Knowing How Things can Change Makes You a Better Planner
Financial aid can change annually
So you have your financial aid for your first year, and you and your parents think you nailed the college affordability plan for the entire 4 years of college. But have you? Most of the time, the first year financial aid package is not a promise for funding for your subsequent years. Know the biggest reasons why financial aid may change in the future.
All financial aid is tied to maintaining satisfactory academic progress (SAP), but some forms of merit aid have even steeper requirements. Typically, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above at the end of the annual SAP evaluation period to remain eligible for financial aid for the next year. Some merit funds requires GPA of 3.0 or even higher to keep your scholarship. Be certain you know the GPA requirements per free money source of your college affordability plan.
You Stop Participating
When you get a football scholarship, the university will expect you to continue to play. Same goes for debate team or band scholarships. Read the fine print for the terms in conditions of these funds in case you get injured, want to reduce your participation time, or don’t continue to make the cut for subsequent years.
You Change Majors
Not as enamored with Architecture as a major after your latest Physics class? If you have funding tied to this major, you may need a new plan to pay for college. Some universities may have some flexibility if you are getting a degree within the same college or area. For instance, your funding was tied to a Microbiology can still be utilized if you major in Biotechnology. Understand all the ifs, ands, or buts for your scholarship so you don’t derail your college affordability plan.
Your Older Sibling Graduates
Need-based financial aid splits the college’s calculated parent contribution when you have more than one kid going to college. This can be great news if you have a younger sibling, and you get more financial aid when they are enrolled at least half-time the same year you are. It can also be a huge bummer when you start school and didn’t plan for your aid to change when that older sibling graduates. Ask you financial aid office if any of your aid will change once you sibling becomes an alum.
Your Parents get a Windfall of Income
Of course it is great if your parent gets considerable raise, bonus, or higher-paying new job. Just be ready as family for your need-based financial aid to take a hit. Have a conversation about your parents employment trajectory to ensure you can celebrate your parents success and know how it may affect your college affordability plan.
Colleen MacDonald Krumwiede is a financial aid and paying for college expert with over a decade of financial aid experience at Stanford GSB, Caltech, and Pomona College and another decade at educational finance and technology companies servicing higher education. She guides go-to-market strategy and product development at Quatromoney to transform the way families afford college.