Does applying for financial aid affect the chance of admission?
In some cases, it may. Some schools have "need-blind" admissions policies, while other schools have "need-conscious" policies (also known as "need-sensitive" or "need-aware" policies). Need-blind policies mean that the admissions office will make an offer of admission without knowledge of a family's ability to pay. Applying for financial aid, therefore, does not affect a student's chance of admission. Need-conscious policies take note of a family's ability to pay. In general, these schools still offer aid to very talented students. The admissions office may become more need aware as they are admitting the last few students into the class and financial aid resources have been depleted.
Does applying for financial aid affect the chance of being admitted from the wait list?
Colleges may admit students from the wait list. "Need-blind" schools generally provide students with a financial aid package similar to the one they would have received had they not been wait listed. "Need-concious" schools, however, may not be able to offer financial aid with admission. In some cases, schools may consider need as they are removing students from the wait list and may not offer admission to students who are requesting aid.
Are the financial aid packages from all colleges the same?
No. Each school has a specific method for calculating financial aid.
Does every college offer scholarships?
Some colleges offer scholarships based on a particular talent (musical, athletic, academic). Other schools (those in the Ivy League, for instance) do not offer scholarships. Instead. the schools say that they will meet 100% of demonstrated need. The schools may still give the student assistance, but the money is for financial need, not to reward the demonstration of a particular talent.
Is the financial aid package the same for all four years?
No, it is not. Each year families are asked to update their financial information. The school recalculates the aid package based on the new financial information and the cost of tuition. This should not be cause for concern. Family finances can change from year to year; colleges need flexibility; and financial aid offices expect to have increases in aid consistent with tuition increases. Most of the changes, therefore, are small variances to allow for tuition increases. In general, financial aid packages do not decrease over time.
If the financial aid package is not adequate, can I appeal?
Yes. If families receive financial aid packages that are not acceptable, they may appeal the award. Families should contact the college or university financial aid office immediately to find out about the appeals process.
Can a student who is applying for financial aid also apply "early decision"?
Yes. When the student is admitted she will be given an estimated financial aid package. The student will be able to accept, appeal, or reject the package. It is important that any student who is considering applying for "early decision" as well as financial aid speak with her college counselor. Although the student can accept or reject the financial aid package, she will have to do so in January, and she will not be able to compare the offer with offers from other schools.
If a student applies "early decision" or "early action" will her financial aid package be any smaller?
No. All colleges agree that the calculations for financial assistance should be the same for early decision or action applicants as they are for regular decision applicants.