Domestic Students Financial Aid Eligibility and Policies

Applying for Financial Aid

A student who desires consideration for institutional need-based grant aid in the first year at Mount Holyoke must indicate her plan to apply for financial aid with her admission application. No consideration for institutional aid will be given after admission decisions are mailed. If a student declares her intent to apply for aid after a decision has been rendered, her application will be processed for federal aid eligibility only. Students will not be eligible to apply for institutional need-based grant aid until the third semester of enrollment.

The Family Contribution from Year to Year

Following federal and College policy, a student must reapply for financial aid each year. If the family situation does not change, the determined family contribution (FC) will remain fairly consistent from year to year. When significant changes occur - e.g., increases in family income or assets, decreases in the number of dependents supported or a decrease in the number of dependent children attending undergraduate institutions - the FC will increase.  Should there be significant decreases in income or assets or an increase in household size or the number of dependent children attending undergraduate institutions, students may request reduction in the family contribution (see "Requests for Additional Aid")

Requests for Additional Aid

Student Financial Services will accept requests for reconsideration of a family contribution under certain circumstances. These circumstances include financial support of an elderly parent, unreimbursed medical expenses, or long-term loss of employment. We will consider loss of employment that occurs during the year that the student is applying for aid during the second semester of the academic year. Any additional aid will be applied only to the second semester. We are unable to consider requests for reconsideration of the family contribution due to circumstances such as cash flow problems or consumer debt. See below for details regarding the need for financial aid beyond the standard funding limitations. Requests for reconsideration must be accompanied by documentation.

Reapplying for Aid

According to federal and College policy, U.S. citizens and permanent residents must reapply for financial aid each year. Applicants recently accepted to the College will receive information regarding their financial aid eligibility with their letter of admission, if their financial aid file is complete. Upper class renewal applicants will receive eligibility information in late spring, if their financial aid file is complete.

Students who did not apply for aid as incoming students are welcome to apply in subsequent years if their family circumstances have changed.

Students who applied for but were not eligible for need-based financial aid at the time of their admission to Mount Holyoke may reapply for aid each year.

Students should access Financial Aid Online to review application instructions and the status of their financial aid application.

Funding Limitations

Resident students who enter as first-time, first-year students are limited to eight semester of aid. Transfer students will receive the equivalent of eight semester of aid.  Off-campus Frances Perkins students are limited to aid for 128 attempted credits.  Credits transferred in or earned count toward the eight semester and attempted credit limits, including study abroad credits, whether or not a student received need-based funding for study abroad or other earned credits.  Students may request an extension of aid past the eight semester or 128 credit limit by emailing or writing Student Financial Services with the request and providing supporting documentation regarding the need for an additional semester.  If an additional semester is needed because of an earlier medical leave, students should ask Health Services to email Student Financial Services with verification of the medical leave.  Requests for additional aid that are not due to medical reasons must receive the support of the academic dean and the student’s advisor.  Students should consult with SFS and academic dean if considering a request for an additional semester of aid.

Institutional funding for transfer students and on-campus Frances Perkins students is limited based on the total number of credits accepted for transfer at any point.  The ranges of transfer credits which determine aid eligibility remaining are:

Credits Transferred Semesters of Aid Eligibility Remaining
12 - 27 7 semesters of institutional aid
28 - 43 6 semesters of institutional aid
44 - 59 5 semesters of institutional aid
60 - 64 4 semesters of institutional aid

Institutional funding for commuting (day) Frances Perkins students is limited to a cumulative total of 128 credits. This total includes transfer credits applied toward the Mount Holyoke degree. Frances Perkins students should plan their course of study with this in mind.

Independent Status

The College narrowly defines who can be considered an independent student when determining eligibility for institutional financial assistance. In general, the College follows the federal definition of an independent student (as listed below), with the following important exception: If a student enrolls as a dependent student at Mount Holyoke, she will always be considered a dependent student for purposes of College financial aid, regardless of changes in her family situation, her marital status, time away from the College due to nonacademic leave, or withdrawal status. To be considered an independent student according to the federal definition, a student must be one of the following:

  • At least twenty-four years old by December 31 of the award year
  • Married
  • A person with legal dependents other than a spouse 
  • An orphan or a ward of the court after age 13
  • The ward of a court-appointed legal guardian after age 13
  • An unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of being homeless after age 13
  • A veteran of U.S. military service or currently serving on active duty for purposes other than training 

In some cases a student new to the College will be asked to supply parental information even if she meets the above federal requirements. Please contact Student Financial Services if you have any questions regarding independent student status.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Eligibility for financial aid is contingent on maintaining a satisfactory academic record, according to the standards described in the Mount Holyoke College Bulletin and Course Catalogue

In general, students are expected to achieve a cumulative GPA of 2.0 and make consistent progress toward the degree by earning an adequate number of credits each semester.  Students placed on academic probation are eligible for federal and institutional aid the first semester.  If academic probation is continued for a second semester, students will lose eligibility for federal aid. However, students may appeal for the reinstatement of their federal aid for one semester with documentation of special circumstances. Students will not be eligible for institutional or federal funding if they remain on academic probation for a third semester. If students lose federal or institutional funding due to not meeting satisfactory academic progress, they may appeal by writing to Student Financial Services and providing supporting documentation. Students will regain institutional and federal need-based eligibility for funding after achieving satisfactory academic progress and removal from academic probation.