Financial Aid

An Introduction to Financial Aid

Presented by

Philip  Weisgold

Associate Director of Admission and Financial Aid

Muhlenberg College



Resource information

What is financial aid?

  • Application process
  • Determination of eligibility
  • Types and sources of aid

How do admissions and financial aid offices interact?

Side notes

  • College planning services
  • Scholarship searches and scams

Sources of General Financial Aid Information

College Financial Aid Brochures

The Financial Aid Information Page

Accurate, Comprehensive and Objective Information

  • Links to Free Scholarship Searches
  • Scholarship Scam Alerts
  • Financial Aid Consultant Guide
  • Loan Calculators
  • Strategies- Maximizing Aid Eligibility
  • Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

What is Financial Aid?

Money given, paid, or loaned to help finance college

This includes:

Gift Aid

  • Grants and Scholarships (free money)

Self-Help Aid

  • Work study (job opportunity to earn money)
  • Loans (money borrowed that must be repaid)

Goal of Financial Aid

The primary goal is to assist students in paying for their educational investment and is achieved by:

  • Evaluating family’s ability to pay for educational costs
  • Distributing limited resources in an equitable manner
  • Providing a balance of gift aid and self -help aid

Philosophy of Financial Aid

  • Parents have the primary responsibility to pay for their dependent children’s education.
  • Students also have a responsibility to pay for a reasonable portion of their educational expenses.
  • Evaluation of family circumstances should be consistent and equitable.

Application Process - Most Schools

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

  • Required for federal and state aid
  • Deadlines vary from school to school
  • New process begins now for 2017 -18


  • May be filed at any time during an academic year, but no earlier than October 1st prior to the academic year for which the student requests aid
  • For the 2017-18 academic year, the FAFSA may be filed beginning October 1, 2016
  • Most colleges set FAFSA filing deadlines

FAFSA on the Web (FOTW)

Changes to the FAFSA process for 2017-18

Submit a FAFSA Earlier:

  • Students will be able to submit  a 2017-18 FAFSA as early as Oc t. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017.  The earlier submission  date will be a permanent  change, enabling students  to complete  and submit their FA FSAs as early as October 1 every year. (There is NO CHANGE to the 2016-17 schedule. The 2016-17 FAFSA became available Jan. 1, 2016)

Use earlier income and tax information:

  • Beginning with  the 2017-18 FAFSA, students will report income and tax information from an earlier tax year. For exampie, on the 2017-18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) wiII report their 2015 income and tax information, rather than their 2016 income and tax information.

IRS Data Retrieval Tool

  • While completing FOTW, applicant may submit real -time request to IRS for tax data
  • IRS will authenticate taxpayer ’s identity
  • If match found, IRS sends real -time results to applicant in new browser window
  • Applicant chooses whether or not to transfer data to FOTW
  • Available October 2016 for 2017 -18 processing cycle
  • Participation is voluntary
  • Reduces documents requested by financial aid office
  • Some will be unable to use IRS DRT
  • Examples include:
  • Filed an amended tax return
  • No Social Security Number (SSN) w as entered
  • Student or parent married, but filed separately


  • Sign FAFSA electronically
  • Not required, but speeds up processing
  • May be used by students and parents throughout aid process, including subsequent school year
  • Only the owner should create a FSA ID

FAFSA on the web worksheet

FAFSA on the Web Worksheet contains:

  • Instructions
  • Questions that gather basic information on student and parent, if applicable

General Student Information

  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Citizenship status Marital status
  •  Drug convictions
  • Selective Service registration 
  • Level of parents’ school completion

Student Dependency Status

FAFSA asks questions to determine dependency status for federal student aid (not IRS) purposes:

  • If all “No” responses, student is dependent
  • If “Yes” to any question, student is independent

Information About Parents of Dependent Students

  • Tax, income, and other financial information
  • Dislocated worker status
  • Receipt of means-tested federal benefits
  • Assets
  • Untaxed income

Information About Students (and Spouse)

  • Tax, income, and other financial information
  • Dislocated worker status
  • Receipt of means-tested federal benefits
  • Assets
  • Untaxed income

Additional Information

  • College and housing information
  • FAFSA preparer information
  • Certification of Statement of Educational Purpose



  • Student
  • One parent (dependent students)

Format for submitting signatures

  • Electronic using FSA ID
  • Signature page
  • Paper FAFSA

Frequent FAFSA Errors

  • Social Security Numbers
  • Divorced/widowed/remarried parental information
  • Income earned by parents/stepparents
  • Untaxed income
  • U.S. income taxes paid
  • Household size
  • Number of household members in college
  • Real estate and investment net worth

Application Process - Some Schools

  • Institutional aid application
  • CSS/financial aid profile- available in September
    • Can be filed earlier than the FAFSA
    • Not all schools
    • Registration fee of $25 (
    • Per school fee of $16

Application Tips (Making your Efforts Count!)

  • Find out application requirements and deadlines
  • Fill out forms completely, accurately, and legibly
  • Make copies of all completed forms
  • Comply with all information requests
  • Meet deadlines (obtain proof of mailing!)

Definition of Need Analysis

Need analysis is simply defined as:

  • A process of determining a student’s financial need by analyzing information provided by the student and parent on a financial aid form.
  • Need analysis forms include the FAFSA and CSS/ Financial Aid Profile

Basic Equation of Need

Cost of Attendance (COA)

- Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

= Student's Financial Need (eligibilitiy)

Cost of Attendance

Varies from school to school

  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Books and supplies
  • Transportation
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses
  • Loan fees, study abroad costs, expenses associated w ith a disability, or expenses for cooperative education program

Determining Expected Family Contribution (EFC)


  • Taxed
  • Untaxed

Asset Equity

  • FAFSA excludes home equity
  • Profile does not exclude home equity

Family size

Number of family members in college

  • Excludes parents enrolled in college

Age of parents

Federal and State Grants

Pell Grant


  • Awarded to students w ith exceptional financial need (priority given to Pell Grant recipients)

State Grants

  • Often do not travel out of state

Student Employment

  • Federal work-study
  • State work-study
  • Institutional work-study

Federal Loans

Federal Perkins Loan

  • Fixed rate at 5% (2016-17 may be last year of program)

Federal Stafford Loan

  • Subsidized (fixed rate of 3.76% for AY 2016 -17)
  • Unsubsidized (fixed rate of 3.76%)

Institutional Aid

  • Merit Scholarships
  • Athletic Scholarships
  • Talent Scholarships
  • Need-Based Grants

Private/Other Government Aid

  • Private Business Scholarships
  • Civic Organization Scholarships

Preferential Packaging

Student’s standing in the applicant pool

  • Class rank
  • Grade point average
  • Standardized test scores
  • Extracurricular activities / special talents
  • “Overall attractiveness of the student to the college”

Example of Preferential Packaging

Student A

  • Need: $30,000
  • Rank: top 2%
  • SAT’s: 700 Math, 700 R+W
  • Class President
  • Lead in School Musical
  • Community Service

Student B

  • Need: $30,000
  • Rank: top 40%
  • SAT’s: 550 Math, 500 R+W
  • Stage Crew
  • Key Club

Example of Preferential Packaging

Student A Package:

$20,000 Merit $12,500 Grant $5,500 FDSL ___________

$38,500 Total

Student B Package:

$5,500 FDSL $2,000 Work-Study $21,000 Grant ____________ $28,500 Total

Financial Aid Consultants

Several things you should know

  • Caveat emptor
  • Free assistance is available
  • Be wary of any consultant w ho encourages you to use strategies that seem unethical to you

Scholarship Searches

Once again, let the buyer beware!

Several warning signs of a possible scam:

  • Guaranteed w innings
  • Free seminars” on financial aid
  • 1-900 telephone numbers
  • Caution: As a general rule, if you must pay money to get money, it might be a scam.

Free Scholarship Searches

  • FastWEB –
  • SRN Express –
  • College Board –
  • Sallie Mae –

Something to Think About


Education is one of the best financial investments you can make. A bachelor ’s degree yields an increase in lifetime earning potential of nearly one million dollars according to Census Bureau data. This is equivalent to a 20% annual return on investment.

- The Financial Aid Information Page