Private schools want money. Would it help the application if we show that we don’t need help with tuition? Do the admissions committees see if the student needs financial aid or is it totally blind? Thinking about USC in CA.
Depends on the institution. Some universities will like this, as they want generous donations from people who can pay the full-tuition with no aid. Your best bet is to look into which schools are “need-blind” and which schools are not. The need-blind schools are not supposed to look at financial status while the schools that are not need-blind will take this into consideration.
Some schools will require it for merit scholarships (not filling out the FAFSA won’t preclude your child from being awarded the merit, but if they choose a school that requires it, you’ll have to submit it in order to claim the award).
We also had 2 schools ask for a CSS profile (these were 2 schools where she didn’t receive merit awards), which is MUCH more in-depth than the FAFSA and seems to really drill down on family expenses. It seemed futile for us to spend the time filling this out as we know we will not qualify for financial aid. I reached out to the 2 schools and they confirmed that we did not need to do the CSS unless we were specifically looking for federal financial aid.
Need-blind schools aren’t all the same. Some are more “need-blind” than others. If you definitely don’t qualify and don’t need it, you wouldn’t check the Common/Coalition app box “Do you need to apply for financial aid?”, would you? By the same token, why file FAFSA? You wouldn’t be awarded merit scholarships that would take into account of FAFSA result, either.
I’m heard from some folks that filing out the form is worthwhile even if you won’t qualify for aid based on income. Some scholarships (whose primary component isn’t based on income) require that you have info on file. I don’t know. It’s likely I’d fill it out if it opens the door to merit aid not based on income. ( For those who want to parse the word “merit” as being FA, you can substitute whatever word you like).
Anyone have examples of filling out the FAFSA even though they didn’t think they’d qualify for this reason?
I’m pretty sure that in MA you need to file a FAFSA in order to get a scholarship that is based on state test scores (John/Abigail Adams).
@Happytimes2001 we are not seeking FA but were told by several schools that FAFSA/CSS needed to be filed for scholarship/merit consideration. All private schools.
Yes. See my post a couple above yours. Filling it out won’t open any doors to merit that weren’t already open, but to claim the award at some schools, a FAFSA has to be submitted.
^Could you name some of these scholarships? I’m curious whether they’re fully merit-based, if they require FAFSA.
My daughter was awarded a merit scholarship at Fordham that required the FAFSA. I don’t know why. We hadn’t filled it out cause we knew we wouldn’t qualify for need based aid but then she got the merit award which had a note saying that this scholarship required that a FAFSA be filled out by some deadline in February if I remember correctly. She was still deciding what school to go to at that point so we submitted it. It turns out she went elsewhere so we didn’t need to do it after all. We haven’t filled it out since and I’m now on kid number two.
I just looked up on Fordham’s website for their merit scholarships. Only two of them require FAFSA: 1) Dean’s Scholarship, and 2) The Maguire Scholars Higher Education Program.
The descriptions of these two scholarships make clear that need is considered, so they aren’t fully merit-based.
I don’t know what the scholarship was called. This was five years ago so maybe their policy has changed. I am 100% certain it was not need based and it required FAFSA. The scholarship was awarded before any financial information was submitted and I even had a discussion with a financial aid officer before filing it to make sure it was really needed for a merit only scholarship and he assured me it was.
I think the point being made was a FAFSA might need to be filled out for an award even though some parents wouldn’t normally fill it out due to income.
The example above, might have some component of income but it sounds like some of these merit scholarships are given without 100% regard to need.
If you were high income ( or didn’t expect to receive FA) you might not ordinarily fill out the FAFSA. Sound like in the case above it could be filled out after the fact.
We have always filled out the FAFSA. When entering Grad School, my D continued to submit the FAFSA and actually got a State scholarship for her first year of Grad school.
It’s worth calling the schools where your student is applying because every school has different rules. One of D’s schools required FAFSA for a special tuition program, but none required it or the CSS profile for merit.
@1NJParent I was unclear about the need for filing FAFSA/CSS since we were not seeking any financial aid, and it was suggested that I contact the financial aid office at each school to ask about their specific requirements. D applied early to 7 schools and of those, two required FAFSA (Fordham and UVM) in order to be considered for scholarships. I had a chance to look at D21’s acceptance letters, and from Fordham, she received the Dean’s Scholarship “which is an annual award of at least $20K for each year of undergraduate study with an estimated minimum value of at least $80K over 4 years.” The UVM award was the Presidential Scholarship of $80K, or $10K per semester over 4 years. Both scholarships were awarded for academic achievement. She received significant merit money from every school she applied to (with the exception of her ED school where she was accepted) but those were the only two that required FAFSA.
USC is need-blind, so they don’t care either way if you are a US Citizen/Permanent Resident/eligible for need-blind review. If you 100% don’t qualify for aid, then there’s no need to fill out the CSS Profile (which costs money), but I’d recommend filling out the FAFSA (free) since it makes you eligible to take federal loans (which had a lower interest rate compared to prior years this year) if desired.
Filing the FAFSA/CSS Profile in and of itself will not get your kid rejected. What might get your kid rejected at a need-sensitive institution is needing more aid than that institution thinks your family can afford.
Even if you can afford full costs without aid, there are four reasons to apply for aid:
- You want your child to be able to borrow the standard federal student loans that are qualified for with the FAFSA.
- The particular college/university requires merit-scholarship students to file for need-based aid. They do this because they want to be sure the students get every penny of federal/state aid the students qualify for because that is money the college/university won’t have to try to come up with.
- The student lives in a state that has some scholarship money and requires that everyone file the FAFSA when applying even for merit-based grants.
- The particular college/university has a policy of denying aid in all future years, no matter how severe the family’s financial reversal, if the student doesn’t apply freshman year. Check each institution about this kind of policy. Yes some do adhere to it.
If none of those reasons apply in your family’s case, save the headache of filing the paperwork, and skip the FAFSA/CSS Profile.
We received our first financial aid report back from one of the colleges that gave her a merit award and required submission of the FAFSA. As expected, the dollar amount under federal aid was $0 At least the FAFSA was relatively easy to fill out. Glad that I reached out to the colleges that asked for the CSS and confirmed that I didn’t need to go through that (or pay the $$$) if I was sure we wouldn’t qualify for federal aid (which I was sure about).