It’s time to fill out applications and a big concern for many families this fall is, “Should we check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question about financial aid on the admission application?”
While it’s understandable that students would want to avail themselves of as much financial assistance as possible, uncertainty over whether the family’s ability to pay will have an impact on the admission decision has folks on edge. There are three issues worth noting in addressing the concern.
One, the “ability to pay” is increasingly a factor in the admission process, especially for students on the competitive margin. There was a lot of discussion at the end of the admission process last spring about “full-pay” students with modest credentials getting the nod over students with somewhat stronger credentials but demonstrated financial need. With that in mind, you need to go into the admission process with your eyes wide open and make sure you are focusing on schools that value you-they’ll admit you and give you what you need.
The second matter is more practical. It has to do with how colleges use the information they glean about your financial need from the admission application. Checking “no” that you don’t need financial assistance means that a hurdle goes down—the question of your financial need has been answered. If you check “yes,”colleges still don’t have enough information to be able to discriminate in the admission process. You see, approximately one-third of the students who indicate that they will be applying for financial aid either never apply—they know they don’t need it, or they do apply and demonstrate that they don’t need it!
Colleges that discriminate based on “ability to pay” in the admission process will wait until they have seen the academic credentials and the financial aid data for most if not all of the potentially admitted students before making their final decisions.
Checking “yes” does, however, allow the admission officers to be on the alert for your financial aid application materials. That can be important if you encounter delays or problems with the processing of the latter.
Finally, you need to know that the financial aid question on the admission application is intended to reflect your intent to apply for need-based assistance from the institution itself. Period. Your eligibility for merit scholarships awarded by the college does not require you to check “yes” unless you are specifically instructed to do so on the application.
The bottom line, then, is that you should check “yes” if you know you want to be considered for need-based financial aid. That check mark should not compromise your application for admission.
Source: The Admission Game