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Financial Aid Planning Sheet Guide

Get Help Understanding Your Planning Sheet

Upon being admitted to the university and completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), students will receive a financial aid planning ​sheet. A planning sheet includes estimates of educational expenses and an estimate of their financial aid award. Students and families may use the sheet to help plan financially for their first year at CU Denver.
We understand college and financial aid is a new experience for families, and want to help them in understanding the path to fund their education. The following information will explain each section of the planning sheet. If after reviewing the information families still have questions, please contact us, or schedule an appointment with one of our Financial Aid Advisors.

Understanding the Estimated Awards

The estimated award may consist of gift aid, self-help aid, and parent loans. Gift aid may include grants and scholarships. Self-help aid may include student loans and Work-study, which is a specific type of employment for students with need. Parents of dependent students may be able to borrow a credit-based loan to assist meeting college costs.

Cost of Attendance

Cost of Attendance is an estimate of the costs we anticipate the student will have for one year. It includes estimates for direct costs, such as tuition and fees, and on-campus housing, and indirect costs, such as books, personal expenses, transportation expenses, and off-campus housing. Cost of Attendance is not a bill, but simply an estimate of the expenses we feel the student could incur. Some expenses, such as books and personal expenses will vary per individual.

Understanding Different Types of Aid

Gift Aid

Gift Aid includes grants and scholarships awarded to students that generally does not have to be repaid. Grants are usually based on need, while scholarships are often based on merit. Gift aid may include any of the following:
CU Denver Scholarships
CU Denver Scholarships are awarded to students with exceptional merit. Merit is determined by high school or college GPA, ACT or SAT scores, or a combination of both. If the student is offered a CU Denver scholarship, it will show in the gift aid section of the planning sheet. Learn more about scholarships by visiting the scholarships section of the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office webpage.
Federal, State, and CU Denver Grants
Government and Institutional Grants are grants awarded to students based on financial need, and include the Federal Pell Grant, Colorado Student Grant, University Need Grant, and Lynx Grant. Learn more about grants by visiting the grants section of the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office webpage.

Student Loans

Student loans consist of borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. The federal government makes available the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for undergraduate students. Generally, no interest is charged on Subsidized Loans while the student remains enrolled in school at least half-time, during the grace period, and during deferment periods. Students are considered for the loans by completing the FAFSA. Learn more about student loans by visiting the loans section of our webpage.

Options to Cover Unmet Financial Costs

Students and families have a number of ways to financially contribute to a student’s education. Common ways families chose to cover the unmet financial costs range from work-study, parent loans, and University payment plans. Remember, unmet financial costs are the remaining costs after gift aid and student loans are deducted from the Cost of Attendance.
Eligible students may earn money to help pay towards expenses by working on or off campus. Students may search for open positions through the Career Center’s Handshake app, which is an online job board. Students should make sure they review the planning sheet to determine if they were awarded Work-study. We encourage students to use money earned from working to pay towards only indirect costs, as tuition and fees will be due early in the term.
Parent Loans
The Federal Parent PLUS Loan is a federal loan that parents of dependent undergraduate students may be offered. This loan is credit based, and requires a separate application. To be eligible for a Parent PLUS Loan, a parent must not have adverse credit history. Learn more about Parent PLUS Loans by visiting the loans section of our webpage or
University Payment Plans
The university offers payment plans to assist with the remaining cost of the student's tuition, fees, and on-campus housing expenses. Students may select from multiple payment plan options per term. Learn more about university payment plans, including registration deadlines, by visiting the payment plan section of the Bursar’s Office webpage.

Next Steps

To receive a formal financial aid award, students must submit all requested documentation to the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office. Institutional and state funding is limited, so be sure to submit all requested documentation prior to our priority deadline of April 1. Aid is awarded to eligible students beginning in April.
Submit Requested Documents
After the FAFSA is completed, we may request documentation from the student and/or parent(s). Please regularly​ monitor the student's university email and “To Do” list in the UCDAccess portal.
Viewing the “To Do” List
  • Log into the UCD Access portal via
  • Navigate to the “Student Center” and select “Tasks – To Do’s”
  • Notice the FAFSA is in a Received status on the “To Do” list.
If we need something from the student, we’ll add it to the “To Do” list in an Initiated status and notify the student via the student's university email. We’ll update the status to Received when we receive the documents.

If the student has a document with a status of Incomplete, we will either include next steps instructions within the “To Do” list or communicate instructions via the student's university email.
Students can activate their university email and UCDAccess portal accounts by claiming them via

The below methods may be used when submitting documents to the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office. Please include the student ID on all documents.
Secure Document Upload  (Fastest & most secure method)
Postal Address:
CU Denver Financial Aid & Scholarships Office
Campus Box 125, PO Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217
Physical Address:
Student Commons Building, Suite 5105
1201 Larimer St.
Denver, CO 80204

Accept/Decline the Award

Once awarded financial aid, we’ll notify the student by university email. Students are charged tuition per term, and the award is offered for the year. After accepting an award, it is divided equally among the fall and spring terms. The student should plan to accept enough aid to cover his/her expenses for both terms. We will provide instructions by email on how to accept aid once awarded.

If the student accepts a student loan, the student will be required to complete entrance loan counseling, which teaches the student how to be a responsible borrower. The student will also sign a master promissory note, which is their commitment to repay the loan. Learn more about these steps by visiting
Parents of students that accept a parent loan will need to complete a credit check to be considered for the credit based loan. If approved for the loan, the parent will be required to sign a master promissory note. Parents may learn more about parent loans by visiting

Special Circumstances

If the student does not feel the FAFSA results and award reflect his/her family’s current circumstances, please schedule an appointment with a Financial Aid Advisor.

Planning Sheet and Formal Award Offer

When the student receives the formal award offer, it may be different than the award amounts on the planning sheet. This may be due to any of the following factors:
  • Accuracy of information provided on the FAFSA
  • Delays in submission of all required documents requested by our office
  • Receipt of other aid such as scholarships, a Work-study award, a tuition waiver, or a stipend not listed on the Planning Sheet
  • Availability of state and institutional grant and Work-study funds
  • Adjustments in the Cost of Attendance due to changes in residency status, housing, and enrollment level
    • If the student feels their residency status should be classified differently than it is currently, please contact

Deferring Admission

If the student would like to defer their admission and enrollment to a future start term, or have committed to another college or university, please contact Undergraduate Admissions at (303) 315-2601 or Updating the student's start term or declining admission will allow the university to cease or continue communications related to the student's studies.