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Paying For Barnard

berries123berries123 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
edited June 2011 in Barnard College
Does anyone who is middle class or upper middle class have any experience with Barnard's financial aid department? Were you able to afford it or did you have to pay for most of it out of pocket? Did you have to take out a lot of loans? Was Barnard's aid generous?
Post edited by berries123 on

Replies to: Paying For Barnard

  • churchmusicmomchurchmusicmom Registered User Posts: 4,059 Senior Member
    Their aid was fairly generous for our family. They use a combination of THREE assessments (FAFSA, CSS online and their own questions) to determine what THEY think your need is, and they guarantee to meet THAT need through a combination of grants, work study and loans. It was surely a stretch for our family and we don't have as much saved as we'd like for retirement, but worth it.

    We found Barnard to be more affordable than University of Michigan, for example, because of their aid. But Barnard's endowment is not as large as some other liberal arts colleges, so your best idea is to apply to a good mix of schools and then see and compare aid packages in the RD round....
  • berries123berries123 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    thank you!
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,107 Senior Member
    It really depends on your individual situation. They do consider home equity and many other factors can come into play for families with even mildly complicated financial situations (such as income from self-employment, divorced or blended families, etc.).

    Barnard's award to my daughter was more generous than other private schools which admitted her, including Univ. of Chicago (which was the closest comparable institution in terms of financial aid policies) --- but at the same time it was far more costly than it would have been to attend one of our in-state publics. I think in my case home equity was the factor that made the biggest difference.

    Do NOT apply ED in your situation -- the financial aid is too unpredictable. If you really need financial aid but would consider your family to be upper middle class, you should apply to an array of schools, including colleges that offer only need-based aid (like Barnard) and colleges where you have a good chance of receiving merit aid. Keep in mind that the college financial aid system is built around the assumption that students and parents will be willing to borrow to finance a college education -- it seems that is often a big shock to families in the spring when awards come in.

    So it also is very important to take stock at the beginning -- figure out what you can afford and get a sense of whether that figure is realistically related to what you are likely to get with need based aid. The question you asked -- "were you able to afford" college -- is far too general, because one family might feel delighted with a financial aid package that leaves them paying $30K every year, whereas for another family that figure could be totally impossible.
  • berries123berries123 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    thank you for your response!
  • JADDADJADDAD Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    Barnard's financial package was a major consideration for our D. I have a unique situation in that I am a self-employed attorney and last year was my worst ever. (If it weren't for savings, ouch!!). Additionally I have IRS issues. When we received the final financial aid package from Barnard, it was far more generous than any of the other schools. This factor, combined with Barnard's quality made it a no-brainer.
  • WhiterockmomWhiterockmom Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Just so you know there is another side- we received 0 in aid despite being "upper middle class". Be aware that the definition of middle class might be lower than you expect and Barnard takes into account a wider array of assets in its aid consideration that some other schools. But for a large unrestricted scholarship that my daughter received from a corporation, she would not be attending Barnard. It varies a great deal and if you think you might need any aid at all- don't apply ED.
  • churchmusicmomchurchmusicmom Registered User Posts: 4,059 Senior Member
    Great info, JADDAD and Whiterockmom. And congrats to both of you...."large unrestricted scholarship"....cool! :)
  • collegestandardcollegestandard Registered User Posts: 73 Junior Member
    Barnard is known to be pretty generous with financial aid, even for middle class families, so no sweat. But just make sure you are aware of its policies and unpredictability.
    Source: 5 Ugly Tricks Financial Aid Offices Use
  • churchmusicmomchurchmusicmom Registered User Posts: 4,059 Senior Member
    Collegestandard, why have you suddenly come on the Barnard boards and posted a link to the same article multiple times???
  • honied_dreamshonied_dreams Registered User Posts: 459 Member
    I received amazing financial aid my first two years at Barnard, but when the recession hit almost all of my aid was taken away with little explanation and I was forced to take out private loans to pay nearly two full years of tuition. That being said, I think the school has recovered a bit from the financial crisis, and might again be more generous.

    I would just caution you to look at what they offer you and weigh your options and consider how much debt you're willing to take on. In the end I feel like going to Barnard was completely worth the money; I loved it there, and while it was hard at times I am so glad that I didn't let myself be held back by the sticker price because it was the most valuable education I have ever received. I miss it already!
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,107 Senior Member
    Barnard's policies about student loans and work over the years are very clearly spelled out, so there shouldn't be a surprise for students who have done their homework and looked at those policies from the beginning. The only surprise for my d. was finding out her junior year, while studying abroad, that Barnard does not generally provide work-study to seniors, but expects them to earn from a non-subsidized campus job or an off campus job. So it was a rude awakening to my daughter that she could not come back to the phenomenal work-study job with a Columbia department that she had been counting on. It worked out fine in the end -- she ended up with jobs that, from a resume-building perspective, were even better for her -- and I think that's part of the rationale of the financial aid office. They want to push seniors a little to get out into the real world for work, because they probably know that some of the part-time off campus jobs students get their senior year can turn into full time jobs after they graduate.

    We had issues because I am self-employed with a somewhat fluctuating income and there was a noncustodial, self-employed, fluctuating-income, barely cooperative noncustodial parent in the picture -- so I never even knew from one year to the next what figures Barnard would be working with. But the financial aid office came through pretty much along the same track that they had promised. We knew that my d. would be expected to take the maximum in subsidized stafford loans and that amount would increase as the years go by, and also that the amount expected for summer earnings would go up slightly each year. My d's real earning capacity during 4 years of school was actually much higher than what Barnard expected, so that really wasn't a problem.

    I do think that sometimes families who are "upper" middle class have very unrealistic expectations as to financial aid - they simply don't come to the terms with the idea that being on the "upper" end of the financial spectrum means that they won't be eligible for much need-based aid anywhere. In particular, the parents seem to have a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that colleges expect that parents who are on a stable financial footing to take on debt for college, and that "ability to pay" is measured in part the family's realistic ability to fit the costs of servicing loan debt into their family budget. I am very solidly in the "middle"- middle class range, and I think I had realistic expectations because my d. was my 2nd kid in college, so I was pretty clear on the concept to start.
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