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Determining Financial Need
Fairfield University uses both Federal Methodology (FM) and Institutional Methodology (IM) to determine a student's demonstrated financial need. Federal aid (grants, loans, work-study) is awarded based on information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal Methodology calculates a student's financial need with a formula that was established by U.S. Congress.
Fairfield University's institutional grant and scholarship aid is awarded based on the information provided on the CSS Profile. Institutional Methodology calculates a student's financial need with a formula that was established by financial aid practitioners and economists. Fairfield University believes that the IM needs analysis more accurately and equitably measures a family's financial strength and ability to pay for college. The formula assumes that educational costs will be paid using a combination of current income, savings, and future earnings. However, each family makes their own decisions on how to meet the costs of college.
Institutional Methodology provides:
- A realistic assessment of both parent and student income. Paper losses and income adjustments, which are legal in the federal tax system, are NOT considered in the IM definition of income. Although Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is important, it is not the sole determinant of a family's genuine economic strength.
- A comprehensive evaluation of all family assets - including investments, real estate and equity in the home, farm, and business, etc.
Fairfield University considers the following variables when determining financial need:
- Adjusted Gross Income and taxable income
- Paper losses from business, real estate properties, and capital losses
- Untaxed income and benefits
- Child support received
Allowances (which may reduce the income of parents/students):
- Federal income taxes paid
- State and other taxes paid
- FICA taxes
- Elementary/secondary tuition allowance (an allowance for private elementary or secondary school tuition paid by the family)
- Employment allowance (an allowance for expenses related to working outside the home if both parents are employed or if the parent is single)
- Annual education savings allowance (an allowance for saving for future educational expenses for younger children while older children are in college)
- Income protection allowance (an allowance that recognizes families have basic household expenses that must be met)
Assets (a portion of the following assets are included in the needs analysis for parents/students):
- Cash, savings, and checking accounts
- Home equity
- Investment equity
- Other real estate equity
- Adjusted business/farm equity
- Parental assets in sibling's names
Asset Allowances (two major allowances are subtracted from assets before determining how much of a family's net worth should be available to pay for college):
- Emergency Reserve Allowance (ERA) protects assets for unanticipated expenses such as illness or unemployment
- Cumulative Education Savings Allowance (CESA) recognizes a family's need to save to finance their children's college expenses
Number in College Adjustment
Families who have more than one child, regardless of the spacing of those children, have to pay more for college than families who have one child. Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), as determined on your financial aid applications, takes into account (among other things) the number in household and the number in college. So, as the number in college increases, the EFC will be adjusted down accordingly. By having the EFC adjusted down, a family will potentially demonstrate more financial need. The same holds true for the opposite - that is, an adjustment will take place for the decrease in the number in college. So, if the number in college decreases, the EFC will increase accordingly. By having the EFC increase (or adjusted up), a family will potentially demonstrate less financial need and if a family demonstrates less financial need, all need based aid will be reduced accordingly. Although Fairfield University is unable to meet every family's financial need, when awarding need based financial aid, we do take into account the number in college.
Noncustodial Parent Information
Fairfield University requires that the custodial parent (if applicable, a step-parent, with whom the student resides 50% or more) is responsible for completing both the FAFSA and CSS Profile applications. In cases of divorce or separation, the University also requires that the noncustodial parent complete the Noncustodial PROFILE application in order to be considered for institutional need-based aid. It is recommended that the noncustodial parent (NCP) complete this application by the stated deadline in order for the student to receive a complete financial aid award.
While divorce, separation, or the unmarried status of parents may complicate the extent to which one or both parents can contribute, it does not absolve either parent of this obligation. Our policy for determining the financial need of students whose parents are divorced or separated derives from the central principle that both parents are responsible for the support of their children to the extent that they are financially capable.
Noncustodial parent information is not required from returning students, unless the student is a first-time aid applicant and/or there has been a change in their parent's marital status. However, if the noncustodial parent's financial conditions have changed significantly since the prior year, he/she can request a formal review or appeal. Unless the Office of Financial Aid is otherwise advised by the student or noncustodial parent, the prior year's financial data will be used as a basis for determining the noncustodial parent's financial contribution.
If the noncustodial parent is unable to complete the Noncustodial PROFILE on a student's behalf, Fairfield may waive this requirement in extraordinary circumstances. In order to start the appeal process, students should complete and submit the the Noncustodial PROFILE Waiver Appeal Form, with supporting documentation to the Office of Financial Aid by March 31.
Often times, students rely on the support of their parents and others to assist them with financing their educations. In order to ensure that the matters are discussed with the approved persons and in order for the University to ensure compliance with FERPA regulations, the Offices of the Bursar and Financial Aid have created the PROXY process. Once you are enrolled as a student, setting up a Proxy will allow you, the student, to authorize an individual to discuss all matters relating to billing and financial aid with the Bursar and Financial Aid staff. To access the Proxy FAQ section, click here.
All financial aid awards are estimated until the Office of Financial Aid receives all required federal tax and other applicable documents and verifies the income and asset information provided on both the FAFSA and CSS Profile (and the Noncustodial PROFILE when applicable). The Office of Financial Aid will request verification documents from selected students and their families for this verification process. Financial aid awards may change after an original offer has been made as all aid adjustments are based on verification results.
First year students will be notified of changes made to their financial aid award and/or of verification requirements by mail in early spring and through the summer, prior to the beginning of the start of school in September. After the first year student orientation in June, students can expect that all future financial aid correspondence, including verification notifications, will be sent to their University e-mail and updated in their my.Fairfield account.
Once notified of any verification requirements, the student (and/or parents) should submit the required documentation to the Office of Financial Aid no later than August 1. Once all required documents are received, the verification process should be completed in approximately six to eight weeks. Failure to submit documents by the verification deadline may result in a reduction or full cancellation of need-based financial aid.
All university need-based financial aid is awarded for one year only. Returning students are expected to reapply for financial aid no later than April 15 each year. To re-apply for need-based university financial aid of any kind, a student must submit both the FAFSA and CSS Profile each year by this stated deadline. The Noncustodial parent profile is only required the first time a student applies for need-based financial aid. In the event of a change in marital status, the Noncustodial parent profile will be required to be submitted by the April 15 deadline. Need-based aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and funding is limited. All required applications must be received by the deadline to be considered “on time” for the purpose of determining eligibility for need-based financial aid. Visit fairfield.edu/deadlines to view our financial aid deadlines.
Applications submitted and received after April 15 are considered late and, therefore, ineligible for need-based university financial aid. Applicants will be placed on a waitlist. Fairfield University makes every effort to provide funding to those that demonstrate financial need. It is highly suggested that late applicants secure alternative funding while they are awaiting a determination of funding eligibility from the University. Late application funding will be determined based on the availability of funds and the order in which applications are received.
Admitted first year students must complete their financial aid application process by the deadlines stated for admitted, first-year students. Need-based university aid is awarded until funding is exhausted. Admitted first-year applicants for financial aid will not be eligible to be placed on the University financial aid waitlist. It is highly suggested that late first-year students secure alternative funding prior to the July 1 billing date.
Special Circumstances Appeals
Fairfield University's objective is to offer students the best financial aid award possible considering its policies (as described above), the federal financial aid funding levels, and the availability of institutional financial aid resources. Therefore, we are unable to address appeals based on any disagreement with any of our financial aid policies. Fairfield University does not negotiate financial aid offers, nor is the University able to match financial aid offers made by other colleges and universities.
However, if there are special or extenuating circumstances that were not considered in the initial financial aid applications or there is new documentation of a significant change in the family's financial circumstances, students can submit a Special Circumstances Appeal Form. To review and print out the appropriate Special Circumstances Appeal Form, please visit our Important Forms & FAQ page. Please be sure to follow all instructions provided to ensure a complete review of your appeal by the Office of Financial Aid.
Submission of a special circumstances appeal neither guarantees an adjustment to a student's award, nor prevents the accrual of late fees on any unpaid student account balances.
Federal regulations and institutional policies require that special circumstances fall within certain parameters and that they are accompanied with supporting documentation. This form is designed to assist students/families in providing information critical to the review of their special circumstances appeal. The special circumstances appeal decision will be based on the circumstances as detailed in this form and from the quality of additional documentation provided by the student and family.
Fall Semester: August 1
Spring Semester: January 1
Students are responsible for managing their accounts for both University e-mail and the student portal, my.Fairfield.
After the first year student orientation in June each year, the Office of Financial Aid will send all financial aid-related messages only to the student using University e-mail and my.Fairfield. It is the responsibility of the student to read and/or reply to financial aid correspondence in a timely manner. Financial aid navigation can be found in my.Fairfield.
Students may forward any pertinent financial aid information to a parent(s) if desired, but ultimately, the student is fully responsible for all financial aid and financial obligations at the University. In my.Fairfield, students are able to manage financial aid awards, view required documents, contact financial aid counselors, as well as several other financial aid-related options. In the beginning of a student's second year, financial aid awards will be offered only via my.Fairfield and University e-mail.
Standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress with Financial Aid
*Effective: July 1, 2015
For students to be eligible for federal, state or university need-based financial aid, they must be in good academic standing and must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward a degree. SAP is measured at the end of each academic year and is based on both pace of enrollment and academic performance at the time of measurement. Pace is determined by the total number of credit hours completed as a proportion of those attempted. Incomplete grades, repeated courses and course withdrawals that occur after the drop/add period are counted in the credit hours attempted. If the student has transfer credits, the credit hours are counted in both the credit hours completed and attempted.
Academic performance is measured by GPA including grades earned only in Fairfield University courses. In order to make SAP, students advancing from the first year to the sophomore year are expected to have a weighted cumulative GPA of 1.90 or better. At the end of the sophomore year, students are expected to have a weighted cumulative GPA of 1.90 or better. At the end of junior year, students should have an overall weighted cumulative GPA of 2.00 or better. For the purposes of both pace and academic performance, summer courses will be included as the trailing term of the academic year.
Pace of enrollment is measured by the percentage of attempted credit hours that are completed. Students must complete at least 67% of the credit hours attempted in a year in order to receive financial aid in the following year. Overall, students are eligible for university-based aid for up to eight semesters of enrollment; students may receive federal financial aid up to 150% (typically 6 years) of the normal time to degree completion. Repeated courses will be counted as part of the attempted and completed courses, and part of the 150% of normal time to completion.
Students who lose eligibility for financial aid as a result of failure to make satisfactory academic progress may appeal to be placed on financial aid probation. This appeal must include the reasons for the lack of progress and the student's anticipated steps for improvement. In order to consider the appeal, the student will need to submit an approved academic plan that will lead to achievement of SAP standards. If during the probation period the student has not successfully achieved satisfactory academic progress, the student may appeal with a modified academic plan. Probation may last for up to one academic year, unless there are extraordinary circumstances. While on probation, a student's progress will be monitored at the end of each semester.
The Office of Financial Aid will notify all students who fail to maintain satisfactory academic progress. Students will be notified of their SAP status by mail or email.
Reinstatement of Financial Aid
To have financial aid eligibility reinstated, a student may make up the credit hour and/or grade point index deficiencies in a subsequent semester without receipt of financial aid for that semester. University aid is only offered (if the student maintains eligibility) for eight consecutive semesters.
A student who believes his/her failure to meet SAP standards was due to extenuating circumstances beyond his/her control may appeal in writing to the Appeals Committee. Some examples of extenuating circumstances are:
- A student's serious illness or accident
- Death or serious illness in the student's immediate family
- Cancellation/discontinuance of a class by the University
- Other unforeseeable circumstances beyond the control of the student that caused the student to fall below the satisfactory progress standards
Students should submit the SAP Appeal Form, including a personal letter, explaining the reason for the request and reason for their current academic status. In addition, an approved Academic Plan must be completed by the student and by an administrator from the appropriate Dean's Office. The Academic Plan can be obtained in the Dean's Office of any school or Academic Plan online. The SAP Appeal Form, personal letter, Academic Plan, and any other supporting documentation (if desired), should be submitted to the student's financial aid counselor in the Office of Financial Aid no later than July 1.
If an appeal for one semester of probationary financial aid is approved, a student's progress will be monitored at the end of each semester. If after the financial aid probation period the student has not successfully achieved the required minimum GPA for reinstatement of the full financial aid award, the student may submit an appeal letter to request an extended probationary period of financial aid. Financial aid probation may last for up to one year, unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
Standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress with Merit Scholarships
All merit scholarships awarded by Fairfield University are renewable for up to eight consecutive semesters of study provided the recipient earns the required minimum GPA for renewal. The GPA renewal requirement, which varies by level of award, is included in the initial award letter provided at the time of the student's admission to Fairfield and is measured at the end of each academic year.
Students who lose eligibility for merit scholarship as a result of failure to meet the minimum GPA requirement may appeal to be placed on merit scholarship probation. Students must submit the SAP Appeal Form, including a personal letter, explaining the reason for the request and reason for their current academic status. The appeal form, personal letter, and any other supporting documentation (if desired), should be submitted to the student's financial aid counselor in the Office of Financial Aid no later than July 1.
If an appeal for one semester of probationary merit scholarship is approved, a student's progress will be monitored at the end of each semester. If after the merit scholarship probation period the student has not successfully achieved the required minimum GPA for reinstatement of the full merit scholarship, the student may submit an appeal letter to request an extended probationary period of merit scholarship. Merit scholarship probation may last for up to one year, unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
Generally, Fairfield University does not reduce institutional aid (merit or need-based) or adjust the financial aid award offer when a student receives an outside scholarship(s). However, aid adjustments will be made when the following conditions exist:
- The combined institutional aid (merit or need based) AND the outside scholarship(s) totals exceed the cost of attendance. The institutional aid will be reduced to an amount that brings the total combined scholarships to the cost of attendance.
- A federal student aid over-award is created and the University is required to reduce federal need-based aid per federal regulations.
*Effective for the Class of 2024; beginning in the 2020-2021 Academic Year
- Merit scholarship may be reduced if the merit on top of the employee benefit exceeds tuition and the university fee. Need-based aid may be reduced if the need-based aid exceeds tuition and the general university fee.
State Aid Programs
Students from Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont may be eligible for state grant assistance. Eligibility criteria and amounts are determined by each state. It is the responsibility of the student to meet all application deadlines set by their resident state.
International & Undocumented Students
Full-time day undergraduate international and undocumented students are encouraged to apply for financial aid using the College Board's CSS Profile. This application should be submitted by the stated deadline. Recipients of the Fairfield Tuition Grant will be notified during the first week of April. Students will be automatically considered for any merit-based scholarships on the basis of their admission application.
Study Abroad Programs
An international learning experience has become an invaluable part of a complete undergraduate education. To help students fulfill this experience, Fairfield University allows federal, state, and institutional aid, scholarships, and monthly payment plans to be applied toward Fairfield University affiliated programs only.
All Fairfield scholarships and aid, including federal funds, can be used towards study abroad expenses for one semester with the exceptions of athletic scholarships, FACHEX, tuition exchange and work-study monies. With the approval of the Director of Study Abroad, Modern Language, International Business, and International Studies majors may use Fairfield University financial aid for two semesters abroad for select programs. Award adjustments will be updated in my.Fairfield and students will be notified via University e-mail of any changes to an award.