Letters that begin with “Congratulations!” or “We’re happy to inform you that…” are exciting to receive and read! At CAA, we understand that some of the letters you receive from the colleges you applied to can be confusing. There are at least three different types of letters you might receive: acceptance letters, scholarship letters, and award letters.

What is an acceptance letter?

An acceptance letter from a college informs you that you have been accepted for admission after applying to their school. While many colleges send these electronically, some will mail their notifications. Either way, it is great to get the initial news that your hard work with your application paid off!

What is a scholarship letter?

The next letter you might receive is a scholarship letter. A scholarship letter is not the same thing as an acceptance letter or an award letter. Some colleges send scholarship letters, usually between December and March, to notify students that they will receive a specific scholarship if they choose to attend their college. It usually only details one piece of the financial aid offer.

How do I get a scholarship?

Some colleges require you to submit a separate application for institution-based scholarships, while others will consider you automatically. So, find out when you apply! Scholarship offers are usually based on your GPA and test scores, but might be given based on talent or other notable qualities. 

Do colleges always send scholarship letters?

Not all colleges send this type of letter. Some of you may have received these letters—if you have, congratulations! But wait—don’t commit yourself to a school based on a scholarship letter, there’s more! And if you have not received a scholarship letter that does not mean you won’t get a scholarship – that school may have a different process of awarding scholarships.

What is an award letter?

About two to three months after you file your FAFSA, colleges typically start sending out award letters. This usually happens in February, March and April. This letter will provide you with details about your financial aid package and will include any scholarship you were offered, but will also list any federal, state, or other institutional aid you qualified for. You might see grants, loans, and/or work study listed on these letters.

What should I do with my award letters?

Comparing the offers from all of the colleges helps ensure that you understand which college will be the most affordable option. Understanding award letters is an important part of making sound financial decisions when it comes to your college education. Review your award letters in detail and compare each type of aid from each of your colleges to determine which university is the most affordable option. Just know that some grants offered by colleges are only available for your freshman year. So, make sure to take into account what the college will cost for four years, not just your first year in college.

Your CAA coaches are here to help with all of your questions about acceptance, scholarship and award letters. If you are not one of our clients, please contact the financial aid office at your colleges to discuss the details of your awards. And remember, you usually need to make your final college decision by May 1st of your senior year of high school.