Your Award Letter

During the spring and summer our office works diligently to determine your financial aid award for the upcoming school year.

Financial aid at Occidental College is need-based and can change from year to year. If you have questions regarding a change in your award from prior years, we encourage you to call the Financial Aid Office and ask to speak with a counselor.

Determining Eligibility

When we receive your FAFSA, Student Supplement and Renewal Application (or CSS PROFILE for first-time students), and supporting documents (such as tax forms), we assess your eligibility for all financial aid programs. We use these documents to determine your expected family contribution (EFC). Your EFC is a measure of what your family is expected to contribute towards college costs.

If your parents are divorced or separated, Occidental also takes into consideration the resources of your noncustodial parent when determining overall financial need. If your parents recently divorced/separated, this information is collected through the Noncustodial Parent Statement (this form is available on the forms section of our website).

Your EFC is determined by, but not limited to, some of the following factors:

  • Total parental income (taxed and untaxed)
  • Total parental assets (cash, savings, stocks, bonds, 529 accounts, real estate equity, etc.)
  • Household size
  • Number of children enrolled full-time in an undergraduate college
  • Total student income (taxed and untaxed)
  • Total student assets (cash, savings, trust funds, UTMA/UGMA investments, etc.)

Changes in these factors could impact your financial aid eligibility. For example, families may see a significant change in financial aid eligibility when older children graduate from college and are no longer considered "in college" for financial aid purposes, but could also see an increase if a younger sibling begins undergraduate studies.

Special Circumstances

When we determine financial aid eligibility we also consider circumstances which affect the family's ability to contribute such as, but not limited to:

  • reduction in parental income due to lay-offs or furloughs
  • loss of employment
  • high medical/dental expenses not covered by insurance
  • support of elderly parent(s)
  • other critical living expenses not previously considered

These special circumstances are captured by the information your family reports on the Renewal Application (or CSS PROFILE) and any subsequent forms or letters that your family may have submitted. If you requested a special circumstance last year, and were granted additional aid, you will need to document that circumstance each year that it applies.

Financial Need

The full cost of attending Occidental involves more than tuition, fees, room, and board. It also includes books, supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. To determine your eligibility for financial aid programs, we subtract your EFC from the total cost of attendance (COA):

COA - EFC = Financial Need

Financial need is your financial aid eligibility, which we use to award you financial aid awards such as scholarships, grants, work programs, and loans. 

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