Financial Aid Award Letters – 8 Things to Consider

1. Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

After successfully completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will be provided a Student Aid Report (SAR). On the SAR is a number called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). 

The EFC is the number that determines your eligibility for Federal Student Aid (FSA) from your FAFSA results and many private scholarship organizations also use it to assist in making award decisions. Your EFC will be the same at all the colleges that offer you financial aid.

2. Federal Pell Grant

This is an award of federal funds based on your EFC. It is a grant and grants do not have to be repaid. The Pell Grant offered will be the same at all colleges that offer you financial aid.  Not all students will qualify for a Federal Pell Grant.

3. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

By completing the FAFSA you will also be considered for SEOG funding; This grant is given to students with the greatest financial need. To receive this grant, you must be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. It does not have to be repaid.  Applying for financial aid early is recommended to give your application the most consideration. Funding is limited.

4.  Loans – all loans must be repaid. This is the case for Federal and private student loans.

Some colleges heavily rely upon parents borrowing from the Parent PLUS loan and private student loans. This may be the case regardless of a student’s strong academic background. 

5. Institutional Scholarships

A college may offer you a scholarship from institutional funds, which are funds that the college/university controls. Scholarships do not have to be repaid. Institutional Scholarships are not offered by all colleges. Some colleges will only offer most students Federal Student Aid (FSA) based upon your FAFSA results.  

6. Federal Work Study

Federal Work Study (FWS) allows students to work up to 20 hours a week mainly on campus with some limited off campus options. Each school has a different amount of money available for eligible students.

7. Outside Scholarships

Depending upon the timing of your award offer, scholarships you earned from outside sources may not be listed on the college’s award letter. Outside scholarships can impact the college’s current scholarship offer.

8. Requesting More Financial Aid  

Some colleges may be able to award you additional financial aid based upon your specific situation, but it should not be assumed that all schools have the funding to meet your request. Ask the college which office handles scholarships and inquire at those offices. Examples of college offices that may be involved are the Admissions Office, the Financial Aid Office, and the academic department for your major field of study.

By Kenneth McGhee, Director DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG)