You've applied for aid, you've patiently waited, and now you have this letter you are desperately trying to decipher what it all means! Here are some helpful hints:
Information your award letter will contain: a full explanation of the cost of attendance (all fees included) and the financial aid you can expect to be receiving in the form of federal aid, state aid, and scholarships.
What does COA mean?
Cost of Attendance. This the projected total cost of your college attendance. This includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, and transportation.
Words to look for: If you see the words grant or scholarship. Be happy, you have received free money! You will never need to repay these funds. This money was awarded to you based on income or academic standing.
A work-study program is listed. Now what? This is free money, but you have to earn it. You will need to participate in part-time work to obtain this money. This job is usually on campus, they are flexible with your class schedule, and may even have something to do with your intended field of study.
Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized?
With a subsidized loan, you will not need to pay interest on the loan until you begin the repayment process. Generally speaking, this is six months after you graduate. A subsidized loan is need based. An unsubsidized loan is not need based and you will be charged interest as soon as your loan is disbursed.
What is a PLUS loan? These loans are credit based loans that your parents will take out. Repayment will begin right away and interest begins to accrue after two months.