If you have applied to and earned scholarships in the past, you are probably aware of the tricky wording used in acceptance letters. Many students have run into problems deciphering their financial aid acceptance letters, and it has cost them a lot of money they did not anticipate paying. An article published by The Sacramento Bee calls for more clarity in scholarship acceptance letters. The article reports that there are steps being taken by the Department of Education to make a uniform letter so students and their families are not duped into a contract they don’t understand.
What this means for YOU!
Read your scholarship and financial aid acceptance letters thoroughly. Have a friend or family member read it with you. Read all of the sections, and if there is any term you do not understand, look it up. Make sure you completely understand what the conditions are for your situation.
Use Cappex’s 15 Financial Aid Terms Cheat Sheet for a reference if you need it.
Do not let your university get the best of you. Like the student mentioned in The Sacramento Bee article, your university can take back funds it initially gave to you if you earn scholarship money elsewhere. If your letter doesn’t explicitly state whether you are receiving a loan or a scholarship, find out right away.
You’re smart, so don’t let the difficult wording make you feel dumb or frustrated. The reason that the Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are creating a uniform letter is because so many students across the country have had problems understanding their terms in the past.
Keep up to date on the developments of this uniform letter! Check to see if the schools from which you are hoping to receive financial aid already use a type of uniform letter or will soon.
Ask other students you know who are applying for financial aid if they’ve received letters. Since paying for school might be a sensitive subject, leave some questions here on Cappex. Students who have already been through this process may be able to offer advice.
Do you have a financial aid story? Share it!
Do you have any advice for students deciphering their acceptance letters?
What do you think schools should do to improve clarity when it comes to scholarship and financial aid acceptance letters?