Understanding the Letter

How to Read Your Financial Aid Award Letter

Click on a section of the sample letter below to view a detailed explanation. Refer back to this example when reviewing your actual award letter via BuzzPort.



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1. Cost of Attendance (COA):

The components of each budget include estimates for tuition, fees, room, board, books and supplies, and personal expenses. The only components that are "actual" will be tuition and fees once they are set by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. All other costs in the student budget reflect conservative "averages." These are not the exact amounts owed to the Institute. The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA) establishes an "average" budget for students who live on and off campus, as well as those living with their parents.

Visit Cost of Attendance for information.


2. Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from FAFSA:

Georgia Tech utilizes a need analysis formula established by the U.S. Department of Education to determine a family's ability to contribute to the cost of attendance. This amount is referred to as the "Expected Family Contribution" (EFC), and it is calculated for families completing the FAFSA. This is not the amount that the family owes Georgia Tech. The "federal methodology" evaluates parent and student income, some net assets (home value is not considered), number of family members, number of family members in college, and other relevant factors that may affect a family's ability to contribute toward educational expenses.


3. Need:

Eligibility for need-based aid is determined by subtracting the EFC from the Cost of Attendance. Thus, many families who demonstrate need at a higher-cost, private institution may not be eligible for need-based aid at a lower-cost, public institution such as Georgia Tech. Demonstrating need does not ensure receipt of grants or scholarships as other eligibility criteria also apply and funding is limited.


4. Outside Resources

Students who receive any assistance not already included in the financial aid award letter must report the amount and type of assistance to the OSFA. This is required by federal law and Institute policy. This assistance may be in the form of additional financial awards such as scholarships, private loans, etc., or in the form of reduced financial obligations to the Institute, including nonresident fee waivers, reduced housing costs, Veteran's Benefits, ROTC, etc. The Institute encourages students to compete for externally sponsored scholarships. Students who receive additional financial assistance may have the original Georgia Tech awards reduced and/or cancelled. Every attempt will be made to cancel/reduce self-help awards (employment and loans) before any adjustment is made to Georgia Tech scholarships.


5. Awards

Contingent on availability of funds, Georgia Tech will attempt to meet a portion of each on-time applicants' demonstrated need by offering a combination of grant, scholarship, loan, and student employment funds from federal, state, institutional, and private sources.  For incoming freshmen for the 2014-2015 academic year, the Federal EFC is viewed in combination with information from the PROFILE for purposes of determining eligibility for institutional funds (scholarships, grants, loans) with need as a criterion.


6. Fund-Specific Messages

Awards made by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid may require additional steps in order for the funds to be approved and/or disbursed. Where provided, please follow the steps indicated in this section of the award letter.


7. Award Revisions

Send an email to revisions@finaid.gatech.edu in order to decline all or a portion of any award.