Once you are accepted for admission and your financial need is determined, a financial aid offer that is equal to 100% of your need will be produced. Emails regarding financial aid offers will be sent soon after admission emails are sent to first-year and transfer applicants. The offer is sometimes called an "aid package" because it may include both self-help (employment) and gift aid (scholarships and grants). Students with lower financial need will be offered self-help. Students with greater need will be offered a combination of self-help and gift aid. Amherst College has replace all initially packaged, need based student loans with grant assistance and also offers $1,800 in an employment opportunity.
Students may decide to borrow a student loan to purchase a computer, to replace the summer savings expectation, or to replace work in the aid package. Need-based student loans are interest-free while you are in school and low-interest during repayment after graduation. Any remaining need is met with scholarship - aid that does not have to be repaid.
You do not have to accept aid offered in the form of self-help in order to receive gift aid from the College. The College, however, will not replace the self-help component of your aid package with scholarship or grant assistance.