Evaluating your College Award Letter

Once a student is accepted into a particular college, they should receive a college award letter around the beginning of April.  This award letter will be the first glimpse at the financial offerings from the colleges where you have been accepted.  But don’t worry, there may be some room for negotiation.  Once you receive this important letter and have a good understanding of what the letters says, you need to evaluate your college award letters.  Here are three tools for you to use while evaluating your college award letter.

Evaluating Your College Award Letter: College Data

The first tool you use when evaluating your college award letter is the college data available.  This may take a little investigating, but it could yield a significant amount of additional gift aid if you choose to appeal your award letter.  The type of information you are searching to find includes: the academic award scale, the average gift aid awarded by the particular college, percentage of need met, etc.  You are looking for the facts regarding what the average student receives in scholarships and grants.  So as much information as you can find will be beneficial.  Here are two very useful resources to check the college data: collegedata.com and collegeboard.org

Once you have gathered as much information as you can find, compare what you have found with what you have been offered.  Is your offering in line with what the average student will receive?  Are your scholarships on par with your peers?  Are there any scholarships or grants that you think you should have received?  When you find discrepancies in your award letter and the information you have found, you may have good grounds to appeal your award letter.

Evaluating Your College Award Letter: Leveraging Multiple College Award Letters

Most students do not apply to just one college.  In fact, if you are only applying to one college, this alone my be a reason to apply to a few more.  All you are doing here is looking at the college award letters from the colleges where you applied and seeing how they stack up against one another.  If one college gives a greater scholarship and grant package make a note of that.  But let’s say that the best awards are offered from your third college choice.  You  may be able to use one award letter as leverage to appeal.  This technique works best when the colleges are in direct competition for students.

Evaluating Your College Award Letter: Your Family Financial Situation

Finally, you need to evaluate your award letter in light of your family financial situation.  This is arguably the  most important evaluation.  How does the award letter work within you current financial picture?  Say for instance you have saved $35,0000.00 for your entire college expense.  Once you have evaluated your college award letter you find that your total cost of attendance is about $16,000.  You know that you have two years completely paid, but you also know that you have almost two years completely unpaid.  You will have to decide if you are willing to take out a loan to cover the cost or choose a more affordable college.  Each award letter will be different.  You will need to decide what is important to you.  This is why you need to evaluate each award letter in light of your financial situation.

Once you have evaluated your award letter, the next step will be to consider sending an appeal.  But as you can see, you are not ready to appeal until you have thoroughly evaluated your award letter.  One of the features that our company offers is an evaluation tool that will help in this process.  Call our offices to today if you are interested in learning more.

Author: Dorothy Mautte

Dorothy is President and Chief Consultant for College4Less™ a College Funding Planning Company associated with the Strategic Education Technologies Advisors and The College Planning Network (CPN). CPN is a network of financial professionals who specialize in helping “families successfully navigate the college admissions and financial aid planning process so their children can attend the college of their choice − regardless of the cost.” Dorothy has served in the Financial Services Industry for over 35 years and has helped hundreds of families plan for college. Whether you have high-school aged children or younger we can help you find the best resources available for all your college needs and design a strategy for you to pay your share and still be able to retire Set for Life without risk.