The offer letter that colleges send you contains crucial information about the aid you are being offered. A typical offer letter will provide details about the types and sources of financial aid available to you.
While all offer letters are the same in that they contain important information about the aid you are being offered, these letters are not standardized. Every offer letter will be structured differently, which can often be confusing. Students may read one or two offer letters and just presume that all contain the same information. Doing this may result in you making an expensive mistake.
When you read your offer letter, you must do so carefully, paying attention to every little detail.
Here are some things that you should look out for in your offer letter:
How much of the aid is from scholarships and grants (this is money that you do not have to return) and how much is by way of loans (this is money that you will have to return with interest)?
Do you qualify for work-study?
Is the Cost of Attendance (COA) clearly stated in the letter? What is included in the COA? Are room, meal plans, and textbooks also included along with tuition fees?
Read your offer letters carefully so you can make an accurate estimation of how much it will cost you to attend each college and ultimately decide which of the colleges you can actually afford to attend.
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