Financial aid process and information
Occidental College has a long history of providing educational opportunities to qualified students from various economic backgrounds. More than 70 percent of the Occidental student body receives some form of financial aid.
Varying amounts of financial aid are awarded to qualified students. Financial aid is given in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and on-campus employment. Awards are based upon a family’s calculated need and the resources available from endowment, annual gifts and the general funds of the College, as well as federal and state sources.
With the exception of a small number of merit programs, financial aid is awarded to students who demonstrate financial need based on federal, state, and institutional policies. The College evaluates family resources in a consistent and equitable manner. The general principle of these policies is that parents and students are the primary source of funds for post-secondary education and both have an obligation to finance educational expenses to the extent that they are able. Financial need is considered to be the difference between the cost of attendance and the family’s expected family contribution (EFC), as determined by the Financial Aid Office.
Students are required to contribute toward their educational expenses. All student are expected to contribute at least $2,600 from summer earnings to assist in meeting costs of education in addition to 35 percent of their net assets.
Financial assistance for international students is extremely limited. Additional information and special financial aid applications are available from the Office of Admission. New international student financial aid applications should be returned to the Office of Admission. International scholarships are renewable for four years as long as the student maintains satisfactory academic progress. International students are only considered for institutional scholarships, loans and employment programs at the time of admission.
Need-based Application Process
Students seeking need-based financial aid are required to file all financial aid applications on time. Deadlines also pertain to Occidental students who are returning after being out of school for any reason. This application process allows the student to be considered for Occidental scholarships, Federal Grants, Cal Grants, work programs, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Student Loans, and other Occidental loans.
- Deadline for entering students: February 1
- Deadline for returning students: March 2
- Deadline for all students to submit tax documents: April 19
Complete the Following Steps to Apply for Financial Aid
All students must follow the instructions outlined to apply for need-based scholarships, grants, loans, and work awards. Entering freshmen who apply for admission to the College are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships. The College does not require a student to apply for financial aid to be considered for merit-based scholarships.
- Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by February 1 and list Occidental College on the form (Code #001249). Forms submitted online will be processed more quickly. The FAFSA can be found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.
- First time applicants must complete a College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFILE application by February 1 and list Occidental College on the form (Code #4581). You must include the appropriate fee as explained in the instructions for CSS to forward a copy of your application to Occidental. (New students who do not complete the CSS PROFILE form will not be considered for institutional scholarships, grants, loans, or work funds. If you do not complete the PROFILE form but you list Occidental College on your FAFSA application, you will be considered for federal and state aid only.) The CSS Profile can be found at http://www.collegeboard.com/.
- First-time applicants whose parents have been divorced or separated less than 10 years, must have their non-custodial parent complete a Non-Custodial Profile.
- Returning students must complete the Occidental College Supplemental Financial Aid Application and submit it directly to the Financial Aid Office by March 2. (Returning students who do not submit an Occidental College Supplemental Financial Aid Application will not be considered for institutional scholarships, grants, loans, or work funds. If you do not submit the Occidental College Supplemental Financial Aid Application but you list Occidental College on your FAFSA application, you will be considered for federal and state aid only.) The Occidental College Financial Aid Supplemental Application is available online at the My Oxy portal at my.oxy.edu
- Parents of returning students must submit the paper Parent Financial Aid Supplement. Available online and submit it to the Financial Aid Office by March 2.
- Submit a signed copy of your and your parents’ federal income tax return forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ or ETAX with all supporting schedules including W-2 forms directly to the Occidental College Financial Aid Office.
- Submit any additional documents or requests for information you receive from the Financial Aid Office.
The financial aid application deadline for transfer students entering in the fall is March 2 and November 1 for transfer students entering in the spring.
We encourage you to file and sign your tax returns and to submit them to our office as early as possible, but not later than April 19. Files completed after this date will be considered late and will not receive priority processing. Keep copies of all documents for your records.
The Financial Aid Office is dedicated to helping you with the successful financing of your Occidental education. If at any time you have a question or concern, please contact us at:
Need-based Occidental scholarships are awarded each year on an individual basis in proportion to the degree of financial need and the student’s academic and co-curricular record. Less than full-time students will have their need-based scholarship prorated. There is no scholarship assistance for students enrolled in less than six units. Occidental scholarship recipients may be asked to write a thank-you letter to a specific donor during the academic year.
The College also awards a number of scholarships to entering students based solely on merit at the time of admission. A separate application is not required as all applicants are automatically considered for merit-based awards. Merit-based awards may be renewed for up to three additional years if the student maintains the cumulative grade point average while attending Occidental. See the Financial Aid Policy Guide for GPA requirements of specific scholarships. Merit scholarship awards are prorated for students who enroll for less than a full year and/or less than full time. For pro-rating calculations, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
All students applying for financial aid at Occidental are required to apply for the appropriate state and federal grant programs. California residents apply by completing the FAFSA and the GPA Verification Form. All grant awards are combined with other resources to meet financial need. Five grant programs are described below:
- The Federal Pell Grant is a federal student aid program for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need.
- The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a federal program that helps undergraduate students with the greatest financial need. Priority is given to Federal Pell Grant recipients.
- The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) awards Cal Grants A and B to California residents as determined by eligibility requirements set by the State of California.
Campus Employment Opportunities
Part-time employment is supported by the Occidental Work Award (OWA) program and the Federal Work Study (FWS) program. Occidental Work Award and Federal Work Study are normally offered as part of the financial aid award.
Student loans allow a family to postpone paying for a portion of college expenses until a student has completed his or her education. Interest begins accruing on loans as outlined on the promissory note.
The Occidental Low Interest Loan is administered by the College using institutional funds. Occidental Low Interest Loans (5%) are awarded up to $5,500 per year for undergraduates.
The Occidental No Interest Loan Program is a student loan originally funded by the Weingart Foundation that awards up to $10,000 per year for undergraduate students. This generous, interest free program was established to benefit U.S. Citizens who are graduates of California high schools.
Federal Perkins loans are low-interest (5%) loans awarded to undergraduate students from low-income families.
Federal Direct loans are also long-term, low-interest loans available to all students. Direct loans are subsidized by the federal government for students who demonstrate need. Unsubsidized Direct loans are available for students who do not demonstrate financial need or who need to borrow to cover a portion of the parental contribution.
The Federal PLUS program is a parent loan program designed to provide long-term competitive rate financing to assist families in meeting the expected family contribution. Federal PLUS loans may not exceed the student’s cost of education less any financial aid for which the student is eligible.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
To remain eligible for financial aid, a student must be in good academic standing as defined in the Academic Policies section of this catalog. No Occidental funds are available to a student on a leave of absence to study abroad at another institution. Students may, however, in some cases, receive federal or state aid to study abroad at another institution.
The academic year at Occidental consists of two 15-week semesters. Full-time students may register each semester for a maximum of 18 units. Students enrolling in less than 12 units each semester are considered to be part time, and aid is prorated.
Since institutional financial aid eligibility extends for only four years and graduation requirements are based on satisfactory completion of 32 units each year, it is to a student’s advantage to complete 16 units each semester. Financial aid eligibility for transfer students is prorated based upon the grade level determined at the time of admission. Students who are eligible to graduate prior to exhausting financial aid eligibility are not eligible to continue receiving financial aid. Repeated courses do not count as courses completed or contribute to maintaining satisfactory academic progress.
Qualitative and Quantitative Requirements: For Occidental students to maintain eligibility for financial aid, applicants are required to make satisfactory academic progress toward their degree. The Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (SAP) also requires students to complete a certain number of units and maintain a certain grade point average after each year of college attendance.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for Financial Aid Recipients
Federal regulations require Occidental College to monitor the academic progress of students receiving financial aid. When we disburse aid to your student account, we are certifying that you are making satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward your degree.
Occidental students must make quantitative (time-based) and qualitative (grade-based) progress towards their degree. The time-based requirement is the pace at which you must progress toward your degree. The grade-based requirement is measured by your GPA.
Maximum Time Frame (Pace):
At Occidental, if you are a full-time, first-year student you are eligible to receive institutional and state financial aid for 8 semesters of full-time study. Students who require additional semesters to complete their degree are only eligible for federal assistance for no more than 4 additional semesters as long as they meet other progress standards and remain federally eligible.
Financial aid eligibility for transfer students is pro-rated based on the number of units transferred from previous institution(s). This determination is made at the time of admission by the Registrar.
As a full-time student at Occidental you are considered to be making adequate progress toward your degree if you complete a minimum of 12 units each semester and earn a total of 128 units by the end of your eighth semester. You are expected to complete 16 units per semester to graduate in four years. For federal eligibility, you must complete a minimum 12 units per semester and 128 units by the end of your 12th semester.
Attempted courses are those for which you are officially enrolled after the last date to drop courses. Withdrawals showing as a W on your academic transcript are counted as attempted courses. All courses count in calculating a student’s academic progress, including any for which the student did not receive financial aid.
- Grades of W are counted as courses attempted and count toward the maximum time frame.
- Audited courses do not count in the calculation of attempted courses as no units are earned.
- Academic policy at Occidental states that if a student does not receive a passing grade for a course, the course may be repeated for credit. Repeating a course does not remove the original course from the academic transcript. Both the grade for the original course and the repeated course will be posted and will calculate into the student’s grade point average. Both the original course and the repeated course will be considered as attempted in the calculation of “attempted courses” for purposes of determining SAP.
- Courses taken on a pass/fail basis count toward the total of attempted and completed courses.
- Transfer credits from another institution accepted by Occidental College are counted when measuring the maximum time frame to complete the degree. Occidental does not accept for credit any transfer grades lower than 2.0. Consult the Occidental Catalog for information about how transfer credits are evaluated.
- Students who pursue a double major or a minor are expected to complete all degree requirements within the 128 unit time frame.
Your academic records will be reviewed at the end of each semester to determine that you are making SAP. Making SAP means you must have at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA by the end of each semester and you must have made progress toward you degree as outlined below:
End of first semester
End of second semester
End of third semester
End of fourth semester
End of fifth semester
End of sixth semester
End of seventh semester
End of eight semester
Failure to meet SAP
If you do not earn at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA and/or fail to earn the required minimum units, you will receive a warning notification from the Financial Aid Office that you are at risk of losing eligibility for aid. If you do not earn at least a cumulative 2.0 and/or earn the minimum required units by the end of your “warning” semester you are no longer eligible for institutional, state or federal financial aid.
Right to Appeal
If you lose your financial aid eligibility at the end of your “warning” semester (and the Academic Standards Committee permits you to enroll) you have the right to appeal for an additional semester of aid.
The appeal must be made in writing to the Director of Financial Aid. The appeal may not be based on your need for financial assistance or your lack of knowledge the SAP policy. It should be based on some extenuating situation or condition which prevented you from making progress. Your appeal must include a written academic plan which outlines how you plan to restore your GPA to a 2.0 or better and/or meet the minimum unit requirements.
If your appeal is denied you may still be able to regain eligibility for future semesters by enrolling at Occidental at your own expense and earning a 2.0 or better GPA and bringing all cumulative units up to required standards. It is also possible to take a Leave of Absence from Occidental and pursue transferable coursework at another institution. This will allow you to bring your required units up to date and show academic improvement by attaining a minimum GPA of 2.0 or better (although GPA earned at another institution will not effect your Oxy GPA). You are required to speak with the Registrar to ensure units completed elsewhere are transferable to Occidental.
If your appeal is granted, you will be placed on Financial Aid Probation. During probation, you must follow your academic plan and resolve all incomplete grades before the Financial Aid Office can make a final determination that you have met the SAP guidelines.
To receive aid from the programs discussed in this catalog you must:
- have financial need (unless otherwise noted);
- have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate;
- be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen;
- have a valid Social Security number;
- make satisfactory academic progress;
- register with the Selective Service, if required.
Payment and Financing Options
In addition to the traditional need-based financial aid programs, Occidental offers short- and long-term payment alternatives. These programs are available to all families regardless of financial need. The application process is separate from the need-based application process. Contact Student Business Services for information regarding these programs.
Additional information may be obtained from the Financial Aid Office. The Financial Aid Office also publishes a policy handbook for every academic year. It is the student’s responsibility to know and understand these policies if the student is a recipient of financial aid.
The programs, policies, and procedures as published in this catalog are correct at the time of printing and are subject to change without notice. To be eligible for financial aid, a student must be admitted as a regular student. Students admitted as a limited graduate or as an advanced or limited special undergraduate are not eligible for financial aid.