While financial aid award letters are sent in accordance with each school’s own financial aid timeline, offers are usually sent between March and June for the following academic year. Incoming freshmen can expect to receive their financial aid offers in advance of National Decision Day on May 1st.
Get Insight from the Student Aid Report
Students will get an initial indication of their eligibility for financial aid when they review their Student Aid Report (SAR). The FSA will send the SAR within two weeks of a student signing and submitting their FAFSA®, although delivery via email can take as little as 3-5 days.
The Student Aid Report does not constitute a formal financial aid offer – those can only come from the schools themselves – but it does state the student’s eligibility for certain types of aid, including the Pell Grant and loans.
Also included on the SAR is the student’s Expected Family Contribution score. Your school’s Cost of Attendance minus your Expected Family Contribution determines your financial need. Schools will base their financial aid offers off of the student’s financial need, although it is not a guarantee that the student’s full financial need will always be met.
Spring is Financial Aid Award Season
Each school has its own financial aid timeline, but “springtime” is generally considered to be financial aid offer letter season.
Incoming freshmen and transfer students are usually given earlier FAFSA® deadlines than currently enrolled undergraduates so schools can prepare their financial aid offers before the May 1st college decision day – the date by which High School seniors need to inform schools of their intention to enroll.
Many schools will send prospective students their acceptance letters and financial aid offers around the same time. Most offers will be sent during March and April, giving students time to review all their options before deciding which school they wish to attend.
It’s important to note that most schools will not prepare a financial aid offer before a student has been accepted for academic enrollment.
Continuing students can also expect to receive their financial aid offers for the following academic year in the spring, although those offers may be received as late as May or June.
Ask Your Child’s School for an Update
Students should regularly check their school’s financial aid website for important financial aid dates and deadlines. Additionally, students should monitor their student web portal to confirm all their financial aid information is up to date.
If you’re worried that your child has not yet received a financial aid offer, don’t hesitate to contact the school’s financial aid office for an update. Please note that it usually takes schools 3-4 weeks to process a financial aid application once it has been received.