Q for Dan (or others!): Does Tufts do "preferential packaging" in financial aid?

<p>Hi :) I am a junior (soon to be senior!) interested in Tufts. Unfortunatley, my parents EFC is much more than they are actually able to afford. I know that Tufts does not give any merit aid. </p>

<p>Tufts is my first-choice school and I would dearly love to attend, but my financial situation makes it impossible. Is it possible that I will get a great financial aid package that will make Tufts affordable for me? If Tufts really wants me to come to their school (hypothetically), are they more likely to give me more grants than they would otherwise?</p>

<p>In short, does Tufts pratice "preferential packaging" when they are deciding how much financial aid they will award?</p>

<p>lol 65 views, not one reply.
btw, even if you're not entirely sure whether they practice preferential packaging, still post if you have some idea. for example, if you got a great financial aid package and your family is high-income, please post!(:</p>

<p>It's certainly possible to get a great aid package. I have no idea how likely it is. Sorry I'm not more helpful, I just didn't want the views-to-responses ratio to keep increasing so dishearteningly.</p>

<p>Thanks Snarf, I appreciate it :)</p>

<p>I'm no expert in this (and there are many experts here), but I want to share something I've learned.</p>

<p>One thing to remember is that, generally speaking, need-based aid doesn't reduce your EFC. It fills (to some extent) the gap between the EFC and the cost of attendance. As I understand it, "preferential packaging" refers to either meeting a greater percentage of that gap for students who are more desirable to the school, or to meeting need with a better mix of grants vs. loans.</p>

<p>Now, this being said, Tufts may have their own institutional formula that might yield a different interpretation of "need" than the federal formula.</p>

<p>If your parents cannot afford the EFC, you may want to look at schools that offer merit aid.</p>

<p>There's no harm in applying. Just know what may lay in store for you (financially) before getting your hopes up. We've found Tufts to be very fair, even generous, as far as FA is concerned.</p>

<p>DeskPotato: Actually, a few of my friends who's family are quite high-income, but are outstanding students, got almost-full scholarships through grants in financial aid. (Not to Tufts, but to schools like UNC Chapel Hill (OOS), etc.)
So maybe it's not this way at Tufts, but I know at other schools they dispense 'merit money' through financial aid, even though they aren't considered official merit scholarships.</p>

<p>And yes, I'm looking at schools that offer merit aid too, but Tufts is my absolute dream.</p>

<p>Tufts does not gap.</p>

<p>Based on your CSS profile and the FAFSA, our financial aid office uses your financial info to calculate what a family can contribute to the cost of tuition. The entirety of the difference between our cost of tuition and your Estimated Financial Contribution is met by financial aid. This is the same for everyone. </p>

<p>Although every school - with a tiny number of exceptions - is bound by federal financial aid guidelines, the CSS profile allows us (and others) to calculate aid in a more nuanced way then the using just the FAFSA. There are other points of flexibility around the federal guidelines as well, but since I'm not a FinAid expert, I'm not really qualified to talk about what those are. </p>

<p>The advice in the thread is good counsel. Maybe you'll get the aid you need; we work hard to be fair in the financial aid process, but thinking realistically is important so you have a spread of options come next April.</p>

<p>Thank you Dan. I'm grateful for those points of flexibility... at least now I have some sort of chance.</p>

<p>Tufts was our best FA package in this year's admissions cycle, though it was not a make-or-break factor in S2's decision. We will have two headed off to college in the fall and were close to full pay with just one in school. </p>

<p>Agree that if FA is important, you should make sure you have financial safeties on your list. I worked with someone this year who applied to ten schools, had seven great acceptances and only three financially feasible award packages.</p>

<p>Have not heard of much preferential packaging in recent years -- though my DH was the beneficiary of it at Penn many moons ago.</p>

<p>ETA: If your family has special financial circumstances (supporting relatives, medical expenses, a parent's work hours/salary are cut, etc.), be sure to document those. There are circumstances where FA folks can use professional judgment to modify awards under PROFILE that cannot be done with FAFSA. Even if the FA folks can't modify your award now, you are at least providing documentation in case something happens later in your college career.</p>

<p>A word of caution about the "nuanced way" that Tufts (and I assume other schools who use the CSS Profile) calculates your need. Our family's EFC based on FAFSA was about $6000 less than what Tufts decided the Profile numbers said we could afford. Retirement contributions and accounts are not considered on the FAFSA, but count against you in the Profile. Our appeal got nowhere, so now we're paying a lot more than we calculated using the FAFSA. Therefore, my advice is: do not believe the FAFSA numbers! They give a false reading!</p>

<p>^^^FAFSA calcs work for schools who use the FAFSA methodology. Generally speaking, this means public schools, though some privates use it as well. PROFILE figures in other things like retirement contributions (NOT retirement account balances) and home equity, which is why for most folks, PROFILE will be a higher number than FAFSA. Colleges can calculate parental contributions using different methodologies within PROFILE as well. For example, some schools limit the amount of home equity used in the calculation. Some schools will factor in parental contribs towards private primary/secondary education or assistance to a child in grad school. Others don't.</p>

<p>The CollegeBoard EFC calculator will give you both Federal (FAFSA) and Institutional (PROFILE) estimates. We assumed the numbers run there were a MINIMUM expected contribution. EFC</a> Calculator: How Much Money for College Will You Be Expected to Contribute?</p>

<p>With our older S's school, due to special financial circumstances, the PROFILE figure was lower than FAFSA for the two years in which he was the only one in college. Now with two in school, our parental contribution is running about 125% of the FAFSA EFC, divided between the two of them.</p>