Understanding the Financial Aid Award Letter

You will receive financial aid award letters from the schools to which you applied and requested financial aid from.


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Award letters indicate how much funding and what types of aid you're eligible to receive from each school.


An award letter is typically made up of the following sections:

  • Financial calculations
    A summary of the cost of education for that school is calculated, including tuition and fees, books and supplies, living expenses, transportation and personal costs. The cost of education will be different for each school.
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
    An estimate of a student's personal and/or family money that should be available to help pay educational costs, based on the federal methodology. The EFC is calculated using the information provided on the FAFSA.
  • Financial need
    This figure reflects the cost of education minus the EFC. This figure reflects your eligibility for need-based financial assistance at each school. Financial need varies from school to school because the cost of education varies by school.


  • Financial awards:
    • Grants from the federal or state governments or the school
    • Scholarships
    • Eligibility for federal Work-Study - money earned by working during the course of the year
    • Federal loans and private student loans - borrowed money that must be repaid after leaving school

Important Legal Disclosures and Information

You are encouraged to explore all scholarship, grant and federal borrowing options before applying for a private loan.

PNC does not provide accounting, tax or legal advice. Any calculators provided are intended for educational and estimation purposes only, and their accuracy is not guaranteed. The calculators, and any results displayed, do not constitute the advice of, or reflect actual products, services, rates and/or terms available from PNC Bank or its affiliates, and nothing contained in the calculators shall constitute an offer or solicitation of a product or service by PNC Bank or its affiliates.