What type of financial aid is being offered?
Typically, an offer letter will include a dollar amount and some description of how that money will be distributed. Unfortunately, colleges sometimes obscure the fact that the money will come in the form of various loan products, Lockwood says.
"If the offer is described as anything other than a scholarship or a grant, it's not free, and that money will need to be repaid," Lockwood says.
But those buzzwords -- whether or not they appear in your letter -- shouldn't end your inquiry. In fact, Lockwood says most students and parents should take the time to ask questions about the offer letter and clarify anything they don't understand.
If possible, Lockwood advises following up with a phone call or in person. But some financial aid offices may not be responsive. Getting answers may be frustrating, but students and parents shouldn't accept an offer they don't understand.