What is a financial aid package?
Completing and filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
allows calculation of the Expected
Family Contribution (EFC) toward your school expenses. Once a
college receives the EFC calculation, the college's financial aid
office will make their best effort to create a financial aid
package that meets a student's demonstrated need or to offer
suggestions for other available aid. Some colleges are able to meet
full demonstrated need, but some cannot. You can view Colorado college financial aid
by selecting a school.
Once colleges decide on the package to offer, the financial aid
office will send you a
financial aid award letter. They may offer you merit- and
work-study and subsidized federal student loans up to the amount of your financial need.
The award letter lists programs of aid and amounts available. The
package may be adjusted if other resources are awarded to the
student. Use the Award Comparison Worksheet to evaluate your
The financial aid office may also offer you non-need-based aid
(amounts above your calculated financial need). This aid is usually
an unsubsidized loans to you and/or a PLUS loan to your
parent, to help you meet all or part of your EFC.
If a student financial aid package includes loans, be sure to
research the loan terms carefully, and don't hesitate to ask a
college financial aid officer for advice, says Kathy Ruby. She's
the director of financial aid at St. Olaf College in Northfield,
Although student loan debt levels are a topic of concern, Ruby
says that student credit card debt is an even more important issue.
She strongly suggests that families talk about budgeting, saving
money from part-time and summer jobs, and the pitfalls of loans and
credit cards. Use the online Money101 credit course to get a handle
"When students are heading off to college, they're taking their
first step toward financial independence," she says. "Conversations
about handling money are important to start in high school."
How Does a College Determine your Financial Aid Package?
The college financial aid office determines your cost
of attendance (COA), which is an estimate of the amount it will
cost for you to attend that college that year. The COA varies by
college and/or by programs within a college. Because of this, your
COA may be different than your friend's even if you are both
attending the same college. The COA is calculated by adding
- Tuition and fees
- Room and board
- Books and supplies
- Personal, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses
The college reviews your FAFSA Expected Family Contribution
results, subtracting your EFC from your COA. The difference
establishes your financial
Almost every student is eligible for some form of financial
assistance for college - grants, scholarships,
loans, or some combination of these types. Use
Financial Aid Award Estimator (FAAE) to
research COA and types of financial aid you may be eligible to
receive at colleges in Colorado. Also, be sure to check our list of
scholarships and scholarship searches for funding you may be
eligible to receive.
If you are offered and decide to accept a loan, be a wise
borrower and only borrow what you need to pay for your educational
expenses each year. The
SLOPE Calculator can help you determine this amount as well as
set up a budget that you can live with.