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Going from one college to another isn’t always the smoothest experience. Making sure your new school accepts your credits, adjusting your course load, and possibly moving to a new campus can be difficult.
The way you pay for school is an additional layer of stress, which is why you will need to add your student loan management to the transfer checklist. Here’s what you need to know.
Is it possible to transfer financial aid to another school?
After completing the Free Federal Student Aid Application, or FAFSA, the schools you apply to will each separately determine your financial aid award. The amount of money you get in scholarships, grants, and certain types of federal student loans at each school depends on their cost of tuition and any merit-based aid they decide to give you.
This means that your financial aid will not be transferred from one school to another. This doesn’t mean that you won’t get any financial help at your new school. But you will need to take a few steps to make sure the new campus considers you for financial aid.
If you have received external grants and scholarships from individual companies and organizations, you may need to contact them individually to transfer your scholarship to your next school. This may not be necessary if your scholarship was a one-time win, but if you move mid-year or your scholarship is ongoing, contact the scholarship provider for advice.
How to get financial aid at your new college
To make sure your new school receives the necessary paperwork for your financial aid, take the time to cover all of your bases, including:
- Check your school’s federal financial aid participation status. Make sure your new school participates in federal student aid programs, as not all colleges do. If they don’t, you won’t be able to get federal scholarships or student loans to attend. To be sure, ask the school if it participates in federal “Title IV” student aid programs (named after a section of the Higher Education Act of 1965).
- Completing the FAFSA. Even if you have already submitted your FAFSA for the upcoming school year, you can make changes to your form by adding your new school.
- Keep your new school informed. Contact your new school about your transfer plans and see the status of your aid kit. Follow up to see if there are any additional documents or information they need to streamline the process.
- Review your reward. When you receive your new award letter, review it to see what your new school is offering for financial aid. If you did not receive enough help to enable you to attend, you can appeal the sentence.
- Don’t leave your old school behind (again). Before officially transferring schools, keep in touch with your old school as well as your new one. Make sure you don’t have to pay overdue fees. Keep in mind that when you leave, you will need to participate in exit counseling for your loans. This is an information session that explains how to manage your student loans after you graduate or are not enrolled part-time.
What if you need more money to cover the gaps in financial assistance?
If you find out that your new financial aid program, including student loans, federal and state grants, and institutional scholarships, doesn’t cover all of your new college fees, you still have additional funding options, such as:
- Private scholarships. Thousands of scholarships are available for current students, and some are specifically for transfer students. Remember that the application, approval, and funding process is different for each scholarship. It can take months from the start of the application to the funding if you are awarded a scholarship.
- Private student loans. You can apply for private student loans at any time of the year (while the FAFSA has a set application window). But if you don’t have great credit on your own, you may need to bring in a co-signer. This should be a last resort, as many private student loans will cover tuition in full after all other aid has been exhausted. Private loans generally have higher rates and less generous repayment terms than federal loans.
- Emergency school loans. If you encounter unexpected financial circumstances, ask your new school if they offer emergency student loans. These are usually small amounts for college fees in tough times. Interest amounts and rates will vary depending on what your new college offers, but some might not charge interest if it’s repaid within a certain time frame (usually a few weeks). Failure to repay the loan could delay your graduation.
You must repay student loans from previous colleges
Even if you move, you are still responsible for any student loans you took out to attend your old college. And in some cases, you may need to start repaying before graduation. The federal student loan repayment takes effect when you graduate or fall below half-time enrollment. When you transfer schools, you are essentially withdrawing from the school that received these student loans.
To avoid starting your student loan repayment while you are still in school, you can request an academic deferral on your direct federal subsidized or unsubsidized loans. Keep in mind that deferral may suspend payments, but interest will continue to accrue during this time on unsubsidized loans. Accrued interest will be added to your current balance, increasing your monthly payments and the total amount owed over the life of your loans.
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