FAQ for Current Students on the New Financial Aid Policy

This was just blitzed out by the financial aid office in their announcement of the policy changes:


Q: Which of the new financial aid initiatives will impact the financial aid packages of current students?
A: The following initiatives will take effect for all returning students for the 2008-09 academic year: All students whose families have a total income of under $75,000 will be guaranteed to receive scholarship at least equivalent to tuition. Loans included in your financial aid award will be reduced to 50% of what they would have been under the prior policy. Finally, one leave-term earnings obligation will be eliminated effective with the Class of 2009.

Q: Does “no tuition” mean that I will not be billed for tuition at all?
A: No. Tuition will still appear on your bill. However, if your family’s total income is under $75,000 and they have typical assets, you are guaranteed to receive scholarship funds to cover at least the full cost of tuition.

Q: It is great that my family won’t have to pay tuition, but what about all the other costs of attendance? How are they covered if I’m receiving financial aid?
A: After you have met your family contribution and the self-help component of your award (employment eligibility and loans), the remainder of your demonstrated need will be provided in scholarship funds to cover your total cost of attendance.

Q: Will I still have to get a loan to cover LSA/FSP programs and health insurance?
A: Dartmouth currently provides half the additional cost of foreign study programs as well as half the cost of the student health insurance plan in the form of scholarship for students who otherwise qualify for scholarship assistance. The remaining costs can be covered by you and your family, or with loan funds.

Q: Why do students have to work and what does a work study job entail?
A: First of all, no student is required to work. However, we do believe strongly that students should contribute to the cost of their education both through their leave-term earnings as well as through campus employment. We build campus employment into financial aid awards in an amount that can be reasonably earned by working 10-12 hours per week. You can work less or not at all, but the self-help component will remain in your package. The Student Employment Office has a wealth of opportunities available all over campus as well as in the community. You may find that the experience profits you not only financially, but by helping you build valuable skills and experience that will impress future employers. Studies show that students who are employed while enrolled actually perform better academically!

Q: With the 50% decrease in loan, does that mean I will have an increase in my work expectation?
A: No. We are not increasing the employment earnings expectation. The decrease in the loan component of your package is being replaced by additional scholarship funds. You can choose to work more hours if you like, and the extra earnings are yours.

Q: Will the elimination of one term of leave-term earnings go into effect only beginning with the class of 2012 or for all current students?
A: This becomes effective with the Class of 2009, and will be reflected in the financial aid award for your senior year. Therefore, all financial aid awards for the Class of 2009 will be calculated for the 2008-09 year without the standard leave-term earnings expectation.

Q: Which is the “free” leave term and how do I arrange for my aid to be adjusted?
A: Although it is expected that most students will take advantage of this opportunity during the summer between the junior and senior years, the “free” leave term can be taken at any time during your Dartmouth career. This is an opportunity to do community service, an unpaid internship, independent research, travel, or anything you like. There are no special arrangements to be made – the benefit will automatically be reflected in the financial aid award for your senior year. If you choose to work during that term, you are free to do so; there will still be no leave term earnings contribution expected in your senior year award.

Q: Can I use my “free” leave term during any other year?
A: You may use this term at any time, but leave-term earnings will be part of your student contribution for your first three years at Dartmouth. The “free” term will be credited in your senior year award.

Q: Will my Dartmouth scholarship be reduced if I receive outside scholarships?
A: Our policy on the treatment of outside scholarships has not changed. Our goal is to allow students to retain the full benefit of these scholarships unless it would put them in a situation where their total financial aid would exceed costs less the federally-mandated family contribution. We, therefore, first reduce your self-help (employment and loan). Once your self-help has been eliminated, we then reduce your family contribution to the minimum federal level. Outside scholarships can also be used towards the health insurance and LSA/FSP costs. If there is still excess outside scholarship beyond these reductions, your Dartmouth scholarship is reduced.