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How to Read a Financial Aid Award

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Shannon Vasconcelos

Written by Shannon Vasconceloson March 21st, 2022

I came to College Coach with close to 10 years of experience in college financial aid offices. I began my career at Boston University, where I counseled students and their parents on the financial aid process and reviewed undergraduate financial aid applications. At Tufts University, where I served as assistant director of financial aid, I developed expertise in the field of health professions financial aid. I was responsible for financial aid application review, grant awarding and loan processing, and college financing and debt management counseling for both pre- and post-doctoral dental students. I have also served as an active member of the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrator’s Early Awareness and Outreach Committee, coordinating early college awareness activities for middle school students; as a trainer for the Department of Education’s National Training for Counselors and Mentors, educating high school guidance counselors on the financial aid process; and as a volunteer for FAFSA Day Massachusetts, aiding students and parents with the completion of online financial aid applications.
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Just like snowflakes, each college financial aid letter seems to be unique. The way funding is labeled is often confusing for families: What does self-help aid actually mean? Would it be better to receive more grants? It can be difficult for families to cut through the different formats, language, and content of each financial aid award to determine which school provides the best offer. Here, we explain how to interpret a financial aid award letter and find the best college value for you. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel keep up to date on all the latest college planning tips from our college admissions and finance experts.

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