Finances of Transfering- How can I make it possible?

Hi! I just finished my first-year at a university in Boston. Half way through the first semester I knew that the school I chose wasn’t for me, but I stuck it out for the rest of the year in hopes that things would get better and to allow myself more time to research and prepare my transfer applications. While I am still (kind of) patiently waiting to hear back from 3 schools, my financial aid offers thus far are abysmal. I have been admitted to one school so far, which is probably my dream school, however, the school’s sticker price is about $80,000 a year, which is crazy. Even with my aid offer I would still be paying 3-4 times what I am at my current school.

At this point I’m pretty stuck as for what to do. Returning to my current school doesn’t feel like an option at this point. I would have to find off campus housing, which would likely be very expensive. This is in addition to the many issues I had with my school. On top of all of this, almost every friend at made at my current school is transfering, which would leave me in an even worse position. With everything, if for my mental health alone, returning isn’t an option. When it comes to the schools I am waiting to hear back from, I have to be honest and say that I am not too confident. Almost all of these schools overenrolled last year so my chances as a transfer student don’t seem to be too grand. Even if I am lucky enough to get admitted to one of these schools, I am worried that I won’t receive enough aid to make it possible. Because I anticipated that this might be an issue, I have been applying to scholarships for the past 6 months, but I won’t hear back from many until after deposit deadlines have passed.

Of course, looking back I am sure that having applied to a financial safety would have been an intelligent choice but at this point, almost all application deadlines have passed. Even if this was possible, I would still likely hear back too late.

I guess what I am really asking for is advice. What would be the best course of action in this situation? I really love the school I was accepted into but I am scared because if I can’t afford to attend, I genuinely don’t know where I will end up next year.

I would love to hear any advice or stories from people who have experienced anything similar. I would also love to hear about any scholarship opportunities that I could apply to (I have already applied to over 100 independent scholarships, but I am willing to apply to more!).

Thanks for any advice or input!

If you can’t afford it, you cam’t afford it.

Schools use financial aid to entice students away from ither schools. If you want a lot of aid, you may need to be less selective and look at schools where you will be a star.


How much can you actually afford, and how much is the college you want to transfer to?

Would transferring to a community college near home for sophomore year, then transferring to an in-state public university for junior and senior years be affordable?

Unfortunately, merit scholarships tend to be less common for transfers than frosh.


Take a year off to work and try to save up some money. Then reapply to reasonably priced schools.

Transfer students don’t have the luxury of getting good aid monies from the universities and often have to sacrifice university funding to complete their educations.

Are these aid packages significantly different from what the Net Price Calculator projected before you applied? If there’s a big discrepancy, you need to figure out why, as it’s important to planning your next steps.

It sounds as if your options are 1) take a year off, 2) transfer to community college and then to a four-year school you can afford, or 3) scramble to find an affordable transfer school that is still taking applications for fall.

With option 1, you can always request a deferral at your unaffordable “dream school” and dig deeper into whether there’s a way to make it affordable. (Financial aid appeal? A large enough outside scholarship is unlikely.) Plus, you can identify more affordable schools to apply to, some of which may take spring transfers, cutting your gap time in half.

Option 2 could be more desirable if there’s a public university in your state that would be affordable and good for your major - depending on the state, a CC transfer pathway could be the most efficient way in.

What’s your major? What’s your actual budget, and what do the net price calculators say your budget should be?

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Or OP can stay put and make it work. Many students have to do just that due to finances not working to transfer.


Finances are a significant constraint for most university students. Many students attend in-state public schools specifically for this reason. Some attend the in-state public school that is closest to home so that they can live with their parents to save money.

One of the strongest students that either daughter knew attended two years of community college for financial reasons, then attended a public university near home for her bachelor’s, graduated last May, and now has a good job with very little debt. This can be a good approach even for some very strong students.

If you have no affordable option for next year, then you can either attend community college or take a year off. You could also call admissions at a public university near home and see if it is possible to be considered for admissions at this late date. Make sure that your current university knows that you are not coming back if and when you decide that you are not coming back. You do not want to be signed up for courses and then not show up.

Taking a year off is okay – life is not a race. Of the most successful people that I know, very few and probably none of them got to be successful by following the shortest path that seems like it should have been available. We nearly all try a bit of this and a bit of that and eventually find our way.

A dream can turn into a nightmare very quickly. Anything close to $80,000 per year is indeed crazy and a very bad idea for anyone other than students who are from very, very wealthy families, or students who get enormous amounts of aid to cover the cost. Most students could not borrow this much even if they tried, and trying to borrow even half this much could be a financial disaster that could haunt you for years.

What university are you at now, what is it costing, and what is your major? If you are not comfortable telling us this much that is okay, but makes it more difficult to give detailed advice.

Do not attend any university unless you can afford it all the way to the day that they hand you a degree.

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I suggest either taking a year off or attending a community college next year. You can then research affordable schools for a future transfer. I recognize that this may very well be something you don’t want to do. However, believe me when I tell you that either option is far better than jumping into an unaffordable school.

Both of my kids decided to transfer at the end of their freshman year. D did a lot of research, and she ended up at a top school that gave her excellent need based aid (merit aid for transfer students is extremely hard to come by). Even though she applied by the priority deadline, she didn’t find out she was accepted until about this time (so I understand your worries). S didn’t decide to transfer until after the application deadline for the top state school he wanted to attend. He ended up applying to a local state university, where he was accepted. He even got an automatic transfer scholarship of $3,000/year, which wasn’t huge but made an affordable school even more affordable (he commuted). His plan was to transfer to the top state school for junior year, but he ended up liking the local school he transferred to & ended up staying.


Does your current college have a study abroad program that would be of interest? Maybe being away for a semester or year would help you manage to stay, if other options aren’t financially feasible.

Nothing that I would be able to commit to this late for next semester. As for the price calculators, many of them are only accurate for freshman because many schools have different aid policies for transfers. All of the information I was able to get before hearing back about financials made it seem like getting sufficient aid was almost certain, but it seems that wasn’t the case.

Was the earlier information from an official source? If so, can you appeal?

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I’ve already appealed and am waiting to hear back, I did that almost immediately after receiving my financial aid decision. The source was official but it did note in the fine print that this was not guaranteed for transfer students, but with the program I was admitted through it was made to seem that more aid would be granted.