What You’ll Find in a College Award Letter (It’s More Than Just Scholarships)

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Flickr user Sarah Browning

As part of the admission process, colleges send out award letters to all applicants who they have accepted into their college. This college award letter is usually sent a week or so after sending out the acceptance letters. Here’s what you’ll find in a college award letter (hint: it’s more than just what scholarships you got):

What Does a College Award Letter Contain?

The college award letter contains details about your financial aid package. The package is put together based on the information you submitted through the FAFSA. The important thing to know about college award letters is that the information it contains is not restricted only to the ‘awards’ you have won. It in fact contains information about ALL financial aid that has been offered to you. This includes the amount of federal student loan, your scholarship awards and grants. Additionally, it includes the amount of student loan that the college itself is offering you. In other words, the award letter lists the source of all your funds, so you know exactly how much you have in scholarships and grants. It also includes how much you may have to take out in loans. Keep in mind, the college only offers federal student loans, nor private loans.

Read Carefully

You must read through this award letter carefully to determine how your financial aid has been broken down. The money that you get through scholarships and grants is free money and it makes sense that you should accept it all. However, you must take another look at the loans that have been offered to you and re-calculate whether you do need all of it. Take your time and break down what’s in your award letter. College is a huge cost, so you want to take care with finding out just how you’re paying for it.

Additionally, every college will offer you a different award letter package. One school may give you more scholarships and grants. On the other hand, another tells you that you have to take out a larger federal student loan. Wait until you get all your award letters before you make a decision. Waiting could mean the difference between a crushing student loan debt or graduating from college almost debt-free.

What if Your Circumstances Have Changed?

If your circumstances have changed from the time you filed the FAFSA—maybe a parent got a raise or an investment paid high dividends—and if you only need to take a smaller loan to cover the gap, you should write a letter to the college informing them about your decision to take a smaller loan.

Ideally, you should only borrow what you need, nothing more so that you graduate with the minimum debt possible. In other words, don’t take out more than you need, whether that’s more or less money to fill the gap.

If you have a gap to fill, use College Raptor’s free Student Loan Finder to compare lenders and interest rates side by side!

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