Can an applicant for admission request a preliminary estimate of Financial Aid?
Yes. An applicant for admission may request a preliminary estimate of financial aid by submitting the CFFS, FAFSA and appropriate tax returns to the Financial Aid Office.
Although financial aid cannot be awarded formally until the student has received notification of his admission to the College and has submitted all of the required forms, he may submit the financial aid forms to the Financial Aid Office any time prior to his admission with a request for an estimate of the aid that might be offered to him.
Financial aid information remains confidential and is kept separate from a student's application for admission. Admission decisions are "need-blind," that is, they are made without consideration of a student's or his parents' ability to pay.
When is financial aid awarded?
For an incoming freshman, financial aid is determined soon after he has received notification of his admission to the College and after his financial aid application is complete. This is always after January 1 since the financial aid application cannot be completed prior to January 1. For continuing students, financial aid is normally awarded in June for the upcoming academic year.
To ensure coordination with the College's budget, the financial aid award is deemed final when the student accepts it. In exceptional cases when a student's financial circumstances change substantially and unexpectedly, the Financial Aid Office will reconsider the student's financial aid in response to a request.
What if a student and his parents believe additional financial aid is necessary?
If a student and his parents believe additional financial aid is necessary, or if the family's circumstances change substantially during the school year, the family can request additional assistance, specifying exactly how much additional aid is needed. In reviewing such a request, the College may require additional financial information from the family. The College reserves full discretion in determining what constitutes "demonstrated financial need" in any particular case.
Is a family required to give the same amount every year, even if circumstances change?
No. Since the financial circumstances of students and their families may change from year to year, applications for financial aid and all relevant documents must be resubmitted annually. Financial aid is then awarded in light of the most current information about each family's resources.
Is financial aid available to students who are not citizens of the United States?
Yes. The school's financial aid resources are extended to all qualified students whether or not they are U.S. citizens. Students must present a Student Visa (the Admissions Office helps in obtaining this after acceptance) since this is needed to participate in the College’s work-study program.
Must a family pay twice as much if two members of the family are attending Thomas Aquinas College?
It depends. Institutional aid (aid from the College) is awarded on the basis of need. Eligibility for institutional aid is determined by the following equation:
Cost of Tuition, Room and Board
- Outside resources (grants, scholarships, etc.)
- Parents' calculated payment expectation
- Student's calculated payment expectation
- Student loan expectation
Eligibility for Institutional Aid
Let's assume for the moment that the parents' financial information (income, assets and special circumstances) remains unchanged from one year to the next. If a student is eligible for institutional aid when his parents have one child in attendance, in subsequent years, when two children are in attendance, the parents' payment expectation would be divided between the two children and the combined parent payment would be roughly the same as in the prior year.
In the scenario given above, there will be some increase in the overall parent payment when two are in college because there is one less person at home to house and feed and, as a consequence, the family's "income protection allowance" goes down slightly, causing the parents' payment expectation to go up somewhat; but that revised payment expectation is then divided between the two children in college.
On the other hand, if a student is not eligible for institutional aid when his parents have one child in attendance, it is possible that his parents will pay up to twice as much when two children are in attendance. It is all a function of how large the parents' calculated payment resources are.
May a student have a vehicle on campus while receiving financial assistance?
It is expected that a student who is receiving financial assistance from the College will not have the available means to operate and maintain a vehicle while living on campus, since he and his family are making a maximum effort to pay for his education and they find it necessary to request financial assistance from the College. If a student or his family diverts funds from his payment of tuition, room and board toward the cost of operating, insuring and maintaining a vehicle, this is tantamount to asking the benefactors of the College to support the student's choice to have a vehicle on campus.
Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, as when two or more students from the same family can reduce their transportation expense by driving to and from school rather than flying, but for the most part, the College expects that students who are requesting financial assistance from the College will not have the available means to operate, insure, and maintain a vehicle. Any exceptions must be approved by the Director of Financial Aid.
What happens if the cost of tuition, room and board increases in subsequent years?
Whenever the College has found it necessary to increase tuition, room and board charges, the funds allocated for financial aid have been increased, as required, to meet financial need. This practice ensures that no qualified student will be turned away or will be unable to continue his studies because of insufficient financial means.
Is financial aid available to students who have attended colleges or universities prior to acceptance at Thomas Aquinas College?
Yes. A significant percentage of each freshman class is composed of students who have attended other colleges or universities previously. The College evaluates their requests for assistance in the same way as it does for students beginning college studies for the first time.
Does Thomas Aquinas College provide merit scholarships?
Thomas Aquinas College does not provide merit-based scholarships. All financial aid given by the College goes to students who have demonstrated financial need.
The special character of our classroom method — where no distinction is made among students except by what each brings to bear in conversations and careful reading of texts — makes it inappropriate for the College to introduce a two-tiered classification of students in which some are formally distinguished in ability and therefore, inevitably, in authority. The teaching faculty of the College strongly believes such a distinction would be damaging to a free and fruitful flow of ideas where the only authority among participants is reasonable argument. Over the years, the College has seen many students become classroom leaders who would not have merited scholarships before beginning at Thomas Aquinas College. This development of students is something the College prizes and safeguards. At the same time, it may be noted that many of our students each year qualify for "outside" academic awards that are then used to pay tuition at Thomas Aquinas College.
What sources of aid other than those of the College are available to students?
Thomas Aquinas College students receive financial assistance from many sources, including high school, business, local service club scholarships and National Merit Scholarships. Social Security benefits and Veterans Administration benefits are also available to qualified students.
The Financial Aid Office maintains current information about internet resources which can be used to locate grants, scholarships, and other kinds of financial aid from outside agencies. This information is available upon request.
Is it possible to lose my eligibility for financial aid for academic reasons?
To be eligible for a Pell Grant, Cal Grant, Byrd Scholarship, or a federal Direct Student Loan, a student must maintain certain minimum statutory and regulatory requirements with regard to satisfactory academic progress (SAP). The SAP policy of Thomas Aquinas College meets or exceeds the regulatory and statutory requirements specified by the aforementioned programs. As long as a student satisfies the College's SAP policy he will remain eligible for financial aid from these programs if he satisfies the other non-academic eligibility criteria.
What happens to a student's financial aid if he withdraws before the end of the school year?
If a student withdraws on or after Convocation Day, tuition, room and board will be prorated on a per diem basis through the day of withdrawal, excluding breaks of five days or more. Freshmen will always be charged at least the amount of their nonrefundable deposit.
For an explanation of how financial aid funds are applied, please see the College's Refund Policy (PDF). If a student wishes to withdraw from the program, he should speak with the Dean and complete a Notification of Withdrawal form. If the student is receiving financial aid, he must also speak with the Director of Financial Aid to take care of any necessary paperwork.
Are there any tax credits or deductions for parents who pay for the college education of a dependent?
Yes, there are various tax credits and tax deductions available to you that can make education more affordable and significantly reduce the amount of federal income tax you may owe. These tax incentives include: American Opportunity Education Tax Credit, Lifetime Learning Tuition Credit, Student Loan Interest Deduction (including interest on parent loans taken to pay for qualified expenses), Tuition and Fees Deduction, Coverdell Education Savings Account (formerly Education IRA), Qualified Tuition Programs, Early Withdrawals from IRAs, Education Savings Bond Program.
The links below provide helpful explanations of these various tax incentives: