrollment in Sunny University and submitting any required documentation. Please sign one copy of this award letter and return to the Financial Aid Office. If you do not wish to accept any of these financial aid awards, please note on the letter before returning to our office. Please feel free to contact the financial aid office at 1-800-123-4567 for assistance or you can visit our website.
The above letter is just a sample to give you an idea of what an award letter looks like and what type of information you may be given on a financial aid award letter. It is important to review letters very carefully.
Reviewing the Award Letter
When receiving the award letter, you should review it very carefully and note the amount of financial aid awarded as well as the terms of each of the individual awards offered. Pay close attention to the Cost of Attendance (COA) and whether the student was awarded to full need, or if there is a gap in the funding.
It’s important to know that each college sets its own qualifications and criteria for merit-based aid and that scholarship levels vary greatly from one college to another. It is also essential to note that merit scholarships may or may not be renewable or their continuation may be based on maintaining a certain grade point average (GPA), so be sure to take note of the specific award criteria if receiving a merit award. When formulating an overall financial plan, it is important to understand the particulars of any merit awards. It would be a huge disappointment, and a financial setback, if a student planned on a merit award for four years, and then found out that the merit aid was only available for the first year.
The award letter may list additional documents that are required for finalizing the financial aid award. Submit any requested documentation by the stated deadline so that your award can be finalized.
Financial Aid Offices typically require that you accept the awarded aid (or decline it if you don’t want it, in the case of loan or work options) by either signing a copy of the award letter and returning it to the Financial Aid Office via mail or fax or accepting the awards via an online portal (at those colleges that use an online process). Keep in mind that even after you accept the awards, you can make changes if needed. For example, a student may decide that they do not need to borrow a student loan: even after signing the award letter, the student can reduce the loan amount or cancel the loan by contacting the Financial Aid Office.
Notify the Financial Aid Office if the student has received any outside scholarships, as the college needs to be made aware of any outside funding. When receiving outside scholarship monies the student will need to declare that resource and share the information with the Financial Aid Office. Consequently, that office may be prompted to adjust individual financial aid award amounts, depending on the total amount and the types of programs awarded. The extents to which adjustments are made depend on individual college policies and the student’s particular aid package. In many instances, outside scholarships can be utilized to meet any amount of gap in an aid package, or if a student were awarded to full need, the outside scholarship could prompt a reduction in student loan program amounts. Policies do vary between colleges; however, it is in the student’s best interest to finalize financial aid awards as early as possible to avoid any surprises during the academic year.
To really get a handle on how to compare letters, check out the sample award letter comparison exercise. Using Sally Student’s information from the above award letter sample, we include a comparison in order to illustrate some keys points to consider when evaluating financial aid award letters.
For other articles related to financial aid award letters, please check out our article on award letter comparison as well as the sample case on award letter comparison for additional things to think about when comparing financial aid awards.
Financial Aid Sense is full of information, templates, check lists to help guide you through the college financing and financial aid process. Pick up a copy of Financial Aid Sense so that you are well informed throughout the financial aid process. Also included in Financial Aid Sense is a section on Financial Aid Award Letter Comparison, sample letters and case studies – all valuable tools for anyone navigating through the financial aid process.