How to Read Your Financial Aid Award Letter

You will see several different types of names of awards on your financial aid award letter. Please use this guide to better understand your financial aid award letter an what it means to you and your family.

Types of Financial Aid

A GRANT is free money that does not have to be paid back. These funds are applied directly to the balance due on your student account. These grants are usually made through generous gifts to the College from alumni and other private donors.

A SCHOLARSHIP is also free money that does not have to be paid back. These funds are applied directly to the balance due on your student account. Scholarships can come from the College or from outside entities. A student who has received an outside scholarship may provide us with that information so we can incorporate it into her financial aid package.

Federal WORK-STUDY is a program in which the government provides students with the ability to earn money in the form of a bi-weekly paycheck. Students are usually not eligible for more than $900 per semester. Funds are not applied directly to a student balance due on their student accounts. Rather, the student works hours each week and earns a pay check up to awarded amount per semester.

Federal DIRECT LOANS have several options. These loans are made available at a lower cost than traditional private consumer loans (from a bank or credit union). Students and parents are required to complete a FAFSA to be eligible. Eligibility for any of the various types of Federal Direct Loans and the amount of the loan will be based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) figure that is determined on the FAFSA and cost of attendance.

  • The SUBSIDIZED STAFFORD LOAN is a low-cost Federal loan borrowed by the student. Students do not require any credit history for a co-signer to be eligible to take out this loan. Freshmen can borrow up to $3,500. Subsidized Stafford Loans do not accrue interest while the student is in school or for the six-month grace period after the student graduates, separates, or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time. Interest will begin to accrue when the student enters repayment.
  • The UNSUBSIDIZED STAFFORD LOAN is a low-cost Federal loan borrowed by the student. Students do not require any credit history for a co-signer to be eligible to take out this loan. Freshmen can borrow up to $5,500. An Unsubsidized Stafford Loan does accrue interest while the student is in school. The student can opt to make interest payments while in school or defer payments and interest completely until six months after graduation, separation, or ceasing to be enrolled at least half-time.
  • The PARENT PLUS LOAN is a low-cost Federal loan borrowed by the parent of a dependent student to pay for that student's education. PLUS Loans are credit-based loans that can be deferred upon request. PLUS Loans are a great option for parents who need a bit of extra help financing a student's balance due after financial aid. Parents can borrow up to the cost of education minus any financial aid received. For example, if the student's cost of education for the year is $33,580 and she is awarded $23,500 is grants, scholarships, and loans, then the parent can borrow up to $10,080 in a Parent PLUS Loan for the year.