Difference in a chance of receiving financial aid between a transfer student and freshman

What is the difference in a chance of receiving financial aid between a transfer student and freshman? Thank you for your answer.

Freshman typically get better offers, because the school is trying to attract strong students with scholarships from their budgets, but every school is different.

If your child is transferring, the financial aid that one school gives, is not going to be the same at another school. Each school has different financial budgets especially now with Covid 19 budget losses.

If your child got off of a waitlist to transfer, and indicated that he/she would attend that school “no matter what”, then the new school doesn’t have to provide any aid. There are no financial guarantees. Your child indicated that he/she would attend if admitted-so, the rationale from the school is: “We don’t need to provide any aid since this student is desperate to attend this school and is willing to pay our fees to come here.”


As with many answers…it depends on the policies of the colleges.

  1. There are some colleges that clearly state that aid for transfer students is “limited”.
  2. There are colleges that meet full need for all accepted students including transfer students.
  3. There are colleges where merit aid awards are specifically targeted for incoming freshmen, and not transfers.
  4. There are states that use state funding and certain awards must be used only by incoming freshmen, or within a certain number of years of HS graduation.
  5. And mostly...the very vast majority of colleges don’t meet full need anyway...for all freshmen or transfer students.

So…what colleges are you talking about?

In virtually all cases, institutional aid (the #1 source of aid) is lower for transfers than for freshmen, whether merit aid or need-based financial aid.
For this reason, a family whose student has a strong academic record is likely to pay less going straight to a 4-year college on scholarship than going Cc+ 2 years full pay or at near full cost.
Of course, there are variations.
Note thet for Top 25 national universities and LACs it’s even harder to get in as a transfer than as a freshman.

@compiler you have been asking financial aid questions for a long time here…with very little supporting information.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to give you accurate information about this question without knowing the college. Someone here might actually know the policy of that college.

Is this the transfer option your kid was offered at a higher ranked school for winter or spring? Why don’t you contact the college directly and ask them what their policy is?

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In one of your other posts the following was indicated:

Then your response was:

You don’t know this for certain.

My husband attended a top 5. My husband’s engineering supervisor attended a California State University-not a UC and not a top 20.

My eldest daughter attended a NY public university. Not a top 5. This daughter has not had any issues getting into top graduate schools and has an amazing job as an EE/CS engineer. She has no problems finding jobs. I attended a Cal State, and for my field, I’ve done extremely well.

Your obsession with rank and bragging rights may not work out for you if you can’t afford to send your child to a top 5. Currently, there is a post about a student who was accepted into Harvard, but doesn’t qualify for financial aid and can’t afford to go. This may become your situation.

As I understand it, your family was waiting on your child to get into a top school and was waitlisted. Your child apparently made it into a top school and now you want financial aid from them. This year, a number of students opted to defer their entries to their schools. That could be the reason your child was finally admitted. They need your money.

Ask your school, since only they can answer your questions.