THE BASICS

What Is a Financial Aid Package?

When you apply for financial aid at a school you are considering, your school tells you what financial aid you can receive by sending you an award letter showing your estimated financial aid package. Remember to read your award letter carefully and weigh all of your options. You decide which college is best for you.

(Costs at independent colleges and universities vary. Please check with the financial aid office at the school(s) you are considering for more detailed information.)

Jordan's Financial Aid Comparison

This is an example of possible financial aid packages for the same student, Jordan, who is thinking about attending college. Jordan has applied for financial aid at three different schools, each of a different type. He is comparing what his options would be if he attended different types of colleges and universities.

Expenses Research Universities Regional Universities Community Colleges
Tuition $4,191 $4,005 $2,435
Mandatory Fees $3,200 $1,296 $902
Average Academic Service Fees $937 $362 $100
Room and Board* $7,363 $4,881 $4,788
Books and Supplies $974 $1,203 $1,290
Transportation $500 $500 $500
Miscellaneous $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Total Cost of Attendance $18,665 $13,747 $11,515
Expected Family Contribution -$1,000 -$1,000 -$1,000
Total Financial Need $17,665 $12,747 $10,515
Pell Grant $4,695 $4,695 $4,695
Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Oklahoma's Promise $4,191 $4,005 $2,435
Tuition Waiver $1,000 $0 $750
Other Grant/Scholarship $2,000 $750 $850
Federal Work Study $1,800 $1,558 $785
Federal Direct Subsidized Loan $2,979 $739 $0
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Total Financial Aid Package $18,665 $13,747 $11,515

*Note: Room and board estimates are based on a student living in a traditional dormitory with a roommate and participating in a 20-meal-per-week plan. Many institutions offer a wide variety of room and board plans, and costs may differ from the average reported above.

The first few lines show the expenses that Jordan can expect over the course of the school year at each of his schools. The total of these expenses is Jordan's "Cost of Attendance," and it is different at each type of school he is considering. In this example, Jordan's expenses for tuition, fees and books are based on his plans to be a full-time student in both the fall and spring semesters -- he has decided to take 15 credit hours in the fall and 15 credit hours in the spring. He also plans to live in a dormitory and has chosen a 20-meal-per-week plan. His room and board costs are based on those choices.

When Jordan filled out the FAFSA, it calculated that his Expected Family Contribution (EFC) would be $1,000 for this year. The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to fund the amount of the EFC; however, Jordan and his family plan to pay the amount over the course of the school year so this loan can be declined."

Jordan's financial need at each type of school is calculated by subtracting his Expected Family Contribution from his cost of attendance. The financial aid office at each school then put together a statement that shows the types of aid that Jordan is eligible for.

In this case, Jordan thought about college early and signed up for the Oklahoma's Promise scholarship program in eighth grade and met the requirements by the time he graduated. He also filled out the FAFSA in early February, which helped him to qualify to receive an Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) award. Jordan also made sure that he met all of the financial aid deadlines for each school, and because of that, some of the schools had scholarship and tuition waiver money that they were able to award to him. All of this planning helped Jordan to keep the amount of loan money he would need to a small amount. The amount of student loan Jordan needed was different at each type of school based on the school's costs and the amount of other types of aid each school could offer him.