Financial Aid FAQ

Questions About Applying for Need-Based Financial Aid

Why do I have to fill out forms in addition to the required financial aid forms (FAFSA, CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, etc.)?

While the core of your financial aid application (FAFSA, CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, federal tax returns) don’t change from year to year, there may be new requirements and regulations or differences in your financial situation. In these cases, the Office of Financial Aid will request the additional documentation. Be sure to read all correspondence and requests from the Office of Financial Aid carefully and respond in a timely manner.

Do I need to report any 529 plans, and what happens when they have been withdrawn?

College savings plans allow a benefactor to deposit money into an account that will be used for the beneficiary’s college expenses. The buyer does not pre-purchase tuition credits as one does with a prepaid tuition plan. Rather, this type of plan is essentially a special savings account. The value of a 529 plan should be treated as an asset of the owner (not the beneficiary, because the owner can change the beneficiary at any time) and will be reported on the FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE if the owner’s assets are reported. Distributions from 529 plans are not considered taxable income, so they will not appear in the benefactor or beneficiary’s subsequent tax return(s).

What if my non-custodial parent refuses to cooperate?

If the parent with whom you do not live refuses to file the CSS Non-Custodial Parent’s PROFILE, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.

Do I have to apply for need-based financial aid every year?

Yes, if you are interested in need-based financial aid assistance. The Office of Financial Aid must re-assess your financial need every year. Once enrolled at HMC, the deadline to re-apply for financial aid is March 2, and the deadline to submit supplemental documents (signed copies of federal tax returns, etc.) is April 15. Review the financial aid deadlines.

Will my financial aid change next year?

If you receive need-based aid, your eligibility each year is determined by your financial need. The amount of your financial aid may change based upon a variety of factors. The most common factor that may change your financial aid is a change in your family’s financial situation. Changes in income, assets, family members in your household and/or attending college at least half-time (excluding parents) cause your family’s financial aid eligibility to shift. Also, changes to the Federal or Institutional Methodology, your financial need (each year’s costs less each year’s family contribution), the timeliness of your financial aid application, your grade level, and the availability of federal, state and HMC funds will affect your aid eligibility. Since we cannot guarantee a consistent level of funding from the federal and state levels, we cannot make any guarantees about future funding. However, in general, your total financial aid eligibility will remain as consistent as your family’s financial situation.

Additionally, students are expected to assume a greater share of their educational costs as they progress through college. Here’s the level of contribution students are expected to make year by year at HMC:

Summer earnings Student loans* Work-study
First-year $1,500 $3,825 $2,225
Second year $1,750 $4,500 $2,375
Third year $1,900 $5,500 $2,550
Fourth year $2,000 $5,500 $2,800

*These amounts represent total annual need-based loans. Due to individual loan program limits, some students may have to borrow from more than one type of student loan program.

Eligibility Questions

If I win an outside scholarship, how will this affect my eligibility for aid?

Any scholarships or awards from private donors, civic organizations, corporations, foundations or other group are considered outside awards. If you receive an outside award, your financial aid will be adjusted accordingly. This means that if you receive an outside award, the amount of your overall aid package will not increase. Once you have been notified that you are a recipient of any outside scholarship, send the scholarship name, amount, foundation name, and renewal information to the Office of Financial Aid. You can notify us in three different ways by:

  • Using the “Request Changes to your award here:” section on your signed Financial Aid Award Letter
  • Emailing to
  • Sending a copy of the scholarship notification letter

How would moving off-campus after my first year affect my financial aid?

When you live on-campus, your financial aid is determined from a cost of attendance that includes the exact cost of your room and the 16-meal plan. The Office of Student Accounts bills you for your room and meal plan when you live on-campus. For off-campus housing, however, the cost of room and board will vary from student to student. In order to distribute HMC’s limited funds in the most equitable manner, we use a standard off-campus room and board budget for students living off campus. Since off-campus room and board costs depend on your specific lifestyle and situation, we do not adjust room and board budgets for actual expenses.

For the 2012-2013 academic year, the off-campus room allowance is $7,398 and the off-campus board allowance is $3,564 per year. If you are living with parents or relatives off-campus, the “at-home” room and board budget is $3,983.

Generally, the off-campus allowance is less than the cost of on-campus room and board. Therefore, if your contribution remains the same, moving off campus may decrease the amount of your need-based Harvey Mudd College Scholarship or other forms of aid.

Would becoming a dorm proctor affect my financial aid?

Dorm proctors receive a credit for 80 percent of their room charge and 60 percent of the largest meal plan (the 16-meal plan) regardless of what meal plan they select.

These room and board credits will lower the cost of attending HMC. The aid package we provide cannot exceed your federally calculated need, so we will adjust your financial aid package. This may mean a reduction in your Federal Work-Study and need-based student loans, followed by a reduction in scholarship or grant aid, if needed.

In many cases, however, the dorm proctor credits may not result in a reduction of your other awards because your federal financial aid eligibility may exceed your institutional financial aid eligibility. As a proctor, you may still decline any Federal Work-Study or need-based student loans because of this additional funding.

What if I need a ninth semester of aid?

HMC students are only eligible for the equivalent of four years of financial aid. These eight semesters may be taken at any time. Therefore, if you take a leave of absence and do not receive financial aid elsewhere, you are still eligible for financial aid until your eighth semester. If you need additional aid beyond an eighth semester, you must make a written appeal including your academic plan to the Office of Financial Aid. Students requiring an additional semester are eligible for federal financial aid. However, the HMC Scholarship funds and other college funding is contingent upon Office of Financial Aid approval of your written appeal.

How will my financial aid be affected if I study abroad?

You will normally continue to receive assistance while studying abroad for a semester or a year. You’ll pay a comprehensive fee to HMC that is equal to tuition, room, board and fees. The fee covers the costs of the academic program, room and board in the host country, and an allowance for round-trip transportation to the program site.

If your HMC study abroad program is through Arcadia University, you may apply for a need-based scholarships ranging between $500 and $5,000 for a full-year, semester or term from Arcadia University directly. For further information regarding this opportunity, you may visit  Arcadia University online and download application materials.

For scholarship opportunity for studying abroad, refer to the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program.  This scholarship provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide.

What if my family’s financial situation changes?

If your family has already completed and submitted the FAFSA, CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, and provided the signed tax returns, have your parent(s) complete the Income Update and Expense Form, which can be found on our website under “Forms for Parents” and attach backup information, i.e., a letter from former employer about layoff, final pay stub, severance pay agreement and copies of unemployment checks. If your family has not applied for need-based financial aid, refer to steps in applying for financial aid. Contact the Office of Financial Aid with any additional questions.

What if my sibling receives his/her bachelor’s degree or college attendance changes while I’m still at HMC?

Notify the Office of Financial Aid immediately once your sibling receives his/her bachelor’s degree. He/she is independent for financial aid purposes. Likewise, if you reported on your financial aid applications that a sibling will be attending college on at least half-time basis towards a degree or certificate program and their college attendance decreases you must notify the Office of Financial Aid.

In both cases, your parents’ contribution will increase and subsequently your eligibility for need-based Harvey Mudd College Scholarship and other need-based aid will decrease.

What happens to my financial aid eligibility if I get married?

You will not necessarily receive more need-based financial assistance if you get married. According to federal regulations, you are still dependent on your parents for the academic year if you get married after you file the FAFSA. Dependency status cannot be updated based on marriage until the following academic year.

If you are married prior to filing the FAFSA, you will be considered an independent student for federal financial aid. This means that your parents won’t need to provide financial information on the FAFSA. They also won’t have to sign your application.

HMC does, however, require parental information on the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE application for all students under 24 years of age, regardless of marital status. HMC Scholarship aid will be based upon both the student’s and parents’ financial information, regardless of marital status. Thus, many married students receive the same amount of aid after they get married as they did before they got married.

If you’re married and won’t be receiving assistance from your parents but find that a parental contribution has been calculated for you, contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss alternative financing options for the amount you’re unable to contribute from your and your spouse’s finances.

Paying Your Tuition

The Office of Student Accounts will be your main contact for paying your tuition questions. Also refer to their FAQs.

How and when do I get a bill?

Bills are produced and mailed on the first of each month, beginning in July. They are mailed to the mailing address indicated on the Tuition Payment Agreement.

What if I don’t receive a bill?

If you don’t receive a bill and you believe you should have, contact the Office of Student Accounts.

What do I do if my bill is wrong?

If you believe your bill is incorrect, contact the Office of Student Accounts immediately to determine the correct amount due. DO NOT WAIT FOR A CORRECTED INVOICE. Make sure payment is received by the due date (20th day of the month billed) to avoid late payment penalties.

When are the due dates?

Payments are due upon receipt and become delinquent on the 20th day of the month billed. Postmarked dates are not considered.

Does HMC offer a payment plan?

Yes, families have options for paying the amount due each semester. Learn about payment plans.

Do you accept credit cards?

We don’t accept credit card payments. Payments must be made in the form of cash, personal check, cashier’s check, money order, or traveler’s check.

Do you accept payment via electronic fund transfer (EFT)?

We do accept tuition payment by EFT. For more information, please contact the Office of Student Accounts.