Frequently Asked Questions

The FAFSA Simplification Act

The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed by Congress in 2020 and marks a significant overhaul of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid. Included in the overhaul are changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form as well as the need analysis formulas that determine federal aid eligibility. There are also changes to terminology and policies and procedure changes for institutions that participate in federal student aid programs.

The 2024-2025 FAFSA is available, but some families are having technical challenges.

Historically, the FAFSA application has been available effective October 1st each year. Due to the significant changes to the FAFSA and the FAFSA processing system, the 2024-2025 FAFSA had an initial rollout in December 2023. Monitor for updates.

Goucher FAFSA Simplification Workflow

You can use the Aid Estimator Tool to see an estimate of how much aid you may be eligible for. Note: this does not replace the FAFSA and is only meant to be a tool for students and families to better understand their options for paying for college.

Highlights of Biggest Changes with FAFSA Simplification

Fewer Questions on the FAFSA

The maximum number of questions on the 2024-2025 FAFSA Application will be 46, down from 108 in 2023-2024. The streamlined format should simplify the application process for students and families.

IRS Direct Data Exchange

In prior years, students and parents had the option to either enter their tax return information manually or to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Beginning in 2024-2025, students (and parent(s) of dependent students, or spouses of independent students) must provide consent for the U.S. Department of Education to receive tax return information or confirmation of non-filer status directly from the IRS. Once consent is provided, information from the tax return will be automatically added to the FAFSA application.

All Contributors Must Provide Financial Information

A contributor is anyone who is required to provide information on the FAFSA application (such as a parent, stepparent, or student's spouse). A student's answers on the FAFSA will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide financial information.

Anyone identified as a contributor will receive an email informing them that they have been identified as such. They will need to log in using their own FSA ID (not the student's) to provide consent to access their financial information and transfer it to the FAFSA application. An FSA ID is required to access the FAFSA.

Note: contributors are not responsible for the student's educational costs, but must provide financial information on the FAFSA in order for the student to be eligible for federal student aid.

Student Aid Index (SAI) Replaces Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The Student Aid Index (SAI) will now be the number generated after the FAFSA is completed, and used to determine financial aid offers.

One of the most notable changes to occur is that the minimum SAI will be -1500, a change from the minimum EFC of 0.

The need analysis formula behind the SAI is also changing. One of the largest changes is that while the number in college will still be listed as a question on the FAFSA, it will no longer be taken into consideration in the need analysis formula.

Automatic Maximum Pell Grant Eligibility for Some Students

Federal poverty levels and adjusted gross income (AGI) are now used to determine Federal Pell Grant eligibility for some students.

Dependedent students meeting one of the situations below will qualify for the maximum Federal Pell Grant:

  • The student's parent(s) are not required to file a federal income tax return;
  • Families with an adjusted gross income less than or equal to 175% of the federal poverty level;
  • Single parents with an adjusted gross income less than or equal to 225% of the federal poverty level

Independent students meeting one of the situations below will qualify for the maximum Federal Pell Grant:

  • The student (and spouse, if applicable) are not required to file a federal tax return;
  • The student is a single parent and has an adjusted gross income less than or equal to 225% of the federal poverty level;
  • The student is not a single parent and has an adjusted gross income less than or equal to 175% of the federal poverty level

Federal Pell Grants for students that do not fall into the situations mentioned above will be determined by the student's SAI. To qualify in this case, the student's SAI will need to be less than the maximum Federal Pell Grant amount for the award year.

Parent Responsibility in Cases of Divorce

For dependent students, parental information previously came from the parent(s) the student lived with for the majority of the previous twelve months. Beginning with the 2024-2025 FAFSA application, financial information will be required from the parent(s) who provided the most financial support to the student in the previous twelve months. The FAFSA will contain a parent/contributor wizard to help students determine which parent(s) to include.

Changes to Asset Reporting

Families must now report the value of small businesses (regardless of number of employees) and family farms.


 General FAQ

Does Goucher offer financial aid to its students?

Yes. The college seeks to enroll a talented and diverse student body and to make a Goucher education possible for as many qualified students as possible. To this end, Goucher offers a comprehensive program of need-based and merit-based financial assistance. The average 2021-2022 freshman scholarships and grants (that’s money that doesn’t need to be repaid) is $35,187. The average 2021-2022 freshman financial aid award, including scholarships, grants, student loans, and work-study, is $38,174.

What is the difference between need-based and merit-based aid?

Need-based aid is awarded only on the basis of demonstrated financial need on the part of the family; merit-based awards are made on the basis of relevant credentials, talents, or achievements of the student and are not influenced by the demonstrated financial need of the family.

If I apply for financial aid, will this hurt my chances of being offered admission?

Very unlikely. Nearly all admissions decisions are made under a need-blind process, meaning that students' financial circumstances do not influence the decision. In some years, a few of the very last decisions, including decisions made on wait-listed candidates and candidates who applied after the admission deadline, may be influenced by the applicants' ability to pay.

Families who feel they need assistance are encouraged to apply for financial aid by the priority filing date for their admissions application option. Institutional funding is limited and is not guaranteed for students who submit financial aid documents after the priority filing date. In addition, students must complete their admission application by the February 1 deadline to receive full consideration for the College's various merit awards.

How do I apply for financial aid?

Goucher recommends that all students who wish to be considered for financial assistance to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority filing deadline. Please note that if a student only wishes to be considered for merit-based aid during admissions, then they do not have to complete the FAFSA.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):

For need-based institutional aid, and for federal and state aid consideration. (Must be completed by March 1st for Maryland residents!) The FAFSA usually becomes available Fall. The 2024-2025 FAFSA is scheduled to come out December 2023. Complete the FAFSA online at Include our federal code for Goucher to receive the application. Goucher's federal code is 002073.

What happens after I turn in my applications?

A preliminary SAI (formerly EFC) and student aid report will appear after the FAFSA on the Web is completed. If you provided a valid email address, and your application was processed successfully, you will receive an email notification with instructions on how to access your electronic SAR (Student Aid Report). You will also have the option to print a copy. If there is no valid email address on file for you, you will receive a paper copy of your SAR. If you find you've made a mistake after submitting your application, you will have to wait until after your application has been processed to make corrections. Corrections can be made through Corrections on the Web at You must have your FSA ID to access your Corrections on the Web data. If your FAFSA is selected for verification (by the Federal processor or by the college), you will be required to submit additional documentation to Student Financial Services, which may include an IRS Tax Transcript, along with other documents. You will be notified by Student Financial Services if your FAFSA is selected for verification.

How do you determine my eligibility for need-based aid?

The process used to determine need for federal funds, needs analysis, is the same at every college in the United States, public or private. Using the information from your FAFSA, a formula known as Federal Methodology, is applied to determine your "Student Aid Index" (SAI). Your FAFSA data and the calculated SAI are forwarded to the financial aid offices of the colleges you indicated on the FAFSA. Your SAI is subtracted from the cost of attendance (COA) of the schools to which you have applied or are currently enrolled, to determine your financial need.

For example:

Cost of Attendance =$59,416
- Student Aid Index = $ 22,500
= Financial Need: $36,916

At Goucher the FAFSA SAI is also used to determine eligibility for institutional need-based aid.

How will you try to meet my demonstrated financial need?

Goucher prepares a financial aid package that may combine federal, state, and/or Goucher grants and scholarships; federal student loans; and a work study award. Goucher merit awards, state aid, or other outside aid you may have received are the first component of the financial aid package. Federal loans and grants, and in most cases, federal work study for which you may be eligible are then included in the package. If your financial need is still not met, a Goucher need-based grant, up to the maximum set by our policies or by your demonstrated need, whichever is less, is incorporated into the package.

While we cannot guarantee to meet the full demonstrated need of each student, we are frequently able to do so. Among students whose total aid falls short of their full demonstrated need, many will avail themselves of alternative financing sources, primarily low-interest educational loans described under financing options below.

Will my aid package change if I receive aid from other sources?

Any time a new piece of financial aid arrives, there is a potential for a change to other parts of a financial aid package. Total financial aid cannot exceed the total Cost of Attendance (COA), as per federal regulations. As soon as you are aware of aid from other sources, the amount and source should be reported to Student Financial Services. This includes: Goucher tuition waivers/remission, other employer tuition benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, non-service fellowships, private outside scholarships, and Goucher merit scholarships not already included in your award package. To report your outside aid, please use the “Outside Scholarship Notification” form located on our forms page.

What if I have extenuating circumstances?

If your income has decreased, or if you have other special financial circumstances that were not taken into account on your FAFSA, you may qualify to have your financial need recalculated. A Professional Judgment Request form may be found on our forms page. Please inquire with Admissions about appeals for merit-based aid.

When can I expect to receive an Award Notification?

Newly admitted students who complete all required financial aid documents should expect to receive a financial aid notification shortly after they receive an admissions acceptance. Returning students who complete all required financial aid documents by the end of May will be notified via e-mail in mid-June.

How do I find out what I have been awarded?

Goucher's Net Partner, is an online tool that allows current or expected students to manage financial aid. Financial aid awards are available on Net Partner where you may check the status of your financial aid documents, view and accept or decline financial aid awards, view messages, disbursements associated with your award and lifetime award amounts.

Prospective students who have not yet declared their intent to enroll will use the admissions and financial aid status portal, and will transition to using Net Partner once they are expected students.

I was not awarded Federal Work-Study. May I still work on campus?

Yes. Check the Career Education Office website for all on-campus student employment opportunities.

What happens if I decide to move off campus?

Living off-campus typically costs less than living on campus. Therefore, your cost of attendance (COA) is adjusted. Living off-campus (such as sharing an apartment) is also different than being a commuter student living with parents. Changes to your housing status may, therefore, reduce your demonstrated need and your financial aid award. It is important that you consult with Student Financial Services before changing your housing status. You also need to follow the appropriate procedures with Residential Life.

I am considering spending a semester at another institution. Will this change my aid?

It may be possible to take courses at another institution and receive aid for those courses from Goucher. To qualify, your combined enrollment must equal at least six credits, and your academic advisor must approve your request to take courses at the other institution. If approved, the billing office will disburse your aid to you and you will be responsible for paying the tuition at the other school. Note that you must be enrolled full-time (at least 12 credit hours) to maintain merit-based institutional aid and institutional gift aid.

What about if I study abroad?

If you participate in a Goucher-sponsored semester or yearlong study abroad program, your financial aid is processed the same as when you study at Goucher.

If you participate in an approved non-Goucher-sponsored program, Title IV aid including Federal Pell Grant and Federal Direct loans will be processed. Institutional financial aid, including Goucher merit awards, is not available. For more information visit: Financing Study Abroad.

What are the requirements for maintaining eligibility?

Most need-based awards for full-time students require that you continue to demonstrate need, maintain full-time enrollment (a minimum of 12 credits per term), and continue to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP). The SAP policy defines minimum standards for grade point average, ratios of completed credits to attempted credits, and the maximum time frame for completing a degree. The complete policy is available in the Goucher academic catalogue and on the website.

State and Federal need-based aid is subject to government guidelines, which may permit prorated awards or partial refunds. You must contact Student Financial Services if your enrollment changes to below full-time status and/or if your GPA drops below 2.0.

Goucher merit-based scholarships require full-time enrollment and a minimum grade point average (GPA) as defined by your Admissions acceptance letter.

Will an Incomplete (“I”) or Missing (“M”) grade change my financial aid award?

Student Financial Services must monitor compliance with Federal and institutional guidelines each semester. The grade point average (GPA) listed on your official transcript is used for the purposes of disbursing or canceling aid. When an "I" or "M" grade appears on your transcript, it is not included in your GPA. Therefore, Student Financial Services will cancel or disburse aid based on your GPA at the time of review. When those grades are ultimately changed to a permanent grade, your GPA will likely change. At that point, your financial aid may be repackaged retroactively. Therefore, students may lose merit scholarships and/or need-based financial assistance in the middle of a term, based on a revised GPA for the previous term.

For the same reason, students may be credited for a merit scholarship retroactively, if their GPA for the previous semester had first fallen below the minimum for renewal and later rise above that minimum. In these cases, the family must pay to make up the originally canceled award to satisfy the student's financial bill. The money will be refunded to the family if a missing grade renders the student eligible for the canceled award.

Students who will study abroad should be especially aware of this fact. Many overseas programs do not submit official grades to Goucher until several weeks into the new semester.

What happens if I drop or withdraw from a class?

It is important that you speak with Student Financial Services before reducing your credit load or changing course-grading options to audit. Your awards will be reduced or canceled if you fail to maintain required enrollment. Courses that are audited, canceled, dropped, or retroactively dropped do not count toward required enrollment levels.

What happens if I drop or withdraw from a second seven week class?

It is important that you speak with Student Financial Services before reducing your credit load or changing course-grading options to audit. Your awards will be reduced or canceled if you fail to maintain required enrollment. Courses that are audited, canceled, dropped, or retroactively dropped to not count toward required enrollment levels.

What if I take a Leave of Absence?

A student in good academic and financial standing may request a leave for one or two semesters. A leave of absence begins at the end of a regular semester. The student is expected to return at the conclusion of the leave or request an extension of the leave. The grace period on a Federal student loan begins on the last day of academic activity. Students who do not complete an Official Leave of Absence Form are withdrawn from the college and must request reinstatement if they wish to return.

Students who take a leave of absence during a period of enrollment are considered withdrawn. Goucher must calculate the amount of Federal Title IV aid the student earned. Unearned Title IV funds must be returned to the Title IV programs. The grace period on a Federal student loan begins on the last day of academic activity.

If I attend Goucher as a part-time student, can I still receive financial aid?

Yes. Please note that all institutional awards require full-time enrollment. In addition, if you are changing from full-time status, remember that most initial awards were based on the assumption that you would enroll full-time for both semesters of the academic year. If you are considering enrolling as a part-time student, please contact Student Financial Services immediately for guidance on what aid may be available to you.

What are my financing options?

Described here are the most commonly used financing options by Goucher families.

Federal Direct PLUS Loan: Parents of dependent students enrolled at least half time are eligible to borrow a Federal Direct PLUS Loan. Parents may borrow up to the full cost of attendance minus all other financial aid. This loan may be used to cover your expected family contribution (EFC). The fixed interest rate is adjusted every July 1, but will not exceed 10.5%. For the current interest rate(s), please visit The borrower is responsible for the interest from 10 days after the date of disbursement. Repayment begins within 60 days of the last disbursement unless deferred. PLUS borrowers are eligible for deferments based on dependent student's enrollment. In order to be considered for a PLUS loan, a student must file a FAFSA, even if the family is not seeking need-based assistance. The credit check is completed on the Parent PLUS borrower.

Monthly Payment Plan: Goucher offers a convenient, affordable alternative to lump sum payments. Please see the billing office web page for additional information about payment plans:

Private Loans: Private loan costs vary widely between programs. All private lenders will review the borrower's credit history and some will require a loan co-signer. Private educational loan programs traditionally offer higher borrowing costs than federal loan programs. This option is generally considered after federal loans are exhausted.

Do you have any suggestions on locating sources of private scholarships?

Please visit the financial aid page for links to several free scholarships and searches. Search your local library’s scholarship resource books and the Internet. You should also contact every group, club, union, church, business, sorority, fraternity, and other associations with which you or your family has some connection. Many of these organizations offer scholarships to members, employees, and their children.

Please visit our outside scholarship resource page.

I may need to borrow a non-need-based loan. How do I decide how much to borrow?

Use the formula below to determine approximately how much you will need to borrow for the entire year once all resources are taken into account for the year. Please note that most loans have a processing fee deducted from the loan which you will need to take into consideration when deciding how much to borrow for the year. Federal regulations require all educational loans to be counted as resources in the financial aid package whether or not the school certifies the loan.

Total Cost of attendance (minus)

- Grants, Scholarships, and Tuition Benefits
- Student Loans and Work
- Awards from outside sources
- Family resources

 = Total Remaining Cost of Attendance

Does Goucher award merit-based scholarships?

Of course. Designed to reward and encourage our brightest and most talented applicants -- and to make Goucher a very realistic choice for your education -- these awards are based on your academic credentials, special talents, and/or extra-curricular achievements in high school. Merit-based awards do not take into account financial need. The amounts of these first-year awards are set annually. Merit-based scholarships are renewable through graduation or a total of eight semesters based on full-time enrollment and a minimum gpa as required by the scholarship.

Goucher merit-based scholarships can only be applied toward tuition. They may not be combined to exceed the cost of tuition.

The Admissions Office determines eligibility for merit-based scholarships. Student Financial Services will put together an entire financial aid package that will include any merit-based scholarship, as well as other potential sources of aid determined by the FAFSA: Goucher need-based aid, federal financial aid, and state financial aid.

Are there scholarships for the arts?

To recognize, promote, and attract students with creative talent in dance, music, theatre, and visual art, Goucher offers two types of arts scholarships, awarded independent of financial need. To be considered for these scholarships, students are required to submit a complete Scholarship in the Arts application in the area for which they wish to be considered. For more detailed information on the application process for our arts scholarships, click here.

I’m a transfer student. Are there scholarships available for me?

Admitted transfer applicants are considered for merit-based scholarships. These awards are renewable through graduation, provided eligibility requirements (including maintaining full-time status and a minimum GPA) are met. Transfer students are also eligible to compete for the scholarships in the Arts.

I am an international student. Is there aid for me?

International students are considered for merit-based aid in the admissions process. Those interested in need-based aid must complete the International Student Declaration of Finances (ISDOF).

What is your outside scholarship policy?

It is the student's responsibility to report all outside scholarships to Student Financial Services when you become aware of them. Your financial aid award will be reviewed and adjusted according to institutional policies and federal regulations. You will be notified of the adjustments. Outside scholarships include (but are not limited to): Goucher tuition waivers/remission, other employer tuition benefits, merit-based state scholarships, and scholarships from outside organizations. ROTC and tuition exchange are not considered outside scholarships. (Receipt of ROTC or tuition exchange will result in a direct reduction of the Goucher Grant.)

My FAFSA was selected for verification. What does this mean?

Verification is a review process in which Student Financial Services is directed by the Department of Education to determine the accuracy of the information provided on a FAFSA. Student Financial Services will notify you via email if your FAFSA has been selected for verification and to request required documents to complete the process. For current or expected students, required documents will be listed on Net Partner - For prospective applicants, please see the admissions and financial aid status portal.

If discrepancies are discovered during verification, Student Financial Services may verify additional items and may require additional documents or information. Federal financial aid will not disburse to your student account until the verification process is complete.

Is there any way to make the process of applying for aid easier, or to make the aid policies less confusing?

We're trying. Indeed, this FAQ sheet is one attempt to clarify things. As you can see, however, we offer a wide variety of financial assistance. Each award has its own eligibility requirements and some are subject to governmental guidelines, some to institutional guidelines, some to both.

We attempt to make it as easy as possible to understand these policies, but it is important to consult with Student Financial Services whenever you anticipate or experience a change in your financial status, enrollment status, or receive or lose financial aid from any source.

If you have any recommendations on how we might make it easier for you to understand or monitor your eligibility for need-based and/or merit-based financial aid, please let us know. You can write or e-mail

We can't promise to agree to all of your suggestions, nor to implement every one we agree with, but we do promise to listen to and evaluate your recommendations.