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0 EFC-What Should I Expect in Fin Aid from Barnard?

chancerychislettchancerychislett Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
edited July 2010 in Barnard College
Barnard is my DREAM school, but with an EFC of $0 and a single mom who makes 13K a year, I'm wary about being financially bound to them. I mean, $2000 a year wouldn't be bad because I know they expect student contribution/work study, but I've read horror stories on this site about their financial aid.

So my question is, what is there financial aid policy REALLY like? I've emailed them but have yet to hear back.

Would I be better off EDing to Columbia and just taking classes at Barnard?

Here are some stats if they'll help:
2050 SAT
4.3 GPA
Good ECs and Awards

Thanks for any helpful advice!
Post edited by chancerychislett on

Replies to: 0 EFC-What Should I Expect in Fin Aid from Barnard?

  • churchmusicmomchurchmusicmom Registered User Posts: 4,059 Senior Member
    Have you read Barnard's financial aid policy on their site? What specific questions do you have that cannot be answered by reading that? I imagine the Financial Aid office at Barnard would not be able to tell you what you could "expect" from them in aid before you are actually admitted and fill out all of the necessary info. so they can arrive at their calculations.

    They are "need blind" in admissions, and do pledge to meet your financial need, but that is according to several different calculations of that figure which they combine to come up with theirs. To be more specific, they combine the FAFSA, the CSS profile and their own list of questions and then get back to you with what they would offer. The offer will include grants as well as loans and work-study. So, yes, it won't be a "free ride", but there have been many on this board who have said Barnard's financial aid was, in fact, pretty generous. Our family, for example, was pleased.

    I am not sure what you would gain by applying ED to Columbia. ED to ANYWHERE is risky if finances are an issue (which they obviously are, in your case). You should apply RD to an appropriate array of schools, including academic as well as financial "safety" schools and then make your decision once you can compare financial offers. Your stats look pretty good, so you should have some good choices.
  • KeilexandraKeilexandra Registered User Posts: 5,492 Senior Member
    Since you have a 0 EFC on FAFSA, you should qualify for some pretty serious need-based aid. Try out this estimator:
    It is for Amherst College, but it should give you a good ballpark idea of institutional methodology. Keep in mind that Barnard will probably be less generous than the Amherst estimate because Amherst has a no-loans policy (as does Columbia) while Barnard does not.

    If the IM estimate comes out to be 0 as well, then you have nothing to lose by applying to an appropriate ED school. It can be hugely beneficial, in fact, but only if you understand the facts going in. Barnard will definitely award you loans, so if your EFC is zero at, e.g. Barnard and Columbia, then Columbia will most likely be cheaper because the loans are replaced by grants.

    HOWEVER. Remember that ED is a binding decision. In exchange for the admissions "boost" from guaranteed yield and demonstrated interest, you are committing yourself to attend unless the FA package is unaffordable. Affordability is defined by your family, not the school. The caveat: if Columbia is unaffordable, then Barnard is 99% also going to be unaffordable. And since the decision is early binding, you'll never know what kind of aid or admissions decision you might have gotten from any other school.

    Consider what draws you to Barnard. It is a women's college, and a liberal arts college; those two attributes are quite distinct from Columbia. In terms of pure academics, the two schools only differ in graduation (core/distribution) requirements, because cross-registration is extremely open. Is Columbia actually your second choice? If so, would you pick it over #1 Barnard in order to save $3000 a year? These are the kinds of complex hypotheticals you should go through before committing to ED.

    Rereading your post, I see one major red flag: "single mom." How much money does your biological father make? He WILL be counted as a family resource for the purposes of PROFILE financial aid unless you can manage to get a waiver. This is one major difference between PROFILE and FAFSA.
  • chancerychislettchancerychislett Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    Thanks! This was actually very helpful. As for my dad, I really don't know what he makes and we rarely get child support so...
    But yeah, I'm thinking Columbia ED might give me the best shot at the atmosphere I really want right now. I do like the women's college thing, but it's more the women's college-in NYC-with great internship opportunities-the Spectator-good alumni-thought provoking profs, etc.
    Barnard is actually the only LAC/ Women's college on my list because it's the only city LAC I can find that I like.
    Hopefully Barnard will want me regular decision, and if not, hopefully I get into Columbia ED.
    There's always UMCP I guess...
  • chancerychislettchancerychislett Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    got about 1000 from that calculator, not including the loan replacement with grants...maybe I should look into Amherst!
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,031 Senior Member
    As for my dad, I really don't know what he makes and we rarely get child support so...
    Both Columbia and Barnard are going to want your dad's income information, and both are likely to deny you any aid whatsoever if your cannot get your dad to cooperate in submitting information. "Rarely get" child support is not the same as no contact. If your dad is reasonably comfortable with a good middle class income or better, and some assets such as owning his own home, you may find both schools totally unaffordable. Even if your dad has a very modest income.. you will need his cooperation on filling out forms now and for the next 4 years of college.

    I don't think you should be applying ED anywhere, at least not without first talking to your dad and getting a sense as to where he stands in all of this.

    Keep in mind that the financial aid package you get with ED is not permanent -- it is provisional only. If your dad made $20K in 2009 and you got into Columbia ED and got a great aid package, and then your dad made $70K in 2010 -- you'd be in for a surprise in the spring after all the information was filed, but by that time it would be too late to look for any other alternatives.

    Rather than ED, I would suggest that you look at Questbridge. Under that program you submit your application early, but it is submitted RD -- however, it is converted to ED if you are selected as Questbridge scholar -- that in turn would give you the level of financial support you are looking for.

    But given the existence of your father in the picture, I think you would be absolutely nuts to apply ED anywhere. Instead, you should be applying to RD to some in-state programs that look at FAFSA only, as well as looking for some possibilities for full ride merit awards. If you have a merit award, you will only only have to worry about your own performance to keep that award; with need-based financial aid, if your dad is uncooperative or undependable, then you are looking at 4 years of uncertainty as you struggle to get the paperwork together each and every year.
  • KeilexandraKeilexandra Registered User Posts: 5,492 Senior Member
    ^What did you put in as an estimate for your father's income? His income and assets are added to your mother's to determine actual family resources. Unless you can prove that you haven't had ANY contact with him for many years, it is quite difficult to get a waiver of the NCP (Non-Custodial Parent) info.

    And, if you are unable to pin your father down--it sometimes does work out, even with reluctant NCPs, cf. Yurtle who applied ED to Connecticut College and will be attending--I second all of calmom's advice. Especially Questbridge, although that program is hyper-competitive.
  • chancerychislettchancerychislett Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    Look, I was just stating what I know. I'm not looking for an exact estimate here, just what students in similar situations have gotten. It's definitely 20K or less a year. Thank you for all the advice and concern, but the father thing is not my primary concern. I talk to him quite frequently and will easily be able to get his tax info when the time comes.

    I was just trying to figure out if I can reasonably apply ED to Barnard because I want them to know how dedicated I am to there school. I guess I'll just have to show them some other way. I think I will be discussing this further with my counselors at Princeton SJP. While maybe early decision is not feasible for me, I'll sell my eggs before I don't go to my number one school over something as meaningless as "money".

    Thank you for all the helpful advice. I appreciate it.
  • susgeeksusgeek Registered User Posts: 1,603 Senior Member
    Your question was with a 0 EFC, what aid can you expect from Barnard. There is no way to guess since your EFC was determined solely based on your mother's income. It depends on your father's income, since Barnard is one of the schools that will require it - whether you receive child support or not.

    You might not get any aid. Barnard's calculation of what they expect your family to contribute will be based on both of your parent's income, NOT your Federal EFC.
  • chancerychislettchancerychislett Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    Even with my father's, its 0
  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator Posts: 30,028 Super Moderator
    "ED to ANYWHERE is risky if finances are an issue (which they obviously are, in your case)."

    The risk is that you might have received better financial aid from another school. Only those with one dream school above all others should apply ED needing financial aid, when the only question is: Can I afford it? If you cannot (i.e., their FA offer is not enough--it's your decision), you just tell them thanks but no thanks (perhaps after an appeal, sometimes successful), and apply RD to other schools.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,031 Senior Member
    Vossron, the risk in the case of the child of divorced or separated parents is that she may be given a tentative award in the fall that will be materially changed or withdrawn in the spring when updated information is submitted by the noncustodial parent, and/or when the noncustodial parent fails to provide needed information.

    I have seen several instances on CC over the years where students have accepted an ED offer based on a tentative financial aid award, only to see a material change in aid in the spring. By then it is too late to make any changes. This were not involving Barnard -- but the policy is the same at any college. Of course the same thing would happen if there was a change in economic circumstances from one year to the next with the custodial parent, but a student is more likely to be aware of changes in the household she lives in. (If the mom gets a new job and suddenly is earning twice as much -- it's hard not to notice; whereas a noncustodial parent might deliberately try to conceal or downplay an improvement in income, out of concern that his ex will go to court seeking an increase in alimony or child support.)

    I have been dealing with this issue for many years, with different schools, and through 6 different financial aid cycles. It is NOT easy and there are many unexpected bumps along the way. Some colleges ask for more information from the NCP than others -- and sometimes questions are raised about whatever the NCP reports -- but it is the uniform policy of all college to refuse to disclose to the custodial parent -- or to the student -- the details of the financial submissions from the NCP. So often there will be a huge disparity between FAFSA EFC and the financial aid award -- and no one at the financial aid office is willing to tell the student where the numbers are coming from.

    Chancery seems to believe that her father earns so little, that the EFC will be 0 even with both parents considered. Perhaps she is right. If the father's only income is from wages or benefits such as disability or unemployment, that may be the case. If the father has income from self-employment ... that would open a whole new can of worms.
  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator Posts: 30,028 Super Moderator
    calmom, I agree with your concerns, but I don't see this as an ED vs. RD issue. The same things can go wrong with RD FA; the timing is just later. Plus, a school that accepts a FA student at ED time really wants the student, such that FA adjustments can be made for bona fide reasons. Anecdotally only, our D's school's FA officer told me that they have never had a case where this kind of late change in finances caused an ED FA student to be unable to attend. Caveat for meet-full-need schools only.

    "the policy is the same at any college"

    How can we know this (and the same thing applies to my anecdote)? Plus, we regularly hear here about successful FA appeals.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,031 Senior Member
    . The same things can go wrong with RD FA; the timing is just later.
    RD awards are usually based on current information. If Chancery applies to an ED school in fall of 2010, the ED award will be based on 2009 tax returns and CSS Profile estimates for 2010; the actual financial aid awards will be based on 2010 returns.

    When things "go wrong" with RD FA -- there still is more choice. As I posted above, it wold make sense for Chancery to ALSO apply RD to schools likely to award merit aid.

    When I referred to the "policy" being the same at any college, I meant the policy of basing need-based financial aid on current information. If you can tell me the name of a single college that would honor a tentative ED need-based award in the face of changed circumstances --- I'm sure we would all love to hear it.
  • KeilexandraKeilexandra Registered User Posts: 5,492 Senior Member
    It's definitely 20K or less a year.
    Just to double-check... I'm sorry if I seem intrusive, but I don't want you to be burned by expectations. You are saying in the quoted sentence above that your mother plus your father's incomes together totals less than or equal to 20k per year? That seems very low for two working parents, even at minimum wage--but certainly possible, with the vast array of extenuating circumstances in the world.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,031 Senior Member
    My impression is that she meant that her mom makes $13K a year and that whatever her dad makes, it's under $20K. A combined income from two parents of $33K would probably still put her in -0- EFC range, and I know from experience that if Barnard financial aid sees that a student is eligible for a Pell grant, they do everything possible to maximize Pell eligibility.

    However, I still have the concern that a young person who does not live with a parent may have an unrealistic picture of his income --- and that there is a LOT of incentive for a noncustodial parent to conceal income to avoid increases in child support or alimony. So I would be very hesitant to assume that there is an accurate picture, unless there is a situation such as a parent who living entirely off of disability payments.
This discussion has been closed.