Fast Facts About Financial Aid

What Is It?

Financial aid is funding that helps bridge the gap between the college costs a family can afford and the total cost of a college education. This gap—or “need”—is determined for each student through a federal needs analysis formula that calculates a student’s Federal Expected Family Contribution (EFC), or what the federal government anticipates the family can contribute annually to the student’s education. The EFC is an important indicator of a student’s need, but it is not necessarily equal to his or her out-of-pocket cost at each school. The EFC is the end result of the federal FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

When your FAFSA is evaluated, the primary considerations are taxable income, untaxed income and benefits, assets of both you and your parents, the size of your family and how many children, if any, are already in college. (Assets include personal savings and any real estate other than your primary home; a certain percentage of assets are factored into the EFC formula.) Note, though, that while the EFC is used in the formula for determining aid, your actual out-of-pocket cost may be more or less than your EFC. 

The formula for awarding financial aid is as follows:
Cost of Attendance
- EFC (Expected Family Contribution)
= Student's Financial Need 

This "Financial Need" figure is the amount that schools will work to meet, as best as possible,through all sources of financial aid. Not all schools can meet 100% of a student's financial need. The EFC is NOT necessarily what your out-of-pocket cost will be at a school.

Where Does It Come From?

There are four primary sources of financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) for Arcadia University students: Arcadia University, the federal government, the state in which a student resides, and outside organizations and foundations.

Are Merit Scholarships Available?

Through Arcadia’s competitive scholarship program, more than 60 percent of entering students who demonstrate outstanding academic and/or co-curricular achievement receive an Arcadia University merit scholarship each year. The scholarship is renewable annually as long as the student remains as a full-time undergraduate in good academic standing. Students simply need to apply for admission to receive consideration for Arcadia’s merit scholarships.

Where to Begin

Even before applying for admission, students can get an idea of what financial aid they will qualify for via Arcadia’s Net Price Calculator at Students can get an estimate of Arcadia, federal and state aid, as well as their EFC and projected out-of-pocket costs in just five minutes.

How to Apply

Applying for financial aid is a simple three-step process:

1. Apply (the student and one parent if dependent) for a federal PIN (personal identification number) at

2. File the FAFSA* (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at Be sure to list Arcadia, school code 003235, on the form. The FAFSA can be completed beginning January 1 prior to the fall for which the student is applying for aid. (Note: Pennsylvania students are required to file the FAFSA by May 1 to receive state grant consideration.) 

3. Complete the Arcadia University Financial Aid Application at (available in late November for fall entering students).

Note: Students randomly selected for verification by Federal Student Aid Programs upon filing the FAFSA will receive separate notification to complete a 2013-14 Verification Form (available at  Additionally, if they have not selected the IRS Data Retrieval option, they will be required to request an IRS Tax Transcript directly from the IRS by calling 1-800-908-9946, or via Online Services at

Priority filing deadline for aid is March 1 for new students entering in the fall semester, November 1 for those entering in the spring semester.  April 1 for returning undergraduate and graduate students.

*Students are encouraged to file their FAFSA early using estimated federal tax information.  Once federal taxes have been filed with the IRS (but not before February 1), the student should return to and select the IRS Data Retrieval option to update the FAFSA with final IRS tax figures. 

Learn the Lingo

The first step to understanding the financial aid process is to learn the language you'll hear and read. Here are a few key terms to know:

  • Grant: Free money - that's right, it doesn't have to be paid back.
  • Loan: Borrowed money - it has to be paid back over a period of time, usually once you've graduated.
  • Interest: The amount of money you pay back to an organization or institution that loans money to you in addition to the amount of principal you borrow. Interest rates vary. Some loans may be subsidized.
  • Capitalization:  The practice of adding unpaid interest charges to the principal balance of an educational loan, thereby increasing the size of the loan. Interest is then charged on the new balance, including both the unpaid principal and the accrued interest. Capitalizing the interest increases the monthly payment and the amount of money you will eventually have to repay. If you can afford to pay the interest as it accrues, you are better off not capitalizing it.  Cost of Interest Capitalization calculators can assist in determining the cost of interest capitalization.
  • Work-study: Money you earn while working part-time during college, usually in an on-campus position.
  • Merit-based aid: Aid given to students who have superior academic records, special characteristics, skills or talents. This type of aid does not have to be repaid and is often renewable from year to year.
  • Need-based aid: Aid awarded to students on the basis of financial need. This type of aid is reevaluated each year as a student's financial situation changes (e.g., if a parent's income level changes or additional children enroll in college).
  • Dependent/independent: According to the federal government, you must meet one of the following criteria to be considered independent for the 2013-2014 academic year (which affects the amount of financial assistance available to you):
    • born before January 1, 1990;
    • a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces;
    • enrolled in a graduate or a professional program;
    • married;
    • an orphan or ward of the court until age 18; or
    • have legal dependents whose sole financial support you provide
    • an emancipated minor  or an unaccompanied youth who is a homeless child or youth
    If you're considered dependent, parent and student financial information is required. If you are independent, you and your spouse's financial information must be supplied.

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