Financial Aid for Undergraduate Students

Student Financial Services is an important resource for families, whether or not they apply for financial aid. The College participates in a number of parent financing plans and offers a semester payment plan (see the Tuition and Fees chapter).

Special Student Status

Institutional need-based financial aid is not available for graduate students, guest students, or post baccalaureate students. Federal loans are available for graduate and post baccalaureate students. Questions about federal loan eligibility should be addressed to Student Financial Services. Graduate students should contact the individual departments for information concerning scholarships, stipends, or fellowships. More information may also be found in the Professional and Graduate Education section of the catalog.

Costs and the Student Budget

The on-campus student budget includes tuition, room and board, the Student Government Association (SGA) fee, and an allowance for personal and book expenses.

2016-2017 Budget:

Tuition$45,680
Room and board$13,440
SGA$186
Books/personal expenses$1,900
Total$61,206

A student's financial aid eligibility is the difference between the budget and the calculated family contribution. A student is eligible for need-based financial aid if the family contribution is less than the student budget.

The Family Contribution

The College uses a combination of institutional and federal methodologies to calculate a family contribution. The family contribution consists of a parent and a student contribution.

In determining the parent contribution, a number of factors are considered including parent taxable income and untaxed income, parental assets, the number of dependents in the household, and the number of dependent children attending undergraduate institutions.

The student contribution is determined after a review of student income and assets, including trusts. Students are expected to contribute 25% of the value of their assets each year and a minimum contribution from summer earnings of $2,600 for dependent students and $3,550 for independent students.

The Family Contribution from Year to Year

The calculated family contribution will be consistent from year to year unless changes occur such as a significant change in family income or assets, a change in the number of dependents supported, or a change in the number of dependent children attending undergraduate institutions. Students should expect to have modest increases in the student contribution each year.

Reapplying for Aid

U.S. citizens, Permanent Residents and undocumented and DACA students must reapply for financial aid each year to be considered for need-based aid from Mount Holyoke. U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents applying only for federal aid do not need to complete the requirements for need-based aid from Mount Holyoke but they will need to complete the FAFSA each year to apply for federal financial aid. 

Divorced or Separated Parents

While Mount Holyoke will consider special circumstances, we consider a student’s natural or adoptive parents—regardless of separation, divorce, or willingness to contribute—to be primarily responsible for paying for their child’s education. When determining eligibility for institutional assistance, the College considers financial information from both parents and spouses or partners. In cases where families include partners of parents, we will treat the partner as a noncustodial or custodial parent, regardless of marital status.

Requests for Additional Aid

Student Financial Services accepts requests for reconsideration of a family contribution under certain circumstances. These circumstances include financial support of an elderly grandparent, unreimbursed medical expenses, additional dependents who will be attending college full-time at a U.S. institution, or long-term loss of employment. (We will consider loss of employment that occurs in the year that the student is applying for aid during the second semester of that academic year. Any additional grant funding will apply to the spring semester only.)

We cannot consider requests for reconsideration of the family contribution due to circumstances such as cash flow problems or business or consumer debt. Requests for reconsideration must be accompanied by documentation. The Request for Reconsideration is available on the Student Financial Services website. While an increase in aid is not always possible, we assess each request as thoroughly and equitably as we can. Students are expected to maximize all federal and institutional loan eligibility before any additional grant aid can be considered.

Applying for Financial Aid

New First-Year Students Who Are U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents

Applicants must indicate their intent to apply for need-based financial aid from Mount Holyoke on the admission application. Those who do not, cannot be considered for need-based aid from the College until two semesters of enrollment at Mount Holyoke have been successfully completed. This policy does not apply to federal financial aid. Federal aid may be applied for at any time during the application cycle or the academic year by completing the Free Federal Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA). The PROFILE is not required. 

Applicants should plan to meet the deadline that applies to their specific admission application plan, see below. We accept late applications, however, students whose applications are completed after the deadline may not receive financial aid eligibility information when admission decisions are released. 

Required Documents and Due Dates

Regular Decision

  • By February 15, file the College Board PROFILE, Noncustodial Profile (if applicable), and FAFSA, available after January 1.
  • By March 1, upload parent and student current year federal tax returns, W-2s, and required supplemental information such as corporate/business tax returns (if applicable) directly to the College Board’s Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC).
  • Notification of eligibility: Late March.

Early Decision I

  • By December 1, file the PROFILE and Noncustodial Profile (where applicable).
  • By December 1, submit the most recent federal tax returns, W-2s, and required supplemental information such as corporate/business tax returns (if applicable) to Student Financial Services.
  • File the FAFSA after January 1 but before April 15.
  • By April 15, upload parent and student current year federal tax returns, W-2s, and required supplemental information such as corporate/business tax returns (if applicable) directly to the College Board’s Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC).
  • Notification of eligibility: Estimate sent in mid-December; final aid eligibility notice sent in mid-May after current year federal taxes reviewed. Note: Aid eligibility may change after a review of final figures.

Early Decision II

  • By January 1, file the PROFILE and Noncustodial Profile (where applicable)
  • By January 1, upload the most recent federal tax returns, W-2s, and required supplemental information such as corporate/business tax returns (if applicable) to Student Financial Services.
  • File the FAFSA after January 1 but before April 15.
  • By April 15, upload parent and student current year federal tax returns, W-2s, and required supplemental information such as corporate/business tax returns (if applicable) directly to the College Board’s Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC).
  • Notification of eligibility: Estimate sent in late January; final aid eligibility notice sent in mid-May after current year federal taxes reviewed. Note: Aid eligibility may change after a review of final figures.

Transfer Applicants

  • File the PROFILE, FAFSA, and Noncustodial Profile (where applicable) by March 1 for fall enrollment and November 1 for spring enrollment. 
  • Submit parent and student current year federal tax returns, W-2s, and required supplemental information such as corporate/ business tax returns (if applicable) directly to the College Board’s Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC) by March 15 for fall enrollment and by November 1 for spring enrollment.
  • Notification of eligibility: Late March for fall admission; late December for spring admission.

Frances Perkins Program Applicants

  • U.S. citizens and permanent residents file the FAFSA by March 1 for fall admission and by November 1 for spring admission.
  • International Frances Perkins and undocumented/deferred action applicants complete the CSS/PROFILE to be considered for need-based student loans or campus employment.
  • All non-resident Frances Perkins students complete the Enrollment Questions found on Financial Aid Online.
  • Notification of eligibility: Late March for fall admission; late December for spring admission.

International Students

International applicants must indicate their intent to apply for need-based financial aid from Mount Holyoke on the admission application. Those who do not cannot be considered for need-based aid from the College while enrolled at Mount Holyoke regardless of changes in family financial circumstances. An international student’s family contribution is determined when she first applies to the College. The family contribution is calculated based on an assessment of the family’s income and asset information and verified with additional documentation such as certified letters from parents’ employers and bank statements. Per College policy, requests for reconsideration of the family contribution cannot be considered, regardless of changes in individual circumstances. The same family contribution initially calculated will be required each year until graduation. International students who entered in the fall of 2014 or later are responsible for the cost of the student health insurance premium as well as the calculated family contribution.

The following forms apply to international applicants:

  • File the CSS Financial Aid PROFILE by: December 1 for EDI; January 1 for EDII; January 15 for Regular Decision; March 1 for fall transfer; November 1 for Spring transfer
  • Email most recently filed parent tax return or other verification of income directly to SFS@mtholyoke.edu. (The same due dates apply as for the PROFILE.)
  • Noncustodial online PROFILE is requested if student's biological or adoptive parents are divorced or separated. (The same due dates apply as for the PROFILE.)
  • Notification of eligibility: With admission decision if aid application is complete.

Deferred Action or Undocumented Students

Students living in the U.S. who are undocumented or have deferred action status (DACA) should complete the College Board PROFILE and upload parent and student U.S. federal taxes (if required to file) to the College Board's Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC). The deadlines of the program for which they are applying should be followed. Undocumented and DACA students reapply for financial aid each year. 

Renewal Applications

U.S. Citizens and permanent residents must reapply for federal and institutional financial aid each year. Note: Students applying only for federal aid are only required to submit the FAFSA and any supporting documentation if selected for verification by the Department of Education. The PROFILE is not required. 

  • File the PROFILE and Noncustodial Profile, if applicable, with the College Board by May 1 (non-Frances Perkins students).
  • File the FAFSA by May 1.
  • Not all renewal applicants are required to send federal tax information to IDOC. Students who are required to provide parent and student federal tax information should upload parent and student current year federal tax returns, W-2s, and required supplemental information such as corporate/business tax returns (if applicable) directly to the College Board’s Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC) by May 1.

Late applications are subject to a decrease in grant aid and a corresponding increase in student self-help (loan or campus employment) of $500. Applications completed after July 15th may not receive full consideration for institutional funding.

Notification of eligibility: mid-June if file is complete by May 1.

The Financial Aid Package

Students determined to have need-based eligibility according to College guidelines will receive a financial aid package that typically consists of a combination of grant, loan, and campus employment.

Grant Aid

Grants are gifts that do not need to be repaid. Grant funding comes from institutional, federal, and state sources.

Mount Holyoke College Need-based Grants

Need-based College grants are based on demonstrated financial aid eligibility as determined by the College. Funding is provided by endowment earnings, the annual operating budget, and gifts from alumnae, parents, and friends. Grants funded by the College include Mary Lyon Grant, Mount Holyoke Grant and the Health Insurance Grant.

Federal Grants

Pell Grant: Students with high demonstrated financial need, as determined by federal guidelines, are eligible for the Pell grant. On average, students with a family adjusted gross income of $35,000 or less are eligible for the grant. Grants range from $600 to $5,815 in 2016-17.Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): SEOG grants range from $500 to $1,500 and are included in the financial aid package of students with high demonstrated financial need, as determined by the College, and who are also eligible for the Pell grant.

State Grants

Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Vermont offer scholarship and grant programs for students who reside in those states and attend school in Massachusetts.

Applicants for the Massachusetts State Grant must reside in Massachusetts for at least one year prior to receiving the grant. High school counselors or state scholarship offices can provide eligibility and deadline information. For the telephone number and address of a state’s scholarship office, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243.

Note: If a student receives a federal or state grant that was not included in the original financial aid package, the Mount Holyoke grant is reduced by the amount of the federal, state, or provincial funding. This additional grant does not reduce the family contribution. If a student does not meet the appropriate deadline or complete the required paperwork to determine eligibility for federal or state grants, College grant will not make up the lost government funding.

Student Loans

A federal, state or MHC educational student loan or combination of student loans is included in most financial aid packages. The packaged loan amount increases approximately $1000 each year. Total estimated student loan debt over four years will range from approximately $20,000 to $31,500 depending on institutional packaging policies and whether or not a student borrows her maximum loan amount per federal guidelines. Links to entrance counseling and other required loan documents can be found at the SFS website.Students may decline a student loan included in the financial aid package by notifying Student Financial Services. Need-based student loans include the following types:

Federal Direct Student Loan - Subsidized

Eligibility for a subsidized FDSL is based on financial need. The school determines financial need for federal aid based on the FAFSA. The federal government does not charge interest before repayment begins or during authorized periods of deferment (postponement of repayment). Repayment of principal and interest begins six months after a student graduates or ceases being enrolled at least half time.

Federal Direct Student Loan - Unsubsidized

Eligibility for an unsubsidized FDSL is not based on need. However, a FAFSA must be filed in order to receive an unsubsidized FDSL.The federal government charges interest on the unsubsidized FDSL from the time the loan is disbursed, until the loan is paid in full. However, there is an option to defer payment of interest during school. It is important to know that interest is capitalized at repayment, which means it is added to the principal.

Note: Federal Direct Student Loans are sometimes referred to as “Stafford” loans.

The FDSL has a fixed rate set by the federal government each July. An origination fee is deducted from the total amount of the loan. The amount of the origination fee changes each year on October 1. The student borrowing the loan is required to sign a master promissory note and complete entrance counseling online. (The master promissory note need only be signed once to cover additional FDSL borrowed in future years.)

Federal Perkins Loan

Student Financial Services determines if a student is eligible for a Federal Perkins Loan. It is awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. The Federal Perkins Loan has a 5.0% fixed interest rate. Repayment begins nine months after a student graduates, withdraws, takes a nonacademic leave of absence, or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time. The student borrowing the loan completes a promissory note and entrance counseling online. The master promissory note need only be signed once to cover additional Perkins borrowed in future years. Please note: the Perkins loan will not be awarded after September 30, 2017. 

Mount Holyoke College and Global Loan

These institutionally funded loans are awarded to students demonstrating financial need. The interest rate is 8% and accrues once repayment begins. Repayment of principal and interest begins six months after the student graduates, withdraws, takes a nonacademic leave of absence, or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time. A promissory note and federally mandated disclosures must be completed by the student prior to accepting the loan. Promissory notes and federally mandated disclosure notices must be completed each year a student receives a Mount Holyoke College loan.

Student Employment

The College participates in the Federal Work-Study Program, a need-based program that funds student earnings for on-campus jobs as well as a number of off-campus positions with nonprofit agencies. The College also funds student employment for on-campus jobs. Annual student earnings depend on job position and hours worked. Students earn approximately $2,400 if they work seven to eight hours per week while classes are in session. Students are paid every two weeks. Earnings from student jobs are not applied to the bill and may be used for books and personal expenses. Students may decline the offer of work-study by notifying Student Financial Services.

The Career Development Center coordinates the posting of on-campus jobs and off-campus community service positions. The College hires students in residence halls, administrative offices, academic departments, the library, and facilities management. In general, first-year students seeking Level 1 jobs must seek employment in dining services first. After securing at least one three hour shift in dining services, first year students may work in other areas. Students secure jobs using JobX, a student job board, and a Virtual Spring Job Fair (online), designed to help students with work study find jobs for the following fall. Students with work study are eligible to apply for jobs of any level. Students without work study may apply for Level 2, 3, or 4 jobs. While the College makes every effort to post all available jobs, students are not guaranteed employment, even if they have work study in their financial aid package.

Merit-Based Scholarships and Grants (non-need-based): Trustee Scholarships, 21st Century Scholarships, Mount Holyoke College Leadership Awards, Frances Perkins Tuition Scholarships, and Tuition Assistance Grants

The Office of Admission determines eligibility for the merit-based awards; no separate application is necessary. Students do not need to apply for need-based financial aid to be considered for merit scholarships.

The merit-based scholarships are not transferable for study at another institution; however, students who are eligible to study abroad and who need financial assistance may apply for a Laurel Fellowship. Please see “Financial Aid for Study Abroad and Other Off-Campus Study” for additional information.

Non-need based funding, including merit-based scholarships, is renewed annually for up to eight semesters for first year students provided the student is enrolled full-time and remains in good academic standing. The Frances Perkins Tuition Scholarship for resident (on campus) Frances Perkins students is limited based on the total number of credits accepted for transfer at any point. Credits transferred to the College due to a semester or year of study abroad or academic leave count toward the semester limit, whether or not financial aid from the College was provided for these credits. The Frances Perkins Tuition Scholarship for commuting (non-resident) Frances Perkins students is limited to a cumulative total of 128 credits. Commuting Frances Perkins students must be enrolled at least half-time but may be enrolled less than full time to retain eligibility. The 128-credit total includes transfer credits applied toward the Mount Holyoke degree. Frances Perkins students should plan their course of study with this in mind.

Students continuing on academic probation for more than one semester or suspended for academic reasons are ineligible to retain the non-need-based scholarship or grant.

Non-need-based aid is refunded based on the refund schedule for tuition. (See the Tuition and Fees chapter.) For example, if 25% of tuition is refunded for the semester, the scholarship will be reduced by 25% for the semester. A student who takes a medical leave during a semester may appeal for the remaining portion of that semester’s scholarship to be applied to an additional semester needed to complete course requirements.

Outside Scholarships

Mount Holyoke encourages students to apply for outside scholarships. Outside scholarships can reduce the student’s debt, or help manage the family contribution.

Any outside scholarships received, per College and federal policy, must be considered part of the student's financial aid package.

If a student receives an outside scholarship(s), we will first reduce the student’s College and federal need-based loans and then any student employment included in the original financial aid package. If the outside scholarships exceed the amount of the need-based loans and student employment, the remainder reduces the College grant. The total financial aid will remain the same unless the student requests the full Federal Direct Student Loan eligibility rather than the loan reduction.

Important note: If the student's determined need is met solely by College need-based grant, such as the Mount Holyoke Grant or the Mary Lyon Legacy Grant, any outside scholarship(s) will reduce the College grant dollar for dollar.

Students receiving a scholarship should inform Student Financial Services as soon as possible.

International students who secure sponsorship funding prior to admission or enrolling at Mount Holyoke must notify Student Financial Services to discuss the impact on need-based financial assistance.

Information about outside scholarships can be obtained from high school counselors and local libraries or by using scholarship search engines. More information on scholarships is available here. Current students may also research direct apply scholarship information at the Fellowships Office.

Employer Benefit

When a parent receives a tuition benefit through her or his employer, this funding is treated as an outside scholarship, first reducing need-based loans and student employment (federal and institutional) and then any College grant. If a parent receives a tuition benefit for student educational expenses and this benefit is not listed in the financial aid package, please notify Student Financial Services. Tuition grants may only cover tuition. If a combination of tuition grants exceeds tuition costs, tuition grants from the College will be adjusted accordingly. 

Veterans’ Benefits (including Yellow Ribbon)

Veterans’ benefits will be treated as other outside scholarships for the purposes of determining remaining institutional grant eligibility for dependent students. These benefits include housing allowances and book stipends sent directly to the student. Mount Holyoke participates in the Yellow Ribbon program with a matching grant of up to $10,000 per student per year for undergraduates and $5,000 per student per year for graduates and post baccalaureate students. Veterans’ tuition benefits may impact non-need-based financial aid from the College including Frances Perkins Tuition Scholarships. 

Financial Aid for Study Abroad and Other Off-Campus Study

To support study abroad, Mount Holyoke offers the Laurel Fellowship. The Laurel Fellowship is need-based. Other Mount Holyoke scholarships and grants, including Tuition Assistance Grants, cannot be used for study abroad. However, students who are U.S. citizens and who study abroad are typically eligible for federal financial aid. In order to determine eligibility for the Laurel Fellowship, students must submit a consortium agreement from the study abroad program and a completed financial aid application. The consortium agreement is used to determine the cost of attendance and need-based eligibility for Laurel funding. For those receiving only federal financial aid, a consortium agreement is also required. Mount Holyoke does not charge the student MHC tuition or room and board for study abroad in most cases. Typically, students pay the program fees directly to the program. Any financial aid (including educational financing) will be credited to the student account and applied toward Mount Holyoke charges (e.g. Study Abroad Administrative Fee, currently $900 per semester). Any excess credit balance will be sent to the student to assist with program expenses. To receive the credit balance a student must complete a Disbursement Form, available on the Student Financial Services website.

For more information about available funds and application procedures, visit the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives website at www.mtholyoke.edu/global. In addition, please see the information about study abroad in the Special Programs and Resources chapter under The Dorothy R. and Norman E. McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.

Financial Aid Policies

Disbursing Funds

Financial aid funds are disbursed on a per-semester basis and are disbursed at the beginning of each semester provided a student has completed all financial aid application requirements including loan requirements. Students should check Financial Aid Online for information regarding missing information. For both initial and returning applicants, a student cannot start classes or move into a residence hall until the appropriate semester fees have been paid in full or provisions for payment plans and/or loans have been approved by Student Financial Services.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Eligibility for financial aid is contingent on maintaining a satisfactory academic record, according to the standards described in the “Class Standing and Academic Deficiencies” section in the Academic Regulations chapter or as defined by the Department of Education (for federal aid). Students placed on academic probation are eligible for federal and institutional aid the first semester they are on academic probation. If academic probation is continued, eligibility for federal financial aid will be revoked. Students will be eligible for institutional funding for the second semester of academic probation. Students will not be eligible for institutional or federal funding if they remain on academic probation for a third semester.

Students who lose federal or institutional funding due to not meeting satisfactory academic progress may appeal the loss of funding by writing to Student Financial Services and providing supporting documentation. The appeal must contain an explanation of why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) and an explanation of what has changed that will allow the student to make SAP in the next semester. Students will automatically regain institutional and federal need-based eligibility for funding after achieving satisfactory academic progress and removal from academic probation.

The merit-based scholarships (Trustee Scholarship, 21st Century Scholarship, Frances Perkins Tuition Scholarship, Mount Holyoke Leadership Award) and the Tuition Assistance Grant will not be renewed if funding is lost due to continued academic probation or in cases of required withdrawal or suspension due to academic or behavioral reasons.

Funding Limitations

Resident students who enter as first-time, first-year students are eligible for a maximum of eight semesters of aid financial aid, need-based or non-need-based, from Mount Holyoke. College funding for transfer students is limited based on the total number of credits accepted for transfer at any point (e.g. a student who transfers in 64 credits is eligible for a maximum of four semesters of College funding). Off-campus (commuting) Frances Perkins students receive funding for up to 128 attempted credits including any credits transferred to Mount Holyoke. Credits transferred to the College due to a semester or year of study abroad or academic leave will count toward the semester limit, whether or not financial aid from the College was provided for these credits. (Federal aid may be available.) Students should plan their course of study with these maximums in mind. All resident students are expected to take 16 credits per semester unless approved for a reduced course load due to a medical accommodation. Regardless of the numbers of credits attempted in a semester, a semester of residence will count as 16 credits toward the 128 credit limit. Commuting Frances Perkins students must take a minimum of eight credits a semester to be considered for financial aid. Students may appeal the loss of funding eligibility based on transferring in credits if the credits are needed to replace courses attempted at Mount Holyoke College but not earned. Students should submit appeals with supporting documentation to Student Financial Services. Please refer to the Student Financial Services website for additional information on funding limitations including a conversion table for transfer credits to equivalent semesters of funding eligibility.

Students who must take a nonacademic leave for medical reasons after a semester has begun may request an additional semester of need-based funding at a later date, if needed, by writing to Student Financial Services with the request and authorizing Health or Counseling Services to verify the leave was for medical reasons. Student Financial Services may also request confirmation from the Academic Dean’s office that the additional semester is required to complete the degree. Students living off campus who have medical withdrawals from courses during a semester may also request consideration for additional funding.

Adding/Dropping Courses

For students who pay tuition by the credit hour any credits dropped after the fifteenth day of classes in the fall and spring semesters will be counted, for financial aid eligibility purposes, toward the 128-credit maximum.

Independent Status

In determining eligibility for need-based financial aid from Mount Holyoke, the College follows the federal definition of an independent student (as listed below), with the following important exception: If a student enrolls as a dependent student at Mount Holyoke, she will always be considered a dependent student, regardless of changes in her family situation, her marital status, time away from the College due to nonacademic leave, or withdrawal status. To be considered an independent student according to the federal definition, a student must be one of the following:

  • At least twenty-four years old by December 31 of the award year
  • Married
  • A person with legal dependents other than a spouse 
  • An orphan or a ward of the court after age 13
  • The ward of a court-appointed legal guardian after age 13
  • An unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of being homeless after age 13
  • A veteran of U.S. military service or currently serving on active duty for purposes other than training 

In some cases a student will be asked to supply parental or guardian information even if she meets the above federal requirements. Please contact Student Financial Services if you have any questions regarding independent student status.

Financial Aid for Summer Study

The College does not process or provide financial aid for summer study at Mount Holyoke or other institutions.