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    How Long Does It Take to Get My Financial Aid Award Letter?

    Will Geiger By Will Geiger
    Will Geiger

    Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack
    Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger
    Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: June 4th, 2024
    Female student looks at laptop anxiously as she waits for her financial aid award letter to arrive

    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:

    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 assess your financial aid package and decide. 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.

    The 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.

    Additional resources for students receiving admissions decisions

    If you’re waiting to hear back about your financial aid award letter, you are in an exciting point in the admissions process! You’ve got some important decisions ahead of you, and we can help you through them. To start off, we can help you out with our guide to interpreting financial aid award letters. If you find that the award is not sufficient for your financial situation, you can consider writing a financial aid appeal letter. This might lead to you earning more aid.

    As you make the choice between colleges, you can also check out our guide to how to choose a college, and how to plan college tours. As you get down to the nitty-gritty financials, you might also wonder how much student loan debt is too much. Finally, check out our guide to navigating student loans to ensure you take out the ones with the best terms for you. Good luck!

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • If you’ve applied Regular Decision you should expect your financial aid award letter by the end of March
    • If you’ve applied under early admissions, you should expect your financial aid award letter by December or January 
    • 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

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    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 needs differently than ones that also use the CSS Profile.

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