Simplifying Your Financial Aid Award Letter Information
When you see your financial aid award letter, you’ll see words like scholarship and grants that may mean the same thing.
After all, what’s really important are the conditions such as is the money renewable for all four years and do you have to maintain a specific GPA?
Reviewing Your Award, School-By-School
Now, let’s start with the first school you’d like to look at.
Pick your favorite or start anywhere you’d like in your list.
What is the name of the school you’d like to look at?
Will your private scholarship reduce your total in grants and scholarships directly from the school?
Tell me about the first award.
What is the award name?
How much is the award for?
Is the scholarship renewable for all four years?
Is the award based on merit?
Is the award based on financial need?
Are there other conditions? Write these down. They won’t affect your calculation, but they will be displayed in notes.
Do you have other grants or scholarships you’d like to enter?
Now, tell me about the next award. (Repeat questions)
When all awards are entered, then we proceed with these questions.
Were you offered work study? For how much money?
Were you offered subsidized loans where the government pays interest while you were in school? How much?
Were you offered Parent Plus loans where the government pays interest while you were in school? How much?
Where you offered unsubsidized loans where the government pays interest while you were in school? How much?
What is the total cost of attendance?
Now, let’s take a look at your totals at each school and then your school choices compare to each other.
Category Descriptions Underneath the Exercise
Award Name: In this category, write the name of the award exactly how it’s stated. Also, put in a note as to whether it’s school specific.
For instance, if it’s the “Margot S. Thompson Award,” but it’s only awarded if you attend Pace University, the title should be Pace University Margot S. Thompson Award.
Money that doesn’t haven’t to be repaid: Simply answer this question with a yes or no. Whether it is a scholarship or grant is irrelevant. These words can often be interchangeable. You just need to know if you have to pay it back.
Renewable: Can you get this money automatically for each of the next four years? If not, say no. If so, say yes. If the money isn’t renewable, it will appear in your first year calculation but not in calculations for the next year.
Notes for other conditions: If there are reasons why you may not get the award in a future year, such as if your grades drop. This won’t affect your calculation. It’s just a good note to remember.
School name: Simply, the name of each school
Work Study: The maximum amount of money you could receive from a work study program on your campus. This doesn’t include money you could earn on your own, money that isn’t guaranteed, and money that can be rejected.
Unsubsidized loans: Loans issued to students where interest is charged while the student is in college.
Subsidized loans: Loans issued to students where interest is charged while the student is in college.
PLUS loans: Loans issued to parents or grad students where interest is charged while the student is in college.
After you complete the information on each award then you can add these numbers together to calculate the aid you’ll receive and what you have to pay at each school.
If you are comparing five schools, you’ll put a check mark next to each award that will to indicate whether your school honors the award.
Before you start, call your school and ask the following questions:
1. Do private scholarships count against my total amount of financial aid? Does the amount reduce student loans or does it reduce the amount of money I receive in scholarships or grants received from the university or college?
2. For each award they offered you, ask for conditions such as GPA, staying in a certain major or athletic team. Take notes that you’ll add in to the electronic form.
3. Ask if there are other scholarships you can still qualify for. If your income dropped or your family has incurred a medical expense, ask about where to find the special circumstances form. This form can help you appeal a financial aid award that wasn’t based on your current circumstances.
Before we start with schools, let’s list the private scholarships you’ve earned. We’ll add them in one-by-one.
For private scholarships, you’ll just answer these three questions.
What is the award name?
How much is the scholarship?
- What years can I use the scholarship? Use the numbers for the last year you can use the scholarship. For instance, if you can use it for any of your four years of college, answer 4. Being able to use the scholarship in a year other than your first year is useful if a school offers you more money in your first year than in the other three years.
Note: If you plan on dividing the scholarship among multiple years, divide the scholarship among four years for what it would be for one year.
Then put yes as to whether it was renewable. (Keep this as a note on the next question, too.)
Is it renewable?