You Received an Award Letter. Now What?

It’s award letter season! If you submitted your FAFSA and responded to all requests for information from your college of choice, you should soon receive a financial aid award letter. This letter, which may arrive by email or snail mail, shows the different types of financial assistance you’re eligible to receive to help cover your college expenses. If you haven’t received your letter yet, check with your school to find out how they will send it you. Follow these steps when it arrives:

    1. Read the letter and make sure you fully understand each type of financial aid you’re offered.
    2. Know the cost of your school and, if you are still considering more than one, compare the schools’ award letters.
    3. Decide how much and which types of financial assistance to accept or reject.
      • Accept grants and scholarships first, because they’re considered free money and typically don’t have to be repaid.
      • Loans will have to be repaid. Beyond grants and scholarships, only accept the loans you’ll need to cover your college costs. You don’t have to accept the entire amount offered and, if necessary, you can usually apply for remaining loan funds later in the academic year.
    4. Submit your response on time. Many award letters have deadline dates, so pay attention to the details.

For questions about financial aid, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website at or contact your school’s financial aid office.