The financial aid package is actually a letter and depending on the admission plan you applied under it can arrive at various times of the recruiting cycle. One factor is common -- you can not be awarded aid until you have been admitted. ED applicants get first shot at institutional aid and that is one advantage to applying under this plan.
The letter will outline for you by semester what your aid will consist of in terms of grants and scholarships (monies that do not have to be paid back); possible work study ( work 20 hours a week at the campus and use that money to pay your academic bills) and loans ( student and parent). Be aware of several factors:
- Do not miss the return deadline of your award letter, because doing so can cause your money to be given to other students or returned to the state or federal government.
- Carefully read how the financial aid is split between semesters.
- You will be asked to " accept" or "reject" each source of your aid. For example, you might be offered a work study position for both semesters. You must either check off " accept" or "reject" next to the work study program.
- Be sure to make a copy of your completed letter (signature and date).
- Sign the form.
Comparing letters from different schools can be tricky because the award letter is based on attending that school. Depending on your EFC---Expected Family Contribution and the cost of the school, only compare schools that are close in total cost to attend.
Your EFC will remain no matter what the cost of the school. Take into account the size of the debt you are willing to handle after graduation.
Remember you must apply for aid every year you are attending school, and will be given an award letter (your aid can vary each year depending on you and your family's financial situation). You can compare federal and state loans. You can also compare the total amount awarded each semester.
Taking your time is important in order for you to be prepared each semester. Make a copy of the signed award letter and return it before the deadline. If you have questions about any of the awards, call the financial aid office to have your questions answered.