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Articles / Paying for College / Changing Application Status from "Needs Financial Aid" to "No Need"

Nov. 9, 2008

Changing Application Status from "Needs Financial Aid" to "No Need"

Question: In the Common Application Future Plans section, we checked the box indicating we plan to apply for financial aid and submitted the applications. After more research, we may decide not to apply and to instead look for other ways to cover college costs. Is it a problem not applying for aid if we checked yes on the application? Should we call admission offices to let them know not to expect the forms, or just not file and not contact the schools at all? Thanks!

I recommend that you do contact admission offices, whether by phone, snail-mail or e-mail, to explain your change in status. At the "need-conscious" institutions (those that take financial need into consideration when making admission decisions) it can be helpful to you to have the admission committees approach the application from the get-go with a "this kid doesn't need any dough from us" mind-set.

Moreover, as you suggest, if you checked the "YES" box on the application and do not follow up with forms, you will be precipitating some unnecessary correspondence between admission officials and aid officials and between aid officials and you.

Note, however, that if a student applies as a "no-need" freshman applicant, there is usually a waiting period (two years is common) before the student can apply for aid down the road. So make sure you are comfortable with your change of heart before you commit to it.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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