Now We Start to Figure Out What College is Ultimately Going to Cost
Preliminary offer letters typically show up with the notification of acceptance for admission to the college or shortly thereafter. They will generally say something like “Congratulations. Because of your excellent performance, we are honored to award you the President’s Special Scholar Award of $40,000.”
Things to Keep in Mind About Preliminary Offer Letters
- Often Based on Arbitrary Academic Indicators
- Usually Announce Total Award for All 4 Years
- Could Be A Small Portion of What You Finally Receive
Often Based on Arbitrary Academic Indicators
It is important that you understand what these letters are and how they are written. These offers are most often based upon arbitrary academic indicators such as your GPA, Class Rank, or Standardized Test Scores (ACT or SAT). Quite often, colleges will have a set schedule of awards for particular performance. For example, if you score a 26 on your ACT, the college may automatically offer you $2,000 while a student with a 28 would automatically receive $5,000; etc.
Usually Announce Total Award for All 4 Years
These letters are also written in a way to make the offer appear as large as possible and increase the “wow” factor. Keep in mind, you have been accepted to the college, now the college is trying to get you to commit. The $40,000 in the above example is $10,000 per year over the next four years. It is not $40,000 per year or $40,000 up front. While that would be a sweet deal, colleges do not give signing bonuses.
Could Be A Small Portion of What You Finally Receive
Preliminary awards are just that… they are preliminary. They are what the college knows they can offer up front before any of the financial paperwork is filed. As such, they most often become part of the Official Financial Offer after all the financial paperwork is processed. In some instances, the preliminary offer may only be one-half, one-third, or even one-quarter or less of the Official Financial Offer. There could be much more money coming.