Financial Aid Information and Advice

  • You should apply for financial aid every year, regardless of whether or not you think you'll qualify. Your family's financial status can change for a variety of reasons, and financial aid serves as a back up.
  • For many of the nation's top schools, 100% of demonstrated need (or financial eligibility) is met.
  • Don't be intimidated by the cost of private colleges. Depending on a family's calculated ability to contribute, a family could pay the same amount, or possibly less, at a private college than at a public college.
  • If you have any doubts or questions, don't be afraid to contact financial aid staff for any questions you have about the process, college policies regarding financial aid, or how to represent some extenuating circumstances for your family.
  • Pay special attention to financial aid deadlines, especially at public schools, where there is generally less financial aid.
  • Make sure to indicate on your college application if you will be seeking financial aid. Many top schools have a need-blind admissions policy.
  • Your Expected Family Contribution is the amount the standard formals think a family can afford for one year.
  • The major factors that determine your EFC are:
  • Parents' adjusted gross income and any untaxed income: EFC will be practically zero for low income families while it can go as high as 26% for parents with six figure incomes.
  • Parents' assets (non-retirement only): Around 5.6%
  • Student's income: They will want 35% of everything over $2,200 for dependent students and $5,000 for independent students.
  • Student's assets: About 35%

Financial Aid Advice for You and Your Family

Financial Aid in Numbers:

A few facts we think will help put financial aid into perspective.


Percentage of Need Met at Amherst, Harvard, Yale, Williams, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Swarthmore, Columbia, to name a few: 100%

The Average Scholarship Package at Amherst College Is: $37,564

Average Four-Year Private College: $26,273

Average Four-Year Public College (In-State): $7,020

Average Four-Year Public College (Out-of-State): $11,528

Average Two-Year Public College: $2,544

People with a Bachelor's Degree Earn Over
More on Average than those with Only a High School Diploma

The first thing you should know about financial aid for most elite schools and a great deal of other schools is that, believe it or not, college is affordable! You might want to show this section to your parents at one point in your college search. Some of the tools here like the Financial Aid Calculator would be useful even before you receive your acceptance letter.

It is important to keep in mind that most financial aid offices at different colleges are flexible and willing to work with families to make college affordable. Here are some fnancial aid resources:

Financial Aid Advice


Financial Aid Timeline

Outside Scholarships

Financial Aid Calculater

Additional Tips and Resources