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How is my university justified in reducing my financial aid by $2,300?

tryandsucceedtryandsucceed Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
I will be starting college this fall as a freshman. Recently, I reported a $2,250 scholarship I got while in high school. As a result, my university reduced my financial aid by $2,300. Aren't they wrong in doing this?

Their website states that federal regulations prohibit the following:
• Receiving more financial aid than your cost of attendance
• Receiving need-based aid that exceeds your calculated financial need

The cost of attendance is $20,390.
My calculated financial need is $14,809.

Currently, less than $6,000 of my financial aid is need-based. The financial aid lady I called said that my university scholarship and Bright Futures counts as need-based aid. Since I earned those scholarship through my grades and test scores, they are obviously MERIT-based aid, not NEED-based.

If they give me the $2,300 back, I'm still receiving much less than $14,809 in need-based aid. So they never should have reduced my financial aid by $2,300 in the first place.

Am I missing something or what? What can I do about this? I need that $2,300 to be able to pay for everything.
Post edited by tryandsucceed on
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Replies to: How is my university justified in reducing my financial aid by $2,300?

  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 31,870 Senior Member
    Many universities will lower their grants if you get outside awards. It doesn't matter if it's need-based or merit-based.

    It doesn't matter what your "need" is. I'm assuming you're using the EFC to determine that number (COA-EFC). The EFC is irrelevant for anything other than Pell and a handful of other things. The school doesn't have to use it for anything other than federal grants (or state if applicable).
  • tryandsucceedtryandsucceed Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    The financial aid lady told me to use the COA - EFC formula to calculate my financial need, which is the number that their office uses to give aid. They said that by reporting the $2,250 scholarship, an overaward alert popped onto my account, meaning that I'm receiving need-based aid that exceeds my financial need. The problem is that they are considering things like Bright Futures need-based aid when it is not. According to federal regulations, I am allowed to get that $2,300.
  • teachandmomteachandmom Registered User Posts: 1,244 Senior Member
    The school was giving you aid. When they saw that you got $2300 from somewhere else, that was $2300 less for them to have to help you out with. That's how it works at the majority of schools. Usually schools will reduce grants, or work study money, or loans.
  • tryandsucceedtryandsucceed Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    I'm $6K shy of the COA. So I kind of need that $2,300.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 62,545 Senior Member
    Your outside scholarship reduced your financial need by that amount. The school has made an adjustment to your aid to reflect that reduced need. It doesn't matter whether your aid is need based or merit based. The school CAN reduce what they award you when you receive aid from outside sources.

    Your EFC is about $6000. That is not typically covered by financial aid...unless all of your aid is merit scholarship.

    It does NOT appear that your school allows stacking of all aid. And apparently your school does not meet full need as well.
  • crazycollegedayscrazycollegedays Registered User Posts: 231 Junior Member
    Let me ask you, in your financial package, did they give you any loans or work study? If they did, that 2,300 may be reducing that. But if they didn't then I'm not sure why they would reduce it.
  • tryandsucceedtryandsucceed Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    Even by giving me the $2,300 back, I'm not receiving MORE than what my financial need is. I am still receiving considerably LESS than my financial need. I earned that $2,250 scholarship in order to pay for college. Now it's like I never got it because my university took away $2,300 from my aid package, even though I'm nowhere near having my financial need met. Why should they penalize me for being a good student and earning a scholarship? That doesn't seem right.
  • tryandsucceedtryandsucceed Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    They offered unsubsidized loans and work study. The $2,300 they took away is this:

    • $2,000 Freshman Residential Grant
    • $300 reduction in the university need-based grant
  • teachandmomteachandmom Registered User Posts: 1,244 Senior Member
    Let's say your school costs $20,000. This is hypothetical...Let's say you got a merit scholarship of $10,000 and a need- based grant of $5000, leaving your family to pay $5000, or just about their expected contribution. Then you get a $3000 outside scholarship. Scholarships and grants and loans and work study are all seen as "aid". Just about every school would then take $3000 from either the original school scholarship, or the grant, because you got aid from outside, meaning the school doesn't need to help you as much. Your school doesn't guarantee to meet your need, and they didn't. Aid doesn't get applied toward your family's expected contribution - that stays the same - whatever the school calculates that number to be...That's how this all works, and if you read many threads, lots of kids discover that all outside scholarships do at most schools is lessen the amount the school will give from it's own funds. (My D's school does allow stacking, up to a certain point, but that is very unusual)
  • tryandsucceedtryandsucceed Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    *The following adheres to the hypothetical situation presented*

    Federal regulations say that I can get that outside $3,000 because my total financial aid ($18K) is less than the COA ($20K). Federal regulations say that I cannot receive need-based aid ($5K grant) that exceeds my financial need ($15K). So, according to federal regulations, I am allowed to keep that $3K outside scholarship and not have my other aid reduced.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 62,545 Senior Member
    Hmm...I don't believe the colleges are obligated to pay your EFC. That is what your FAMILY is expected to pay. In your post, you said the COA was about $20,000 and your aid was about $14,000. It looks like your EFC is about $6000 and your school is expecting your FAMILY to pay that.
  • kelsmomkelsmom Super Moderator Posts: 14,353 Super Moderator
    Federal regs say that you "can" get the outside aid without a reduction to your current aid ... they do not say that you "will" get it. If the school has a policy of reducing institutional aid when a student has an outside scholarship, they have every right to do that.
  • octoberdanaoctoberdana Registered User Posts: 167 Junior Member
    What is your EFC as listed on your FASFA?
  • tryandsucceedtryandsucceed Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    Well, in the first place, expecting my family to shell out $6K when I'm a legal adult is ridiculous. And expecting them to shell out $6K when they can hardly make ends meet is even more ridiculous. Looks like I'm just screwed, then.
  • kelsmomkelsmom Super Moderator Posts: 14,353 Super Moderator
    By the way, you are calculating incorrectly (Federal regulations say that I can get that outside $3,000 because my total financial aid ($18K) is less than the COA ($20K)).

    Your may only receive need based aid up to the amount of COA-EFC. Based on your posts, your EFC is about 6000. You could receive 20k-6000=14k in need based aid. That includes scholarships, institutional aid, federal work study, subsidized Stafford loans, and Perkins loans. You CANNOT receive more in need based aid ... if you do receive a scholarship that puts you over, something must be adjusted (and the school is allowed to reduce institutional grants if it wants). You can receive up to $20k in a combination of need based and non need based aid ... meaning scholarships+institutional aid+federal work study+subsidized Stafford loans+Perkins loans+unsubsidized loans cannot excee $20k.
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