Thursday, January 25, 2018

SFS and Admissions: partnering to help early action applicants

Students and families need clarity when making decisions regarding college, and it’s not just academic programs and location that make a difference: it’s the availability of financial aid.

“Families are sitting down and crunching the numbers,” said Kelsey Bowles, Assistant Dean of Admissions at UVA.

“For many, especially in first generation college families and low-income families, the most important factor they consider is whether or not they can afford it,” she said.

Mary Fields of Student Financial Services
Scott Miller, Director of Financial Aid in Student Financial Services, says this is why it is critical for UVA to get financial aid packages to students as soon as possible, and why the financial aid staff in SFS has been hard at work since December review financial aid applications in anticipation of awarding the financial aid packages for thousands of early action students.

The early action process allows students to apply and hear back on an accelerated schedule. UVA’s early action application deadline is November 1, and those applicants receive decisions at the end of January instead of the end of March, when regular admission decisions are made.

“Even though UVA meets 100% of demonstrated need, if students don’t have a clear understanding of their financial aid package, they will choose the school who gave that understanding to them sooner,” Bowles said. 

For each of the early action applicants who also sent in financial aid applications, SFS returned a financial aid award package by January 1. With this complete information on both their admission status and the financial package they will receive, students and families can make the best decisions. The insight into the affordability of UVA is a tremendous help to students and families, said Bowles.

“Our fear is that students might self-select out, because they don’t have the information they need,” said Miller.

“We don’t want them to assume they can’t afford it,” he said.

This is just one example of SFS partnering with Admissions to help students understand how to afford UVA. SFS participates in Admissions’ Days on the Lawn program, providing financial aid sessions and individual counseling to students and families, and travels to the students who aren’t able to make it to that event. Additionally, SFS representatives regularly visit area high schools in the fall, and host FAFSA filing nights to help families fill out financial aid forms.

“We’re always trying to look for the ways that we can catch the students who could potentially fall through the cracks because the financial aid process is new to them,” said Miller.

Read more about this year’s early action applications

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