Financial Aid Strategies for Transfer Students

Here are some special considerations transfer students need to think about when applying for financial aid.

Here are some special considerations transfer students need to think about when applying for financial aid.

Dependent vs. independent students

Single, undergraduate students under the age of 24 are generally considered “dependent” students for purposes of financial aid. If you don’t meet the technical definition of “independent” student, but you have been living on your own and are self-supporting, let the school know. The school might change your status to “independent” for institutional aid purposes, in which case only your own (generally) more limited resources are assessed when calculating your eligibility for aid.

If you’ve been working full time and expect to take a large pay cut to return to school, let the school know that as well. They may be able to adjust the income figures you reported on your FAFSA.

Help from your employer

Many companies help pay for their employees’ education. If you are a working student, find out if your employer offers a tuition reimbursement program. Be sure to find out how long you need to stay with your current company if you take advantage of its program, whether you need to maintain a specific GPA, and other details.

Help from your home state

Contact your home state’s higher education agency to see if you qualify for any special programs. For example, the state of Virginia has authorized a Two-Year College Transfer Grant, which awards up to $2,000 per year (for up to three years) to state residents who have completed their associate degrees at a Virginia two-year public institution and are enrolled in a Virginia four-year school (public or private).

Special scholarship resources

Most undergraduate financial aid is available for both first-year students and transfer students. But here are some extra resources specifically for transfer students:

  • The Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship Program offers $30,000 awards to community college graduates who plan to transfer to a four-year college. For more information or an application, visit
  • Join Phi Theta Kappa, the International Honor Society of the Two-Year College. Members who plan to pursue a baccalaureate degree are eligible for Senior Institution Transfer Scholarships, available at over 600 four-year colleges. For a copy of the Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship Directory, visit

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