Deciphering Award Letters - Recording Now Available!

If you missed our recent webinar about financial aid award letters, don't worry! It's now available to view on demand. You can access the recording and slides here

We're also recapping some of the highlights in this post to give you a basic overview of award letters and what was covered in the presentation.

Important definitions:

Award Letter – An offer sent from a college or university to the student that details how much financial support the student is eligible for. The award letter is sent following the student's submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and application to attend a college or university.

Cost of Attendance (COA) - A figure provided by colleges and/or college financial aid offices that estimates the total costs of attending that particular school for a period of one year. Included in the estimate are all reasonable expenses such as tuition, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses and transportation.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) - This is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. This number results from the financial information you provide in your FAFSA. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR). It is the amount of money that a student's family is expected to contribute to college costs for one year. The EFC considers family income, assets, size of current household and the number of family members currently enrolled in college.

What's included in an award letter?

Types of Financial Aid Offered: 

  • Scholarships and Grants
  • Federal Work Study Program
  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Federal Direct Loans
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loan
  • Cost of Attendance (COA)
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • School's Financial Aid Process

Can I appeal the decision for my financial aid package if I have special circumstances?

The answer is yes. The following situations can be taken into consideration:

  • Recent unemployment of family member(s)
  • Medical, dental, or nursing care expenses not covered by health insurance
  • Changes in the family’s income and/or assets
  • Disability/death or divorce
  • Homeless youth
  • Parents incarcerated

Need more information about paying for college?

You can schedule a one-on-one consultation with our College Access Counselor! Send your questions to or click below to access a submission form and more resources.


National Webinar Series

As part of our commitment to help families better understand the financial aid process, we offer a quarterly webinar series, led by our College Access Counselor. These webinars are free and available to anyone who would like to attend. We'll be holding another webinar in June – sign up to receive updates notifications as they become available!