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. Amherst College is affordable because we're committed to providing financial aid to meet the full difference between what Amherst costs and what it is 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 financial 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 to 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 two web-based net price calculator tools that allow 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 "financial aid packages" usually include scholarship and a work opportunity. The first $2,200 of need is met with a work opportunity, and since 2007, 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 indirect, out-of-pocket expenses.

Student Expense Budget 2019-2020
Comprehensive fee

$ 72,950

Other student fees

$ 1,000

Health insurance (waivable)*

$ 2,072

Books and supplies (estimate)

$ 1,000

Personal Expenses (estimate)

$ 1,800

(estimate-varies by location)

$ 50-2,500

Total Cost of Attendance

$78,872 - 81,322

The actual cost of educating a student at Amherst is approximately $109,000 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-six percent of Amherst students received scholarship aid from the college in 2018-2019.
Please keep in mind that factors other than family income can affect your financial aid package.

Another two percent of Amherst students with smaller need were eligible only for loan or work aid. An additional five percent received outside scholarships, bringing the overall portion of Amherst students with aid from some source to 63 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 and employer benefits handled?

Amherst allows outside scholarships and employer benefits to replace self-help (work), rather than scholarship, in a financial aid award. Outside scholarships, grants, or employer benefits in excess of self-help reduce scholarship aid that would otherwise be provided by Amherst. An outside scholarship or employer benefit 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, if a student is receiving scholarship assistance from the college, 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 5-month period each semester. 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). 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 e-mail notification within a few days of your admission notification. E-mail notifications will be sent to all admitted students who have applied for financial aid and whose financial aid applications are complete. Log on to the Financial Aid Portal to see the financial award details, required documents, and messages from the office.

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 an e-mail directing you to the Financial Aid Portal to view your financial aid award, documents, and messages soon after you receive a letter of admission. Your financial aid award will be finalized later, after the cost of attendance for the coming year is set.

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.

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 2019-2020 school year financial aid application:
1. CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE

The CSS Profile from the College Scholarship Service (CSS) collects personal and financial information that helps us award Amherst funds.

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 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.

2. Parents' and Student's 2017 Federal Tax Return(s) and Wage Statement(s)

Send signed copies of your and your parents' 2017 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.

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 IDOC.

3. 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 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. More information on federal verificaton is available here.

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

Application Submission Dates
Submission Dates  

Early Decision

November 1

Regular Decision

January 1

Fall Transfer

March 1

Spring Transfer

November 1
Returning Students All materials due March 1

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

Phone: 413-542-2296 
Fax: 413-542-2628 
E-mail us