We know this time of the year your inbox is flooded with emails from colleges and your mailbox keeps filling with letters! The most important notes and emails you want to be on the lookout for are your financial aid award package and merit. You might be asking yourself, what is this difference and why do they matter? So, let's break it down! If you filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will receive a financial aid letter that includes total cost, and net cost, as well as other awards based on your FAFSA. Your merit letter shows the scholarships available to you. We are going to take a deeper look at each letter to see what a full financial aid package looks like. First, let's look at the two letters side by side. The letter only highlights the merit scholarship awarded, whereas the financial aid award package breaks down all the scholarships and grants awarded, along with loan options. Both the letters show the merit scholarship awarded, in this example it is the Presidential Scholarship for $22,500.


Financial Aid Award Letter:


Merit Award Letter:


Looking at the financial aid award letter, under scholarships and grants, there are more items listed. Here you can see the student is also receiving another scholarship and grants from Siena and New York State based on financial need.

After adding all the scholarships and grants together, the net cost for Siena is $28,305 for the academic year 2023-2024. That means the Resident Direct Cost of Attendance for Siena 2023-2024 changed from $60,355 to $28,305.

If you look under the Student Loan Options section, you will see there are two loans available. These are optional, you do not have to take the loans out unless you decide to.

1. Subsidized Loan: need-based, does not accrue interest while in college. 2. Unsubsidized Loan: does accrue interest while in college.

You can check out more information about these loans here.

If you decide to take out the loans the net cost for Siena becomes $22,805 for the 2023-2024 academic year. Also listed in the award package is the option for this student to participate in Federal Work-Study (FWS.) This is offered to students who have filed a FAFSA and is typically awarded on a need-based basis.

We know this was a lot of information, but when you break it down section by section, you will be able to make the best financial decisions for you and your family. If you have any questions please contact