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Some longwinded questions about financial aid

alfredeneumanalfredeneuman Registered User Posts: 184 Junior Member
edited July 2008 in Brown University
Before I start, if anyone would like to redirect this to a different forum, please feel free to do so. The reason I'm posting here is because I"m applying to Brown ED, so I need Brown specific answers (although many financial aid policies are similar, I recognize). I scoured the finaid website, but didn't find answers to these. I also did the collegeboard EFC calculator.

-Say I can expect to get around 20k in aid, if I get say, a 10k scholarship, can I spread that out over four years to cover work study/ student contribution, or are all scholarships won senior year of high school used for freshman year/ aid? I heard that any scholarships you get just cut the price of your aid package, so I"m hoping that they can be maximized in order to subsidize student contributions over four years, otherwise, if Brown is already giving me the money, then it seems worthless to apply for big scholarships.

-From the calculators, it looks like when a sibling is in college, the EFC gets cut in half. My brother is two grades behind me, so will this count for both junior and senior year? On collegeboard, it said "students IN college", but logically, if I"m filling out the fafsa and css before I enter college, it seems like siblings also entering college would count too, because that's two checks parents are writing in the fall instead of one. Is this right?

-How nice is the financial aid office?? I have a strange family financial situation (low income, high assets), if the aid package wasn't enough, are they up for negotiating? or would they automatically shut me down? For anyone who's needed aid: have you had a good experience? do you feel like they give you enough?

If anyone has any links too that would be helpful please post them!

Thank you!
Post edited by alfredeneuman on

Replies to: Some longwinded questions about financial aid

  • franglishfranglish Registered User Posts: 2,308 Senior Member
    My D will be entering her second year at Brown and we have received financial aid, so I know a bit about what you are asking. Rather than go into a long-winded explanation myself, you can read about the policy regarding outside scholarships as you scroll down this link:
    My D received an outside scholarship and we were asked where we wanted to apply it. We chose to put it toward the student contribution. She also got a University Scholarship and Federal Work Study. Brown did not reduce the amount of the Scholarship. They explain this on the web site above.

    I don't have any other children, so I can't help you with the sibling question.

    Financial Aid people are doing their job. They calculate the packages using a mathematical system and they come up with a set of numbers. It has nothing to do with being nice or not. However, that being said, I am sure that they would listen to extenuating circumstances should they not be sufficiently explained in the applications, FAFSA, and CSS Profile. Whether they would change any decisions that they make, who knows. People always want more than they are given, so the office probably hears stories of woe all the time. For us, I feel that they were exactly on the money (pun intended!) and we are happy with the package.
  • alfredeneumanalfredeneuman Registered User Posts: 184 Junior Member
    Thank you Franglish!
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    Sibling question is when they're in college. My package basically doubled my junior and senior year because my sister is now in school, also two years younger than I am.
  • alfredeneumanalfredeneuman Registered User Posts: 184 Junior Member
    Sweet. So just to clarify, when you were a junior, she was a freshman? So when I fill out FAFSA and CSS for my junior year, and my brother is a rising freshman, that will count?

    Thank you.
  • alfredeneumanalfredeneuman Registered User Posts: 184 Junior Member
    Oh! I forgot a question!

    Worst case scenario, if the aid package really isn't enough, you can break the ED agreement (I talked to some admit officers when I was at Brown and they confirmed it). Does your aid award letter arrive at the same time as acceptance? So say someone (hopefully me), got accepted ED, do they IMMEDIATELY have to withdraw other apps, or do they get to wait until the aid award letter comes before they withdraw? I don't want to risk getting blacklisted, but I'd need to see the letter.
  • fireandrainfireandrain Registered User Posts: 4,737 Senior Member
    About outside scholarships: The answer partly depends on how the scholarships themselves are handled by the granting organizations. My daughter received 4 outside scholarships senior year. One sent the check directly to her and Brown was never informed of this money. I believe this is very unusual. The other 3 were sent directly to Brown by the scholarship organizations, after we provided proof of her attendance. One of the scholarships is renewed each year after the organization receives a copy of her transcript. The other 2 were one-time deals, and I don't think the organization would have wanted to spread the money out over 4 years. If Brown receives a check for $20,000 for a scholarship, I doubt it would want to put this money in escrow for you so it can be spread out over 4 years.

    Is the financial aid office nice? Hmm, I think that depends on how much you like your package. Do some searches here on CC, and you'll see that some people praise Brown's financial aid office and others are very critical of it.

    Finally -- and you're not going to like this -- if financial aid is that important to you, you should NOT apply ED. With a low-income, high-asset situation, it is very likely that you will get a range of packages from the schools you are accepted to. If you feel that even if Brown gave you the least amount of money you would still go there, then I guess sure, apply ED. But if money is that important, you should apply RD. Brown may be willing to negotiate -- but unless you apply RD and can show financial aid packages from competing schools, you don't have much negotiating power.

    If you get in ED, you are expected to withdraw all other applications immediately. If you apply to Brown ED, you cannot apply to any other schools either ED or EA -- you can only apply to schools RD, which you must withdraw once accepted. I'm pretty sure the award letter comes with your acceptance -- perhaps someone else can verify this.
  • billman1020billman1020 Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    I wanted to add to this thread in regards to the financial aid office being nice:

    I am an incoming freshman. My financial aid package from brown this year was relatively poor compared to other schools I was trying to decide between, and it came down to "other ivy" slight second choice and first choice brown, with a significantly much lesser financial aid package. So, needless to say I (and my parents) had several long phone conversations during the month of april. Now, as far as negotiating goes... my negotiation, even with the leverage of one of the most comparable school's excellent financial aid offer, didn't do any good. Brown's financial aid office couldn't do any more for us. So, if your question about them being nice is directed at generosity, I would say not necessarily - their hands are relatively tied by the math, in my limited experience. But, I couldn't say enough about how truly kind they were to speak with on the phone. I know that my dad had at least two 30-60 minute phone conferences with an officer, and I personally had one about 45 minutes long, all during the month of april. They were extremely helpful in other ways, and surprisingly patient even during really busy times. Actually, we even stopped in the day ADOCH ended to speak with one face to face which was pretty easy to do, we only waited like 5 or 10 minutes w/o an appt. So, yeah, there extremely nice, you definitely wouldn't feel awkward or intimidated talking to them about your situation and "negotiating" so to speak.
  • alfredeneumanalfredeneuman Registered User Posts: 184 Junior Member
    I think I meant "nice" in two senses of the word, both of which you addressed. There's the generosity, and then the human relations aspect. Even if they're not super generous, it's reassuring that they're at least nice people! (as opposed to frustrating beaurocrats that won't try to help).
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    Alfred, you are correct regarding siblings.

    FWIW with generosity-- it's been tighter the last couple of years. Because of the introduction of some seemingly great rules (no loans for those under 100k, no contribution under 60k) the system has become increasingly rigid. Whereas in years past I felt confident saying we'd match any peers package at least in value, if not exactly in grant/loan breakdown, my understanding is that is becoming less true for those who are over the 100k family income bracket where there is less wiggle room with how much money Brown determines you can afford.
  • alfredeneumanalfredeneuman Registered User Posts: 184 Junior Member
    Modestmelody- from searching past threads, that's what I realized too. I also love how they say "under 60k, no contribution", but then there's a ton of fine print that doesn't really mean under-60k-no-contribution. whoo.

    Anyway, thanks again for answering my question.
  • fireandrainfireandrain Registered User Posts: 4,737 Senior Member
    Actually, all the schools modify their new financial aid packages by using terms like "typical assets." So any family who falls under their income limits but has a lot of money saved up will not benefit from the new policies. No school seems willing to put a dollar figure on what "typical assets" are.

    And thanks, modestmelody, for confirming what I suspected about Brown matching other packages. As an alumni interviewer I asked TPTB that question via email, and got no answer. I'll try to pin them down when I'm on campus in the fall.
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    I am far and away not an authority, I've simply noticed more people on CC dissatisfied with the results of the "negotiating" process in the last year or so than in the past.

    You guys may be complaining more than before, but I suspect that the expansion of our aid policy may have created less wiggle room in the system. It used to be that for sure, if you were talking about a peer, we'd match, no questions asked.
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