Financial Aid Each Year

By Karen Cooper

  • March 11, 2022
  • 1 min read


Mother and teenage son walk arm in arm

Karen Cooper

Karen Cooper
Associate Dean and Director of Financial Aid
Stanford University

Can we expect the same amount of financial aid each year?

In short, maybe. To answer this question, it’s important to review the two primary types of financial aid: need-based and merit-based.

Aid awarded to students based on the financial need of the family is considered need-based. Major factors that impact this type of aid include the cost of attendance (which may increase from year to year), along with a family’s income, assets, household size, and number of family members in college.

A student could qualify for additional need-based aid during a later year of college — if the cost of attendance rises, or if one of these major factors change, like a drop in household income.

Merit-based aid is awarded to students based on a range of achievements in high school that normally fall under academics, athletics, and the arts. If your child is awarded merit-based aid — usually in the form of scholarships — there could be opportunities to renew it. Renewable scholarships typically require students to meet certain criteria every year, like a minimum GPA.

Since policies vary between colleges, especially for institutional assistance, you should contact the financial aid office with specific questions.

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