By Kensi Martinez ‘21
Before coming to Pomona, I attended a highly competitive public high school in Los Angeles, where I learned to strive for top grades. Once I started classes at Pomona though, I was surprised to discover that a collaborative learning process—working together on class projects and studying with my classmates—was the norm here.
Having gone through the process of applying for financial aid, I also learned many valuable lessons, from how to afford all of those application fees to grants you can receive once you are a member of the Pomona community. Most students at Pomona (58%) receive need-based financial aid, but, sometimes, the process of applying for financial aid or managing your finances in college can be stressful. I hope this helps answer some of your questions!
- Application fees: These can add up! Students who are eligible and meet requirements can request a waiver for college application fees ($70 for most colleges). Pomona provides info on application fee waivers.
- What need-blind admissions means: Your application will be evaluated without consideration of whether you are applying for financial aid, or how much aid you need. If the College decides to offer you admission, they pass your application on to the financial aid staff, who determine how much aid to offer you (based on your financial aid documents).
- Why the CSS Profile should be on your radar: The Profile provides much more detailed information than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and is required by most private colleges. However, whereas FAFSA is free, the Profile has an initial report price of $25 and $16 for additional reports. Students are eligible for CSS Profile fee waivers if: the student qualified for an SAT fee waiver, the student is an orphan or ward of the court , or the parental income for a family of four is approximately $45,000 or less. If you’re applying Regular Decision to Pomona, the FAFSA and CSS Profile are due January 15.
- Paying the enrollment deposit: Pomona’s enrollment deposit is $500, or $100 for low-income students. However, even the discounted deposit of $100 may be difficult for some low-income students to cover. While Pomona cannot entirely waive the fee, they can set up a payment plan with an initial $25 deposit.
- How work-study works: Work-study, included in a student’s financial aid package, is work (usually on campus) that the student is paid for. Work-study money, although included in the financial aid package is never billed or “taken” from the student to pay the institution. The student receives a paycheck for a work-study job that is meant to be used towards educational (books or school supplies) and personal expenses.
- Funding for internships and research: For many first-generation, low-income students, an unpaid internship is an unrealistic opportunity that deprives their family of necessary paid labor. Fortunately, the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP) provides students with a generous stipend to pursue part-time, unpaid or low paying experiential learning opportunities with employers locally, nationally, and internationally. Pomona’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) provides funding for summer research done on or off campus. Essentially, Pomona is willing to pay students for internship and research opportunities!
- How outside scholarships affect your financial aid package: If you have an outside scholarship, Pomona will reduce the amount you are expected to contribute through summer employment and through a work-study award. Any additional amount will be split: half will reduce your parent contribution, and half will reduce your Pomona grant funding.
- Start-up grants for low-income students: A relatively unknown, valuable resource at Pomona College is the $500 start-up grant that most low-income students receive at the beginning of the year to be used at their discretion. This can really help with unexpected expenses that pop up.
- When there’s an emergency: In emergency situations, such as high-priority flights to return home for an urgent situation, medical costs, and extra assistance needed to purchase books, emergency grants are available by request. Emergency grants up to $500 are funds that do not need to be paid back.
- How a personal financial aid counselor helps: At Pomona, the financial aid office links us with personal financial aid counselors. We can meet (by appointment or drop in) and discuss issues with them anytime Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Remember: read through your financial aid packet and don’t be afraid to ask questions or negotiate your packet—case-by-case exceptions can be made for certain situations. Financial aid is more willing to work with you than you may think!