Im seriously thinking about applying early to swarthmore, but my mom was a little worried about aid. Were middle/upper-middle class but my parents are divorced. The EFC calculator from collegeboard gave my EFC at about $15,000, which we could probably handle. So for the other 25,000, will the aid be good? or is it mostly loans? Im worried that if i apply EC, they might give less aid
It is my understanding that applying ED when financial aid is crucial can be risky. There should not be any difference in the amount of aid you'd get ED or RD, but applying ED you will not have the option of comparing packages from different schools, since you'd have to withdraw all other apps if accepted ED. Swarthmore is considered generous with fin aid, but it might still be wiser to keep your options open.
If you can live with your estimated EFC, then it probably wouldn't be the end of the world to apply Early Decision. Swarthmore is at the generous end of the need-based aid scale. If they accept you, they will almost certainly make it possible for you to attend for four years.
However, you will have to make a family decision about using a merit aid strategy, i.e. applying to somewhat less selective colleges that give merit aid discounts to attract top students. Obviously, playing the merit aid game would preclude applying ED because you would want to be able to competitively compare merit aid packages.
Andrassy, in my personal experience Swarthmore has been very generous.
Swarthmore tries to make it such that if you choose the school, you will NOT be at a financial disadvantage. My advice would be to apply to schools where you are likely to get a good aid package so that even if all of your other options don't work out, you can still fall back on that.
I know practically nothing about ED policies in general, but I am under the impression that if you are accepted to Swarthmore ED, for example, you aren't obligated to go there if the financial aid is considerably worse than what you can get at other schools. Hopefully someone else can elaborate on this if it is an option, or correct me if it isn't.
I've heard the same thing about Swarthmore from friends of my son who are on aid. Swat is very generous if you are needy and will fill 100% of needed aid. My son personally does not get any aid but many of his friends do and are willing to talk about it with him..
"I am under the impression that if you are accepted to Swarthmore ED, for example, you aren't obligated to go there if the financial aid is considerably worse than what you can get at other schools"
The problem is that if you apply ED you will not know what you can get from other schools, since you'll have to withdraw other apps. Although Swarthmore is considered very generous with fin aid, not everyone gets what they think they "deserve". This is especially risky with divorced parents situation - I am not sure that you calculated your EFC the same way the colleges will...
nngmm has a point there and I wouldn't refute it. I think she's right and Interesteddad is right: it is hard to judge someone's financial aid situation especially someone who is posting on the internet.
I am not sure that FSFSA takes into account the non-custodial parent's income, but I am pretty sure that most private colleges do. I am by no means an expert on fin aid. I am just saying that, especially in a situation with divorced parents, you and the schools you are applying to might see your EFC very differently. And if getting enough fin aid is imperative, you better keep your options open.
Swarthmore, like many other private colleges, uses both the FAFSA and Profile (College Board) to come up with their own assessment of your family's Expected Family Contribution. Here's what they say about the parents' expected contribution:
Expected parents' contribution:
In determining this figure, consideration is given to your parents' financial strength as well as demands on their income and asset resources. Standard demands on family resources such as costs for maintaining a family your size (housing, food, medical, transportation, utilities, clothes, and the like) in your area of the country, and taxes are considered. Parents' needs for retirement protection and siblings' K-12 and undergraduate educational expenses also influence our review. (We cannot consider graduate school expenses.) Special considerations are given when families face medical expenses, elder care, child care, job loss, etc.
You could contact the Financial Aid office, outline the circumstances, and seek guidance in anticipation of an ED application. They might be able to discuss your estimated FAFSA and let you know if they would treat things the same way, at least in a general sense.
I was a single parent when my daughter went to Swat. She graduated in 2004. While Swarthmore is very fair about financial aid, they will ask for the Non-Custodial Parent form associated with the Profile. They also have a very detailed internal form to supplement FAFSA and Profile.
In cases of divorce it is difficult to get an accurate idea of aid from the financial aid available calculators online, so I would suggest that the Financial Aid Office would be the best source of information for you. Will you be able to count on your father for aid?