What’s in a financial aid offer
Financial aid offers usually contain this information:
- Cost of attendance (COA), an estimate of what you can expect to pay for one year of school. This includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and even personal expenses.footnote 1 If the COA isn’t included in your offer, check the school’s website or call the financial aid office.
- Student Aid Index (SAI) number, a number that your school uses to determine how much financial aid you’re eligible for. It’s not (despite its name) how much your family will have to pay for college.footnote 2
- College grants are typically need-based and can be given by state or federal governments.
- College scholarships can be need-, merit-, or interest-based and are awarded by a school, company, or private organization.
- Federal work-study is a program, implemented by the school, where you work to earn your financial aid.
- Federal student loans let you borrow money directly from the federal government; you pay this financial aid back with interest. A financial aid offer may also list the amount you can borrow with a credit-based loan (like a federal Direct PLUS Loan or a private student loan).