Unofficial Orientation 2020: Financial Aid

This article by fern is part of the 2020 Unofficial orientation series. You can find a list of all of this year’s articles that have been published so far on the welcome post.

While we attempt to provide as much relevant and up-to-date information as possible please do not make decisions based on what you read here. All the most correct and comprehensive information will be found on Wesleyan’s Financial aid website. This article should only be used as a map to understand and point you towards relevant financial aid information. If you have any questions about financial aid contact the financial aid office using the contact information on their website.

 

With a price tag of $78,435 for underclassmen and $80,677 for upperclassmen, there is no doubt that financial aid is a massive topic. In this article, we’ll try to spell out as much as possible and leave the relevant links so that you can have some understanding of how to go about making sense of financial aid.

Hopefully, you already know most of the stuff we’ll tell you here, especially given that the finaid deadlines have passed for this year. However, I’ll lay it for future reference.

It’s worth noting that financial aid is completely need-based, the office does not offer any merit scholarships. That being said, Wesleyan offers the Hamilton Prize in which new students can submit a piece of writing (“fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or other creative written expression” as the website says). The grand prize winner is granted a 4-year full-tuition scholarship and in each of the other categories (out of prose, poetry/song, screenplay/playwriting) an honorable mention is chosen to win a $5,000 stipend. Wesleyan also offers the Freeman Asian Scholarship Program which offers a merit-based full-tuition scholarship to one student from each of the following countries: People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

If you’re looking to find an estimate of how much Wesleyan will expect you to pay they offer a handy calculator. In the most basic sense financial aid is calculated by what is called “demonstrated need”. What that boils down to is (cost of attendance) – (the amount of money Wesleyan/the government think you can afford to pay).

The first thing you need to do is apply for financial aid. The process and deadlines change depending on who you are (i.e. a first-year student, a first-year international student, gap-year, returning student, etc.). You’ll find all the most up to date information on how to apply depending on who you are on Wesleyan’s financial aid website.

For new students, these are the ~priority~ dates (ignore that this is a table from 2017):

If you’re an undocumented or DACA student the process is similar, but you do not fill out the Federal Aid Application (FAFSA).

Using Outside Scholarships

If you’re receiving outside scholarships Wesleyan replaces your “self-help” portion of the financial aid package (this means the work-study and loans) with the money you’re receiving from your outside scholarship. 

If your outside scholarship exceeds the “self-help” portion of your package then you can contact the financial aid office to have the amount put towards the school’s health insurance or towards a one-time laptop purchase (up to $1500).

If your outside scholarship still exceeds these amounts the financial aid office says that your Wesleyan scholarship will be adjusted “dollar for dollar”. Basically they won’t let the amount of money you’re getting from them plus any outside amount exceed the cost of attendance.

Work-study

Part of your finaid package might include work-study. In your award letter, you will be given an amount of money that Wesleyan expects you to pay towards tuition from your work-study. However, wages from work-study jobs are paid to your own bank account and do not automatically go towards tuition.

Not all campus jobs are exclusively work-study. Even if work-study is not part of your financial aid package or you do not have financial aid you can get a job on campus. More on that in our article on student jobs.

It is also worth noting that despite the possibility of remote learning work-study amounts will not be affected. This means that Wesleyan still expects you to find a campus job that you can do remotely to fulfill that part of your aid package. According to the office, although some campus jobs will not be possible, they expect departments to create new jobs that will be accessible remotely.

Financial Aid Under COVID

If you’re not coming to campus this semester the financial aid office has adjusted the cost of attendance down to $65,651 for the full year, mostly thanks to no Residential Comprehensive Fee (RCF).

You can decide whether or not you want to come back to campus until the day you enroll in the semester (August 31st at the latest). If you’re already paid for the semester and decide (before August 31st) not to arrive back on campus Wesleyan will refund your RCF.

This cost of attendance assumes you will be living at home with your parents. If this is not the case and you need Wesleyan to adjust your cost of attendance you can use the following form. If you want to be extra safe the form can also be found on the FAQ page of Wesleyan’s Financial Aid website under “If I am fully remote for the fall or spring semester, how will this affect my financial aid package?”.

On the same FAQ page, the office says that if you’re studying remotely and qualify for financial aid you will be given an allowance for living and personal expenses.

 

Since financial aid packages are calculated for the full year the fact that students may spend the first-semester learning remotely and the second on-campus throws a wrench in the machine that is the financial aid office. The finaid office says that “The package will be revised for the spring should the student’s status change.