Non-custodial Parent Contribution
Scholarships, Grants, Loans and Work-study
529 Plans(Prepaid Tuition Plans and College Savings Plans)
Paying for Books and Travel Expenses
Q. Student Contribution (SC): what is it?
A. The SC is a combination of the Student Contribution from Assets (SCA) and the Student Summer Earnings Expectation. The SCA is calculated based on student assets as reported on the financial aid application. The Summer Earnings Expectation is a standard contribution required by Brown for all students. Brown expects that a student will earn funds during the summer to contribute toward the following year's academic expenses. The SC is a part of the total Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Q. What happens to my Summer Earnings Expectation if I decide not work or do not earn enough to cover it?
A. If a student decides not to work, or takes an unpaid internship, or is unable to work due to athletic/academic commitments, the Summer Earnings Expectation becomes a part of the student's financial need. When this occurs, most students can borrow additional loan funds in order to meet the increase in financial need. The Summer Earnings Expectation cannot be replaced with University Scholarship.
Q. What if I am enrolled for only one semester of the academic year?
A. In most cases, the full Summer Earnings Expectation will be included as part of the total family contribution.
Q. How is the Parent Contribution calculated?
A. The Parent Contribution is calculated using both federal and institutional formulas that assess your parents' total income, including taxed and untaxed income, your parents' asset value, the number of people in the household, and the number of children in college. The calculations also take into account taxes paid, a standard living allowance, and a number of expenses, such as private school tuition payments for siblings and significant medical expenses. Due to the numerous changes that can occur over the course of a year, parent contributions are reexamined each year a student applies for financial aid.
The formula used to calculate an Expected Parent Contribution is primarily an income-based formula. Assets do affect the calculation, but do not have the same impact as income. Therefore, substantial changes in income will likely have a significant impact on the financial aid award. Families with income that varies greatly from year to year will want to keep this in mind when planning for educational costs.
Q. Are retirement investments included in the calculation?
A. Total investments in qualified retirement plans, such as an IRA or 401(k), should not be included when reporting your assets for purposes of financial aid. However, the contribution you make to your retirement plan the year prior to your application for financial aid is included in your total income. For instance, if you contribute $10,000 to a 401(k) retirement plan in a calendar year, your total income for purposes of financial aid for the following academic year would include that $10,000 contribution.
Q. Why is the family contribution on the Student Aid Report (SAR) sometimes different from the family contribution that Brown expects?
A. Each application for aid is reviewed by a counselor, who may update data based on information submitted directly to our office. A family contribution is commonly decreased when families have unusual medical expenses, job loss, or secondary private school expenses. A family contribution is commonly increased when parents have high home equity, have tax losses that are "paper" losses; and in the case of divorce, when a contribution from a non-custodial parent has been calculated and added to the custodial parent contribution expectation.
Q. Why do you require financial information from my non-custodial parent?
A. Brown believes that the primary responsibility for financing a student's education lies with the student and the family. As a result, financial information from the non-custodial parent is required to apply for Brown University Scholarship. For federal student aid (Pell Grant, Stafford and Perkins Loans, and Work-Study), the custodial parent and current spouse, if any, must complete the FAFSA. The non-custodial parent is not required to report information for federal student aid purposes.
Q. What should I do if my non-custodial parent is unwilling to contribute or complete the Non-Custodial Parent Statement (NCPS) application requirement?
A. Brown believes that the primary responsibility for educational expenses lies with the student and the family. As such, Brown requires the submission of non-custodial income information detailing the parent's ability, not willingness, to contribute. Should parents discontinue their financial support for reasons other than ability to pay, Brown will not assume the parental responsibility for financial support of the student.
The Office of Financial Aid has a standard letter that can be mailed directly to the non-custodial parent explaining that submission of the NCPS will be used to measure but does not obligate the parent to contribute to the student's educational expenses. The letter will explain the reason for Brown's request. If you would like our office to send this letter, please contact us with the non-custodial parent's full name and address.
Waivers of non-custodial information are granted in very limited circumstances, such as abuse, neglect, drug addiction, and a long-standing documented history of refusal to support the applicant. If you believe that your situation fits one of these special situations, please download and complete the Noncustodial Parent Waiver Petition in the Forms section of our website. Do not leave any questions blank.
Students are advised to first make a reasonable effort to gain support from their non-custodial parent. If this obstacle persists, students should make an appointment with a financial aid counselor. First, a financial aid counselor can determine if your circumstance warrants an exception, which is granted in very rare circumstances such as situations of abuse and neglect. Second, a counselor can advise you on your student loan borrowing options to help manage this difficult situation.
Q. How confidential is the information I am sending to your office?
A. Only the financial aid officers at Brown University will review the information submitted to our office. Parents who do not want their information shared with the student applicant should notify our office in writing.
Q. How can I as a parent ensure that my financial information is not shared with my son or daughter?
A. Since Brown University holds the student accountable for all University matters, the Financial Aid Office routinely shares all financial matters with the students. Parents who do not want their information shared with the student must notify the Office of Financial Aid in writing.
Q. How can I find out how much my non-custodial parent is expected to contribute?
A. The student may contact our office to request a breakdown of the calculated contribution for the custodial and non-custodial parent. A letter can be sent directly to the non-custodial parent providing information regarding the cost of attendance and the expected non-custodial contribution. We are prohibited from discussing the parent contribution, or the income/household information, of one separated/divorced parent with another.
Q: My parents recently separated or divorced. How does this affect my financial aid award ?
A. If your parents were married when they completed your financial aid application and have recently separated or divorced, you may request that your financial aid eligibility be re-evaluated by completing the Financial Aid Appeal Form. This form can be downloaded from the Forms Section of our website.
Q. What are the Pell Grant and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG)?
A. The Pell Grant and the SEOG are federal grant programs for high-need students. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application for these grant programs. Once your Expected Family Contribution is calculated, our office will determine if you are eligible for either of these grants. If you are eligible, these funds will appear in your financial aid package.
Q. How do state scholarships/grants fit into the picture?
A. Eligibility for state grants is based on your Expected Family Contribution as determined by the FAFSA. If you receive a state grant after your financial aid award has been established, your award will be adjusted accordingly. Since these grants are need-based, University Scholarship will be adjusted. It is important to remember that your financial need is first met with loan and work awards, then federal and state grants, and finally with University Scholarship. If the state grant exceeds your University Scholarship award, the student-effort portion of your award will be adjusted as well.
Q. What do I need to know about student loans?
A. Both the Stafford and Perkins Loan programs are federal financial aid programs. These loans are borrowed in the student's name. The Brown University Loan is a need-based loan granted when students, primarily foreign students, are ineligible for the two federal loan programs. You will need to complete a promissory note in order to have these loans processed to your student account. Upon arrival on campus, students will be contacted by the Loan Office with dates and times for signing of promissory notes.
Q. How much Stafford Loan can I borrow?
A. A Stafford loan allows undergraduate students to borrow up to $3,500 their freshman year, $4,500 their sophomore year, and $5,500 for each remaining academic year.
Q. Are my parents responsible for my educational loans?
A. No. Students are solely responsible for Perkins, Stafford and University Loans. Parents will only be responsible for your educational loans, if you borrow through a private agency or bank and they co-sign your loan. In general, you alone are responsible for repaying your educational loans. On the other hand, if your parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can contact the Loan Office or your private lender to arrange such a plan. However, your parents are under no obligation to repay your loans. If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancel the electronic payment agreement, you will be held responsible for the payments.
Q. What is work-study?
A. Work-study is part of the federal financial aid program. When you see "work-study" included in your financial aid package, it simply means that you have the opportunity to earn funds through the federal work-study program while working here at Brown. For more detailed information on the work-study program and student employment here at Brown, please visit the Student Employment website.
Q. Are students required to work?
A. Students are not required to work. However, the inclusion of a work-study award in your financial aid package assumes that the funds you would earn through working would be available to assist you with personal expenses, travel and books. Should a student decide not to work, the student would need to ensure that these earnings are being replaced by other means such as additional family support, savings, or by requesting additional loan to cover those expenses. Work-study awards will not be replaced with University Scholarship. For more detailed information on the work-study program and student employment here at Brown, please click here to visit the Student Employment website.
Receiving outside scholarships and tuition benefits is an excellent way to help reduce your need to work and/or borrow student loans while at Brown. Keep in mind that federal regulations stipulate that an outside scholarship cannot be used to reduce your family's expected contribution. When you receive an outside scholarship, our office is required to reevaluate your financial aid package and account for the additional resource.
Note: This policy does not apply to entitlement awards (State Scholarships, Pell Grants, ACG, SMART and Federal SEOG). Receipt of these funds will result in dollar for dollar reduction in University Scholarship.
Outside scholarships can be used to reduce the following:
- Loan Award
- Work Award
- Student Summer Earnings Expectation
While the above is a basic explanation of our Outside Scholarship Policy, it is important that you understand how it actually works. We have provided a few tips that may help stretch your outside scholarship dollars a bit further.
Brown’s Student Summer Earnings Expectation is reevaluated each year. For the 2014-2015 academic year, the expectation is as follows:
Q. How do I notify the Office of Financial Aid of my outside scholarships?
A. It is the student's responsibility to notify the Office of Financial Aid in writing of the receipt of any outside awards throughout the academic year. Please note that student athletes are also required to notify the Department of Athletics of any outside funding. This can be accomplished by completing the Outside Scholarship Reporting Form for incoming students, or the Brown Continuing Student Application for returning students.
List the source of the award, the amount you have been awarded, the terms of the award and whether it is renewable. Also, indicate if you would prefer our office to reduce your student contribution from income, loan award or work-study award. Outside scholarships cannot be used to replace or reduce your parent(s)' contribution.
Q. Will outside scholarships reduce my Brown University Scholarship?
A. The entire student effort portion of your award (loans, work and summer earnings expectation) may be reduced. If your outside awards exceed the amount of your total student effort, your Brown University Scholarship will be reduced.
Q. Is there any way to avoid a decrease in my Brown University Scholarship?
A. If you receive an outside scholarship that exceeds your student effort (summer earnings expectation, work and loan), you may wish to consider one of the following two options. (1) You may consider asking the scholarship agency to defer to a later year the portion of the scholarship that is reducing your Brown University Scholarship. (2) You may consider using a portion of your outside scholarships as an allowance towards funding a one-time purchase of a computer. Outside Scholarship funds may be used to be applied towards reasonable expenses associated with the purchase of a computer. The computer and related accessories must be considered educationally relevant and reasonable in cost in order to be covered. For example, an iPod, tablet, web cam, digital camera, gaming software, etc would not be covered. A printer, carrying case and service protection plan are examples of allowable expenses. Any questions regarding what would be considered a reasonable expense for a computer and/or add-ons should be directed to a Financial Aid Counselor prior to purchase. For more information on using your scholarship to fund the purchase of a new computer, please read the answers to the next few questions.
Q. A one-time Computer Purchase is another way to maximize the benefit of Outside Scholarships. What do I have to do to take advantage of this opportunity?
A. If the amount of the outside scholarship/ tuition benefits you received results in the elimination of your “self -help” (summer earnings expectation, work and loan) and reduces a portion of your Brown University Scholarship, Brown allows you to benefit from the Outside Scholarship through a "one-time" computer purchase.
To take advantage of this opportunity, review the Computer Purchase through Outside Scholarship Checklist.
Q. Does the one-time computer purchase adjustment change my family contribution?
A. NO. This adjustment does not affect the family's contribution for the academic year. The family must still contribute the same amount of money to total education costs, as explained in the preceding example, regardless of the outside scholarship. When used for the purchase of a computer, the outside scholarship does not reduce the parent contribution, the student contribution from income, loan or work components of the award, nor does it affect the total charges billed to the student account.
Q. What happens if I receive half of my scholarship in the fall and half in the spring?
A. If the scholarship comes in two separate checks - one for fall, one for spring - the student will not have access to the second half of the scholarship funding until the funds are actually sent to Brown. No advances will be given on scholarship funding. Therefore, students who want to purchase a computer first semester may need to charge the computer or wait until they receive the additional funds second semester before purchasing the computer. (This may also happen to a student whose scholarship arrives late in the fall semester or is applied entirely in the spring semester.) The result may be that your family pays more of its contribution in the fall semester than in the spring. Contact the outside scholarship agency to find out when the funds will be sent to Brown. If you have questions about the process, please contact our office.
Q. What is a 529 plan?
A. A 529 plan is a state-operated investment plan that gives families a federal tax-free way to save money for college. 529 plans come in two varieties -- college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans. College savings plans let parents use their plan funds for college expenses at any college. Prepaid tuition plans effectively lock-in future tuition at present prices.
Q. Where can I get details on investing in a 529 Plan?
A. Full details on 529 Plans can be found on the Saving for College website.
Q. How do Prepaid Tuition Plan (PTP) payments affect my financial aid award?
A. Prepaid Tuition Plans are to be included on both the FAFSA and PROFILE as a Parent Asset. However, rather than reducing aid dollar for dollar, the funds will be used to assess the Family Contribution in the same manner as a College Savings Plan (see explanation below).
Q. How do investments in a College Savings Plan affect my financial aid award?
A. The investment in a College Savings Plan must be reported as an asset in the name of the parent on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS Profile. The student, as beneficiary, should not report the total of the investment as their asset. Because the beneficiary can be changed at any time, the investment is that of the parent. The College Savings Plan total will be added to the other investment totals reported and will be evaluated for purposes of calculating an Expected Family Contribution.
Q. How will employer/parent Tuition Benefits affect my financial aid award?
A. Tuition Benefits are treated as an outside resource and will reduce the financial aid award dollar for dollar. Tuition Benefits can be used to reduce the student's summer earnings expectation, loan, and work award. If your Tuition Benefits exceed the total of your loan and work award, your Brown University Scholarship will be reduced. For more general information on the treatment of outside resources click here.
Q. How do I pay for my books, travel to/from campus, and personal expenses?
A. Your financial aid award includes allowances for your books, travel and personal expenses. These allowances are estimates. A student’s actual expenses may be slightly higher or lower than what is covered by your award. Students are not required to submit receipts or any documentation to the Office of Financial Aid to substantiate their actual expenses. However, if a student would like to explore the option of borrowing student loan funds to cover expenses that exceed the standard allowance, documentation must be provided. A financial aid counselor can discuss this option and provide information regarding the feasibility of borrowing loan funds to cover expenses in excess of the standard allowance for books, travel and personal expenses.
Students with very high financial need, whose loans and scholarships exceed the amount billed, may receive a refund to assist with these expenses. Refunds will not be available until late September. Most students will be responsible for paying these expenses out-of-pocket, as part of the family contribution toward total educational expenses. Students should plan to arrive on-campus with enough funding to purchase first-semester books and any necessary personal items and supplies. Below are a few suggestions that may help you meet these expenses.
◦Summer Savings: Bring some of the money that you saved over the summer with you to pay for your books.
◦Bookstore Account:Your Brown ID Card can be used as a charge account at the Brown University Bookstore. This will allow you to purchase your books upon arrival. However, if you do not pay off this account within 30 days, you will incur finance charges. This option works best for students who are expecting a refund after their financial aid is applied to their account.
Q. How do I appeal my financial aid award?
A. Brown University has an appeal process through which you may request reconsideration of your award. If you are able to document a significant change in your family's financial circumstances, or believe there are special circumstances that were not considered initially, please complete the Financial Aid Appeal Form. Federal regulations require that exceptions fall within certain parameters and are documented. The form is designed to assist you in providing information critical to the review of your appeal.
The Financial Aid Appeal committee will review your appeal. Their decision will be based on the individual circumstances outlined in the completion of the form. Students will be notified, via email, of the appeal decision. Please note, submission of an appeal does not guarantee an adjustment to a student's award.
Q. How do I notify your office of a change in circumstances?
A. Whenever possible it is best to follow the appeal process detailed above as it will provide our office with comprehensive information regarding how the changes have affected your ability to contribute to educational expenses. If, after looking over the appeal form, you feel that a brief letter or e-mail would be more appropriate, please feel free to send the information in that format. In the unfortunate event of the death of a parent, please contact our office by phone or appointment so we may better assist you during this difficult time.
Q. What do I do if I receive an award from another need-based school that is substantially different from Brown University's award?
A. An official need-based financial aid award from another institution that is substantially different from Brown's need-based award may be an indication that clarification is needed with one or both schools. We would encourage you to contact our office to discuss the difference and any possible differences in the application materials provided to each school.
Keep in mind that financial aid packages from institutions that award merit or athletic scholarships may differ greatly from Brown's financial aid package. Brown, as a member of the Ivy League, does not award merit or athletic scholarships.