Interview with Emily Johnson - International Scholarship & Tuition Services, Inc.

What types of programs are likely to require financial need?

There are quite a few programs that have a financial need component. A program’s purpose can dictate the presence of a financial need component, especially if the purpose involves helping individuals who cannot afford school but possess the academic qualifications. Programs offering a large award amount may also include a financial need component because the sponsor wants to be 100% confident that the person receiving a $10,000 award will be eligible to use the entire amount once all other aid is credited to his/her entire financial aid package.

What qualifies a person as eligible for financial need?

Financial need component questions can address a range of information – from adjusted gross income to having the student request that his/her school’s financial aid office complete an entire financial aid package form. For example, a scholarship application might ask for: 1) adjusted gross income 2) total number of members in the family and 3) total number of dependents attending school charging tuition for the upcoming fall semester. Responses to questions like these can easily determine if someone has little or no financial need.

How should an applicant describe his/her circumstances if trying to show financial need?

Some programs with financial need components also require the submission of financial documents, which fulfills the necessity to show proof of income. Other applications may have a small essay question allowing the student to explain any other financial circumstances. We advise explaining anything that impacts the student’s or his/her family’s financial need in that field.

How does federal financial aid play into the scholarship application process?

Most scholarship programs do not treat outside aid as an eligibility factor in the application process. For those that do, scholarship administrators may ask the applicant’s school to fill out a financial aid packet to provide details on any type of federal/school aid the applicant has been offered, such as state funds and university scholarships. After reviewing this information and examining the applicant’s estimated family contribution (EFC) as determined by the school, a selection committee can determine the proper award amount (one that does not exceed or fall short of the need).

Any tips on making the process of applying for federal financial aid easier?

In order to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – the form any student interested in financial aid for college is required to complete – you (if you are independent) or your parents must first file federal income taxes. Keep in mind that you must complete both of these steps before you can apply for certain scholarships that require you to send in your FAFSA information, tax return and other related financial documents. Starting these processes earlier will make for a much smoother (and less stressful) process!