What you should know about the financial aid award

Blog Header: Financial Aid Package

Your financial aid award is an important component in financial fit as you’re choosing a college. We understand that waiting for your award can leave you feeling like you’re in limbo.

We’re here to ease your mind by sharing how to determine when you’ll receive it as well as steps to take in the meantime to be prepared.

When will I receive it?

Financial aid awards are released as early as December for students starting in the fall. When you’ll receive yours depends on a few factors:

  • When you applied for admission.
    • The earlier you submit all of the application materials, the better. You must be admitted to CSU before you can be considered for financial aid.
  • When you submitted the FAFSA (required financial information) to the Office of Financial Aid.
    • The earlier you submit the FAFSA and list CSU as a school to receive it, the sooner you can expect to receive your award.

TIP: Make sure that we have everything we need to determine your financial aid award. Log in to your RAMweb account to check that all required documents have been submitted.

What can I expect?

The types of financial aid that you can expect in your award depend on a few factors as well:

  • Merit-based aid
    • Freshmen/first-years: CSU automatically considers incoming students for some awards. If you receive an admissions-based award, you’ll see the scholarship name and amount listed in your admit letter, and you’ll receive a scholarship packet from Financial Aid shortly after.
    • Transfers: The scholarship selection process takes place outside of the admission decision and isn’t reflected in the admit letter. For more information about transfer scholarships, visit the Office of Financial Aid website.
    • Aren’t sure if you received a merit-based scholarship? Double-check your admit letter, check online via RAMweb, or contact your counselor for help.

TIP: Additional CSU scholarship opportunities may be available to you by filling out the CSU Scholarship Application (CSUSA), available between October 1 and March 1.

  • Need-based aid: This type of aid could include grants or work-study awards. What you receive is largely dependent on your or your family’s financial situation as reflected in the FAFSA. The Office of Financial Aid can take additional factors into consideration when reviewing your eligibility, such as special family circumstances or new/unusual financial situations. Contact the Office of Financial Aid  to discuss your situation if you feel your financial circumstances have changed.
  • Other aid: Non need-based aid, such as student and parent loans, may also be listed in your award letter.

TIP: Outside scholarships, which are any scholarships that you have received from organizations not connected to CSU, can reduce your cost of attendance but will not be reflected in your financial aid award.

 What should I do after I receive my award?

Once you have your financial aid award, you’ll be able to make a better assessment of financial fit. Your circumstances are different from every other student; only you and your family can decide your right financial fit.

Here are some steps you can take to make that decision:

  • Look through your financial aid award carefully to make sure you understand each part. Consider giving your parent or guardian access to view the award online via FAMweb.
  • Consider the Expected Family Contribution your aid report calculates and evaluate that alongside the balance of “free aid” (i.e., support you don’t pay back, such as grants and scholarships) and student and/or parent loans that you’ll need to pay back during or after your college career.
  • Use tools like the budget worksheet included in your award packet, the college financing plan in your RAMweb account, or an online net price calculator which projects your cost of attendance over the course of your degree.
    • While you use these tools, recognize that each year your merit- and need-based aid will change with your personal circumstances.
  • Recognize that your college education is an investment. Consider how your investment will help you reach long-term personal and professional goals.

Discuss this with your parents or loved ones, as well as your admissions counselor. And know that our financial aid counselors are ready to speak with you and your family to provide clarification and answer any questions you may have about your aid award.

Jill Baylis

Jill was a staff member in the Office of Admissions until 2019 when she moved to Denver. As a first-generation college student, she focused on simplifying the college admissions process and helping future Rams find community on campus.