After you’ve submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and colleges have reviewed the information on it, you will receive a financial aid award letter from all the schools to which you’ve been admitted. Your financial aid award letter will detail how much financial aid you will receive and what it will consist of—that is, whether the money will come from grants, scholarships, work-study, or loans. (If this sounds confusing, check out Edmit’s article on reading and evaluating your financial aid award letter.) It will also include information such as the school’s Cost of Attendance (COA) and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Although there isn’t a set date on which colleges mail out their financial aid award letters to prospective students, most colleges send them out around the same time they send out their admission offer letters—March and April for Regular Decision applicants. “The timing can vary from college to college, however,” says the U.S. Department of Education, “depending on factors such as the date you submitted your FAFSA and the number of FAFSAs the college received.” Your financial aid award letter is based on the information provided by your FAFSA, so a delay in submitting your FAFSA might mean a delay in the arrival of your letter.
Note that the timeline for Early Decision applicants is different: Early Decision applicants, who apply early to their first-choice college and commit to attend the college if admitted, receive their offers of admission and financial aid award letters simultaneously, usually in mid-December. Keep in mind that applying Early Decision means that you won’t be able to compare award letters to see which school will give you the best deal.
For a more exact timeline, Edmit recommends that you consult your college’s website, which will have specific dates and deadlines pertaining to your application.