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Do transfer students get less financial aid?

    During your college years, you may find yourself considering transferring schools. It’s a big decision for many different reasons, and one part of it is how the decision could affect your financial aid.

    Continue reading to learn more about how transferring colleges could impact your financial aid if at all, and other things you may want to know about the potential financial impacts of this decision. 

    Are transfer students eligible for financial aid?

    Transfer students are usually eligible for financial aid like any student. However, it’s essential to remember that not all schools participate in federal student aid programs, which is one of the ways that students secure financial aid. Check whether the school you’re considering transferring to participates in federal student aid programs as a first step. You can update your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to include your new school if it does.  

    From there, you want to ensure the financial aid office at your current school knows that you plan to transfer if that’s ultimately your choice. You’ll also want to ask whether all of your bills are up to date at your current school. If they aren’t, your transcript may be withheld. If you're transferring mid-year, you may need to submit a withdrawal and request to cancel your remaining financial aid disbursements at your current school.

    Another thing to keep in mind as you work your way through transferring is that you should go through exit counseling if you're receiving federal student loans at your current school before you transfer to your new school.

    Common FAQs around transferring colleges and financial aid

    Do transfer students get less financial aid?

    Each college and university has a different way of dealing with financial aid allocations and, in some cases, how they allocate financial aid to transfer students. It’s important to know going into your transfer that you’re starting fresh as far as your financial aid is concerned. The financial aid you received at your last college doesn’t determine how much you may receive at your new school.  

    There are a variety of factors that will affect the amount and types of aid you're eligible for at a new school. The cost of the school, the aid programs the school offers, and even the time of year you transfer (among other things) can all be a factor.

    Ultimately, your financial aid package can change when you transfer schools, but that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily receive less financial aid and you might even receive more aid.

    Because you’ll receive a financial aid award letter from the colleges you apply to transfer to that will outline what financial aid they can offer you, if any, you’ll have a basis to decide if it’s economical for you to transfer. 

    What happens to student loans when you transfer?

    Like most forms of financial aid, your student loans probably won’t transfer between schools. Depending on whether you have federal student loans, private student loans, or both, there are different courses of action to take if you plan to transfer.

    Federal student loans require you to begin making payments six months after you cease attending your school or reduce your course load below half-time. When you withdraw from one school to transfer to another, your loans may enter repayment status. If you’re transferring and enrolling in a new school at least half-time, you may need to apply for an in-school deferment (because you’ll still be enrolled in school, you’re just changing the institution you’re attending). That being said, it’s essential to pay attention to your transfer's timing to ensure this happens.

    If you have private student loans, you should contact your lender to determine how to best proceed. These loans may have already been in repayment from the date of disbursement, or they may be in a deferment period that needs to continue after your transfer.

    You should also contact your lender to make sure your loan money gets sent to the right school (this might be a particular concern if you transfer mid-year).

    Are transfer students eligible for scholarships and grants?

    Transfer students can be eligible for scholarships and grants at their new schools. However, just because you’re eligible and even if you apply, that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive them. 

    If you’re a student considering transferring, check on your eligibility for specific scholarships and grants and reach out to the school you want to transfer to for assistance getting answers on your eligibility and how to apply for these forms of financial aid if need be.

    Final thoughts

    If you’re interested in transferring schools, check with your current and prospective new school to find out about any processes you need to go through before transferring, and make sure to update your FAFSA® to include the new school. These will probably be your first steps in receiving most forms of financial aid when transferring.