What is a Financial Aid Award Letter?
A financial aid award letter is drafted by colleges/universities to help you understand your cost for college.
It includes information about how much your college is offering you in GRANTS, SCHOLARSHIPS, LOANS, and WORK-STUDY.

The letter may also include the estimated total Cost of Attendance for the academic year at the college or university. It is used to calculate how much the student is eligible for based on your Expected Family Contribution.

Breaking Down the Financial Aid Award Letter

Cost of Attendance
COA is the average total cost for the academic year at a college or university.

COA is the estimate of:
Tuition and Fees
Cost of Room & Board (Living Expenses)
Cost of Books & Supplies
Cost of Transportation
Personal & Miscellaneous Expenses

*Some of these costs are Direct Costs, or mandatory costs paid directly to the college. Other costs are Indirect Costs, or variable costs related to college expenses.
Direct Cost
Tuition & Fees
Tuition is the cost to attend college and participate in class and instruction.

Fees are additional charges to cover the cost of services such as lab fees, student activities, enrollment fees, etc.
Direct Cost
Room & Board
Room & Board is the cost of student housing and meal plans.

The cost will be determined by the type of room (single, double, etc.) and meal plan (10 meals, unlimited, etc.) selected.
Indirect Cost
Books & Supplies
The COA lists an estimated cost of NEW books purchased from the bookstore.

You can reduce your book costs by up to half if you buy used books, rent books, or check out books available in the library.
Indirect Cost
The cost listed on the COA may include bus fares, plane/train tickets, parking permits, etc. depending if you will be living on-campus, off-campus, or commuting. Look for student discounts!

If living on campus, plan ahead for trips back home for school breaks to save money on bus/train/plane tickets.
Indirect Cost
Personal Expenses
The school estimates personal expenses based on the cost of living. The costs will depend on the lifestyle you create for yourself.

Other costs to consider are loan fees\ and health insurance (some schools will offer grants or waivers).