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There are limits to the amount of financial aid students can receive. When your financial aid exceeds those limits, it's referred to as an over-award.

There are two limits in particular:

  • Cost of attendance 
  • Financial need

On this page:

Cost of Attendance

When you are packaged financial aid, your are assigned a budget, referred to as the cost of attendance. It includes an allowance for:

  • Tuition 
  • Books and supplies
  • Housing and meals (board)
  • Transportation
  • Personal expenses.

Your total financial aid awards cannot exceed your cost of attendance (certain types of aid, like the Federal Pell Grant, are excluded from this concept).

Financial Need

Generally, schools determine your financial need by subtracting your Student Aid Index (SAI) or Expected Family Contribution (EFC), taken from the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), from your cost of attendance.

Cost of Attendance – SAI/EFC = Financial Need

Your total need-based aid awards, such as grants, scholarships, additional resources, Federal Work-Study, and subsidized loans, cannot exceed your financial need (certain types of aid, like the Federal Pell Grant, are excluded from this concept).

Additional Resources

Over-awards are most often created when you receive an additional resource that the Office of Financial Aid was unaware of at the time of packaging. The most common forms of additional resources include:

  • External scholarships
  • Tuition remissions
  • Graduate assistantships
  • Third party contracts

It is your responsibility to notify Enrollment Services (RaiderConnect) of any additional resources that don't appear on your Award Notice.

Resolving Over-Awards

Whatever the cause may have been to create the over-award, the Office of Financial Aid must attempt to resolve the over-award by either returning undisbursed funds or reducing or canceling future aid disbursements within the same aid year. In some cases, you may have special circumstances that would allow the Office of Financial Aid to increase your cost of attendance to resolve the over-award. See our Cost of Attendance Adjustment page for more information.