Sample Financial Aid Package

A quick glimpse on what student financial aid packages include

While the much-awaited letter from your college of choice—informing you that you've been formally admitted—understandably gets most of the attention, a subsequent letter from that institution may carry more weight in your ultimate decision about whether or not to attend.

That letter is the award letter, which outlines the complete financial aid package the school proposes to offer you. Financial aid packages generally arrive sometime in April (for students who expect to be enrolled in the fall semester). The letter typically includes amounts offered (broken down by academic semester or quarter) for:

One potential problem: since there is no uniform format for these letters, many schools use different terms to indicate these categories. So be prepared to study them closely.

View a sample financial aid letter and learn how to evaluate it

There are a few key things you should always consider when reviewing financial aid packages. They include:

  • Is the aid front-loaded? That is, will these aid offers continue beyond your freshman year? Or is this a one-year-only deal?
  • How much of this aid is in the form of grants and how much is in loans? The key difference: grants do not need to be repaid. Loans will be the responsibility of the borrower (student/parent) and need to be repaid.
  • What's the rate on all these loans? And how does that impact your ability to repay them?

Here is a sample financial aid award letter:

Financial Aid Award Letter

But the biggest issues of all to focus on are these: what's the official cost of attendance for that school, and how well does this offer fill your financial gap— that is, the difference between your family's expected contribution and the total cost to attend the institution. After you've reviewed your financial aid package and determined how much financial aid is available, consider a private student loan to fill the remaining gap.

Learn more about our affordable Citizens Bank TruFit Student Loan™

You can find helpful information about our affordable Citizens Bank TruFit Student Loan™. If you still have questions on student loans or sample financial aid letters, call a student loan specialist at 1-800-708-6684, and we'll help walk you through the process.

Additional student loan and college planning resources

Financial Aid 101
Financial Aid Calendar
Preparing for College
What Type of Financial Aid is Right for Me?
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Student Banking
Student Borrowing
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