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  • Writer's pictureMichele Coleman

All About Financial Aid Awards

Financial Aid Awards

Financial Aid Awards

Your senior has been accepted to several colleges on their list and now you are waiting to hear about their financial aid awards. Below, I’ll answer questions regarding how you receive the award, the major components and how you might appeal.

How do I know what my student’s financial aid award is?

Most often your student will receive notification of their award through the college's portal. Sometimes, you will also receive a hard copy of that award in the mail, but not always. Encourage your student to log in and check their portals continuously throughout this process.

What types of awards are listed on the letter?

Colleges will typically include all aid on financial award documents. That means free money in the forms of grants and scholarships, loans, and work study amounts may be included. Free money is often referred to as a scholarship/grant, either merit or need, state or federal. Federal and private school specific loans may also be included on the award. Federal Loans may include: Direct Subsidized (Income Based) and Unsubsidized (Non-Income based), taken out in the name of the student, and Parent Plus (Non-Income Based) taken out by parents. Work study may also be included. Work study is part of the Federal program but is awarded by each school's financial aid office. Each office decides on the amount awarded and the student must do just as it says, work. Monies are paid directly to the student and are accrued on an hourly basis, usually, at minimum wage.

The Cost of Attendance for each college will also be noted on each award to assist you in comparing schools. If it is not, simply visit the schools financial aid website and search for Cost of Attendance.

For information on Federal Awards visit:

Can you appeal a Financial Aid Award Letter?

Yes, but there needs to be a solid reason to submit an appeal. Something must have changed in your ability to pay. A few circumstances that may warrant an appeal are:

· A parent losing a job or reduction of income

· Unexpected medical expenses

· The death of a parent or caregiver

· A one-time increase in family’s income reflected in the based FAFSA year

· Support of an elderly parent

· Damage due to natural disaster

· Divorce or Separation

Steps in the Appeal Process

The first step in appealing is to connect with a school's Financial Aid office to confirm the appropriate steps. Typically, a form is required and a letter containing specific supportive documentation. The letter should be clear, specific and polite. The financial aid office may request additional documentation to support your appeal. Additional documentation required may include:

· Tax Documents

· Medical Bills

· Income Statements, etc.

Since awards are given using previous tax years, having current tax information may support your success by showing changes that are or will happen in the current year.

Professional Judgment Adjustment

Professional judgement refers to the ability of the Financial Aid office to make a one-time adjustment to a student’s FAFSA, which may result in a positive adjustment for their financial award. Each office treats appeals differently and there is no guarantee that an adjustment will be made.

Contact me for questions about Financial Aid!


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