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3 Financial Aid Must-Do’sfor Transfer Students BY LORNA HUNTER • WASHINGTON COLLEGE


Applying for financial aid as a transfer student is easy because you’ve already been through the process, right? Well, not exactly. While that previous experience may be helpful, transfer students may encounter a few unique financial aid issues. Here’s what you need to do before you file:


1. Know what forms are required Transfer student or not, to apply for federal, state, and/or institutional aid, you should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on or as soon after October 1 as possible. The FAFSA is completely free and can be found at fafsa.ed.gov.


Some schools will require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE (College Scholarship Service PROFILE) and/or their own institutional forms. The PROFILE provides additional information about the family’s financial situation that the FAFSA doesn’t cover. Unlike the FAFSA, the PROFILE does cost money ($25 for the first school and $16 per college after that), so make sure it’s required before paying to have it filed at a potential college or university. More information about the CSS/PROFILE can be found at CollegeBoard.com.


It could happen that the information required where you are now will be different at your next institution. Make sure to research the needed documents and know which school requires which forms.


2. Know the deadlines The deadline for applying for aid as a transfer student varies from institution to institution and depends on when you plan to transfer. Deadlines for students interested in merit-based scholarships can also catch you off guard if you’re not diligent. Make sure to stay on top of dates. Make a spreadsheet of all potential deadlines to help you keep track.


3. Communicate directly with the financial aid office You’ve done this before, so you may be tempted to leave this aspect of your transfer decision to the last minute. But don’t! Be sure to talk with a financial aid officer about any special financial circumstances you or your family may have. Ask all the important questions you learned your first time through the process, and seek advice and direction from your new institution.


Lorna Hunter is the Vice President for Enrollment Management at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.


That possibility also exists with the more traditional two-year to four-year pathway. If you don’t take care in choosing the right courses, you could waste your time and money. While four-year colleges and universities routinely accept credits from community colleges and other schools, that’s only part of the story. For any credits to transfer, they must meet the exact expectations of the incoming school and, in some cases, specific degree programs.


The challenge is that colleges and universities have different require- ments for completing programs and earning degrees. And some courses offered by community colleges may be accepted at one four-year school but not another. Even if accepted in general terms, some courses don’t


meet the specific requirements of a given academic program. For exam- ple, you could complete a course in US History at a community college only to learn that the four-year program you transfer into requires World History.


Fortunately, these kinds of prob- lems can be avoided by learning just what four-year schools demand then taking care in selecting first- and second-year courses. You can make sure all your credits transfer—and that’s how you bring cost savings that really make a difference.


Transferring may not be for everyone. But for prac- tical-minded students, it can be the ideal way to


transfer.collegexpress.com n 2021 17 @CollegeXpress


pursue—and meet—your college dreams.


Mark Rowh is a freelance writer based in Virginia.


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