For Prospective Students and Families
Does Williams award merit scholarships?
Williams believes strongly that its scholarship funds should be used to fully meet the demonstrated need of each of its financial aid students. Therefore, all financial aid awards at Williams are based on need as determined by the Office of Financial Aid. The college does not sponsor and/or match National Merit Scholarships.
How do you determine “demonstrated need?”
We look at parent income and assets (including home equity), family size, number of siblings enrolled as undergraduates in college, as well as other factors such as extended unemployment or unusual medical expenses. That gives us a picture of how much we can reasonably expect your parent(s) to contribute to the cost of your education, and how much we can expect you, the student, to contribute.
You can estimate your expected family contribution using the Williams Net Price Calculator. The difference between your family contribution and the total cost for Williams is your demonstrated need, and we’ll cover 100 percent of that.
How is financial aid packaged?
Your financial need will be met through some combination of a Williams grant; campus job; loan; and other state, federal, and private funds. Williams provides no-loan financial aid packages to families with incomes up to $75,000 with typical assets. Note that a student is not required to accept a job or loan offer to receive a Williams grant.
Will I be overwhelmed by student loans when I graduate?
Our graduates’ debt burdens are among the lowest in the country—even lower than at many schools with full “no-loan” policies. Our average loan this year is approximately $2,500.
What does a campus job entail?
In an academic year, Williams employs approximately 1,400 students, in over 50 departments, who collectively work more than 170,000 hours.
The opportunity to work on campus is offered to nearly all financial aid recipients. Typically, first-year students work 6 to 8 hours per week and use their earnings to help pay personal and travel expenses. Students arrange their work schedules in consultation with their supervisor. While the financial aid award indicates the maximum that a student may earn, students can work fewer hours if they choose.
How many students receive aid, and how much do they receive?
Fifty-three percent of the student body receives financial aid from the college, with awards ranging from $1,800 to $58,900, depending on their family’s need. The vast majority of Williams aid comes in the form of grants, which averaged around $42,000 per aided student this year.
Should I also apply for other outside grants and scholarships?
Absolutely. The Federal Pell Grant Program provides federal funds of up to $5,500 a year to students with family incomes generally below $25,000 (or higher if multiple children are in college). More than a third of students who receive financial aid from Williams also receive Pell grants. State Grants are transportable for eligible students from MA, CT, ME, NH, PA, RI, and VT. Williams expects financial aid candidates from these states to apply for these grants. These entitlement grants replace the Williams grant dollar-for-dollar.
Outside scholarships are available from a wide variety of local, regional, and national sources—including civic and religious organizations, parents’ employers and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. These outside scholarships first replace the loan portion of the Williams financial aid package. If outside funds remain after loans have been eliminated, the job portion of the award would then be replaced. Once your outside scholarships replace the loan and job portion of your financial aid award, your aid from Williams will be reduced on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
How much will I pay for books?
Absolutely nothing. The Williams Book Grant program covers the full cost of all required textbooks, reading packets and art studio fees for students receiving financial aid.
What happens after my first year as costs go up or if my family’s financial situation changes?
We evaluate family financial situations annually. Therefore, the parent contribution(s) will likely increase or decrease from one year to the next as situations change.
Your award will change with increases in college costs or due to changes in family circumstances, such as siblings entering or leaving college. Williams will always meet your full demonstrated need.
Note: International students who may need financial assistance during their study at Williams MUST apply for financial aid when they apply for admission.
Are there a lot of expenses beyond tuition, room, and board?
There are no “hidden” costs at Williams, such as charges for the use of athletic, computer, recreational, or lab facilities. Likewise, basic health care is provided free of charge at the campus health center. While all students must carry health insurance, Williams subsidizes insurance for the highest need students – approximately 20 percent of students receiving financial aid.
Campus events such as concerts, films, plays, lectures, dance performances, athletic events rarely cost students more than a dollar or two at the door, and many events are free with a Williams I.D. And there are no fraternities, sororities, or eating clubs at Williams that would require extra fees.
Can I use financial aid for study abroad?
Yes, as long as you choose a program for which Williams provides academic credit your financial aid is applied to study away costs.
Are there payment or loan options available to help my family meet college costs?
Yes. All families may take advantage of a payment plan or apply for long-term loans from the federal government or independent lenders.
The Williams Payment Plan allows families to pay the bill in 10 equal monthly payments from June to March, rather than twice a year before each term begins. There is an administrative fee of $55 but no interest charge. The monthly payment will be the annual cost, less all grants and loans credited to the student account, divided by 10.
The PLUS is a federal loan program. Parents are eligible to borrow up to the cost of education less all financial aid. There is no income limit, although there is a credit check. Currently the interest rate is fixed at 7.9% and can be reduced by .25% with enrollment in the electronic payment option. Repayment begins within 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed, but payments can be extended up to ten years and beyond. Deferment of the principal is an option while the student is enrolled, but interest must be paid or it will be added to the principal of the loan.
Should my family take out a home equity loan to finance my education?
Today, with interest rates relatively low, the most frequently used college financing plan is a home equity loan, through which a homeowner borrows for college costs using the equity in his home. The principal advantage is that the interest paid on a home equity loan can be deducted from taxable federal income, which is not always possible with other types of education loans.
As a student, how can I help finance my education if my family does not qualify for aid?
You can borrow from the government through the Stafford Loan program, and you may be able to hold a campus job. Federal Direct Stafford Loans are available to all students, whether or not they qualify for need-based financial aid. Priority for campus jobs at Williams is given to financial aid recipients, but some of the campus jobs are filled by students who are not receiving aid.
For Current Students and Families (aka more details!)
Am I allowed to buy my books elsewhere if Water Street Books can’t get them for me or not in a timely manner?
Yes. If you are enrolled in an independent study or thesis course, or a course offered by MCLA or Bennington College, please complete the applicable book grant request form located on our Forms and Helpful Resources page. If you are enrolled in any other course, please email Betsy.Hobson@williams.edu for further guidance.
If I change my meal plan, will it affect my financial aid?
No. Your financial aid package is directly affected by your academic year budget, which always includes the cost of the 21-meal plan, even if you switch to a cheaper plan (we assume you’d spend the difference between plans on necessary food somewhere other than in the dining halls). If you need assistance calculating the impact on your student account (term bill), contact the Bursar’s office or schedule an appointment with your financial aid officer. Instructions on how to change your meal plan can be found on this Dining Services webpage.
I live far away and can’t take my stuff home with me in the summer. Does the college provide any assistance with summer storage?
There is a limited amount of campus storage space available for international students and some financial aid students. Email Bea Miles in Facilities to see if you are eligible for free storage space.
Does Williams provide financial aid for the GRE® and graduate school application fees?
The college may only provide financial aid for educational expenses associated with your undergraduate study at Williams, but we may be able to help in other ways.
ETS (the company that administers the GRE®) offers a limited number of GRE® Fee Reduction Certificates on a first-come, first-served basis that are available for college seniors and non-enrolled college graduates who meet eligibility requirements. Each year in August, we email seniors who are eligible for the certificates and provide instructions on how to apply.
Contact the grad schools to which you are applying and see if they’ll waive or reduce their application fees. Often they will, and they may require a letter from our office attesting that you are receiving financial aid at Williams. Please contact us as early as possible to request such a letter.
Are there Senior Week fee waivers or discounts?
Yes. The Office of Student Life coordinates Senior Week and offers discounted tickets and waivers to eligible financial aid students. Contact Student Life for further details.
My family wants to see me graduate but can’t afford a hotel. Can you help?
Yes. If you’re receiving financial aid, your family can stay in a campus dormitory for a nominal fee. See this page on the Commencement site for details.