How to Read Your Financial Aid Award

The hard part’s over—you’ve been admitted to PSU! We bet another big question is now on your mind. How are you going to pay for college?

Once you get your financial aid award in the mail and start reading what funds you’ve been offered, it can be hard to understand what it all means. Especially when you want to know, in hard numbers, how much going to PSU will cost. We’re here to help and to break it down for you.


Your financial aid award is based off the information you provided in your financial aid application, your academic accomplishments and your residency status.

Your student account at banweb.pdx.edu is your go-to place to see information about your financial aid award and submit documents. If you haven’t already, use your PSU ID (your ID is at the top of financial aid award sheet) to set up your student account by going to oam.pdx.edu. This will give you access to banweb and to your student email account.

Important Deadlines

May 1 is the deadline to accept your financial aid award in the “Financial Aid” tab in Banweb.

August 1 is the deadline to submit any outstanding documents. You won’t know for sure how much money you’ll get until you submit all required documents. Submitting them after the deadline may delay your financial aid or result in the loss of an award. Log into your student account at Banweb and look at “Outstanding Documents” in your “Financial Aid” tab to see what you still need to submit.

Read more detailed information about your financial aid award.


Now, let’s look at your 2019-20 Financial Aid Award sheet. You’ll see something like this:

Financial Aid Award

The amounts will vary depending on your residency and what scholarships, grants, federal work study and loans you qualify for. Keep in mind these numbers are estimates, but it gives you a good idea about what you should expect to pay. Let’s break things down even further.

Cost of Tuition and Books

Your annual tuition rate is based on full time enrollment, where you take 15 credits per term for 3 terms a year (students are eligible for financial aid for full time enrollment if they are taking at least 12 credits per term). Each undergraduate credit translates to 1 hour in class per week, and classes vary between 1-4 credits each. Also, keep in mind that some majors have higher rates per credit for tuition, like engineering and art majors.

Tuition rates differ depending on whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. You may even qualify for the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), a program that offers qualifying, out-of-state students 150% of in-state tuition. Learn more in our dedicated blog.

The cost of books and supplies is also an estimate. It takes into account textbooks, lab materials, software, pens, notebooks, etc. You can save money in many ways, like renting your books at the PSU bookstore.

Grants and Scholarships

This section covers your grants and scholarships—free money to help you pay for college. Grants usually come from the federal government and help low-income students pay for tuition. Scholarships can come from the government too, but they also come from corporations and the university. They are usually merit-based, meaning students can get money for almost any skill or interest they have.

Remember, if you receive non-PSU scholarships, you must report them to Financial Aid at scholarships@pdx.edu to make sure they’re calculated and available for you to use.

Other Expenses

College costs can’t be summed up in just tuition, however, so we give you an estimate for your other living expenses. The housing estimates are annual and based on on-campus housing rates. If you’re living at home, for example, your housing cost will be much different. Since these costs vary so widely, make sure to calculate your actual housing, transportation and other living costs. The total estimated cost of attendance in this section doesn’t factor in grants, scholarships, loans, work study or other ways you could pay for college.

Ways to Pay

If you need more help paying for college, there are other options for you to consider. You could qualify for Federal Work Study, a type federal student aid offered to qualified students based on financial need and availability of funds. But if you’re not offered Federal Work Study, you can apply for on-campus jobs—working at PSU is great because we work with your class schedule and prioritize your learning.

Loans, unlike scholarships and grants, must be paid back after you’re out of school. Loans are a shortfall between the funds you HAVE and the funds you NEED. Before you take out a student loan, connect with the Financial Wellness Center coaches for guidance.


Figuring out how you’ll pay for college can be daunting, but there are many ways it can be affordable. If you’re still confused, check out the Financial Aid website—they have more examples of financial aid awards and how to read them. Don’t hesitate to contact Financial Aid if you have questions.

If you want to learn more about all these financial aid options, check out our blog all about understanding financial aid.