FAQ: Do financial aid documentation requests indicate pending admission?

Q: Do financial aid documentation requests indicate pending admission?

A: Generally no, since colleges commonly have their financial aid offices process financial aid applications in parallel to having their admissions offices make admissions decisions. In other words, they do not have the financial aid offices wait until admissions offices are done with admissions decisions.

To understand why they would do it this way, consider the following example:

Suppose the application deadline is 1/1 and the decision release date is 4/1. Suppose the timelines are as follows:

  • FA on all applicants takes 2 months.
  • FA on only admitted applicants takes 1 month.

If FA is done on all applicants starting 1/1, then FA is done by 3/1. Admissions has the full three months from 1/1 to 4/1 to decide whom to admit. Once it decides, it matches admits and their FA offers and releases decisions on 4/1.

If FA waits until admissions is done, then admissions has only two months from 1/1 to 3/1 before handing off admits to FA to produce FA offers in time for the 4/1 decision date.

So from an operations research or supply chain standpoint, it makes more sense for FA to work on all applicants in parallel to admissions, rather than waiting for admissions to be done.