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Your Financial Aid Award

If you are eligible for financial aid through Abilene Christian University, you will receive a financial aid award offer. As a new student, you will receive your first award letter by mail and your ACU email account. After that, all subsequent award notification is sent only to your ACU email account. You may also view your awards through your myACU account. The more we know about you, the more we’ll be able to assist you in the financial planning process. Read through the information below and then communicate with us – on the phone (800-460-6228), via email ( or on campus.

Understand Your Award

The award letter will provide a listing of the financial aid available to you to help cover the cost of your education. The aid offered to you is based on the information you provided in the admission process and, if you completed a FAFSA, your Student Aid Index (SAI).

Student Aid Index (SAI) – When you submit your FAFSA, you provide financial information that the U.S. Department of Education uses to determine the students’ eligibility index number. ACU’s Student Financial Service office uses your SAI to determine how much federal student aid you will receive. This number is not a dollar amount of aid eligibility or what your family is expected to provide. Your SAI is compared with the Cost of Attendance to determine the amount and type of aid that is included in your Financial Aid Award Offer.

Cost of Attendance (COA) – This is an estimate of the total cost to attend ACU. This estimate includes both the direct and indirect costs of attending college.

Need – Need is determined by subtracting the SAI from the cost of attending; the remainder is considered your need. Some of the aid you receive may be based on your need. It is the goal of ACU to assist in identifying all the aid for which you qualify to meet as much of your need as possible. Other aid is not based on your need, but is awarded based on merit or provided to assist you in meeting your SAI.

Understand Types of Aid

There are two types of financial aid — gift aid and self-help aid. Gift aid is money that does not have to be repaid, and self-help aid is money that must be repaid or earned from working. These types of aid are awarded based on financial need and merit.

Gift Aid:

Scholarships are typically based on merit or some type of talent. Some scholarships are also based on financial need. These awards are often awarded as a result of the information you provided in the admission application process or the completion of a separate application or audition.

Grants are typically awarded based on financial need. In most cases, they are a result of the information provided in the FAFSA.

Self-help Aid:

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is a government loan that is based on need. The government pays the interest on the loan while you are enrolled in college at least half time. The amount listed on your award letter is the maximum amount you can receive based on your specific need level and your year in college.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a government loan that is not based on need. Any student, regardless of need, can receive an unsubsidized loan. Students are responsible for paying the interest while they are enrolled in school, or it can be deferred with the principle amount. The amount listed on your award letter is the maximum amount you can receive based on your your year in college.

Understand Your Costs

Your award letter also provides you with information about the cost of attending ACU. The estimated direct cost for a new full-time student living on campus is detailed along with an estimated amount owed after subtracting the total aid you have been awarded. It is important to understand the following as you consider your cost of attending ACU:

Direct Costs – These costs refer to tuition, fees, housing and meal plan costs (if you live on campus). These are the actual charges you can expect to see billed to the student account by ACU.

Indirect Costs – These are additional expenses that are determined as necessary to attend a university. They include books and supplies, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. These expenses may vary with each student. If you live at home or off campus, the cost of living expenses is included in your cost of attendance instead of room and board.

Net Cost – The amount listed on your award letter is your estimated costs of the annual block tuition, housing and meals (if you live on-campus) minus all the grants and scholarships that have been awarded. This is the amount that you will need to have a plan to pay. It is also the amount you should use to compare the cost of attending ACU against the cost of attending another university.

Understand your Payment Options

Any grants or scholarships on your award letter are automatically awarded at an accepted status and will appear on your bill; however, you will need to accept, reduce or decline any loans you were offered. Further, you will need to complete additional steps in the loan application process in order for these funds to be available to cover your bill.

ACU offers residential students zero-interest payment plan options to spread your semester balance out over 6, 5 or 4 monthly payments. Additional information about these options and the billing process will be provided during New Student Orientation to assist in preparing for the fall semester.

After you have carefully reviewed your financial aid award offer and the additional information provided on this website, feel free to contact the Admissions and Financial Aid Helpline at 800-460-6228 with any questions or for additional assistance in completing the financial aid process contact one of our Admissions Counselors.