University financial aid restricted by federal regulations

According to the 2022-2023 US News and World ReportHopkins ranked ninth best value for money school on the basis of its low cost with an average level of financial aid and its academic quality. The University’s financial aid program for undergraduate students is depending on the needs and takes into account the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the College Board’s College Scholarship Service (CSS) profile, recent family tax returns, and special circumstances.

In an email to The News-Letter, Assistant Vice President for Media and News Relations JB Bird clarified that the University uses this information to calculate the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) per year. The CFE is subtracted from the total cost of attendance, and grants and non-federal work study are awarded to meet this need.

According to Bird, the average scholarship awarded to 2022-23 freshmen is $58,700, covering 72% of the total cost of attendance — an increase from 2018, when the average scholarship was $42,000, covering 58 % of total cost of attendance.

He noted that alumnus Michael Bloomberg’s 2018 monetary donation allows the University to offer financial aid programs without student loans, which has resulted in a reduction in the percentage of students who take out student loans. . In the 2022 graduating cohort, 34% of students took out loans, compared to 46% in the 2018 graduating cohort. first class to fully benefit from Bloomberg’s donation.

“Some students and families still choose to go into debt, for their own reasons, but the University is committed to enabling Homewood students to graduate debt-free,” he wrote.

In interviews with The News-Letterfour students detailed their financial aid experiences at the University.

Malaika Thug

In an interview with The News-Letter, Second-year student Malaika Voyou shared her experiences with the University’s financial aid resources.

Thug is a first generation student with limited income (FLI). Since her mother is listed as her primary caregiver on the FAFSA form, her EFC is nil. However, according to Voyou, the University also considers parents who are always in communication with their children in its EFC calculation.

“I’m a divorced child, so it was a bit of a hassle because my dad also lives in Africa. But they still want all his tax documents…which isn’t that easy,” she said. .

Although his father did not provide financial support, Thug’s calculated needs dwindled. She was able to successfully enlist his help before committing to college and again in the spring semester of her freshman year.

Thug expressed his frustration with the University’s calculation process.

“For students who are in between where you’re still in communication with your other parent, that doesn’t mean they have to pay child support and pay for your college,” she said. “It puts you in a strange place where [the University] uses [my father’s] income for my tuition, but it’s not going to help me.

alexander

Alex, using a pseudonym, pointed out that he applied to Hopkins because of its renowned financial aid program in an interview with The News-Letter.

“I just heard a lot of anecdotes, but after I got accepted I realized there was nothing…that said I had received financial aid,” he said. .

When Alex contacted the financial aid office, he was informed that his financial aid was being processed.

“The deadline [to commit] was coming, and I had to refuse admission to the other school. I agreed to be a Hopkins student. But by the time July came, there was still nothing,” he said.

In July, Alex discovered that his financial aid agent had changed without his knowledge, and he contacted his new agent.

“My new financial agent told me between July and August that I was never processed for assistance…because my parents own property,” he said. “But the property is a family business, so it’s our only source of income.”

He noted that his brother, who attends a peer institution, received more than $50,000 in financial aid; his family was not prepared to pay full tuition to attend Hopkins.

“I was going to take a gap year and apply to different schools, but since I’m a first [generation] student, my parents really wanted me to come here. We discussed a lot of things and finally decided to come here,” he said.

In an interview with The News-LetterTom McDermott, Associate Vice Provost for Financial Aid and Executive Director of Student Financial Services, explained how particular circumstances affect a student’s CEF.

“When we read those particular circumstances, we will assess whether or not it’s something we can help with,” he said. “We will work with the student to provide the best possible federal aid package based on where this family is located and their current circumstances.”

Diya

In an interview with The News-Letter, Diya, using an alias, cited the financial aid as a big help to her family. Her financial aid package increased before her graduate and postgraduate years.

To cover rent and personal expenses, Diya works two jobs. She acknowledged that it is difficult to make ends meet, even with this extra income.

Diya also applied for financial aid to attend summer school, but was told that aid was limited during the summer term so she had to return home. She expressed that she wants help to be more widely available for all semesters, rather than primarily in the fall and spring.

“I tried to contact the financial aid office to see if there were any options. I was told that financial aid was very limited and there was really nothing they could do about it,” a- she said. “I wish they were more open about other types of grants they had or anything else I might apply for, rather than being told we really can’t do anything about it. TO DO.”

Although she can apply for external scholarships to fund summer opportunities, Diya explained that she is hesitant to seek external funding because additional grants are sometimes deducted from university scholarships.

In his email, Bird clarified that the University must make financial aid decisions in taking into account external scholarships since the program is needs-based.

“When the addition of an external/private scholarship exceeds calculated need, it creates an over-allocation of aid based on the needs we are required to address,” he wrote. “JHU will only reduce its need-based grant when all other options have been exhausted (for example, we have reduced the student’s summer savings and/or professional study expectations).”

Lisa

Lisa, a Gates Fellow at Hopkins using a pseudonym, was awarded a Life Design Lab (LDL) grant for the summer of 2022 to supplement the expenses of her unpaid research internship. LDL Summer Scholarships are stipends for students who participate in unpaid internships or volunteer during the summer to help with living costs and travel.

In an interview with The News-Lettershe described how her Student Information System (SIS) account indicated that she received a scholarship from the Center for Student Success (CSS) this semester.

“I made an appointment with my financial aid officer. I said I didn’t get a scholarship from CSS. I got this summer grant to pay for my summer experiences,” she said. “It had nothing to do with my academic work. It should have nothing to do with my fall or spring tuition.

Lisa was informed that this was a mistake and that the LDL grant would not be reported in her financial aid. Later, the exchange was still present on his SIS account. On contacting the financial aid office again, she was told that due to a new federal financial aid policy, all university grants, including during non-enrollment periods, will be considered when the University will calculate the financial aid grants.

Lisa expressed frustrations with the University’s financial aid office, saying she didn’t know the LDL grant would be part of her financial aid. Although his University scholarship was unaffected, the Gates Foundation contributed a reduced amount to his federal work study to reflect the University’s financial aid calculation.

“It was a grant from the Life Design Lab, and the only reason the financial aid was aware of it was because it came through the university system,” he said. she stated.

McDermott stressed that any scholarships awarded for periods of non-schooling must be considered for the following school year. He emphasized that this was not a University policy.

“This is the federal student aid policy. We are held accountable for EFA, estimated financial aid,” he said. “We are not doing this in a way that intentionally harms students. We just try to respect and follow federal regulations.

He added that for the majority of students who receive summer scholarships, the University rarely has to adjust the 1:1 ratio of financial aid.

“You would get a $2,500 scholarship for the summer and we might have to cut your Hopkins aid by $300, or we might have to cut your federal work-study scholarship so you could keep as much federal money and federal money institutional as possible. possible,” he said.

As Bird and McDermott explained, many of the restrictions on financial aid distributions are placed by the federal government.

However, the students of the University believe that the institution can do more.

“I know that Hopkins always does great financial help. It’s just that some kids fall through the cracks when they shouldn’t,” Alex said.