How Need is Determined

The College determines each student's need by using the information provided on the CSS Profile, the FAFSA, and supporting documents from the family (tax returns, etc).  Allowances for taxes paid, excessive medical expenses, tuition for private elementary and secondary school for younger siblings, an employment allowance if both parents work or if a single parent has younger children in the home, and an allowance for general household expenses are subtracted from the parents' taxable and untaxed income.  The amount which remains after these allowances have been subtracted is then added to available assets.  

Available assets are determined by adding all of the equity parents have in their assets (aside from the primary residence and funds in retirement accounts) and subtracting an allowance that is based on the age of the older parent, assuming that it may be needed for emergencies, etc.  The remaining assets left, if positive, are then multiplied by 12% and that amount is added to the income from above.

The total amount of available funds are then factored based upon published tables to determine the total parent contribution.  If there is more than one student in the family attending undergraduate school, that number is then divided between or among those children.  

To this amount, the College will add summer earnings for the student ($1,900 for first-year students and increasing by $100 each year thereafter) plus 35% of any assets held in the student's name.  Together, these amounts make up the Family Contribution

This example of calculating a student's need is based upon a student from Indiana who would have travel added to the basic budget of $52,056. 

Budget for 2011-12 $53,806
Estimated Family Contribution $21,046
Demonstrated Need $32,760

We are pleased when students understand the formula which is used to compute the family contribution, so they understand what causes changes in their level of need. If you wish to learn about the needs analysis formula, come in to see us. We will be happy to give you a more thorough understanding.

You should be aware that two slightly different formulas are used to compute your qualification for financial aid. The Federal Methodology determines your eligibility for federal student aid funds (principally federally subsidized loans, Federal College Work Study, and the Federal Pell Grant). Whitman uses its own formula to determine eligibility for Whitman scholarship funds. The Whitman formula is similar to the federal formula with specific differences. For example, the federal formula has no minimum contribution expectation from students, while Whitman expects every student to contribute from summer earnings. Because the Federal Methodology is usually more liberal than the Whitman methodology, students often have greater eligibility for federally subsidized loans than we have communicated in our offer of financial aid.