An award letter contains detailed information about how much financial assistance that college is offering you. It includes all grants, scholarships, student loans, and work-study programs that you’re being offered. Along with the breakdown of the different types of financial aid, the award letter also contains the respective award amounts.
Reviewing award letters can be tricky. Unfortunately, making a mistake could cost you. These are a few of the more common college award letter mistakes that students make.
Not Calculating the Cost of Attendance Correctly
Most students only factor in the cost of tuition and boarding. However, there are several other expenses that you will incur in college. Total cost of attendance includes cost of text books, additional fees, housing, food, transportation and other living expenses. This is in addition to the tuition fees. Adding all of these costs will give you a more realistic expectation of the cost of attending any college. On the other hand overlooking any of these costs will give you a wrong estimate. This could result in you making a wrong decision.
Comparing Apples and Oranges
There is no standard format for writing award letters. Each college uses their own template as well as their own terminology. This can make comparisons difficult and often results in miscalculations. Using College Raptor’s online Award Letter Comparison Tool can simplify these comparisons and help you determine the accurate net price of attending each college.
Borrowing All the Money Offered to You
The award letter is really an offer letter. It outlines the financial aid offered to you in the form of gift aid and student loans. You will want to accept all the free aid offered as this doesn’t have to be returned. However, whatever loans you take on have to be returned with interest. With that in mind, it makes sense to only borrow what you need and nothing more. Borrowing all the money offered to you will only send you deeper into debt unnecessarily. When you consider that interest starts accruing from the date the loan is disbursed, this can be a very expensive mistake.
Not Asking for Help
There’s no denying that college award letters can be confusing. College financial aid offices understand this and will go out of their way to clarify anything you don’t understand. Not sure how much you would owe after adding up the grants and scholarships? Call the school’s financial aid office and ask. Confused about the scholarship requirements. Ask. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions. You want to make the most informed decision.
Can You Avoid College Award Letter Mistakes?
Now that you’re aware of the mistakes, you can take the steps to avoid them. It’s vital to compare offer letters and truly understand what’s offered in them. Luckily, College Raptor’s tool makes side-by-side comparisons easy.