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In previous Tips we talked about scholarships. They both reward your past achievements and help a college shape its community with the academic and other talents you bring to the campus. Although colleges award millions of scholarship dollars, that's just the tip of the affordability iceberg.
Colleges help you gain access to federal and state grants in addition to those from the college. In this coordinated way, financial assistance flows to students who otherwise couldn't afford to attend. We do this to respect the decision you make to attend your first choice college, the one you believe will best meet your needs.
At Northland, for instance, we believe all qualified students should have access to personal attention from faculty, an engaged campus community and the special focus we place on the environment and sustainability. This chart shows the results of our commitment to affordability. As you can see, students from ALL income ranges call Northland their home.
|Adjusted Gross Income||Number of Students||Average Scholarship/Grant|
|$40,000 - $59,999||79||$20,095|
|$60,000 - $79,999||65||$20,029|
|$80,000 - $99,999||73||$17,586|
|$100,000 - $119,999||51||$16,767|
- Includes ONLY scholarships and grants...student loans and campus jobs add thousands of additional dollars to the above packages.
- Includes all students who filed a FAFSA for the 2011-2012 academic year
- The chart represents averages and should not be used to project individual awards, which will vary based on family circumstances and student characteristics.
Surprised at these averages? Most students and their families are. We're serious about providing a high quality, yet affordable education. That's why we're so disappointed when students who want to attend Northland don't file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Don't make the mistake of limiting your options by not gathering the information you need to make a good decision.
To help you with the decision of whether to file the FAFSA, these are some of the common misperceptions we hear:
Assumption: Why file the FAFSA? My neighbor went through that process and they didn't get anything from Western Megaversity.
Answer: The basic formula all colleges and universities use is simple:
Cost of Attendance
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
The Expected Family Contribution is determined by federal government formulas and will be the same for every college and university you consider. However, Cost of Attendance is set by each college. Many students who aren't eligible for financial assistance at a public institution because the tuition is lower do receive assistance at private colleges which have a higher Cost of Attendance. That evens out cost differences between colleges and lets you base your decision on non-financial factors.
Assumption: Private colleges are for wealthy families.
Answer: That's simply not true. Just look at the income distribution in the chart above. In fact, numerous studies show that students from the wealthiest families attend major public universities. Regardless of your family's financial background, you'll find other students like you at Northland.
Assumption: All that FAFSA does is qualify us for loans.
Answer: Northland distributes more than $8 million in scholarships and grants. That's about two thirds of all financial aid dollars. However, you should know that some of the best college loans are only available if you file a FAFSA. So, at the very least, filing a FAFSA means you get some good interest rates on a loan.
Assumption: What's the use? It's all over the news that federal and state funds have been cut.
Answer: As of this writing in late February, no final decisions have been made. Legislative and executive branches of government may struggle with this issue for months. In the worst case scenario, programs may be reduced, not eliminated. However, those government actions do not affect scholarship and grant decisions made by colleges.
Assumption: We're middle income. The FAFSA results just don't reflect reality.
Answer: In some ways, you're right. Over the years, the federal formula for determining Expected Family Contribution has become a tool for allocating limited federal and state dollars. It's a fair process inasmuch as it treats all people in a similar circumstance in the same way. However, for some families, the results may not be an accurate or realistic analysis of what they can afford to pay for college.
That's why Northland has implemented the Access Guarantee. Briefly, if you have a "B" average, your family adjusted gross income is less than $150,000, and you submit a complete FAFSA, we guarantee your costs to attend Northland will be the same or lower than the primary public university of your home state.
Assumption: We tried filling out the FAFSA last year when my sister went to college and we didn't get a thing.
Answer: Do we have good news for you! Having more than one in college is the best thing that can happen for most families, at least from a financial aid perspective. The Expected Family Contribution will be reduced for both you and your sister and, in most cases, that means both of you will qualify for financial aid.
Assumption: It's just too complicated, we'll just settle for a public university.
Answer: For some students, that may be the best choice. However, there are significant differences in programs, personal attention, and campus community, and those differences can be linked to stronger career and life outcomes. So don't just "settle." It's too important.
Your next steps:
- File the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. We should receive the results in about 48 hours. If you have questions just call Northland's Financial Aid office at (800) 753-1840 for assistance.
- List Northland as one of the colleges and universities to receive the results. Our FAFSA code is 003875.
- If you haven't already done so, apply for admission. Colleges only award financial aid to accepted applicants.
- You should have an admission decision within a week of the time your application file is complete and a financial aid award shortly thereafter.