Frequently Asked Questions
What makes Westminster College so affordable?
A Westminster education is consistently recognized as one of the best values in the nation. 98% of all Westminster College students receive some form of financial aid. In fact, the typical Westminster student pays for less than two-thirds of the tuition we charge. A Westminster College education is one of the savviest investments you can ever make. If you are interested in attending Westminster College but concerned about costs, we strongly encourage you to apply for financial aid. You will qualify for some type of assistance even if you initially think you will not be eligible.
Why should I consider a private school like Westminster over a less costly state school?
The sticker price of a private college education can seem high, but premier private institutions like Westminster College have more ability than public schools to offer scholarships or utilize endowment funds to help students. At Westminster College, we award over $17 million annually in institutional aid and our average financial aid package, including scholarships, grants, loans and work study to incoming freshman in 2011-2012 was $23,700. The average 11-12 freshman scholarship award was $12,625. When it comes down to it, cost isn’t related to what the school charges, it’s what the student pays.
What benefits can a small, private college in Utah offer to me as a student?
Westminster College is a private, non-denominational, liberal arts college located in the heart of Salt Lake City, Utah. As a matter of fact, according to the Department of education, Westminster College has the highest four and five year graduation rates and the highest percentage of students with starting salaries above $30,000 than any other college or university in the state of Utah. We offer Bachelor degrees in 24 areas of study and award BA and BS degrees in 37 different undergraduate majors. The average class size is 17 students per class and the faculty to student ratio is 11:1.
I see that Westminster College offers Scholarships. Do I need to complete a separate application to become eligible for those?
Applying for scholarships at Westminster College is easy. In order to be evaluated for Westminster scholarship eligibility a student simply needs to complete an application for admission to the college. No separate scholarship applications are required. An online admissions application can be completed here.
What types of scholarships do you offer at Westminster? How much are they?
Applying for scholarships at Westminster College is easy. All you need to do is complete an admission application and you will automatically be considered for scholarship eligibility. Westminster College offers five different general scholarships for freshman students ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. There are also several half and full tuition scholarships available to freshman students. The scholarships are academic based, and every undergraduate, degree-seeking student who applies is automatically considered for a scholarship. For more information on scholarships available to first year students please visit our scholarship website.
Do you offer any scholarships for Transfer students? How much are they?
Applying for scholarships at Westminster College is easy. All you need to do is complete an admission application. Westminster College offers four different general scholarships to transfer students ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. The college also offers an Exemplary Achievement scholarship worth $20,000. The scholarships are academic based, and every undergraduate, degree-seeking student who applies is automatically considered for a scholarship. For more information on scholarships for transfer students please visit our transfer student scholarship website.
Will Westminster College be cutting back on the amount of scholarship aid it offers to students?
Westminster College remains fully committed to providing access to a premier, private liberal arts education. For more information regarding the different types of scholarships available to both freshman and transfer students, please visit our scholarship webpage to see what you may qualify for. Please also take advantage of our scholarship calculator to determine the amount of scholarship you will qualify for.
Is the cost of attendance the amount I will actually spend to attend Westminster College?
With our full range of merit-based and need-based scholarships, grants, work study and loans, a student and their family can reduce the cost and make a Westminster College education affordable. In fact, the typical Westminster student pays for less than two-thirds of the tuition charged by the institution based on the total financial aid awards offered to students.
I don’t believe my parents and I will qualify for any financial aid. Why are you encouraging me to still apply?
Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and Parent PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free to file. Westminster College highly recommends that all students apply for financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be completed online by visiting the FAFSA website. Please be advised that the FAFSA application is free to file and you should never pay a fee to complete this application.
Will student loans be affected given the current state of the economy?
The federal government is taking steps to ensure student’s ability to obtain loans is not compromised. The Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 allows undergraduate students an additional $2,000 per year of Stafford borrowing eligibility. Also, the amount of money a student can borrow over their college career was also increased. The federal government is moving aggressively to support the continued availability of funding for federal student loans in the next school year.
My parents don’t have a great credit score and they have been denied loans previously, can they still apply for a PLUS Loan?
The federally sponsored Parent PLUS loan is a low interest student loan for parents of undergraduate, dependent students. With a Parent PLUS loan, families can fund the entire cost of a child's education (less other financial aid). Only a modest credit check is required that looks for the parent to not have an adverse credit history. This credit check does not look at a borrower’s credit score or Debt-to-Income ratio. However, a student whose parent is denied a PLUS loan is eligible to borrow an additional $4,000 in Unsubsidized Stafford funds.
The aid that I was offered will not cover the full costs. What other types financing options does Westminster offer?
To meet the diverse financial needs of our students and families we offer the flexibility of several different payment plans. The Westminster College Financial Aid staff is happy to meet one-on-one with any family that would like additional assistance regarding all financing options that are available. Payment plans can be combined with other payment options such as a PLUS loan for a customized payment option. All payment plans require a promissory note signed by the student on or before the first day of a given semester. Further information about the different payment plans that can help you meet additional costs can be found on the Student Account Services webpage.
Can I be considered for financial aid in future years if I did not receive any financial aid in my first year?
If you do not apply or qualify for need-based financial aid in the first year but find your family has experienced a change in financial circumstances, you can apply for financial aid in subsequent years. Students in their third and fourth year are also encouraged to apply for financial aid if they have not done so in the past and have experienced changes in financial circumstances.
If I go on an LDS mission or take military leave, will my scholarship/grant be available when I get back?
Yes. Westminster will hold an institutional scholarship while you are away. It will be available to you upon your return, provided that you do not attend another school before returning to Westminster and you remain in good academic standing. (Generally, that means full time enrollment, a cumulative Westminster GPA of a 2.0 and 70% completion rate.)
What's the difference between a loan and a grant?
A loan is money that must be repaid, generally after you graduate or are enrolled less than half time (6 credit hours=half time enrollment). A grant is money that does not need to be repaid; it is awarded to you to assist with college costs.
When do I pay back a loan?
Most loans go into repayment once you have finished school. Some loans have interest only payments you need to make while you are in school. Most loans require that you are enrolled half time or more (6+ credit hours) in order to keep the loan deferred while you are in school.
Do I have to renew my financial aid each year?
The FAFSA application is required to be submitted each academic year. Completion of the FAFSA allows the financial aid office to determine your eligibility for need based financial aid. Scholarships awarded to incoming students are renewable on their own, if the student maintains in good academic standing and full-time enrollment.
How are my financial aid funds applied to my bill?
Grant and Loan funds are sent to the school and will pay directly to your tuition and fees (and if you live on campus, your room and board). If your financial aid funds exceed what you owe the college, the remainder will be refunded to you.
Do I fill out a FAFSA for every school I apply to?
No. The FAFSA should only be filed once. The results may be sent to up to 10 schools at one time.
How is my “financial need" determined?
Need is determined by taking the student's cost of attendance (tuition, fees, room, board, personal expenses, books, supplies, and transportation) and subtracting the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which you receive upon completion of the FAFSA. The result is your “financial need" for the academic year.
What is a Federal PIN and how do I get one?
The PIN serves as your signature / identifier on the FAFSA, and for Federal student loans. Both the student and one parent will need to obtain a Federal PIN number. It also is the means by which you can access your personal information on the Department of Education systems. Because it serves as your signature on Federal documents, it should never be shared with anyone else. You will use the same PIN for financial aid from year to year.
To receive a PIN (or to have a duplicate PIN sent to you if you have lost or forgotten your PIN number) visit www.pin.ed.gov. A new feature allows students and parents to obtain a PIN instantaneously upon your request as part of the FAFSA completion process, so that the FAFSA can be signed right away. Be sure to use the PIN to sign the FAFSA application so that the application will be complete and ready for the government to process. Lack of signatures causes processing delays.
My parents will not help me pay for school. Can I file as an “Independent”?
For Financial Aid purposes the Federal government considers a student to be Independent if they meet one or more of these criteria at the time the FAFSA is submitted:
• Were born before January 1st, 1990.
• Will be working towards their Master’s or Doctorate degree during the FAFSA-related academic year.
• Are married (including those who are separated but not divorced).
• Are an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
• Are in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
• If after the age of 13, both of your parents were deceased, you were in foster care or were a ward of the court
• If at any time after July 1st, 2012, your high school or school district homeless liaison, the director of an emergency shelter program funded by the U.S. Department of HUD, or the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.
• Have children for whom you provide more than half of their support.
• Have dependents other than a child or spouse, who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you.
• Are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
• Are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
All other students are considered to be Dependent, and the parents’ information and signature will be required on the FAFSA. If you believe you have a situation that should be considered individually, please contact the Financial Aid Office to set up an appointment to speak with a counselor.
What should I do if changes occur after I file the FAFSA?
If divorce, death, loss of employment or another extenuating circumstance occurs in the family affecting the student / student’s family’s ability to contribute to the cost of education, you are strongly encouraged to contact the Westminster College Financial Aid Office to determine what options or alternatives may be available.
I received an outside scholarship. Do I need to report it to the financial aid office?
The total amount of financial aid from all sources cannot exceed the cost of attendance established by the college. In most cases, a private scholarship will not affect the amount of your financial aid, though it may have a direct effect upon the type and amount of student loan eligibility. If you are awarded a private scholarship, submit notification of the award to the Financial Aid Office, attaching a copy of the scholarship award notification letter. The student’s financial aid awards will then be reviewed and adjusted to include the anticipated scholarship amount and to ensure that the student is not over-awarded.
What is “verification”, and why was I selected?
The Federal Processor selects FAFSA applications for the process of verification. If you are selected for verification the Westminster College Financial Aid Office will ask you to provide complete and signed copies of the prior year’s Federal tax transcripts and the completed and signed verification worksheet for that academic year. Additional documents may also be needed. Once all of the necessary documents have been received, the Financial Aid Office electronically transmits the confirmed information to the government.
Note: If a student is selected for verification, it is important to respond to the request for verification documents as quickly as possible, to prevent delays in financial aid processing and to ensure optimum eligibility for limited aid sources.
Do I need to file my taxes before I apply for financial aid?
No, you are not required to file taxes before submitting the FAFSA; you may complete the form using estimated tax information. However, it is important to be as accurate as possible when estimating so that the Financial Aid Office can put together the most accurate awards possible for the student. Once your taxes are filed you are expected to review your FAFSA information and make any necessary changes. Changes can be made on the FAFSA website or (if you submitted a paper FAFSA) on the paper Student Aid Report (SAR) that the federal government will send to the address listed on the FAFSA.
Commonly Used Acronyms
- FAFSA : Free Application for Federal Student Aid
- EFC : Expected Family Contribution
- SAR : Student Aid Report
What is a Dependency Override?
In unusual cases a financial aid administrator may perform a dependency override. If you (the student) have unusual circumstances that deem a change in your dependency status from a dependent student to an independent student, you must submit a detailed letter (appeal) explaining the nature of your unusual circumstances and must provide documentation. Documentation can be from a third party professional (teacher, counselor, medical authority, religious leader, government agency, or court) detailing your situation. An appeal must be submitted each year until you meet the FAFSA criteria to be considered an independent student. Please note that appeals submitted without documentation will not be considered.
All information provided is treated confidentially.
Unusual circumstances may include, but are not limited to:
- Abandonment by parents whether voluntary or involuntary
- An abusive family environment
- Unable to locate parents
- Entering the United States as a refugee without parents and limited or no access to parents.
Unusual circumstances do not include:
- Parents’ refusal to contribute toward your education.
- Parents’ unwillingness to provide information needed on the FAFSA or for verification
- Claiming yourself on your taxes
- Living on your own and paying your own expenses.
What is Professional Judgement?
Here is some information, but for more information, come into the financial aid office.
What is an award letter?
Here is a sample of the 2013-14 year award letter.