Considering Financial Aid Awards
In addition to academic programs, campus life, and post-graduation outcomes, prospective students and their families must carefully weigh the cost of college.
To help you investigate and evaluate financial assistance at Gustavus and other colleges, here are some common questions from people who call 1-800-GUSTAVUS (which you're encouraged to do!).
- My student received a larger scholarship from another college. Why is there a difference?
- Some colleges will offer larger merit-based financial aid awards than others but significantly less need-based aid awards. A very attractive initial offer can become just an average overall package when need-based aid is added. Also, because of necessary auditions and interviews, some scholarships are not awarded immediately after admission. Be sure to wait until you have all the information—which may mean visiting campus again—before making your college choice.
- My student received a great scholarship from Gustavus, but their best friend received less from you. They're in all the same school activities, so why is there a difference?
- Gustavus has a distinctive student population built by carefully reviewing each application for admission. When making admission and merit-based aid decisions, more emphasis is placed on a student's high school courseload and academic preparation for college. A student's GPA, high school rank, test scores, essay, recommendations, and school, church, and community involvement are also considered. For need-based aid awards, an individual family's need (as demonstrated by the FAFSA and/or CSS PROFILE) is the primary consideration.
- Our financial aid award is fine, but what will happen after my student's first year?
- As long as a student maintains the necessary requirements for each merit-based award they receive (such as a 3.25 cumulative GPA for the President's Scholarship or participation in a music ensemble for the Bjorling Music Scholarship), they will receive the award all four years. And, if a family's financial situation stays the same and the level of state and federal government support does not change, any need-based aid a student receives should stay the same as well. Also, if additional family members enroll in college at the same time, assistance may increase; if fewer family members are enrolled, assistance may decrease.
- How can a student employment award be an integral part of my student's education and not be something that conflicts with their academics?
- Student employment as part of a total financial aid package allows students to earn income to pay tuition or to use for discretionary spending. It also means developing skills and experience useful for life after college. Some colleges offer large student employment awards, but working more than 10 hours a week (the Gustavus limit) can conflict with studying for classes and preclude involvement in other activities. Gustavus also helps you find a campus job before you get to campus in the fall; you don't have to scramble to find a position during orientation.
- What about things like books and personal expenses? Are these costs figured into financial aid?
- Gustavus uses a real-world figure when calculating need-based financial aid. This includes tuition, room and board, required fees, and estimated expenses such as books, personal expenses, and transportation costs for an average student. Plus, students do not pay extra at Gustavus for laundry facilities or voice mail in their residence halls, printer paper in the computer labs, regular athletic event entrance, and many other amenities and activities.
- As an alum, I've been giving money to Gustavus for years. Isn't this money used to provide more scholarships for all students?
- Generous support to Gustavus by alumni and friends already means that every Gustavus student pays 20% less than what it actually costs to provide our high-quality education. After this discount, additional merit- and need-based aid may be available. Gustavus one of the highest participation rates for alumni giving among ELCA colleges.
- My student is one of the best swimmers in the state. Can't you give them more money because of that?
- NCAA Division III colleges may not consider a student's athletic potential or achievement when awarding financial aid. As a Division III college, Gustavus faculty and coaches expect their students to focus on their academics while recognizing the value of college athletics. With these priorities, Gustavus has a national reputation for academic excellence as well as athletic competitiveness.
- Another college says I need to let them know I'm coming now in order to get my scholarships. But, I'm not sure I want to go there. What can I do?
- All colleges agree to follow the National Association for College Admission Counseling's Statement of Principles of Good Practice, which requires that colleges give you until May 1 to compare and consider offers of admission and financial aid. If a college-imposed deadline is approaching, you may request (in writing) an extension until May 1. Students should be able to take the time necessary to carefully consider this very important decision. At Gustavus, your offer of admission, financial aid, and housing are guaranteed until May 1.