Congratulations, Pointers! Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was successfully processed, and you most likely received your financial aid offer via letter and email. However, it’s covered with more numbers and unfamiliar terms than the last exam you forgot to study for. Don’t worry! The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships is here to help you interpret your offer.
First things first, your financial aid offer is unique to you and your specific circumstances. This means that since you put in your personal data on the FAFSA, the offer you receive is specific for you. Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), is used to determine your aid. Contrary to its name, it’s not necessarily how much you and your parents are paying for college. This EFC is what is used to determine the amount of financial aid you will receive. Lastly, you may have been offered all the items that I list below or you may only have some of the items. The purpose of this overview is to cover the most common questions about financial aid offers.
Where to Find Your Financial Aid Offer
In order to view and accept or decline your offers you must first log in to accesSPoint. Once you have logged in, click on the “Financial Aid” tile. The “Financial Aid” tile is different than the “Financial Account/Billing” tile! The “Financial Aid” tile should automatically bring you to the “Awards: Summary” page. If it doesn’t, click “Awards” on the left side navigation to extend the tab. Then click on “Summary”. Be sure to check the top of the screen to make sure you are in the correct school year! Here you can see everything that is in your offer. When you view each offer, will notice small text below designating which fund category it belongs. Below I have outlined each category.
Grants and Scholarships
Grants and scholarships are offered based on need, merit and other factors. For the most part, grants/scholarships don’t have to be repaid. When deciding on what to accept, it’s best to start with grants and scholarships. They are the only form of aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. However, when you receive a scholarship, be sure to review the terms of it. This will help you to understand how long you will have the scholarship, what you specifically need to do to keep the scholarship and if you are required to write a thank-you letter to the scholarship provider.
Loans, which may include a variety of different types, must be repaid. However, the terms of each loan can vary. Much like scholarships, you should research your loan and contact your loan servicer to understand the terms of each loan. A great resource to consult is GradReady (a free online financial literacy tool). GradReady helps you understand your loans, how to budget and many other aspects of attending college. I personally have found it helpful because it helped me create a budget to show how much I need to earn over the summer in order to pay some out-of-pocket fees for attending the fall and spring semester.
Work study is quite different than the other items I have mentioned. Work study is a type of assistance that is offered based on FAFSA results. If you were offered work study, you’ll need to find a job that is funded by the work study program. Quest is a great search tool you can use to find jobs within the Stevens Point area both on and off campus. Once you secure a job and begin working, you’ll receive hourly paychecks for your work. These hourly paychecks will be coming out of your work study allotment on your financial aid offer. This offer is not disbursed in a lump sum and you’ll need to work to earn this money. The perk of work study is that it allows you to work on campus and your hours are typically flexible. Personally, I really enjoy my work study job at the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, and I am very happy that I accepted it.
Overall, your financial aid offer may be confusing. I strongly encourage you to call, email, schedule an appointment or stop into the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships to discuss your options or if you have questions. We are glad to help you with any questions or concerns you