What to do when you get your college funding confirmation letter
Remember the days when you had to fill out a different application for every college you applied to? Well several college heads got together and said, isn’t there an easier way to do this?
And what do you know; they came up with the Common App which has made applying to college so much easier for all.
Unfortunately we have not arrived at that place yet when it comes to College Financial and Merit Aid Confirmation letters. Like the old days of college apps, every college does it slightly different.
College funding confirmation letters are the official announcement from the college or university telling you how much college funding help you’re going to get — and what your out-of-pocket costs will be.
Each letter is slightly different, and it pays to double check every part of it.
Here is a quick check list of how to review an award letter. All of these suggestions are important to making sure you pay a little as possible.
- Check the deadline date. You must accept your award letter or the college will assume you do not want the college funding aid offered and your financial aid package will go to someone else. So please… make sure you respond by the deadline date.
- Make sure the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) listed on the award letter matches the EFC indicated on your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the FAFSA.
- Check the accuracy of the Cost of Attendance (COA) number. Sometimes the college will omit some fees or bury them somewhere else. Make sure you know the true cost of attendance.
- Understand the difference between grants/scholarships… work-study/self-help… and loans, such as unsubsidized Stafford loans and Parent PLUS loans. Grants/scholarships are free money. Work-study/self-help is money you have to work for. And loans are money you have to pay back — with interest.
- Even if you intend to take zero loans, you still might want to consider a subsidized Stafford loan, because basically it’s an interest-free loan that’s not due until after graduation. Not the case with an unsubsidized loan, where interest starts accruing immediately.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking your award letter is “all or nothing.” You can accept some options, and decline others.
- An award letter that doesn’t meet your expectations can be appealed.
- Accepting an award letter does not prevent you from filing a future appeal.
- Important: Find out how the college handles “private scholarships” — financial awards your student receives from the Knights of Columbus, 4-H club, Boy Scouts, booster club, etc. Do they reduce the college’s grants/scholarships in kind?
- Find out if the awards are guaranteed for all four years, or just the first year or two. Determine other criteria such as the minimum GPA, etc., required to remain eligible for aid.
We help families maximize their free college money every year. We also help them double check the school’s confirmation letters to make sure there are no mistakes.
Email or call us today if you’d like to learn how you can reduce the cost of college via need and merit aid and college tax scholarships.