Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Questions
for U.S. and Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents

Is Amherst "need-blind"?

Yes, our admission policy is "need-blind."  This means that our admission decision is based solely on your achievements, talents and promise.  Your and your family's financial situation is not considered - it has no bearing on whether we offer you admission.

How can I afford Amherst? Will Amherst meet my "full demonstrated need"?

Attending college is expensive, and may be daunting to students and families.  But Amherst College is affordable because we're committed to providing financial aid to meet the full difference between what Amherst costs and what it's estimated your family is able to contribute toward those costs.  Our financial aid meets your "full demonstrated need" - there is no "gap" or unmet need in our aid awards.

How are my full demonstrated need and my "family contribution" determined?

Amherst uses a "need analysis" formula, developed by the College Scholarship Service (CSS) of the College Board, to evaluate the information you submit and determine what you and your family can afford to pay.  This amount is called your "family contribution."   It consists of contributions from your parents' income and assets as well as your own income—usually from summer work—and assets (if any).  Your family contribution subtracted from our "cost of attendance" equals your demonstrated financial need.

In determining the family contribution, Amherst considers your and your family's income, taxes, living costs, assets, debts, and in certain situations, personal or financial circumstances that may affect your ability to pay for college. The size of your family and the number of children in college are major factors as well. In the case of divorced or separated parents, we expect each parent to submit financial information. In some exceptional situations—usually related to your age, marital status or status as a parent - you may be considered independent of your parents.

We use a second, federal formula in determining your eligibility for federal financial aid programs.

Can I estimate my family contribution?

Yes, Amherst College has a web-based net price calculator tool that allows you to estimate your family contribution.  Please note, however, that you must use precise data to obtain a reasonably good estimate.  Also, the estimate can vary from Amherst's calculations if your family's financial situation is more complex (such as owning a business, farm or rental property, or having capital gains or losses).  

How is my "financial aid package" divided among scholarship, loan, and work?

Amherst College has replaced all initially packaged, need-based student loans with grant assistance.  This change in policy is intended to help middle income families applying to Amherst.

Amherst "financial aid packages" usually include scholarship and a work opportunity. The first $1,800 of need is met with a work opportunity, and there are no initially packaged student loans.  Any remaining need is met with scholarships—aid that doesn't have to be repaid.  We also expect you to apply for federal and state scholarships and grants for use at Amherst.

What does Amherst cost?

When we calculate an aid award we use a comprehensive budget that considers both your direct charges and your out-of-pocket expenses.

Student Expense Budget 2013-2014

Comprehensive fee
(tuition: $43,860, room: $6,310, and board: $5,340)

$ 57,970

Other student fees

$ 774

Health insurance (waivable)

$ 1,626

Books and supplies (estimate)

$ 1,000

Personal Expenses (estimate)

$ 1,800

Travel/transportation
(estimate-varies by location)

$ 50-2,500

Total Cost of Attendance

$63,220 - 65,670

The actual cost of educating a student at Amherst is greater than $89,000 a year.  However, Amherst's income from endowment and gifts helps subsidize that amount significantly, even for students who do not receive financial aid.

What aid does the average Amherst student receive?

Fifty-five percent of Amherst students received scholarship aid from the college in 2012-2013.  The following chart shows the distribution of aid for U.S. and Canadian students dependent on their parents. 

Please keep in mind that factors other than family income can affect your financial aid package.

Family IncomeAverage Scholarship
and Grants
Average Student LoanAverage
Work
$ 1 - 30,000 56,556 308 1,423
$ 30,000 - 60,000 54,534 292 1,298
$ 60,000 - 90,000 48,204 746 1,282
$ 90,000 - 120,000 41,297 771 1,223

$ 120,000- 150,000

32,597 759

1,342

$ 150,000 - 180,000 25,399 660 1,349
$ 180,000 - 210,000 20,286 1,041 1,305
$ 210,000 - 240,000 20,649 537 1,251
$ 240,000 + 16,715 630 1,443
Independent 48,593 591 880
International 51,017 63 1,538
All Recipients 43,576 527 1335

Another three percent of Amherst students with smaller need were eligible only for loan or work aid. And an additional eight percent received outside scholarships, bringing the overall portion of Amherst students with aid from some source to 66 percent.

Are "merit-based" scholarships offered?

No, we offer no "merit-based" scholarships of any kind.  Amherst has been committed to a strictly need-based financial aid program from the college's beginnings early in the 19th century.  Need is the only criterion for receiving financial aid from Amherst.

How are outside scholarships handled?

Amherst allows outside scholarships to replace self-help (work), rather than scholarship, in a financial aid award.  Outside scholarships in excess of self-help reduce scholarship aid that would otherwise be provided by Amherst.  An outside scholarship cannot be used to replace the expected family contribution.

What if I can't earn money over the summer because I'm doing unpaid community service work or an unpaid internship?

Once during four years, Amherst will replace your expected summer earnings with a scholarship if you spend the summer doing unpaid community service work or an unpaid internship with no compensation or fellowship, stipend, or other support.

Is there assistance for parents?

Yes, a monthly payment plan is available to help parents spread out payments over a 10-month period.  In addition, parent loans with favorable terms are available through the Federal PLUS (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students) program and are available to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents),  and Amherst's own Parent Loan Program. Details on parent financing options.

Is financial aid assured in the future?

Students must re-apply for financial aid each year.  Changes in the cost of attendance as well as changes in your and your family's financial situation, family size and number of children in college can affect your need and, therefore, your eligibility for aid.  There may also be small changes in the amount included in your aid award for work.  Even so, Amherst will always meet your full demonstrated need - whether that figure increases or decreases.

As a "Regular Decision" applicant, when will I receive my financial aid package?

If you submit your financial aid application materials on time, you'll receive a financial aid notification within a few days of your admission notification in early April.

As an "Early Decision" applicant, when will I receive my financial aid package?

If you submit your financial aid application materials on time (see Applying for Financial Aid), you'll receive a "preliminary" financial aid award soon after you receive a letter of admission.  Your financial aid award will be confirmed later, after the cost of attendance for the coming year is set and we have reviewed your and your parents' 2012 federal tax returns. The family contribution we use to calculate your preliminary award may be revised once your final income figures for 2013 are known.  It is important that you provide information that is as accurate as possible when applying for financial aid as an Early Decision candidate.

Is financial aid available for Canadians?

Yes, we treat Canadian citizens and permanent residents just like U.S. students in awarding aid. You are considered for admission on a need-blind basis and your demonstrated need is met in full.

Canadians should submit the same financial aid materials as U.S. applicants, with the exception of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Please make certain that financial figures in all forms you submit (except Canadian tax and wage documents) are reported in U.S. dollars and if necessary, translated into English.  Canadian tax returns should be submitted directly to the Office of Financial Aid and not to IDOC.

Is financial aid available for other non-U.S. citizens?

Yes, financial aid is available. Please visit the section of the Office of Financial Aid's website for International students.

Is financial aid available for transfers?

Yes. We treat transfer applicants just like first-year applicants. You are considered for admission on a need-blind basis and your demonstrated need is met in full.

In addition to the financial aid materials required of all applicants, we must have information about any financial aid you received at each other U.S. post secondary institution you have attended.  In many cases this information is available to the Financial Aid Office electronically through the U.S. Department of Education, but in some cases we may require that you obtain a paper financial aid transcript from your previous institutions.

May I study abroad with financial aid?

Yes, your financial aid may be used for study abroad programs, as well as Twelve College Exchange or other domestic off-campus study programs. If the cost of attendance at the other program is greater than at Amherst, you will be awarded additional scholarship funds to make up the difference.  If the cost of attendance is less, your financial aid award will also be adjusted accordingly.

What forms do I need, where do I get them, and when are they due?

For 2013-2014 school year financial aid application:

ONE:
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE

The Financial Aid PROFILE form from the College Scholarship Service (CSS) collects personal and financial information that helps us award Amherst funds. You may also complete the form at www.collegeboard.com.

If your parents own a business or farm, additional forms are required. These forms will automatically be sent to you by CSS after registering for the PROFILE form.  They may also be downloaded and printed from the forms section of our website or from the College Board at http://idoc.collegeboard.com.  Please complete them promptly and mail them along with the IDOC coverletter directly to the College Board; photocopies are acceptable.  If your parents are divorced or separated, a Non-Custodial Parent PROFILE is required.

TWO: Parents' and Student's 2012 Federal Tax Return(s) and Wage Statement(s)

Send signed copies of your and your parents' 2012 Federal (U.S., Canadian, or Puerto Rican) income tax return(s) and wage statements (e.g., U.S. W-2 forms) along with the IDOC coverletter to the College Board IDOC service as soon as they are completed.  All schedules and attachments should accompany the federal tax return.

NOTE: If 2012 taxes are not available, candidates should submit copies of 2011 tax return(s) to the Office of Financial Aid directly with 2012 taxes to IDOC as soon as they are available.

Please don't send state return(s).

In addition, if your parents own an interest in a corporation or partnership, relevant corporate or partnership tax returns also should be submitted to the College Board.

THREE: FAFSA Application (U.S. Citizens and permanent residents only)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) collects information that helps Amherst distribute U.S. federal financial aid funds. Ask your secondary school counselor for a copy or complete it online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA school code for Amherst College is 002115.

The federal government randomly selects a small percentage of students to submit financial verification information. If you receive a FAFSA Verification Worksheet, please complete it promptly and mail it to the Office of Financial Aid at Amherst.

You may mail a paper FAFSA or submit it online anytime after January 1. Please make sure you also meet any state scholarship or grant program deadlines.

 

Submission DatesPROFILETax ReturnsFAFSA

Early Decision

November 1 November 15 After January 1st

Regular Decision

February 15 March 10 After January 1st

Fall ('13) Transfer

March 15 April 10 After January 1st

Spring ('14) Transfer

November 1 November 1 After January 1st
Returning Students All materials due by April 25th  


Where can I get more detailed information?

You may contact us at:

Office of Financial Aid
Amherst College
B-5  Converse Hall
P.O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

413-542-2296 (phone)
413-542-2628 (fax)
E-mail us