Student Financial Services Office.

Aid Offer FAQ

In brief, income and assets are analyzed to determine a family's financial strength. First, available income is calculated by subtracting expenses such as taxes, a maintenance allowance based on the number of family members and other standard allowances (including saving for younger children's college education) from the total family income. Next, a small, standard percentage of available assets is calculated from total assets, including home equity and non-retirement investments, minus emergency reserve allowances and college savings allowances. The sum of that percentage of available assets plus available income is the total parent contribution.

The Financial Aid Office realizes that most families cannot simply pay the costs of attending Wellesley from current income. Most of our families use a combination of the following to pay the term bill:

  • current income
  • savings and investments
  • payment plans
  • educational loans

Educational loans are available only while the student is in school and generally offer better terms than commercial or personal loans. The Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan for students and the Federal PLUS Loan are federal education loans available to students and parents who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Some states have educational loan programs which may be used for out-of-state institutions. Some families have chosen to borrow through educational loans to maximize use of their current income. As with all borrowing, we advise families to limit educational loans each year.

We do not expect families to re-mortgage their homes for college. The portion of the parent contribution directly traceable to home equity is usually a small fraction of the total equity. Some parents choose to utilize an equity line of credit or a second mortgage because of a tax benefit, convenience and the effective marketing efforts of commercial lenders. Educational loans for parents, MEFA and Direct PLUS for example, are options that for parents who cannot or do not wish to involve their primary residence in college financing. As always, you should compare terms and rates.

First, identify your priorities for borrowing--interest rate, monthly payment, deferment provisions, home equity option--and read the literature for each loan carefully. The Student Accounts Office will mail detailed payment and loan information. Telephone the lender with questions; their answers will also be a good indication of how the loan will be serviced. Contact our office for more information, if necessary. While we do not recommend specific loans, we can help evaluate the programs you have identified. Please visit Financing & Loan Options.

No, families should reapply if there have been significant changes in income, assets or the number of children in college. We will also reevaluate an application if a family's circumstances change mid-year. The exception is that international students who enter without aid cannot apply for it in subsequent years.

Wellesley is one of the few remaining schools with a need-blind admissions policy. All of our students have been admitted regardless of their financial need; merit is the only factor considered in admission. Over 80% of our students have graduated in the top tenth of their high school classes and bring a rich variety of talents and backgrounds to Wellesley. In turn, financial aid offers are based only on financial need. We do not offer academic, athletic or other scholarships. Often, other colleges do. In addition, our institutional methodology might differ from the methodologies used by other colleges; each school applies its own policies to the financial aid process which will result in different offers.

The number of family members and the number of children in college are significant factors in calculating family resources. If a sibling's enrollment status changes or if it is not verified by the due date, the financial aid offer must be revised. By accepting financial aid, all students must, by federal law, inform the Financial Aid Office of changes in the enrollment of a sibling in college and changes in the total family size. Because graduate students have access to stipends, assistantships and up to $18, 500 per year in federal loans, we do not allocate a parent contribution for siblings in graduate school. We will review an offer upon receipt of a Financial Aid Statement indicating that the graduate school calculates and collects a family contribution.

A student admitted to Wellesley as a first-year or a transfer student is expected to furnish parent information even if she later marries and/or meets the federal criteria for independence. A student who declares herself independent (of her parents) or a student whose parents will not assume financial responsibility for her education will not receive financial aid from Wellesley to replace the parent contribution. Information from the parents of Davis Degree students is not required unless the parents provide support.

Students may be offered financial aid to participate in the Twelve-College Exchange and Spelman College, up to the cost of Wellesley or of the exchange institution, whichever is lower. Students on exchange at MIT are charged as Wellesley students and aided accordingly but may pay an additional charge if living in the MIT residence halls. Students may also receive aid for Wellesley College Study Abroad and Exchange Programs. For programs through other colleges or institutions, students may apply for scholarships through the Study Abroad Office.

Students who win outside scholarships receive the fullest possible benefit of those scholarships. We use outside scholarship aid to reduce the student loan, academic year work, and student contribution from vacation earnings before making any reduction in grant aid. For most students, this means that all of the outside scholarship will reduce self-help. Unless specifically stated in the sponsorship letter, all outside scholarships will be evenly applied to the fall and spring semesters.

Students whose parents have employee benefits as a condition of their employment should speak to the Financial Aid staff.

Please note that state grants, Federal Pell Grants, Gear-up Grants and benefits that are not merit-based are not included in this policy. Students receiving, or expecting to receive, outside scholarships must report them to our office as soon as possible.

If you have further questions or concerns, please contact us in the Student Financial Services.