Understanding Your Award Statement
Types of Financial Aid Statements
Tentative statements of financial aid are issued to incoming students and represent an initial offer pending receipt of other required financial aid application materials (i.e., federal tax return, sibling enrollment verification form, etc.). Students should continue to monitor their online financial aid “Checklist” until they receive a final statement of financial aid.
- Final statements of financial aid are issued to all incoming students after all required financial aid application materials have been submitted, reviewed and processed by the Office of Financial Aid and after the College’s comprehensive fees are determined by the Board of Trustees in the spring. A final statement of financial aid supersedes any previously issued statements.
Cost of Attendance (COA)
- Billable costs include tuition, room, board and the student activity fee. These direct costs are also known as the comprehensive fee and will be paid directly to Hamilton College.
- Additional indirect costs include books/supplies, miscellaneous personal expenses and a travel allocation. These expenses will not appear on your bill.
- The COA (from which financial aid eligibility is determined) considers billable direct costs and additional indirect costs.
- The COA is considered tentative until the Board of Trustees establishes the comprehensive fee each spring for the following year. The final statement of financial aid will reflect the new COA.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
- The EFC is determined from all information submitted to complete your financial aid application.
- The EFC is determined by combining the calculated parent contribution and student contribution.
- In the case of divorced, separated or parents who never married and do not live together, the non-custodial parent contribution will be combined with the custodial parent contribution and listed as Parent Contribution.
- For incoming Regular Decision admits, the EFC may change pending review of tax information, which is due May 1, and any other outstanding financial aid application materials.
- For upperclass students, the EFC may vary from one academic year to the next as a result of a change in circumstances (i.e., income or asset fluctuations, the number of siblings enrolled as undergraduates, or number of individuals living in the household, etc.).
Demonstrated Financial Need
- Demonstrated financial need is defined as the total cost of attendance (COA) minus total expected family contribution (EFC).
- For students who qualify for financial assistance, Hamilton meets 100 percent of their demonstrated financial need through a combination of Hamilton need-based financial aid (scholarship or grant, loan and campus employment).
- Need-based financial aid eligibility is subject to change annually based on required financial aid application materials.
Offer of Financial Assistance
- Scholarship/grant and self-help (loan and campus employment) are the types of financial aid available to students.
- Scholarships or grants are need-based and do not have to be repaid.
- Loans must be repaid. The forms required to accept an awarded student loan are listed on the student's checklist.
- Campus Employment/Federal Work-Study refers to on-campus jobs where students earn bi-weekly paychecks to help pay for educational costs. The Student Employment Office assists students in finding on-campus employment opportunities and hosts a job fair at the start of each academic year.
- Scholarship/grant and loan disbursements will be applied directly to the student’s bill. Campus Employment/Federal Work-Study will be paid directly to the student via a paycheck with the intent that it will be applied to non-billable expenses.
- Hamilton offers an interest-free installment payment plan through CASHNet for an annual fee of $45.
- Some families choose to take federal and/or alternative loans to finance a portion of their expected contribution. Additional information may be found by reviewing our Loans for Parents webpage.
- Students are encouraged to grant parent access to their online Financial Aid “Award Letter” and “Checklist.” Instructions are listed on their My Hamilton account.
- Students must apply for financial aid annually by the stated deadlines to be considered for financial aid for the next academic year.
- U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens who wish only to be considered for federal financial aid must only submit the FAFSA and are encouraged to contact the Financial Aid Office.
- Financial aid notifications for upperclass students are posted online only.
- Students randomly selected by the U.S. Department of Education for a process called verification will be notified via email and should reference their online checklist for a list of materials to be submitted to the Financial Aid Office.
- In recent years, the average total student indebtedness for Hamilton graduates has ranged from $16,500 to $21,500, and Hamilton’s current default rate is 1.1%. A standard 10-year repayment plan for $20,000 in federal student loans would amount to monthly payments of approximately $200. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, the current national student loan debt average is $28,650. The national default rate is 10.8%.
- Recently, in an effort to help families compare financial aid awards among colleges, New York State has required all New York State Colleges to provide incoming students with a standardized financial aid award called the New York State Financial Aid Award Information Sheet. All admitted students who qualify for need-based financial aid will
receive their personalized copy of Hamilton's New York State Financial Aid Award Information by mail.
Comparing Aid Packages
Unlike the “Common Application,” there is not one agreed upon format for awarding financial aid. Furthermore, different colleges have different costs and financial aid methodologies that you should consider when comparing packages.
In order to compare financial aid packages, subtract the total amount of aid offered from the total cost of attendance. Do not forget to take estimated costs such as travel, books and living expenses into account (some colleges will include these expenses with the package and some will not). The remaining number is the Estimated Family Contribution, what we call the out-of-pocket expenses for your family. You should also consider other factors, such as the amount of loan you must assume versus how much of the financial aid package is scholarship or grant, and whether the package contains work-study.
It is important to remember that the packages you receive from different colleges may differ widely. One reason for this may be that one college offers merit aid and one does not. Hamilton does not offer merit aid; our financial aid is entirely need-based. While cost should certainly be an important factor for your family, you should also consider the value of various colleges as well as which colleges will best serve your personal and academic interests and goals for the long-term.