FAQ: When Will My Student Receive His/Her Financial Aid Award Offer?

College Planning Advisor
Frequently Asked Question


Since FAFSAs were submitted beginning October 1st, this has been the $64,000 dollar question from clients!

Although colleges across the country have been urged by the Department of Education to “communicate affordability” earlier to prospective students, it is our understanding, from many contacts with college admission offices, that students can expect to receive ESTIMATED Financial Aid offers, if any, before the end of the year.

The timing can vary from school to school depending on factors such as the date the FAFSA was submitted, the number of FAFSAs the college received, but more importantly, if the college has confirmed their cost of attendance for the 2017-2018 school year and state aid commitments.  In addition, many colleges are expecting increased appeals due to the use of prior-prior year tax information on this year’s FAFSA, which is another important factor that may delay final award offers to students.

Although, we hate to provide such vague answers to our clients, this is one piece of the puzzle that probably won’t be determined until after this year simply because the schools may not be equipped to provide earlier (final) awards. We suggest the family contact the college directly to find out if they will be adjusting their processing deadlines in regards to financial aid award offers to their prospective students.

What we do know is that just like in previous years, the award letter will be sent to the family’s home explaining the details of the package available.  It will likely be divided between each semester, quarter or other payment period and will be used first to pay tuition, room, board and fees.  If there is any money remaining, it will be paid to the student directly and can be used for miscellaneous expenses such as books, travel etc.

Once the student does receive a comprehensive award offer (that lists direct student loans, merit aid, work study and estimated out-of-pocket expenses), our College Planning clients are welcome to send it to EWS for review.  We will evaluate the offer and provide information about the possible appeal process.

We will continue to monitor colleges’ processes for providing award offers to their students.  Please keep in mind, however, that students will still have until May 1st to commit.