College’s Financial Aid website ‘misleading’

The College of William and Mary’s financial aid website was recently dubbed misleading by the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md.

When applying for financial aid, the College Board CSS Profile requires a $25 fee to create a profile. The fee is not a charge that the College absorbs; it is received by the College Board in order to process financial aid forms.

Prior to the school’s website’s update, it made no reference to the fee associated with creating a CSS Profile and applying for aid through the College Board.

“Every student applying to the College is encouraged to apply for financial aid, and the first step is the completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Entering freshmen and transfer students will also need to complete the CSS Profile,” the College’s financial aid  website said.

Since Cummings made this announcement, the College has changed its financial aid website in order to better reflect their policies.

“Nobody had really raised the issue previously,” Director of Financial Aid Ed Irish said. “The students generally wanted to be considered for financial aid, so they generally completed the form without thinking about it.”

The College Board’s CSS financial aid form allows applicants to apply online for nonfederal financial aid from almost 400 colleges and scholarship programs. The fee associated with the application for the CSS Profile is standard for all College Board financial aid programs.

In a statement released Wednesday, the College’s Dean of Admission and Associate Provost for Enrollment Henry Broaddus said they would fix the website’s language.

“We are certainly sensitive to the cost involved with the submission of the CSS Profile, and we support need-based fee waivers for families where the additional cost would create an undo burden,” Broaddus said in the statement. “Furthermore, we would never deny federal aid to anyone submitting only a FAFSA, but it is in the best interest of any student with financial need to submit both.”

The College’s aid is financed from a combination of private donors, state money and student tuition. Private money derives from enterprises such as the College Board.

“The federal aid really isn’t adequate alone for a number of students,” Irish said. “The federal grant alone was really only 15 percent of our grant money, so we need to get the other 85 percent from other sources.”

According to Irish, about 35 percent of student applicants  demonstrated financial need, and 50 to 60 percent of the current student body receives some sort of financial support.

“We certainly want to make sure the language on the website is as clear as possible and we are sensitive to the costs associated with the CSS profile,” Associate Vice President of Communications and University Relations Brian Whitson said. “We reviewed our financial aid website last week and made the appropriate changes.”


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