Has anyone's financial situation dramatically improved after enrollment?

The tax year my FASFA is based off of this year is artifically low due to my being out of work for 3 months.

I am trying to figure out what that does to need based “institutional” aid at a typical small LAC

If you improve 20 percent does that reduce your need 20 percent, is it linear like that or is it a series of stair steps? Do you think a college FA office would tell you something like that?

I think @taverngirl experience with increased income, hopefully she can share her experience.

@Billb7581 try running the net price calculators with the higher income number. I know you say they aren’t giving you accurate results, but you will at least be able to get an idea of how much of a change there MIGHT be.

Keep in mind, schools also tweak their formulas for calculating need based aid. That plus a change in the cost of attendance could factor in.

If your kid is receiving merit aid, your income is not factored in at all.

We did experience this, but it was a CSS school that was kind of known for reducing FA after freshman year, and my D wasn’t the only one it happened to. If you know the amount your income will increase, I would call the FA office at the different schools and ask them how that will affect FA in subsequent years. They should be able to give you a good idea. As thumper noted, merit won’t be affected, so consider the merit v FA awards your son is getting at the different schools.

I think we may be ok. My company just signed a 4 year contract to service one of the big 3 cell companies towers, basically unlimited OT. Talk about timing.


That’s great! I think it makes it more important than ever to look at net costs that don’t include financial aid. Just because you can pay more doesn’t mean you necessarily want to. It’s nice knowing what you’ll need to pay for all four years instead of waiting for FA each year.


I think you mean this poster should be looking at merit aid as opposed to need based aid, right? Even merit aid is a form of “financial aid” but this poster needs merit aid which doesn’t usually take family income into consideration.

Yeah, sorry, need-based not financial. I’ve never considered merit to be financial aid, even though it is technically.

And make sure you (and your kid) understand the terms of merit aid. What’s required to keep it- number of credits enrolled, GPA, any campus involvement. I know several families who thought merit aid was “a no-brainer” vs. need based aid because their fluctuating income wouldn’t cause the aid to fluctuate.

Guess what? kids lose merit aid all the time… yes, you can appeal. But some kids ignore the signals (D on a mid-term when it’s too late to drop the class? Not showing up for seminars when the professor says that class participation is 20% of the grade?) until it’s too late.


This is making Widener the favorite. Only 5500 need. Mostly merit with pretty lax requirements (no lines in the sand).

Also despite costing 4K more, for the 1st year, he could easily save 5K moving off campus the remaining 3 years, an option not available at most. We live close enough that he could claim commuter status and live off campus.

Maintaining Merit Scholarships: In order to maintain a merit scholarship, students must progress toward the completion of their program of study at a rate that will ensure graduation is a reasonable length of time, both quantitatively (credit hours) and qualitatively (grades) while maintaining full-time, undergraduate, day status.

We actually liked that school more than we thought we would. They seem to really care about their students and the campus was quite nice. We’d heard a lot of negatives but didn’t see or hear anything when we visited that confirmed those. My son didn’t apply bc he changed his major to one they didn’t have (though ironically he has changed it back now!) even if your income grows quite a bit you should still stay eligible for the loans. We did and we dont qualify for any other need based aid. Best of luck making your decision.

The area is not great. But the college itself is beautiful. My wife did a complete 180 from the time we drove in, to the time we drove out.

We had a similar question last year, when our daughter was deciding which college to attend. We did talk to a FA officer at one LAC, and he said it’s not linear and the need-based aid is not dramatically affected by a moderate income increase. She received a mix of merit and need-based aid at most places, but the need-based part was unexpectedly generous at this particular LAC, so we wanted to double check, since I was expecting a promotion at some point during her 4 years of college. We were also advised to appeal the package, asking for a bigger portion of merit, and the college granted our request.