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4 Common Misconceptions About Financial Aid in Early Application Rounds

Tue, Oct 30, 2018 @ 05:27 PM

how to evaluate financial aid awardsWe're Here to Clear Up Some Fin Aid Myths for Students Applying ED or EA This Fall

Whether you’re putting the finishing touches on your applications or looking ahead to the following year, many students and families are curious about what kind of financial aid is available in the early round.

In fact, some applicants may even feel discouraged from applying early due to the misconception that they will be ineligible for financial aid. The good news? Students who apply EA or ED can still receive generous financial aid packages, depending on their academic profile, demonstrated need, and the school(s) they are applying to. Keep reading to learn the truth behind some common financial aid myths regarding the early application process!

Myth: Financial aid packages are always smaller in the early rounds.
Truth: Some colleges, although not all, actually offer better aid packages for students applying in the early rounds. From a university standpoint, institutions are able to better predict their financial aid budget when students in need of significant aid apply in the early rounds. Sometimes, this will work in an applicant’s favor, and a student may receive a more generous package if they submit their application early. At other schools, a student’s decision to apply in the early or regular rounds will have virtually no impact on their financial aid package.

Myth: Applying Early Decision is never an option for students in need of financial aid.
Truth: Depending on the school a student is interested in and his or her demonstrated need, applying through early decision or Restricted Early Action (REA) can be a feasible option. Students can evaluate their eligibility for financial aid by using the Net Price Calculator on the website of the college of their choice. Formulas regarding financial aid vary by school, so it is best to have a university-specific estimate of what your financial aid package will look like. If the financial aid projection is financially feasible for your family, applying in a binding early round is not problematic. On the contrary, if a school’s net price calculator determines that a family can pay $70,000 annually but this does not seem financially feasible, a student may be better off applying in the regular round so he or she can price-compare packages from different colleges.

Myth: Outside scholarships will dramatically reduce the amount of financial aid a student is eligible for.
Truth: Policies regarding outside scholarships vary tremendously between institutions so it is important to do your research. Most schools will adjust their financial aid packages if a student receives an outside scholarship, but frequently this aid money will go towards loans and work-study before impacting institutional aid and/or grants. Try looking up “outside scholarship policy” at the school(s) you are applying to or calling the financial aid office if you have unanswered questions.

Myth: Financial aid application deadlines are the same, whether you apply early or regular decision.
Truth: Financial aid deadlines can creep up on students, especially those who are applying early. Deadlines vary by school, but most early round financial aid applications are due in November, as opposed to January and February deadlines for regular round applicants.

Application strategy is an important part of the college admissions process, whether you need significant financial aid or not. Students can benefit tremendously from researching early application policies for each school on their best fit list and by reaching out to an expert for additional support. Our team of admissions counselors can help students create a plan of action that meets all of their personal, academic, and financial needs. Learn more here!

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