Your Financial Aid Questions Answered
More than 95% of Stevens students receive financial aid. That means nearly every undergraduate will interact with the Office of Financial Aid, especially during the application process. In this season of college applications, we asked Vicky Ocasio, Stevens’ assistant vice president for financial aid, to answer some of the most common questions about the process.
Q: How and when should students who are applying to Stevens apply for financial aid?
A: To be considered for all available financial aid — including institutional, federal and state aid — students must complete both the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If these two documents are completed by the deadlines set on the admissions timeline, students will receive financial aid offers at the same time decisions are released. All applicants will be automatically reviewed and considered for merit-based aid, which will be determined at the time of admission.
Q: When should students fill out the FAFSA and CSS?
For Early Decision I and Early Action, the deadline for filling out the CSS Profile is Dec. 1. The 2024 FAFSA is delayed and set to be released by Dec. 31; however, the information provided on the CSS Profile can be used to determine institutional aid. Once the FAFSA is available and submitted, we will use the information to determine federal and state aid. No student applying for Early Decision I or Early Action will be disadvantaged, despite the FAFSA delay.
For Regular Decision and Early Decision 2, the CSS Profile and FAFSA must be complete by Jan. 5, 2024.
(For a complete list of application deadlines, review the Admissions Timeline.)
Q: Why is the FAFSA delayed?
A: The Department of Education is simplifying and streamlining the FAFSA application process for students and families seeking financial aid. Some of the changes include reducing the number of questions that students see when completing the FAFSA, attempting to make the questions clearer and aiming to increase Federal Pell Grant eligibility.
Q: What do you wish everyone knew about financial aid?
A: There are two things: First, students and families should file the FAFSA, even if they think they will not qualify for financial aid. Many families don't complete the FAFSA because they assume their income is too high or believe the form is too complicated to complete. Nonetheless, completing the FAFSA initiates eligibility for federal direct student loans, other internal and external scholarships, grants, work-study opportunities or loans.
Second, deadlines are critical when it comes to financial aid. The Department of Education, state agencies and many colleges and universities have strict deadlines and base their financial aid funding budgets around these deadlines. It is important for students and families to pay very careful attention to all deadlines, however tedious they may be, in order to be considered for all aid.
Q: What is the best advice you have for students and families?
A: Utilize your resources! Students and families need to know that the whole financial aid process is manageable and that it all begins here at Stevens by completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile.
Also, applying for external scholarships may be a way to make the dream of a college degree a reality. The more scholarships a student receives, the more affordable college is.
Our financial aid administrators are here to help throughout this process. The financial aid process may seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be.
(For a list of external scholarship search engines, please refer to our Outside Scholarships page.)