About Financial Aid Awards
As you receive award letters, compare them very carefully. There is no standardization, so formats and wording vary. Be absolutely certain that you know what each category on the award letter is.
Start with this link
Read and Use these Guides
Paying for College Infographic helps prioritize how you accept / decline the components of your financial aid award.
Everything you need to know about paying for college before decision day Washington Post 4.7.2016 This is an excellent guide for many paying for college matters, with sections on:
- How to negotiate a better financial aid package
- What to do if you haven't saved much for college
- A way to pay that doesn't involve borrowing money (monthly payments)
- What you need to know about private student loans
- Should you take out an insurance policy to cover college tuition?
How to Read a Financial Aid Award Letter Washington Post 4.7.2016. An interactive article examining three sample letters.
How to Decipher a Financial Aid Letter The College Solution 1.31.2016
Ten Tips to Negotiate Your Best Financial Aid Package The Kracken 4.3.2017. Take or leave the advice on negotiation, but do the recommended very detailed steps to thoroughly understand the aid process and your offer.
Also use the college’s own website for wording and, if you are serious about the school, call the financial aid office to ask questions.
Compare College Costs & Awards Use this customized-to-Washington spreadsheet to enter figures from your colleges and see the costs side by side.
Questions to Ask the Financial Aid Office about your Award by Big Future. Have this handout handy when you speak with or meet with financial aid officials.
Federal Student Loan Programs explains the many types of loans.
Student Loan Survival Guide from the State Attorney General's Office. Excellent guide to loans and financial aid.
Deciphering Your Financial Aid Letter by Money Magazine. An annotated guide.
ReadySetGrad Financial Aid 101 (works best on Chrome).
Washington State Financial Aid Programs lists the various grants, scholarships, and programs that are unique to Washington State. Not sure what a State Need Grant is? An Opportunity Grant? Look it up here.
Federal Student Aid Glossary provides definitions of many terms. Want to know the difference between an unsubsidized loan and a subsidized one? Look here. Washington State-specific programs are not included.
Sallie Mae's Compare Financial Aid Award Letters. An excellent site with clear explanations of financial aid components.
Federal Student Aid Student Loan Repayment Estimator. Allows you to plug in total amount, type of loan, interest rate, and projected income to estimate what repayment might look like.
The College Board's Big Future Student Loan Calculator allows you to put in several types of loans and estimated income to help you figure out the long term financial commitment.
Understanding Your Financial Aid Award Letter by Education Unlocked. It's not stellar quality, but this explanation of an award letter is clear and the advice is sound.