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Articles / Applying to College / Will Transfer Get Same FinAid as Frosh?

Will Transfer Get Same FinAid as Frosh?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | May 6, 2010

Question: I plan on transferring after one or two semesters at a four-year college. If I transfer, would I still get the same financial aid package as if I had been accepted freshmen year?

If your family's financial picture (income, assets, etc.) hasn't changed significantly since you were a senior in high school and there are no other additional household members in college, then your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) should be about the same when you apply to transfer as it was before your freshman year.


BUT ... not all colleges meet demonstrated need, especially for transfer students. This means that, even if your EFC is, say, $20,000 ... both now and when you're ready to transfer ... some colleges may expect you pay more. Thus, you can't base your transfer financial aid award on what you're currently being offered ... or might have been offered ... as a prospective freshman.

And when it comes to merit aid, colleges may have special scholarships that are specifically earmarked for transfers OR they may have none at all (or something in between). So in a year or two, you may do better ... or worse ... as a transfer. It's hard to predict. If you don't already have a specific transfer college in mind, you can certainly look ahead and research aid options for transfers at any schools you're considering.

Bottom line: The answer to your question is "Probably not." That is, you might end up with the same financial aid package, but you definitely can't count on 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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