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ED and Aid

nrnr29nrnr29 71 replies5 threads Junior Member
Hello! I wanted to ask -- would it be wise to apply ED to Mount Holyoke if I need a substantial amount of aid? Mount Holyoke is my dream school, I have almost all of my application done and even had a really great interview a week ago. I used the net price calculator (not sure how accurate it will be in the end) and with everything accounted for, it told me I would have to pay only around $4,000. I'm going to fill out the CSS profile for merit aid although I am not international, but my parents are in a pretty bad state financially. Can they also review it again or perhaps increase the financial aid if I were to be accepted and email them if it's not enough? I know some colleges have done that for their incoming students. I wanted to know your thoughts and/or advice, from students/parents/alumnas/anyone who is applying. Thanks much!
11 replies
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Replies to: ED and Aid

  • staceyneilstaceyneil 1193 replies41 threads Senior Member
    Can you afford the $4,000 EFC that the NPC calculated for you? Do you have divorced parents, or parents who own a business or farm? Both of those things can REALLY change the amount you actually get awarded. If your family has a straightforward financial situation and you are VERY confident that you and your parents filled out the NPC totally accurately, then it is likely very close to the reality. In our situation, the actual FA package was within a couple hundred dollars of what the NPC result was.

    The typical advice is not to do binding ED if you need financial aid. Simply because you cannot compare offers from various schools. You can be released from a binding ED acceptance if you cannot afford the cost, but that removes you entirely from that school... you cannot then apply RD and try again. (That is my understanding, at least.)

    You should know that merit aid won't help in your situation. Mount Holyoke meets 100% of need based on their calculations from the CSS Profile information. I'll bet if you look at the NPC results you see that the cost of attendance is being met by
    1) The $4,000 out of pocket EFC you mentioned
    2) work study you will be expected to do
    3) Federal subsidized loans you are expected to take out
    4) a MHC grant that covers the rest

    Were you to be awarded any merit aid (or outside scholarships, for that matter) they are typically applied to the cost of attendance BEFORE the MHC grant. So that money would simply reduce the need-based grant. Merit aid would NOT help reduce your $4,000 EFC. I know it sucks, believe me. but that $4,000 is what you have to come up with, somehow. Summer job, etc.

    It is unlikely that they would increase the aid they offer you, unless your family has a documented change in financial status. I suppose anything is possible, but I DEFINITELY would not count on it.

    If the situation is as I described (straightforward finances, and you're sure you were totally accurate, and you CAN afford the $4,000) AND you're 100% sure MHC is the right school for you, then it seems like it might be a good idea. If you're really worried about it, you can call the FA office at MHC. They are really nice. Perhaps you can get their take on it.

    If you can't afford the $4,000.... or if you have any question about the accuracy of the information you put in the NPC, then it might be a better plan to apply RD so you can compare their offer to other schools.

    Good luck!
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  • nrnr29nrnr29 71 replies5 threads Junior Member
    My parents are together but have no business or farms! We would have to pay the EFC before I attend, correct? Would it be worth it to do the CSS profile at all, then?
    I'm applying ED despite not having any financial aid packages to compare because I don't want to attend any school as much as I want to attend MHC, not even close. I'm really set on it! I'm just so nervous because of our financial situation. Our income tax this year will be diferent from last year's though as my father lost his job at the beginning of this year and got a firm job until last week, so perhaps they will review it again if I ask once I fill out the FAFSA?

    I am admittedly impatient and really want to apply ED! Id be willing to pay up to 10k per year's worth but until I graduate.

    I hope I make sense, I'm a bit fuzzy with financial aid. Thanks so much for all of your help!
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  • staceyneilstaceyneil 1193 replies41 threads Senior Member
    You HAVE to do the CSS Profile if you are applying for aid at MHC. That is where they get all the information to determine your aid. It sounds like you think it's only for merit aid, but it's not. Most of the private LACs require the CSS Profile because it asks for more detailed information than what the FAFSA provides (you also have to fill out the FAFSA.)

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  • nrnr29nrnr29 71 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Aah ok good! Because I planned to fill it out but I saw someone say once that it was for merit aid, which really threw me off. I'm aware that I also have to do the FAFSA, which will contain different information in regards to our earnings. Thanks once again!
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  • staceyneilstaceyneil 1193 replies41 threads Senior Member
    I want to make sure you understand fully what you are getting into.... I hope you will take the time to read though this and understand it because its SO important. I know its really confusing and believe me it made my eyes glaze over last year when I was trying to figure it out for my own daughter. But its SO IMPORTANT.....

    When you said that the NPC said you would have to pay only $4,000, I assume you mean that is the "family contribution" amount left after grants, work study, and federal loans, right? It will be spelled out on the award page of the NPC results. My guess is that it gives you about $45,000 in Mount Holyoke grants (free money), and $3,500 Stafford Loan, and perhaps $1,500 Perkins loan, and $2,100 work study. Is that about right?

    So.... the federal subsidized loans they "package" there are the maximum amount that you, as a student, can take out. They are subsidized, which means that the federal government subsidizes them until you graduate, that is they do not accrue interest and you don't have to make any payments until after you graduate. The amount increases by $1,000 each year, but the total amount of debt you are left with at graduation is usually manageable with a liberal arts degree :)

    Then there is work study. You are required to apply for and get set up with a job through the student employment office. It doesn't happen automatically. All first-years must work at least one cafeteria shift. My D did not get enough hours this semester because she didn't sign up early enough. The money is paid directly to you to do with what you want. Normally kids use it for books, class fees, laundry, and general living expenses.

    The deadlines for filling out the various forms (FAFSA and CSS Profile) are listed here: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/sfs/first_year/fy_deadlines

    Note the CSS Profile is due December 1 if you are doing ED1! This is going to have to be using estimated figures, because your parents haven't filed taxes by that date. It's a pain in the but, but you must do it as accurately as possible. Your FA award will be based on those numbers. Next spring, after your parents file taxes, you must update the CSS Profile, and if there are changes to the figures, your FA award WILL be adjusted.

    You said that your income tax will be different this year than last. Did you use last year's taxes to run the NPC that gave you the $4,000 amount? If so, I highly recommend you and your parents run the NPC again, using ESTIMATED numbers for this year. Remember, they are going to HAVE to figure out estimated numbers by December 1st anyway for the CSS Profile, so you might aw well figure them out now and run the NPC again to see what it says.

    Also remember that your FA is re-figured every year based on new tax and financial information. So, if your dad had a long period with no income this year, and your family's overall income was lower than usual, you may get a much better FA award THIS year than in the future. it might be a good idea to ask you parents to guess what the next few years income is going to look like, and plug THOSE numbers into the NPC so you can get a sense of what your cost will be for future years. Do you get what I am saying?

    ALSO remember that there is one cost which is not included in the Cost of Attendance... and that is health insurance. You are required to have health insurance, and state-subsidized Medicaid types are not allowed, unfortunately. My D had to buy the MHC health insurance, which was cheaper than any private insurance we could buy for her here. That was an additional $1,800.
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  • staceyneilstaceyneil 1193 replies41 threads Senior Member
    edited October 2014
    Also remember what I said about merit aid. I realized I was a bit off about outside scholarships. Merit aid will REDUCE your MHC grant money. Outside scholarships can definitely be worthwhile because they will first reduce your student loans. I can't remember exactly how the breakdown goes, but something like the first $2,500 of outside scholarships reduces your federal loan amount, then maybe $1,000 can be applied towards the EFC, then the rest gets applied to reduce your MHC grant. So outside scholarships CAN really help when every dollar counts, mainly be reducing your debt. I encourage you to apply for as many local scholarships as you are able to! Once applications were done, around Christmas and in the late winter, my D applied to lots and lots. She got a $1,000 one-time scholarship and a $1,500/year scholarship. Definitely worth the time and effort!
    edited October 2014
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  • nrnr29nrnr29 71 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Yes, that was the NPC. Well I know that the first amount I was given by the NPC was around 5,000 and after aome other factors added it was around 3,000. (I'm not at home right now so I can't check, I'm so sorry!) I'm definitely a bit confused and certainly overwhelmed, especially because neither of my parents have any idea of this process (never went to college) but I do understand mostly what you are saying. So for the CSS profile, I should not use my parent's 2013 income taxes? But rather make estimates? Because I think it would be difficult for my parents to make estimates as there have been a lot of job changes. I can just input the 2013 taxes and update the Profile once I get the 2014 taxes for the FAFSA, right? And yes, I do have the insurance in mind as a current first year from my school told me about it. I'm finding comfort in that the work study is required, at least!
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  • staceyneilstaceyneil 1193 replies41 threads Senior Member
    I think it might be really helpful for you to call the Financial Aid office at MHC and explain to them that you are a little bit shaky on the process, and that your parents do not understand it either. Ask for their advice on how to proceed with the CSS Profile. I know it seems scary to call the school, but I promise you they are very helpful! it would really be a shame if you misunderstood something or did something wrong or missed a filing date and were denied aid because of it.
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  • nrnr29nrnr29 71 replies5 threads Junior Member
    You're definitely right and it is scary hahah. My counselor comes back next week from her break so I will try asking her as well, thank you once again so so so much for the immense help!
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  • momneeds2nomomneeds2no 779 replies4 threads Member
    @nmr29, The following is my opinion, based upon my daughter's experience with MHC and merit/FA in general.
    1. If you know MHC is the school for you and the NPC comes back with a doable number the, go ahead apply ED.
    2. Keep in mind the NPC is not the same as completing a CSS profile and FAFSA. Sometimes the numbers substanially change especially when a family's financial situation takes un-expected turns (change income, medical expense, untaxed benefits, VA, disability, income property, Quailfied funds etc) or if you have un-taxed source of funds.
    3. Filling out the NPC and CSS profile is your parents job (IMO). The form asks for information that isn't included on the tax return.
    4. Ask your parents to review the NPC for accuracy and complete the CSS profile ASAP.
    5. Be sure to apply to range of other schools as well.
    6. Merit scholarships do not effect your ability to receive aid. Most merit wards stay the same each year even if your mom/dads income increases.
    7. Apply for outside scholarships.
    In posts above you were given very specific info which may or may not apply to your circumstance. I do not work in MHC FA department so I can't give you details. If you want "real" info you need to contact your admissions officer and not rely on the experience of others (as your milage may vary). She can direct you the appropiarte people for your questions. DO NOT be afraid to contact the school if you are unclear about the terms and conditions associated with ED. . If accepted you/parents will most likely need to speak with MHC FA office anyway (very nice ladies BTW).
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  • nrnr29nrnr29 71 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Thank you so much, @momneeds2no I think I will sit down with my parents to help me fill out the CSS profile, because there is indeed a list of items that I need and I only have their 2013 income tax forms. Thanks for all of the help, it helps a bit in this time of major anxiety and stress!
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