Tips And Guide

How To Easily Review And Compare Your Financial Aid Awards

How To Easily Review And Compare Your Financial Aid Awards

There are a few actions you can take to make sure you’re making an informed financial decision when you study your financial assistance award.

Your amount of financial help may alter every year you attend and could differ between universities. It’s critical to comprehend the financial obligations your education has placed on you.

One method to find out how much financial aid you’ll get to help pay for education is to look over your financial aid award letter.

If fortune favors you, the entirety of your financial aid award will consist of grants and scholarships. However, considering the realities of financial aid, it’s quite probable that you’ll receive a combination of loans, grants, and scholarships. Remember that full-ride scholarships are awarded to very few students.

The combination depends on how financially secure your household is. That being said, your financial need is irrelevant if you are eligible for merit help.

You should carefully analyze the financial aid award letter as they differ from one college to the next. To be sure you are comparing apples to apples, you must do this step.

To review your financial aid award, use these tips.

How To Easily Review Your Financial Aid Award

How To Easily Review And Compare Your Financial Aid Awards
How To Easily Review And Compare Your Financial Aid Awards

1. Collect the necessary data

Your college’s financial aid award offer, which may have been sent to you via mail, email, or your student portal, is what you need.

The easiest way to find out when you’ll receive your offer if you haven’t received it yet is to inquire with the school’s financial aid office. It’s important to ascertain the cost of attendance in addition to the financial help available.

2. Examine the many forms of financial assistance available on your offer

Work-study, loans, grants, and scholarships are examples of financial aid. Generally speaking, grants and scholarships are preferred above the other two forms of financial help because they are free money that you do not need to pay back.

Understanding the various forms of financial assistance is crucial for accurately assessing your expenses.

3. Find Out Whether You Can Renew Your Scholarship

Find out if, following your first year, your scholarship is renewed. Unfortunately, some universities will lure you in with a big one-time scholarship, only to let you down in the following years. Find out what the requirements are for renewing the scholarship and if it is renewable.

For example, is there a GPA requirement or do you need to continue working full-time? A minimum cumulative GPA is often required by institutions, even for scholarships given out based only on need.

4. Calculate Your Net Cost

Determine your net pricing (or net cost) for each college on your list to determine which is the most inexpensive. The amount you will pay after grants and scholarships are deducted is known as your net price.

Subtract the grants and scholarships from your award from your cost of attendance to determine your net price.

This sum will instantly show you whether you can afford the college or whether you should look for another option. Though ultimately up to the individual, this is a serious choice.

You should choose the amount of debt you wish to incur if you plan to use student loans to partially finance your education.

It is advised the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that you “try not to accumulate more total student debt than you expect to earn as a starting annual salary when you leave school”.

5. Discover Your Complete Attendance Cost

It would be best if you first ascertained the entire expense of attending the college. If your award does not contain this information, get in touch with your financial aid office.

Tuition and fees, housing and board, books and supplies, travel, and personal expenditures are all included in the cost of attendance for a single academic year.

6. Think about your indirect costs

Costs that exceed what you must pay the college directly are known as indirect expenses. It will be necessary for you to buy notes, technology, and books for your classes.

You might need to budget for the expense of returning to and from university each semester, as well as for breaks, if you intend to live on campus. Choosing a college can be aided by being aware of how these costs fluctuate from one college to the next.

7. Determine how much you will be required to pay the college

You can use the College Cost Calculator to estimate how much you’ll have to pay; there are resources available to aid you with this.

It is advisable to estimate your bill before taking out loans by deducting grants and scholarships from your direct expenses, which include tuition, fees, housing, and food plans if you are living on campus. The anticipated cost before loans will indicate how much you must pay the college upfront.

8. Determine the total cost of taking out student loans over time

You should compute the long-term costs of borrowing student loans if you intend to use them to help pay for your expenses. Variations in terms, of interest rates, and advantages are possible among different loans.

For instance, unsubsidized loans will accumulate interest throughout your at least half-time attendance in college, but direct subsidized loans won’t. Don’t forget to factor in the total number of years you plan to attend college.

Calculate your monthly payment using a loan calculator and take into account the distinctions between federal and private student loans if you were repaying the debt over ten years.

9. Learn How Much Money Is Free

You must ascertain the overall amount of free money scholarships and grants—that you are receiving. The less money you have to pay out of pocket, the more grants and scholarships you are given.

Remember that the majority of institutions will need you to disclose any outside scholarships. This can have an impact on your total prize. The financial aid policies of individual schools vary about outside or private scholarships.

10. Choose to Accept or Reject Awards

At last, you will have to decide whether to accept or reject the honor. If, for any reason, you decide not to accept all of the loans that are extended to you, you have the option to reject portions of the award.

The categories of your award loans, work-study, grants, and scholarships will be listed separately. You will be asked to accept part, all, or none of the financial help available after you have chosen the best college for you.

Whatever you decide, especially if your aim is to graduate from college debt-free or with very little debt, don’t feel pressured to accept every loan that a college offers.

How To Easily Compare Your Financial Aid Awards

When comparing your college alternatives, start by asking yourself these questions to help you decide which one makes the most financial sense.

  • Examine the projected expense before applying for loans. This will make it easier for you to comprehend how your charge is broken down and guarantee that you are aware of the annual cost requests made by each college.
  • Many students who want to go to college will have to borrow money in the form of student loans; however, the amount of money that each college will require you to borrow may differ.

To find out how much you might need to borrow, take into account the cost of each college after deducting grants, scholarships, and other accessible resources (such as contributions from any college savings accounts).

  • A few variables, like the location of the school and the contents of the tuition and fees, will affect these indirect costs. You could save a lot of money throughout a degree if a college included books in their tuition and fees. Remember to factor in additional expenses for getting to and from college.

For instance, purchasing multiple plane tickets can be necessary if you’re attending an out-of-state institution. These expenses affect your overall cost even if they are not paid to the college directly.

When you’ve got the materials from every university you’re considering, start going over and contrasting your financial assistance offers to figure out which universities you can afford.

After deciding to attend college, there are a few more things you should do before moving on campus. You can read more about these things here. Some of them include submitting a tuition deposit and going to orientation.


How to check your financial aid award letter

Whichever method (online or on a FAFSA PDF) you used to fill your FAFSA form, or whether you included an email address or not, if you have an FSA ID (account username and password) and your FAFSA information has been processed, you can log in at to view SAR information.

How to accept your financial aid award GMU

Proceed to the Financial Aid Tab on Patriot Web by logging in, then click Financial Aid Dashboard. You can find comprehensive instructions on the Award Offer and Acceptance Procedures on the Home page.

Where you can access your financial aid award – Penn State

Visit LionPATH. Enter the password you created when you activated your Access Account along with your Penn State User ID, such as “abc1234”. If you need help logging onto LionPATH, please contact 814-865-HELP (4357) or visit the Service Management Portal.

Purpose of an award letter

The award letter is a tool used by financial aid offices to tell students and their families about the contents of the financial aid package, the cost of attendance, and the financial aid policies and processes of the university.

How much GMU financial aid is available to you

Financial Aid Breakdown for Full-time Incoming Freshman
Aid Type % Receiving Average Amount
Grant or scholarship aid 74% $7,507
Federal Grants 27% $5,109
Pell grants 27% $4,602
Other federal grants 11% $519
State/local goverment grant or scholarships 38% $3,583
Institutional grants or scholarships 37% $8,664
Student loan aid 49% $8,323
Federal student loans 47% $6,737
Other student loans 9% $17,826
George Mason University Cost of Attendance
George Mason University Cost of Attendance
In-state $13,119
Out-of-state $36,579
On-Campus Food and Housing $12,630
Off-Campus Room and Board $12,186
Average Annual Cost
Average Cost by Family Income
Average Cost by Family Income
Family Income Average Cost
Under $30,000 $16,204
$30,000-$48,000 $17,060
$48,000-$75,000 $20,468
$75,000-$110,000 $16,204
Over $110,000 $25,480

Imran Lawan

I am a professional researcher whose focus is around engaging and knowledgeable information for students.

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