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Congratulations! You've been selected to receive financial aid to help cover the costs of college. But what exactly is an “FSEOG” or “Unsubsidized Stafford,” and how much of the money you've been promised is really just a student loan? If you find yourself confused by your offer letter, you're not the only one.

Some colleges and universities have adopted a standardized letter called the College Financing Plan that breaks financial aid packages down into grants, loans and work-study allowances. But many schools still follow their own formats, producing letters that use mysterious abbreviations and jumble different types of aid together.

How to use the tool

Upload a PDF of your letter in the area below and then click the “decode” button. To get the most out of this tool, we recommend viewing the page on a computer, rather than your phone or another mobile device. The tool can only decode PDFs with machine-readable text.

Schools do not always list the overall price of attendance on their financial-aid award letters. To see the costs paid by students like you at your institution, use our Tuition Tracker tool.

We are constantly updating and adding to the text our decoder can read. If you think your letter stumped us or you found a mysterious abbreviation in your offer, send us an email. The Hechinger Report does not store any letters or data uploaded to the tool.

The Offer Letter Decoder is powered by The Mozilla Foundation's PDF.js tool, used by the Hechinger Report under the Apache License 2.0. Sample letter created by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority.