Rocking out packaging
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Rocking Out Packaging. Erika Cox University of Texas at San Antonio. Freestyle Jazz (totally adlibbed). Most popular financial aid questions: What’s a Stanford loan? Can I get a copy of my reward letter? Do I have to do my FASFA every year? I have to do paperwork to get my money?!

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Rocking out packaging

Rocking Out Packaging

Erika Cox

University of Texas at San Antonio

Freestyle jazz totally adlibbed
Freestyle Jazz (totally adlibbed)

Most popular financial aid questions:

  • What’s a Stanford loan?

  • Can I get a copy of my reward letter?

  • Do I have to do my FASFA every year?

  • I have to do paperwork to get my money?!

  • Can I get more financial aid to buy a car?

    • Or laptop?

    • Or to pay for my trip?

And i say hey what s going on
And I say HEY! What’s going on?

We are actually just as confusing as students.

Have you ever told a student…

  • You need to go sign your EMPN?

  • Have you done your loan entrance?

  • Let’s see if we have your ISIR…

  • It looks like you have a CFLAG.

  • You’re ISIR is rejected.

  • It’s because you’ve exceeded your COA...

  • Do you have any means-tested benefits?

We don t need no education
We Don’t Need No Education

Actually yes, you do and we have objectives!

  • Today we will learn

    • Definition of packaging

    • Funds we typically package

    • Estimated Financial Assistance & its affect

    • Steps to package awards

    • Packaging categories & sequence

    • Packaging models

    • Overawards

    • Hands-on example

    • Notifying students of their awards

So what is packaging
So what IS packaging?

  • Per the FSA Handbook*

    • Packaging is the process of awarding aid without exceeding the student’s financial need

    • More simply: it’s how you decide what students are awarded (in what combination)

*Source: 1011 FSA Handbook Volume 3, page 3-143

Funds we typically package
Funds we typically package

  • Federal programs

    • Pell, SEOG, Perkins, Federal Workstudy, Direct Loans, PLUS Loans, Graduate PLUS Loans, TEACH, Iraqi & Afghanistan Service Grant

  • State programs

    • TPEG, TEXAS Grant, TEG, BOT, CAL, Texas Workstudy, Set-Aside Funds

  • Institutional programs

Estimated financial assistance
Estimated Financial Assistance

  • Estimated Financial Assistance (EFA) is taken into consideration when packaging

  • Examples include (but not limited to)

    • Pell (first source of aid)

    • Other federal, state, institutional grants

    • Subsidized & Perkins loans

    • Work study

    • Unsubsidized loans*

    • PLUS loans*

    • Private loans*

* Indicates funds that can replace all or part of the EFC as long as the COA is not exceeded.

Other examples of efa
Other Examples of EFA

  • ROTC living allowances

  • Scholarships (including athletic & ROTC)

  • Employer reimbursement of tuition & fees

  • Tuition and fee waivers

  • Fellowships and assistantships

  • Americorps Funds

  • Exceptions to EFA:

    • Iraq & Afghanistan Service Grant

    • Prepaid tuition plan

    • Federal veteran benefits

Source: 1011 FSA Handbook Volume 3, page 3-145

Steps to packaging1
Steps to Packaging

  • Determine the student’s Cost of Attendance (COA) budget & Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

  • Award Federal Pell Grant

  • Calculate the student’s financial need

  • Package campus-based, state, federal, and institutional funds

  • Package or refer students to other supplemental sources of assistance

Packaging steps step 1
Packaging Steps: STEP 1

Determine the COA & EFC

A typical COAconsists of*

  • Tuition & Fees

  • Books & Supplies

  • Room & Board

  • Transportation

  • Personal Expenses

EFC comes from…?

* COA amounts are determined by the institution & could include PJ adjustments

Packaging steps step 2
Packaging Steps: STEP 2

Award Pell Grant

  • Pell Grant awarded based on EFC

    • Pro-rated based on enrollment status and EFC range

Packaging steps step 3
Packaging Steps: STEP 3

Calculating student’s remaining need

Cost of Attendance

-- Expected Family Contribution

-- EFA


Initial Need

-- PELL award (if any)


Remaining Need to package other funds

Packaging steps step 31
Packaging Steps: STEP 3

Calculating students’ non-need eligibility

Cost of Attendance


-- EFA

-- Need-based aid awarded


Room for non-need based aid

Packaging steps step 4
Packaging Steps: STEP 4

Package Campus-based, Federal, State, Institutional

  • Package other aid programs listed above according to your school’s packaging philosophy/policy

    • Keep in mind that each school is different!

Packaging guidelines
Packaging Guidelines

  • Responsibility for paying for college rests with the student and their family

  • Federal Pell Grant is the foundation of undergraduate student aid packages

  • Families can borrow from some aid programs to replace all or a portion of their EFC

  • Scholarships cannot be substituted for the EFC

  • Must take expected financial assistance (EFA) into account

Goals of an administrator
Goals of an Administrator

  • Provide as many students as possible with resources to meet their financial need

  • Distribute aid in an equitable manner

  • Provide assistance that will be the most beneficial to the student

  • Manage financial aid funds

  • Recruit and retain students

  • Meet areas of national need

Sometimes these are competing goals!

Packaging categories
Packaging Categories

  • Schools can organize their packaging categories based

    • Enrollment status

    • Classification

    • Academic program or major field of study

    • Application date

    • Need Based vs. Non-Need Based

    • Residency Criteria

  • Packaging philosophy must be detailed in the school’s policy and procedures

Packaging sequence
Packaging Sequence

What gets awarded 1st? 2nd?

  • Schools designate the order in which it awards funds from various programs

    • Again, this can vary from school to school

    • It can depend on the categories designated

    • This should be noted in the policy and procedure manual for your institution

Six basic packaging models
Six Basic Packaging Models

Kinda like the Beatles for rock music… the foundation

  • First-Come, First-Served

  • Gift Aid First

  • Self-Help Concept

  • Special Targeted Groups

  • Equity Concept

    • Absolute Dollar Equity

    • Fixed Percentage Equity

  • Individualized Packaging

Don’t worry, you’ll get it!

First come first served
First Come, First Served

We are the champions my friends…

  • Financial aid awards based on the order in which completed applications are received by the aid office until funds are exhausted

  • Benefits:

    • Rewards students who get their stuff done early

  • Drawbacks:

    • May not have funds available for students that need it most

Gift aid
Gift Aid

HELP! I need somebody. HELP!

  • Gift aid is awarded first and self help aid is awarded to meet any remaining need

  • Benefits:

    • Decreases likelihood of loan debt

  • Drawbacks:

    • Limited gift aid funding

Self help
Self Help

HELP! I need somebody. HELP!

  • Self-help assistance is awarded after the family contribution and before any consideration for gift aid

  • Benefits:

    • Places same burden on all students

    • Allows gift aid to those who do not have same access to self-help

  • Drawbacks:

    • Increases likelihood of higher loan debt

Targeted groups
Targeted Groups

Here we are now… entertain award us!

  • Separate packaging criteria for specific groups of students in addition to specific criteria required by law or regulation

  • Benefits:

    • Easier to tie packaging philosophy to institutional goals

  • Drawbacks:

    • Tougher to defend – watch the “bait and switch”

Equity concept
Equity Concept

Everybody get together try and love one another…

  • Absolute Equity

    • All students are funded up to an institutional maximum fixed dollar amount with gift aid before their remaining need is met with self-help.

  • Fixed Percentage Equity

    • An institutional maximum percentage level of NEED or COST for all gift aid is used rather than a fixed dollar amount.

  • Benefits:

    • Provides for an equitable distribution

  • Drawbacks:

    • Difficulty in managing overawards and maintaining that equitable distribution


I’m looking at the man in the mirror at the counter…

  • Packaging based on the FAA’s evaluation of a student’s individual costs, resources and needs

  • Benefits:

    • Each financial aid packaged is customized

    • Personal touch with each student

  • Drawback:

    • Time consuming

    • High subjectivity

Which should you use
Which Should You Use?

Like your music preference…

  • This depends on your institution

  • Most institutions do not use one specific model…

    • A variation of one or more of these models is used by institutions to fit in with that school’s objectives

Things to consider
Things to Consider

Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm…

  • Should we package PLUS loans?

  • Should we package private loans?

  • Should we package loans at all?

  • Which comes first, the loan or work study?

  • Which comes first, the grant or the loan?

    There is no one answer!

Overawards packaging

Overawards & Packaging


  • Overawards occur when:

    • Aid exceeds a student’s need or COA

  • How does this happen?

    • EFC changes (due to verification or updates)

    • COA changes (possibly due to enrollment)

    • Additional EFA comes in (late scholarship, exemption payment)

      • This is the student’s responsibility to report to us

  • When overawards happen, we make adjustments

Packaging example self help
Packaging Example: Self Help

Sally is attending Rock Star College (RSC). She is a dependent senior. RSC employs a self-help packaging model and awards work study prior to loans.


COA $20,000

EFC $500

Scholarship $2,500

PellGrant $4,800


Perkins $1,500

Work Study $3,000

Institutional Grant $3,000

Stafford $5,500

Packaging example self help1
Packaging Example: Self Help

  • Cost of Attendance

  • EFC

  • Need

  • Scholarship (EFA)

  • Pell

  • Remaining Need

  • Work study

  • Perkins

  • Stafford Loan

  • Remaining need before grants

  • Institutional Grant

  • Unmet Need

  • Anything Else????













Remaining unsub eligibility?

Packaging example self help2
Packaging Example: Self Help

  • What if after you have packaged, you are informed that the student is receiving another $500 scholarship?

    • Does this fit in the COA as is?

    • Does it fit within the need?

      • If not what would you reduce?

Notifying students of awards1
Notifying Students of Awards

  • Institutions are required to inform students:

    • Amount of award(s)

    • Terms and conditions of award

    • Manner and timing of payments

  • Institutions have the option of confirmation or notification

    • Confirmation – Student formally accepts awards

    • Notification – Student not required to accept award, but must notify school if they do not want aid

Notifying students of awards2
Notifying Students of Awards

  • What if there aren’t enough funds?

    • Caveat may be included on award notification stating that the award is subject to the availability of funds and may be revised if funds not available or eligibility changes

Repeating the chorus
Repeating the Chorus

Nah-nah-nah-nanananah! HEY JUDE!

  • Today we learned

    • Definition of packaging

    • Funds we typically package

    • Estimated Financial Assistance & its affect

    • Steps to package awards

    • Packaging categories and sequence

    • Packaging models

    • Overawards

    • Hands-on example

    • Notifying students of their awards

Thanks and rock on
Thanks and rock on!


Erika Cox

University of Texas at San Antonio