Five Things About Your Financial Aid Award Letter

Award letters for incoming freshman and transfer students are currently available in AccessPlus.

The basics

Your financial aid eligibility has been determined based upon your current FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as well as other factors and is shown on your award letter. Typically, financial aid is only adjusted after this point if additional scholarships are added or something changes on your FAFSA. You will be notified any time there is a change in your financial aid eligibility.

Additional scholarships

Any scholarships you are set to receive from Iowa State should appear on the award letter. It’s important to note that if additional scholarships are added at a later date (whether from Iowa State or an outside source), your financial aid eligibility may change. While most of the scholarship deadlines have passed for the upcoming 2015-16 academic year, there will be many more opportunities to apply for scholarships once you’re a current student!

Comparing apples to apples

Ultimately, your net cost (cost of attendance minus total grants and scholarships) is the most important number to use when comparing various financial aid award offers you receive. The net cost amount shows what is still needed to help cover your estimated cost of attendance. Normally this amount is what the student has left to pay either out-of-pocket or in loans. Maximum loan eligibility is listed on your award letter.

Finalizing your aid

If we need additional documents or action is required on your part, complete those at the earliest opportunity. Most financial aid listed on the award letter will be on hold (meaning it won’t go towards your bill) until those are done. You can view what or if anything is being requested in AccessPlus at the “FAFSA Status” screen within the Financial Aid section OR on the back of your award letter.

Still confused?

At Orientation, students and families will have the opportunity to attend a financial aid session where we’ll break down the award letter and talk next steps in order to receive all the aid listed. You will also have the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with a financial aid counselor during this time. Remember there is no one “right way” to do financial aid. Talk as a family about what will work best for you and plan ahead to determine ways to cover any remaining costs.

Katie is a senior admissions and financial aid counselor at Iowa State University. If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at 515 294-2223 or

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