Before you audition – applying for Financial Aid at Juilliard

By: Tina Gonzalez, Director of Financial Aid.

Hi! I’m Tina Gonzalez, Director of Financial Aid. While I know you are all busy practicing diligently for your upcoming auditions, now is also the time to start thinking about your financial aid application. Our deadline, March 3, is fast approaching, and although late applications will be accepted, it’s always best to apply on time.

Many students choose to wait to find out whether they’re accepted to Juilliard before they begin to think about financial aid.  I can understand that, since the process is so time-consuming. But think about it – what if you receive the good news that you’re accepted to Juilliard, only to remember that you haven’t submitted any forms and have no idea how you’re going to afford this! Then your excitement quickly turns to panic, and it’s a mad scramble to fill out forms, submit them, and then frantically call our office on a daily basis to see what’s up.  It’s better to invest the time now to apply for aid, so you’ll have more time later to decide which college you’re going to attend.  So, to get you started, here is some useful information about the application process.

First, let me quickly run through the process: detailed instructions on which forms are required can be found in our Financial Aid Application instructions http://www.juilliard.edu/pdf/FinAidApp08-09.pdf. In short, we need essentially the same three items from all applicants: Our own application, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (F.A.F.S.A.) form (or the international student supplement), and tax forms/salary documentation. Once we receive these three items, we can start to put together a financial aid package. We start with the E.F.C. (Expected Family Contribution) from the F.A.F.S.A. form (or international student supplement). This figure is an estimate of how much we feel your family can afford to pay for a year of school. We’ll subtract this number from Juilliard’s total cost of attendance to estimate your financial need. Then we plug in all of the federal and state aid for which you’re eligible: Stafford loans, federal and state grants, work-study, etc. The end result is called your Unmet Need.

Once we know your unmet need, we take the file to the Financial Aid Committee. This group includes representatives from Admissions, Financial Aid and Academic Affairs, as well as the Dance, Drama, Jazz, Orchestra and Vocal Arts departments, depending on your major. The Committee will allocate scholarship funds based on your unmet need and audition results as well as other factors such as educational debt and special circumstances.

Many students ask how they can receive as much aid as possible. First, I can’t stress enough the importance of applying on time. Certain kinds of aid are limited, such as the federal Perkins loan and the federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (S.E.O.G.). We try to give those out as equitably as possible, but once the funds have been spent, they’re gone for the year. It’s also important to fill out the forms accurately, which means you really should have your 2007 tax forms completed before you file the F.A.F.S.A. If you use estimates on the F.A.F.S.A., your financial aid package will also be an estimate. Since scholarship decisions are very time-sensitive, we often accept tax forms from 2006 for scholarship consideration. However, when we finally do receive the 2007 figures, we’re required to correct the F.A.F.S.A., which often leads to a change in financial aid eligibility. I’ve had many families call me because they’re upset or confused when this happens. We realize that the deadline for filing tax returns isn’t until April 15, but if it’s at all possible to complete these forms now, you should do so to avoid confusion later on.

Finally, be sure to contact us if you have any questions or if there’s any information you feel is not being reflected on the F.A.F.S.A. Many families are reluctant to share details about their financial circumstances, such as divorce, unemployment and outstanding medical expenses. We appreciate the sensitivity of these issues, but sometimes we can’t help you unless we know whole story. We promise to respect your privacy and treat your information confidentially and professionally. So, that’s Financial Aid in short! Our goal is to make the application process as easy and painless as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to ask us directly. The office will be open during audition week to collect forms and answer questions, and you can call or email us any time ([email protected]). Good luck!

More details are available on our website: http://www.juilliard.edu/admissions/financial.html and http://www.juilliard.edu/about/faqs.html.