Inform Yourself, Ask Questions: FAFSA Alert for Students and Families

Jess DewesAdvising, Alerts, Financial Aid, News

Many students, especially high school seniors, are receiving requests from colleges urging them to pay enrollment deposits, submit housing applications and fees, and commit to their institution. These requests are premature and obscure the fact that most students are missing critical information—financial aid packages—which are essential for students to make an informed decision about affordability.These messages from schools seem urgent and seek to rush students into decisions. The Scholarship Foundation encourages you to make sure you have all the financial information and financial aid lined up before deciding and paying anything.If you are asked to pay an enrollment deposit, ask your prospective college(s):

  • “Have you adjusted your deposit deadline beyond May 1st?”
  • “Would you wait for the enrollment deposit until financial aid can help cover it?” (Please note, not all colleges do this, and students must typically demonstrate financial need based on Free or Reduced Lunch or Pell Grant eligibility.)
  • “What is your refund policy?”
    • “How much will you refund?”
    • “How long do I have to claim a refund?”

If you are asked to pay a housing deposit and sign a housing contract, ask your prospective college(s):

  • “Is the housing deposit refundable?” If so:
    • “How much will you refund?”
    • “How long do I have to claim a refund?”

Please read housing contracts very carefully. There is typically a fee for breaking a
housing contract.

If the message(s) you receive imply you will be unable to secure housing or a roommate, ask your prospective college(s):

  • “Do you guarantee on-campus housing for all incoming first-year students?”

If you receive a financial aid package before April 1, 2024, look first for federal aid, which would include any of the following: Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG/SEOG), Federal Work-Study, Direct Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized Loans, or a Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). If you see federal aid, ask the college(s):

  • “What information did you use to offer federal aid?”
  • “How might my estimated financial aid package change once you receive my FAFSA?”

If you feel pressured to decide, do not understand answers provided by colleges, or are confused by the information, help is available. The Scholarship Foundation’s Student Advisors are available to help you  find answers to these questions, understand the information, and discuss options.

For an additional alert:

Wait to Commit, Do Not Give Up: FAFSA Alert for Students and Families