How Long Does It Take to Get My Financial Aid Award Letter?
After getting accepted to a college or university, you are probably wondering how much it is going to cost you and your family. The financial aid award letter is the document that will help you understand your financial aid options at the college. Once you get accepted, you are probably wondering “how long does it take to get my financial aid award letter?”.
This is important, because you don’t want to enroll in a college without knowing what the cost is! Most colleges will require students to put down a non-refundable deposit to secure their spot in the freshman class.
However, the specifics of when you will receive your financial aid award letter depend on how you applied to the college or university.
Jump ahead to:
- Regular Decision applicants
- Early Decision and Early Action applicants
- What to do if you haven’t received your financial aid award letter
Keep on reading to learn more about when you can expect to receive your financial aid letter!
For students applying Regular Decision
If you have applied to a college under a Regular Decision admissions plan, you should expect to receive your financial aid award letter by the end of March. As students generally need to make an admissions decision by May 1st, you will have a month to make a decision and assess your financial aid package. Of course, this assumes that you met the FAFSA deadline and if applicable, the CSS Profile deadline.
For students applying Early Decision or Early Action
If you have applied under an early admissions plan, you will expect to receive your financial aid award letter in December or January. Note that the financial aid deadlines for early admissions plans are also earlier than deadlines for Regular Decision applicants.
What to do if you haven’t received your financial aid award letter
If you haven’t received your financial aid award letter within a few days of being accepted to a college, you should immediately get in touch with the colleges’ financial aid office.
Many colleges also have online status portals where you can find your admissions acceptance letter, as well as your financial aid award letter.
If time is running out and the deposit deadline is coming up, you can reach out to the financial aid office to request an extension. While there are no guarantees that a college will grant you an extension, it is worth asking so that you have more time to assess your financial aid options.
Bottom line for students
Generally, you will receive your award letter around the time you receive your admissions decision (or a few days after). This will give you some time to compare your options and make the best possible decision. If you haven’t received your award letter, you will need to reach out to the college’s financial aid office for more info.
Once you receive your financial aid award letter you can check out our guide if you have questions about the types of financial aid you’ve received.
Frequently asked questions about financial aid award letters
How do I appeal a financial aid award letter?
If your award letter doesn’t work for your financial situation, don’t give up on that college just yet. Most colleges will allow you to submit a financial aid appeal letter. A review board will read your letter and determine whether they can increase your aid offer. We have a thorough guide on how to write financial aid appeal letters, which includes examples to help you start writing!
What will my financial aid award letter tell me?
Your financial aid award letter will contain a detailed picture of the financial aid that a college is offering you. It outlines the cost of the school, the amount of aid they can offer, and what you’ll have to pay. You can use this letter to determine whether the school is a viable financial option for you and your family. Our guide to financial aid award letters can help you dissect each part of the letter and understand exactly what it means.
Will my financial aid award letter be the same from every college?
Your financial aid award letter will vary with each college that accepts you. The awards can vary for a variety of reasons. Some colleges may offer you merit scholarships which could increase your total aid amount. Other colleges may use differing methods to calculate your financial need. Colleges that only use the FAFSA may calculate your need differently than ones that also use the CSS Profile.
Additionally, some colleges meet 100% of students’ financial need, while others don’t. So, you’ll probably find better offers from colleges that meet 100% of need. All that is to say, if you received an insufficient financial aid award letter from one school, don’t worry. Other colleges may offer higher financial aid awards. This could be due to differing calculations of need, or due to merit scholarships.