Spending and Saving

State Financial Aid is a Challenge for Transfer Students

Whether it’s on the West Coast or to an Ivy League College on the East Coast, transferring schools is nothing new for millions of students around the globe, but trying to secure financial aid when doing so isn’t always easy. But help might be on the way as important changes to federal and state student … Continued

Whether it’s on the West Coast or to an Ivy League College on the East Coast, transferring schools is nothing new for millions of students around the globe, but trying to secure financial aid when doing so isn’t always easy.

But help might be on the way as important changes to federal and state student aid are forthcoming according to an article in InsideHigherEd.com.

The authors Juana Sánchez and Lara Couturier of the article suggest, “The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to reduce the number and complexity of questions many students and families have to answer when finding out about their eligibility for federal aid.”

The proposed bill includes provisions making student eligibility for the Pell Grant more predictable while expanding access to the maximum award for independent adult students. 

The Pell Grant is a subsidy the U.S. federal government provides for students who need it to pay for college. Federal Pell Grants are limited to students with financial need, and wh haven’t earned their first bachelor’s degree, or who are enrolled in some post-baccalaureate programs from participating schools.

President Biden additionally announced the American Families Plan, which proposes to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by around $1,400 to help low-income students obtain finance for rising college costs.

Such changes might help today’s transfer students, who are facing issues with the financial aid application process and in obtaining the aid needed to continue their studies where they want.

Lots of Transferring

And lots of students look to transfer at some point as current data says 38 percent of first-time students change schools within their first six years. Almost half of all bachelor’s degree holders complete some credits in community colleges.

Also, 34 percent of all students earn some college credits in high school, and another 35 percent of students earn credits online, in hopes of transferring credits when moving elsewhere.

Unfortunately, while students can transfer rather easily their aid doesn’t always move with them to a new educational institution.

Answers Needed 

Trying to find simple answers about transferring and obtaining state aid isn’t an easy feat, either. 

For example, under the article Federal Student Aid site found online, “Resources for Transfer Students,” the information about transferring and financial aid is bleak.

The article in general, says transferring across learning environments is “at best administratively cumbersome and at worst, financially risky and a bad idea.”

Instead of offering information, the website suggests transfer students contact the college of choice to see about transferring credits and about financial aid.

In general, transferring processes are known to be difficult and those students typically have to deal with credit loss when making a move.

Transfer students also almost always must pay higher tuition at a new institution, due to the moving of financial aid funds and the possibility of losing said aid in general.

State financial aid is also difficult for transfer students to get as only certain states have aid available, the same as for federal aid.

As a result, it rests on the student to reapply for state aid when transferring from one institution to another.

Back of the Line

While technically eligible for aid, transfer students are not usually given priority by schools and are often placed at the back of the queue behind eligible students.

Many transfer students end up not receiving state aid or federal, even though they meet all eligibility requirements.

Transferring to a new school can be a huge life change and stressful for any college student, especially for one who is transferring from one institution to another.

Factoring in the administrative issues, evaluating transfer credits, signing up for classes, and adjusting to a new university can be stressful.

In terms of credit and aid, the bottom-line is that students who transfer tend to get thousands of dollars less in state, as well as federal grant aid.

Perhaps, as a transfer student, you might want to think once, twice, and even three times if it makes sense to head to another college or university. 

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