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Accepting financial aid

After verification is completed, if required, and all information on your FAFSA is processed, you will be contacted by the schools you listed with information concerning how much aid you may be able to receive.

Award letter

The school you have chosen to attend will send you an award notification. This notification may be via email with instructions to access your information electronically, or the notification may be a paper award letter. Before accepting any type of aid, determine your financial needs. It is best to accept free money first such as scholarships and grants, then earned money, such as Federal work study, and then borrowed money last, such as Federal student loans. If you do have to borrow money, remember you do not have to accept the maximum amount offered. If you have any questions concerning your award letter, contact your school.

Things to keep in mind when accepting aid include:

  • Scholarships and grants-This money does not have to be paid back. Be sure that you understand the conditions you must meet. For example, you may have to maintain a certain grade point average in order to keep receiving your scholarship.
  • Federal work study -This money does not have to be paid back; however, you will have to work to earn it. Be sure to consider the time you will need to study versus the time allotted for work.
  • Federal student loans -This money will have to be repaid with interest added. Be sure you understand the different types of Federal student loans, interest information, benefits provided, and repayments terms.
  • Loans from your state government or your college-This money will have to be repaid. Be sure you understand how interest, repayment, and benefits associated with these loans are handled.
  • Private loans-This money will have to be repaid. The interest, repayment, and benefits associated with these types of loans may vary greatly between institutions and from Federal and state loans that you may receive. 

Accepting a Federal student loan

If this is the first time you are receiving a Federal student loan, you will be required to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) in which you are agreeing to the terms of the loan. You will also be required to complete entrance counseling. Contact the financial aid office at your school for details regarding these processes.

Receiving Federal student aid

Your Federal financial aid will be disbursed by your school, not the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Generally, if you receive Federal grants or Federal student loans, they will be used to cover a full academic year. Your school will disburse the money in at least two payments called disbursements. If you are a first-year undergraduate student and a first-time borrower, you may have to wait 30 days after the first day of your enrollment period for your first disbursement. If you are receiving Federal work study, you will be paid at least once a month.

Federal grants and Federal student loans are first applied to your tuition, fees, and room and board (if you live on campus). Any money left over is paid to you for other expenses. Check with your school for the process involved in disbursing your Federal financial aid. You will be notified each time your funds are disbursed. If you decide you do not need all of the Federal financial aid disbursed, contact your school immediately for cancellation and refund requirements.