Financial Aid for Transfer Students: Q&A

Students on Campus

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Coalition for College.

As a college student looking to transfer, you probably have some questions about financial aid. Well, we’ve got some answers!

Here are some commonly asked questions and answers about financial aid for transfer students:

Will my financial aid transfer with me to my new school?

Your new institution will need to provide an updated financial aid package. You’ll need to request that your FAFSA is sent to your new school, which will then provide you with a new financial aid package. It’s important to note that the information required by your current school may be different at your next school. So make sure to find out which schools require which forms. And start early!

How do I apply for financial aid?

You’ll start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition to federal aid, including grants, loans, and work-study funds, your FAFSA may be used to determine your eligibility for state and/or school financial aid. For more information about the FAFSA, go to studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa.

Some schools will also require you to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, a financial aid application offered by the College Board and used by more than 400 colleges, universities, and private scholarship programs to award non-federal aid. Unlike the FAFSA, the PROFILE costs money, so make sure it’s required before paying to have it filed at a potential college or university. For more information about the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, and to view a list of participating colleges, go to cssprofile.collegeboard.org.

In some cases, you can also apply for financial aid directly from the colleges to which you’re applying, the state or local government, or private groups and organizations. Be sure to review the application requirements for these options.

Do I need to complete a FAFSA (even if I already completed one)?

To apply for federal, state, and/or institutional aid, you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. If you filed a FAFSA last year, you can file a renewal this year. And with a renewal, some parts of your FAFSA will already be filled out with your answers from last year.

I applied for financial aid. Now what?

First, make sure to alert the financial aid office at your current school about your plan to transfer. They can let you know if your account is fully settled (which is important because, if it isn’t, your transcript may be withheld). And if you’re transferring midyear, you may need to follow certain steps that will affect your remaining financial aid.

Then, if you’re receiving federal student loans at your current school, you’ll go through what’s called exit counseling. This is when you’ll learn how your federal student loans will be affected when you transfer. You’ll discuss important concepts like “repayment” and “deferment”; don’t be afraid to ask questions — this is your financial future!

Is there financial aid geared specifically toward transfer students like me?

In many cases, yes! Some schools offer transfer scholarships, particularly for community college students. Other resources for community college graduates transferring to four-year schools include scholarship programs from private organizations, such as Pearson, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and Phi Theta Kappa. Don’t miss out!

Will the credits I’ve earned at my current school transfer to my new school?

That depends on the schools and the credits. To know for sure, you should talk with an admissions or transfer advisor at the school to which you’re transferring. In addition, some schools may provide information on their websites about which courses are transferable. And keep in mind that many colleges have limits on the number of credits that you can transfer from another college (usually about two years’ worth).

What is an articulation agreement?

It’s an agreement between two schools that explains how credits will transfer between the two schools. If you ask, schools must give you a list of any partner schools with whom they have an articulation agreement. In addition, each school must provide you with a statement of its transfer of credit policies, which describes the criteria the school uses regarding the transfer of credits earned at another school.

Where can I get help?

The financial aid professionals at your current school and at your new school are great resources. Contact them to find out what steps you need to take and what deadlines you need to meet.

And check out these great online resources:

Financial Aid Glossary — MyCoalition Counselor

Resources for Transfer Students — Federal Student Aid (An Office of the U.S. Department of Education)

About the Coalition for College

The Coalition helps transfer students save time and money on their path to a college degree. Create a free account at MyCoalition.org to access advice and digital tools, including an easy-to-use transfer application accepted at more than 70 top schools.

Explore these schools at Coalition’s free virtual college fair, Oct. 21 and 22. Learn more and register on the Coalition’s website.

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