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Financial Aid Problem

MathFudgyMathFudgy Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
Hi, I recently got accepted into Cornell through its transfer option and the financial aid package came out today. It will cost me 21k total to attend Cornell next academic year for the Fall and Spring. I received 30k in financial aid for the total cost of attendance of 51k.

Currently, I am finishing my freshman year at Carnegie Mellon University. I only had to pay around 7k this year because CMU's aid package was 60k in aid from their total 68k cost of attendance. My family finances didn't have any major changes so I anticipate CMU's aid to be very similar to 8k next academic year. The whole year I've had the mindset of transferring and thus didn't really get involved in many campus activities, so this financial aid situation is really tough for me.

So in a nutshell I'm paying about 13k extra at cornell if I transfer. I didn't expect such a huge difference, especially since my EFC on fafsa is 0. Problem is, my parent's only asset is their primary residence, so they have a bit of home equity (indicated on collegeboard's CSS profile) but not a lot of liquid assets to pay for my college costs. My family income is below 45k with a house hold of 4, and both my parents have been unemployed for a while because of medical reasons. So the income comes from rental and benefit funds for not being able to work

Can anyone help explain why there's such a significant difference in the amount financial aid between CMU and Cornell?
I also plan to appeal my award letter to Cornell by explaining my situation and matching it with CMU's aid offer(if it comes out in time before mid may hopefully when i have to pay my cornell deposit)

Thank you very much!!!

Replies to: Financial Aid Problem

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 14,065 Senior Member
    Two different schools, two different formulas for granting aid.
  • kelsmomkelsmom Super Moderator Posts: 14,525 Super Moderator
    In addition, some schools have different award policies for transfer students - they may not meet need for them, even if they do for first-time-in-college students.
  • aunt beaaunt bea Registered User Posts: 8,276 Senior Member
    Agree, each school has different budgets.
    You can choose to appeal, but matching aid will probably not happen.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,473 Senior Member
    You need to contact Cornell financial aid ASAP. It is very possible that the equity in rental properties is your issue.

    Have you withdrawn from CMU? Did you submit financial aid renewal forms to CMU?
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,541 Senior Member
    Don't withdraw from CMU!! You don't have the means to cover the remaining costs for Cornell. You can only borrow 7500, and likely 7500 was already in your aid pkg.

    Why are you transferring?

    What is your major and career goal?
  • NerdMom88NerdMom88 Registered User Posts: 773 Member
    OP is finishing his freshman year, so he will only be able to borrow $6,500. OP, please don't withdraw from CMU until you talk with Cornell's financial aid -- it sounds like you're switching freshman-level aid for transfer aid, which is usually a lot less.
  • OspreyCV22OspreyCV22 Registered User Posts: 1,625 Senior Member
    edited April 26
    CMU is a great degree. Don't over extend your family.
  • MathFudgyMathFudgy Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    @kelsmom - I've asked Cornell directly and they said the financial aid for transfer students is given as if transfer had applied as first years. I was given a transfer option, so basically i'm a guaranteed transfer.

    @aunt bea I see. Cornell most likely took other things more heavily into account like my parent's retirement benefit and home equity, which CMU probably doesn't emphasize as much. I do plan to appeal, and matching the aid completely with a 14k difference is unlikely, but I want know how much more Cornell can give me. Even giving me 5k more would be enough to persuade me to go, but from what I've heard appeals from all schools usually go up to 1 or 2k.

    @thumper1 As for rental income concerns, my primary residence has two floors. I live on the first, and the second floor is where the tenants live. So my family's rental income only comes from one floor (15k a year). My gross adjusted income(6k) only stems from my rental income and property tax expenses.
    I have not withdrawn from CMU. I am a full time enrolled 4 year student. I have the option of accepting an admission offer from cornell for the next 3 years of my undergraduate of college. I have submitted my Fin. Aid. to CMU but because CMU assumes I'm a returning student, I don't think CMU's fin award letter will come out in time before my cornell deposit deadline. But i anticipate CMU's aid to be relatively same to what i received this year, so i anticipate be paying almost the same, 7k, next year again. I have emailed CMU's fin aid office.

    @mom2collegekids CMU cost 7k and cornell will cost 21k a year. So in essence that's a 14k/year difference for the next 3 years. Basically i will be paying 40k extra for my bachelors if I decide to transfer to Cornell. My parents are willing to fund me, but I plan on paying them back. 40k will most likely deplete my savings from my first year on the job after I graduate.

    1)Oh i'm sorry if i didn't make this clear before. I was waitlisted at cornell my senior year of high school, and then was offered a transfer option which is basically a guaranteed transfer to Cornell if i maintained 3.5 GPA at CMU, which i did, so i was offered admissions last week.

    So this caused me to constantly have the idea of transferring to cornell in the back of my mind for my entire freshman year here at CMU. I was heavily leaning toward on transferring. This made me a bit depressed honestly because I didn't get involved in many activities on campus and wasn't as proactive/extroverted in making friends since I was thinking if I left in a year, it wouldn't make sense to get attached. Additionally, when making a schedule, I leaned my course load toward fulfilling Cornell's required course work for transfers, so if I stay at CMU some of the classes i've taken this year (physics etc) won't be as effective in satisfying grad reqs If i stay at CMU. Many of the GT transfer applicants faced a similar situation. This difference in financial aid is really distressing me because it's affecting my decision of transferring and potentially staying, and if I stay i feel like I would have wasted an entire year here.

    2)I'm a business major in CMU's Tepper school, nontarget for IB. I was accepted as to Cornell's equivalent business school (dyson) as an Applied Econ and Management major, a target for IB. Initially, I was thinking about Investment Banking as a career, but after reading more into about the long unbearable hours and the similar work style that can follow even after leaving IB, i decided it wasn't worth compromising health and a normal life for a job. So now at Tepper in CMU, i'm interested in concentrations in operations management, finance(sales&trading), and something to do with math/statistics.

    In cornell's AEM major, I would pursue a strategy/finance concentration with a double major in Biometery which is applied math and statistics. I really enjoy mathematics and in a sense I regret applying to business school, which is why i'm trying to double major at Cornell or do something math related at CMU. I don't have my career fully planned out yet, but it would be math/stat/operations related. Both schools do have my interest I guess.

    In brief, CMU/Cornell have similar starting salaries of 70k, but Cornell does have the ivy name and better recruiting for a broader range of interests. I would be paying 40k extra for my entire education if I transfer to Cornell. I have until mid may to decide whether a Cornell degree would be worth the extra 40k over CMU degree.

    This situation is making me break down and panic, as I have until mid may to decide.
    Thank you all so much for bearing with me and asking your insightful questions.
  • MathFudgyMathFudgy Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    @mom2collegekids can you copy and paste what I posted? because for some reason my own response isn't showing up.

    I will plan to live with my parents after college to save on expenses and hopefully earn enough to pay them back 40k in a few years if not one. I see your breakdown of 3,400 a month, and it makes sense.

  • MathFudgyMathFudgy Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    To clairfy my situation, Cornell waitlisted me during my h.s. senior year, then offered me a transfer option for Fall2017 after staying at another university for a year. My major is business(operations) at CMU and will be applied econ & management at Cornell.

    @aunt bea and @NerdMom88 I plan to appeal by showing Cornell the lower price CMU will cost me. From what I've been told, Transfers in Cornell get the equivalent aid had they applied as freshmens. Are you guys familiar with appealing aid or have any tips?

    My rental income comes from the tenants living in only other floor above me in my primary residence. My parents don't have secondary properties. I haven't withdrawn from CMU and still can stay for the next 3 years. I did submit my fin. aid. docs to CMU as well but their package will come out later in summer probably.

    I appreciate the responses of telling me to stay because of such a cost difference, but thing is I've had this guaranteed transfer has really affected me this freshman year. I thought I was leaving in a year so I wasn't actively involved in activities on campus and didn't make as many friends as I would have liked to If i planned to stay. I also scheduled my classes to satisfy Cornell Transfer requirements so staying at CMU would making fulfilling my bachelors degree less efficient.

    Right now I'm weighing whether going to Cornell is worth the 40k extra in the long run.

    Thanks everyone for helping
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,473 Senior Member
    I feel your parent income is as low as you say...HOW would they be able to help younpay the difference for Cornell? If that IS the case, there is something missing in your family finances description here.

    If your parent income is $45,000, I can't see HOW there would be an extra $14,000 in that income to help, you pay for college. After taxes,and FICA, and the like...your family income would be far less than $45,000 a year...and they have living expenses as well.

    In addition, you say $40,000 would deplete your savings the first year YOU work after college. Of course we all hope younget a great job after college...but to have an extra $40,000 a year, you would need a VERY high paying job...and there is no guarantee you will get that high paying job.

    With regard to your parent retirement....ALL colleges use the contributions to retirement accounts made in the year the forms are using for application. So for 2017-2018, Cornell would have used 2016 income, and your parent retirement contributions that year would have been added back in as income.

    But CMU would have done the same.

    The FAFSA and Profile forms for 2016-2017, and 2017-2018 BOTH used 2015 tax return information. BUT assets would have been reported as of the day OF the filing.

    Do your parents have a HUGE amount of money in their retirement accounts? With $45,000 a year in income...if they had a HUGE amount in retirement, Cornell might have questioned that...did they?

    You need to look at your FAFSA and Profile forms you submitted this year...and compare them line by line to the 2016-2017 submitted forms. Really...the ONLY difference should be your asset amount.

    However, it is VERY possible that Cornell is not allowing as many deductions for that rental property as CMU did.

    my opinion...stay at CMU, and save the money so you don't have to live in your parents house for years to repay loans.

  • mommdcmommdc Registered User Posts: 8,913 Senior Member
    CMU is an excellent school and it is rare that someone can attend there for $7-8k a year!!!!

    Pittsburgh is a great city with museums, great restaurants and such. You can get involved in campus now!

    If you got accepted to Cornell last year, it would still have been unaffordable. You have several siblings too. And your family can't afford to pay or take on loans to pay for Cornell.

    Time to let go of Cornell and embrace CMU. You will do great, and you will be able to get a job wherever you want, and still be able to help your parents some.
  • twogirlstwogirls Registered User Posts: 5,856 Senior Member
    Late here.... My advice is to stay at CMU. There is no advantage to transferring to Cornell.
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 20,824 Super Moderator
    You still have time to turn things around and make connections at CMU. It is a great school and right now it is the affordable option for your family. Unfortunately I would not bank on Cornell providing you the additional monies that you need

    Appealing your financial aid decision at Cornell

    You have the right to appeal your financial aid decision if you feel there are extenuating circumstances. Submit the Appeal Application and necessary documentation along with an explanation of your circumstances.

    Current students wishing to appeal their financial aid award due to changes in circumstances that occur after June 30th will be considered for additional loan funding only. If the appeal is approved, institutional grant funding will not be provided.

    If you receive a more favorable need-based aid offer from another Ivy League institution, Stanford, Duke, and/or MIT, we welcome the opportunity to match their offer of financial aid. Please send us the Appeal Application along with a copy of the aid letter from the other institution.

    Appeals will be reviewed only after all requested supporting materials are received. Complete appeals are reviewed within 7-10 business days.


    As hard as it will be, I agree with others that it is time to let Cornell go. Take advantage of everything CMU has to offer. Go forward and register for classes that will allow you to complete your degree in 4 years at CMU.
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