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At Russell Sage College, we understand the challenge of affording a college education. We are committed to meeting financial need whenever possible. And we can assure you, one investment that is sure to pay dividends, even today, is your education.
I probably don’t qualify for need-based aid. Should I apply anyway?
This is a common question and it is natural to be somewhat hesitant to starting the aid application process if one is uncertain about eligibility. Your comfort level is the best criteria to use in determining whether to file financial aid applications. Do you (and does your family) feel you can reasonably afford to pay the price of attendance at all the colleges to which you are applying? If the answer is something other than a comfortable yes, then it would makes sense for you to consider completing the required forms. While there are no guarantees, filing the forms on-time is the way to know whether you will be eligible – and the answer can vary from one school to the next.
Also, the federal government has a low-interest unsubsidized student loan for those students who do not qualify for the subsidized Stafford loan. In order to receive this non-need based loan, you are required to complete at least the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) need-analysis form.
Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid?
Application for admission and financial aid should occur around the same time. Sage’s deadline for financial aid application is March 1, and for regular decision admission is January 15. In order to ensure financial aid eligibility is not jeopardized by late application, it is important to know the earliest financial aid application deadline for all the schools to which the student is applying. The required form(s) should then be submitted by that earliest deadline date.
At Sage, your admission and aid decisions will be mailed together near the end of March. Once the financial aid decision is received, you should contact the financial aid office with any questions or concerns.
How and when do I apply for financial aid?
Sage requires the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be filed online. The FAFSA web site is https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa. The FAFSA form is required in order for you to be considered for any Federal student aid.
You should file no later than February 1 in order to meet Sage’s financial aid application deadline. The FAFSA may not be filed before January 1. Most families do not have their Federal tax form completed before they must file the financial aid forms, and so should estimate their income information. Once an applicant enrolls at Sage, we will then collect the necessary documentation (such as IRS 1040’s) to verify and update the income information, as necessary. When estimating, try to be as accurate as possible, as the financial aid decision will only be as good as your estimate of income.
My parents are separated/divorced/remarried. Who completes the FAFSA?
Federal regulations require the FAFSA to be completed by the parent with whom the student lived most in the prior twelve months to completing the FAFSA.
If the student lived with both parents equally in the prior twelve months to completing the form, then the parent who provided more financial support is the parent who completes the financial aid forms.
Those are the two criteria to be used in determining which parent files the forms. Agreements in divorce decrees or claiming status on tax returns do not determine parental responsibility for completing the forms.
If the parent whose information is required on the financial aid forms is remarried, that parent’s current spouses information is also required to be reported on both forms.
How are outside scholarships considered?
In accordance with federal guidelines, the financial aid office is required to take all known sources of assistance into account when determining eligibility for financial aid. Students receiving outside scholarships or other financial resources must forward all checks and official correspondence to the Financial Aid office. The receipt of outside funds may result in an adjustment to the student’s financial assistance. If the scholarship amount, when combined with your financial aid package, exceeds the Cost of Attendance, the Financial aid office may need to reduce the amount of subsidized loans, work-study or institutional grant money that was offered to you.
It is the policy of Russell Sage College to utilize outside scholarships in the following manner:
•To reduce any unmet federal demonstrated need
•To reduce student self-help in the form of Federal Work Study, Perkins or Federal Direct Loans
•To reduce Institutional Grants, Federal Grants and/or State Grants
If you are awarded a scholarship from an outside agency, it is your responsibility to submit proof of the award to the Financial Aid office.
** Please Note: In some cases the awarding organization may have specific awarding criteria. In those cases Russell Sage College reserves the right to make adjustments as needed.
Are there merit-based awards, and is there a separate application?
Sage does have resources committed for non-need based grants. We have been able to recognize the outstanding achievements of our top applicants. Last year we offered over $5 million dollars in awards based on students’ academic performance.
At Sage, there is no separate application. Faculty and Admissions staff review your admission application and decide based on the comprehensive data you have submitted to us, who may qualify for these non-need based funds.
What do the terms ‘EFC’ and ‘family contribution’ mean?
The term ‘EFC’ stands for Estimated Family Contribution. This is the number the financial aid office uses to estimate what a family can contribute to the student’s education for one year. The federal government also determines an EFC. Generally, financial aid administrators view the federal EFC as a criterion to determine eligibility for federal aid more than a true estimate of what a family can afford to contribute.
Sage is proud of its philosophical and financial commitment to need-based aid. In the past year, we have committed over $3 million to our students in the form of grant assistance, ensuring access to quality higher education for more than 1,800 students.
What does a typical financial aid award look like at Sage?
A typical need-based award at Sage consists of self-help and grant assistance. These amounts are determined by the analysis of your family’s financial information as reported on the FAFSA. The average financial aid award at Sage last year was approximately $24,650.
Almost all award ‘packages’ consist of a work-study job of $1,800. Work-study is a job on campus partially funded by the federal government for students who demonstrate financial need. Additionally, we provide Sage Work Study for students without demonstrated need.
We also will estimate what federal and/or state grants the student may qualify for. This would include a Pell grant, or New York State Tuition Assistance (TAP) if you and your parents are NY State residents. In our example above, for a family with a $24,650 need who is from NY State, the student would qualify for some TAP. The minimum for last year was $500 and the maximum was $5000. The average TAP award was $2445. Students who qualify for state grants from Vermont and Rhode Island may be able to take advantage of them at Sage.
Many of our aid recipients are also offered a low-interest student loan. The student loans range in amount from $1,000 to $4,625. The average student loan was $3,250 for our freshmen.
Finally, we offer the student institutional grant assistance to fill the remaining need.
Are you able to meet ‘need’? If not, what is the average ‘gap’?
Both of these questions contain financial aid lingo aid administrators use that can be beneficial for families to understand.
“Need” refers to a family’s demonstrated financial need as determined by analysis of the completed financial aid forms. As discussed in the “EFC” question, information collected on the forms is used to calculate what a family is able to contribute to the student’s education. The difference between the calculated family contribution and the price (tuition/fees/room/board/estimated books and supplies) of a college is “need.” For example, if a college’s price is $40,000 and a family’s calculated contribution is $17,000, the demonstrated financial need for that family at that college is $23,000. Similarly, that same family with a $17,000 calculated contribution considering a lower-cost college of $15,000 would have $0 demonstrated financial need. As one can see, the price of a college significantly affects the amount of need-based aid a student will qualify for.
Will I receive the same award each year? Is it based on my family’s financial circumstances, maintaining a minimum level of academic performance or both?
If you are offered need-based aid at Sage, then each year as an upperclassman, we require you to complete the FAFSA. This is so we can accurately assess your family’s ability to contribute as it may fluctuate from one year to the next. You can expect the award to be similar each year provided you apply on-time and your financial circumstances are similar.
If you are offered a non-need based award, there is no minimum level of academic performance required to receive the award each year. You must remain in good academic standing and full-time status. We make a four-year financial commitment to you and are confident that it will be a sound investment.
How does early decision affect financial aid?
Financial aid concerns should not deter Early Decision candidates. Financial aid awards at Sage are not affected by your decision status; in other words, our needs analysis and financial aid packaging is the same no matter when you apply.
Applicants should be aware, however, that the Early Decision plan has the inherent advantage that you will know what your financial aid is earlier.
Although some of the financial information you may need to formally complete the process may not be available, such as tax forms and W-2s, we will accept your estimates for packaging purposes and will expect proper financial documentation when it becomes available. For families interested in an estimate of their Sage financial aid, particularly those considering Early Decision, we offer our Early Evaluator Service. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for details.
Is summer financial aid available?
Summer aid consists primarily of student loans. There may be some eligibility for PELL and TAP. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for further details.
I consider myself an ‘independent’, how does this affect aid?
Students must meet federal guidelines to be considered independent for federal financial aid purposes. One of the following conditions/criteria must be met in order to be considered independent – students who are 24 or older by December 31 of the award year; students whose parents have died or who are wards of the court; students who are veterans of the armed forces; married students; students who have legal dependents (other than a spouse) for whom they provide at least half the support. All other students will be considered financially dependent upon their parents.
The student’s personal and family situation continues to be the basis for Sage financial assistance during the duration of the baccalaureate program. For example, a student who enrolls at Sage as a dependent family member must continue to submit parental financial information as the basis for institutional aid, regardless of changes in family circumstances.
The College reserves the right to expect a contribution from parents (or stepparents) since it feels that the primary responsibility to assist with educational costs remains with the parents. For financial aid purposes, students may not ‘declare’ independence due to attainment of legal age, internal family arrangements, or family disagreements. The responsibility for financing education rests with the family and can only be transferred to Sage in cases where parents are truly unable to contribute. If special circumstances exist, please contact the Financial Aid Office for further explanation.
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