Written by University of Utah student and StepUp Federal Work-Study Employee Marcella Sweet – Posted on February 27, 2019


After you get accepted into your college and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will receive a financial aid award letter explaining your college costs and the financial aid available to you, which could include:

  • Grants and scholarships (free money)
  • Work-study (money you earn through a job)
  • Federal student loans (money you must repay with interest)

When I was accepted to a private, out-of-state college, I didn’t take the time or ask for help to understand the financial aid package my college was offering me. I didn’t realize that some of the money in my financial aid package came from a federal student loan, so I accepted the loan without truly understanding it. I also received a small scholarship and thought I would eventually just figure out how to afford my other costs. I started school not really understand how the money was coming together. I hope my story provides an example of how we can stand in our own way and make life harder by clinging to misguided opinions or not asking for help.

Before you start college, make sure you understand your costs and financial aid.

StepUp is here to help! Check out this blog to learn how to navigate your financial aid award letter, or learn about college costs and financial aid by checking out our YouTube channel. You can also contact your college’s or university’s financial aid office to discuss any questions you have.


Marcella is a Federal Work-Study student with UHEAA and StepUp Utah. She is currently completing her final year of undergraduate coursework at the University of Utah.