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Episode Notes

Episode Title: Updates on Financial Aid for Fall 2021 from Ben Stern of IvyAchievement.

Episode summary introduction: Benjamin Stern of IvyAchievement gives us an update on how colleges view Financial Aid for Fall of 2021 and what students need to do differently.

In particular, we discuss the following with him:

  • College Updates on Financial Aid
  • What Students need to do
  • Aid Application Deadlines

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Good News on Financial Aid for 2021 [1:28]
  • Things Students Need to Note [4:45]
  • Double-Check the Application Deadlines [6:06]
  • Apply Ethically  [7:18]

Our Guest: Benjamin Stern, Founder and CEO of IvyAchievement, USA focuses on international students applying to US Colleges from India, Vietnam and others. IvyAchievement students have been accepted by top universities in the US, a number of them with generous Financial Aid packages.

Memorable Quote: “Financial Aid is a Zero Sum game.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.


Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Ben Stern  0:05  

So I have some good news, is that, is that colleges are still committed to providing financial aid. And in fact, even though budgets are being slashed overall operational budgets, and financial financial aid budgets are going to be the same or more.

Venkat  0:28 

Hi! Welcome to this episode of College Matters. Alma Matters.

Benjamin Stern of IvyAchievement returns to give us an update on how colleges view Financial Aid for Fall 2021 and what students need to do differently.

Let’s catch up with Ben Stern!

Venkat  0:52

Welcome back to our podcast, College Matters. Alma Matters.

Ben Stern  0:57  

It's good to be back.

Venkat  0:59  


So I think we wanted to catch up on the updates regarding financial aid for fall 2021, and, after the previous podcast. So I thought we could sort of just go through and see what's new, and what might be some valuable tips to provide the students.

So, what's it looking like for the 2021 students?

Ben  1:28  [Good News on Financial Aid for 2021]

Sure, so I have some good news. Good news is that, is that colleges are still committed to providing financial aid. And in fact, even though budgets are being slashed, overall operational budgets, Student Financial aid budgets are going to be the same or more at many, many colleges. Some, some are going to be, be slashing financial aid, but many will have the same, the same more financial aid.

And that's because they need to fill their classes, you know, the way they, the way they calculate financial aid is basically the opposite we may have, we may have discussed this last time, yeah, that they use financial aid to segment their market. And to make sure that they enroll their class while maximizing the revenue.

They know, you know, many colleges won't be able to fill their class with 100%, paying 100% paying students. And so they, they will give discounts to students and they will couch it in terms of financial aid or merit scholarships, even though they're really just doing it to get the price to fill their seats.

Now that's going to be happening and colleges that still need to fill their seats will give a little bit more financial aid, but they won't do it to a point where they're losing money on educating a student. So the full, the availability of full scholarships is going to be less. So come at these kind of schools.

The other kind of schools with you know that that say that they're trying to meet the full need of all attended, of all students who attend. They are the ones that are need blind, the ones like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, they are, they are still committing their full, their full financial aid budgets to students, they're not going to be reducing that.

Schools that are Need blind sorting or Need aware meaning they take into account financial need, it depends on their, on their financial situation. So I spoke with a few officials at Dartmouth University. And even though Dartmouth is having huge budget cuts, they, they have remained committed to funding international student financial aid at the same level as they have before. And even though they're not, even though they're not, they're not need blind, they do have a goal of becoming the blind, they've stated as such in there, they have a capital, a capital raise campaign, that's now probably not, not doing as well as the ones do here. But they are, their goal is to cover the blind and in fact, Dartmouth is more generous on a per student basis and overall basis than, than even Yale University.

So I'm expecting Dartmouth to be pretty generous. And I have several students this year, who are, who are applying to Dartmouth who I wasn't sure before whether to advise them to continue with their early applications to Dartmouth, but now I'm confident in Dartmouth’s ability to provide financial aid.

Venkat  4:32  

So, any specific things that are different this year? I mean, you mentioned overall, I think it looks good. Is there anything specific that students need to watch out for?

Ben  4:45  [Things Students Need to Note]

Sure. So another thing is that the financial aid forms because they're done at the end of the end of 2020. Beginning 2021. They usually ask about they, they provide the extra financial, financial figures years and documents from 20, the 2019 fiscal year 2019 tax taxes and taxes and income statements, things like that from 2019.

But obviously, a lot of a lot of families were in different circumstances than before. Then they were in 2019. And so the forms will allow, allow families to write about what they anticipate the levels, the finance levels were in 2020. And families should be careful about that to make sure they fill that out accurately and, and comprehensively to make sure that the 2019 figures are the only ones that are used.

Traditionally, usually, usually family's finances don't change that much from year to year. This year, they probably have changed for many families.

Venkat  5:57  

Okay, now, any updates on deadlines and things of that kind? Or are they generally the same? they've stayed the same?

Ben  6:06  [Double-Check the Application Deadlines]

Sure. So actually, some deadlines have, have extended some schools like Cornell University, still have their, their early applications available, you could apply until I believe, November 16th. Some others the University of Illinois, I think, some other some other schools have late or early early decision deadlines, nothing to nothing too late. Nothing really later early decision than November 16.

But some schools have, have given, given an extra two even or even more weeks for early decision. So that's something kids should know about. If they just Google the deadline, they may not actually have the accurate deadline, because that data may be from, from previous years.

Venkat  6:50  

Okay. Okay, so what's the best way to find out?

Ben  6:53  

The best way is, if you're, if you're interested in the school, the Common Application, if you're using the common application or the Coalition application, it will, it will list the deadline there and the school's own website will have the accurate deadline.

Don’t just Google, Google’s school deadline, make sure you're getting that information directly from the, from the source the school provides. And that's current.

Ben  7:18  [Apply Ethically]

My philosophy is always be upfront and honest about things if, if your family did take a big hit, then be straightforward about that.

It's no it's no use applying for aid if you're not going to get any, or if you're not going to get enough. If they don't know how much you, you know, you're going to, you really need.

But at the same time, families should take an honest assessment of how much they need, how much they can afford. And I would say, you think about thinking about all the other families, maybe families that are not as fortunate as your family, a lot of families, you know, can afford and would say, Oh, we were going for Need based scholarships. And, yes, it's sort of a, you know, every family for himself, kind of deal and it's very competitive. And everybody tries to get a leg up.

And I, you know, I asked, I asked students and families to think about how would you feel if everybody else did this, you sort of apply some laws of ethics and in, in your, you're applying for financial aid. A family that can easily afford college, in, you know, in hiding assets, or in moving assets around?

There was a family that wants to know, okay, we have this amount in our bank account, should we should we pay down our house because we can get, you know, we can get more financial aid if our houses, if we exempt a certain amount of value from our house, and our bank account is less? You know, these kind of things you want to think about? Okay, how much can you really, how much can you really afford, and and you know, how much, how much should you how much can you afford comfortably? And, you know, are you doing things that might, it might compromise the ability of college to give financial aid to somebody who really needs it?

Because when it comes down to money is a zero sum game. Yeah, money every every dollar that goes to someone who doesn't need it is $1. That could go to somebody who does.

So you're, you're taking opportunities away from others? If you are, if you are trying to obtain financially, then you're not actually entitled to.

Venkat  9:24  

Okay, okay. Fair enough. I think what you're basically saying is, make sure you really need it. And if you don't, then might be an opportunity for somebody else.

Ben  9:36  

Yeah. And that's not to say that you, you shouldn't, you know, go for all that you're entitled to, and that you shouldn't try to try to minimize the cost of education, but you know, in terms of say, misrepresenting your assets, think about the consequences of that and how you would feel if you were in a situation where your child might be able to get a scholarship, but someone else's child gets the double the financial aid they would have done otherwise and your child can't.

Venkat  10:07  

Okay, fair enough. Very good.

I think this has been most helpful. I appreciate you taking the time to update our listeners. And for now, thank you so much and take care. I'll talk to you real soon.

Ben  10:23  

Thanks. Always happy to be on your program.

Venkat  10:26

Thanks. Take care.

Ben 10:29


Venkat  10:36

Hi again!

Hope you found this podcast with Ben Stern of IvyAchievement to be informative.

Hope you made good notes on the Colleges that are likely to be “Aid-friendly” and how the students can benefit from these opportunities.

For your questions or comments for Ben Stern about this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io] with the Subject: Financial Aid.

Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

Summary Keywords

Financial Aid, College Admissions,, College, Ivy League Colleges, Dartmouth College, Yale University, University of Illinois, Cornell University, Financial Aid Deadlines, Early action, Early Decision, Need Based Aid, Merit Based Aid, Need Aware, Need Blind

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