Understanding my financial aid award letter


Financial aid award estimate letter

Reading your award letter

  • Grants, awards and scholarships are considered gift aid and do not need to be paid back.
  • Work-study, cash and savings are considered other resources and do not need to be paid back.
  • Loans need to be paid back over time, with interest.

Things to consider

Think about the costs for which you need additional help (Step 4 below).

  • Do you work part-time/full-time and can you use your wages to pay your costs?
  • Do you live at home or with your family and don’t need to worry about paying room/board?
  • Do you need to borrow the full amount of student loans offered, or just a portion?


Determine the cost of college

A step-by-step guide to determine the cost of college.


Step 1—Select your WSU Vancouver cost of attendance

Choose from one of the options listed below to determine your total cost of attendance.

Option 1—Not living with parents

Independent student or dependent student not living with parent(s)
Expense Cost(s)
Tuition $10,279
Books $960
Room (Room and board costs may be covered by student loans or by other means, such as a spouse.) $6,900
Board $4,498
Transportation $1,434
Miscellaneous living expenses $2,108
Technology fee $40
Total cost of attendance (COA) = $26,219

Option 2—Living with parents

Dependent student living with parent(s)
Expense Cost(s)
Tuition $10,279
Books $960
Room (Room and board costs may be covered by student loans or by other means, such as parents.) $3,430
Board $2,250
Transportation $1,434
Miscellaneous living expenses $2,108
Technology Fee $40
Total cost of attendance (COA) =

$20,501

  • Costs are based on two full-time semesters (fall/spring) for a student attending WSU Vancouver.
  • Costs reflect resident tuition. If you’re a non-resident student, increase the tuition line by your actual tuition costs (review the tuition chart in Step 3).
  • These are standardized budgets that express average costs and are intended to provide sufficient funds to pay for educational expenses for most students in most circumstances. If your circumstances vary, please talk to a financial aid counselor for guidance.


Step 2—List your financial aid awards/resources

Gift aid—Grants/academic awards/scholarships

Some awards will be prorated and/or cancelled if you are enrolled in less than 12 credits.

Add together all of the following that you have received to determine your total gift aid:

  • Grants (e.g. Pell, State Need, College Bound, Institutional)
  • Academic achievement awards (e.g. Vancouver Academic Achievement, Vancouver Transfer Achievement)
  • Scholarships

Loans—Money that will need to be repaid

A minimum of 6 credits enrollment required to receive loans.

Add together all of the following loans that you plan to accept to determine your total loans:

  • Subsidized
  • Unsubsidized
  • Parent PLUS loan (for dependent students)

Other resources/support—If applicable

Add together all of the following that you expect to have available to determine your total resources:

  • Federal work-study
  • Prepaid college savings plan
  • Cash or other savings

Total financial aid packaging and resources

Now add your total gift aid, total loans and total resources together to determine your total financial aid packaging and resources.


Step 3—Determine your tuition cost

Tuition chart

Tuition chart (undergraduate, per semester, based on 2018/19 school year)
Credits Resident Non-resident
1 $514 $1,226
2 (minimum charge) $1,028 $2,452
3 $1,542 $3,678
4 $2,056 $4,904
5 $2,570 $6,130
6 (minimum required credits to receive financial aid) $3,084 $7,356
7 $3,598 $8,582
8 $4,112 $9,808
9 $4,626 $11,034
10 – 18 $5,139.50 $12,257.50
More than 18 $5,140 + $514 per credit $12,257.50 + $1,198 per credit

Tuition per semester

Now multiply your tuition cost per semester by two to estimate your yearly cost of tuition (based on fall/spring attendance).


Step 4—Determine how much money you need

A) Compare your cost of tuition and books to your gift aid amount.

Add together your yearly cost of tuition (from Step 3) and your books (from Step 1) to determine your total tuition/books costs.

Now subtract your total gift aid (from Step 2) from your total tuition/books costs to determine your remaining costs for tuition/books.

Do you have enough gift aid to cover the cost of tuition and books?

If your remaining costs for tuition/books is a positive number, that means you do not have enough gift aid to cover tuition/books.

If your remaining costs for tuition/books is a negative number, that means you would receive a refund.

B) What portion of your cost of attendance do you need additional help with?

Add together your remaining costs for tuition/books (if a positive number), room/board, transportation costs and miscellaneous expenses (from Step 1) to determine your total help needed.

If you do not need help with some of these costs (such as room/board or transportation), do not add them to your total help needed.

C) How much in loans do you need?

Subtract your total resources (other resources/support from Step 2) and any gift aid refund you may recieve (after tuition/books costs) from your total help needed to determine your loans needed.


Next steps

If you are borrowing student loans, make sure to complete the following steps:

  1. Accept your Direct Loan through myWSU.
  2. Complete your Entrance Interview Loan Counseling through studentloans.gov.
  3. Sign your Master Promissory Note with your FSA ID through studentloans.gov.