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Investing in a Smith Education

A Smith College education is the investment of a lifetime. Yet if you're concerned about the financial strain of paying for college, you're not alone. Families at all income levels wonder how to finance a private college education. The good news is that you don't have to be wealthy to afford Smith. The college welcomes students from all economic backgrounds, and we meet the full documented financial need of all admitted students.

Resources for financial aid include loans, campus jobs and grants, and students' financial aid packages will include one or more of these. A loan and a job (considered self-help) are usually the first components of an aid package, and remaining need is met with grant aid. In 2014–15, college grants given to traditional-aged Smith undergraduates totaled more than $54 million.

Fees and Financial Aid

Smith's fixed fees are comparable to fees at other selective private colleges. Many families who feared they wouldn't qualify for financial aid are glad they checked out the possibilities. We strive to ensure that every admitted applicant can afford the benefits of a private education. Financial planning services are offered to all families, whether or not they apply for aid. Nearly 75 percent take advantage of flexible payment plans that help families spread costs over time.

Applying for Aid

Students must not wait until they have been accepted to Smith to apply for aid. Any student who may need financial assistance during her tenure at Smith should apply for aid by the financial aid deadlines; financial aid is not available to applicants who do not meet the published deadlines. The Office of Student Financial Services determines a family contribution toward tuition costs based on information you provide, as documented by tax returns. Standard factors such as incomes, assets, the size of your household and how many family members are already in college are just the beginning. Other significant factors, such as unusual medical costs or an imminent retirement, are also considered.

Merit Aid

Smith College offers a limited number of awards based on merit rather than need. All applicants for admission are automatically considered; there are no special application forms. Students are selected by the Office of Admission and must maintain satisfactory academic progress in order to have their scholarships renewed annually. Many of Smith's merit awards include a reduced loan expectation for those merit scholars with additional financial need. Merit aid is only offered at the time of admission.


General Advice on the Financial Aid Process

It is helpful to stay organized and apply early. Reply promptly to requests for further information, and keep copies of everything. Be in touch with the colleges. Ask questions!

Application
  • The financial aid application is not the same as the admission application, and noting that you intend to apply for financial aid is not the same as actually submitting the application documents. Be sure to follow published deadlines for document submission, even if you have to estimate your figures. See Tuition & Financial Aid for more information on forms and deadlines.
Planning and Organization
  • Gather necessary information (tax returns and business information) to complete financial aid forms.
  • Put your name and student identification number on everything you send, and keep a copy for yourself.
  • Confirm with the college that your information was received; it is the student’s responsibility to be sure her application is complete.
  • Keep the same email address through the process.
Where to Go for Help

Financial Aid Awards

  • Awarding is based upon both individual school and federal policies.
  • Awards include loan(s), work and grants.
  • Be sure to compare awards from different schools.
Financial Aid Determination
  • Need-based financial aid is based solely on the current financial circumstances of the student’s family. Standard determinants are income, assets, household size and siblings in college.
Special Circumstances
  • Be sure each school is aware of any special circumstances (medical costs, loss of employment, support of other family members, etc.). Put this in writing to each school.
What is "financial need"?
  • This is determined by using the information submitted with your financial aid application. The cost of attendance minus what the school has determined your family can pay is your financial need.
Outside Scholarships
  • Find out how scholarships impact your financial award from each school.
  • Tuition benefits from parents’ employers are treated differently than merit awards. If you will be receiving a tuition benefit, check with each school to determine how this will affect your aid.

Understanding Your Financial Aid Award

Award breakdown
  • Compare the breakdown of grant vs. loan and work when reviewing awards.
  • Find out whether your aid is renewable each year.
  • Find out each school’s predetermined loan amounts for future years.
  • Some aid is need based, some is merit based. Be aware of the difference when comparing awards.
Total cost of the program
  • What will the school cost you each year?
  • Find out whether there are additional fees not listed in your award notice (such as art fees, housing fees, lab fees, etc.).
Choosing the right school
  • Compare like components of awards, such as grant to grant, loan to loan. More grant and less loan may be better than more loan and less grant, even if the total award is lower. Also be aware of which aspects of an award are guaranteed for future years (such as some merit awards).
  • Families sometimes pay less for private schools than for public schools. Be sure to compare the cost to you with financial aid factored in, rather than comparing the overall total cost of the colleges.
  • Be aware that the best deal may not be the best fit. Choose the school and the award package that are right for your student.
Appealing your financial aid award
  • Appeals must be received in writing, and each school may have different policies.
Tuition & Aid - Traditional Deadlines