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What happens to your financial aid when you transfer schools?

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If you’re transferring schools, your federal financial aid will not transfer with you. Since aid is distributed based on the school you attend during the academic year, you’ll need to make sure that your financial aid is renewed and set up for the school you’re transferring to.

Here’s what you need to know about your financial aid before you transfer schools.

How to get federal aid when transferring to a new school

If you’re currently receiving federal aid, you’ll need to be proactive about maintaining that aid while transferring. Here’s how:

  1. Confirm that your new school participates in federal student aid. Many schools in the U.S. participate in federal student aid, but there are exceptions. If your new school isn’t eligible, you won’t be able to transfer your aid. You may have to find other ways to lower the cost of college, like private student loans or scholarships.
  2. Update your FAFSA. Even if you’ve already submitted your FAFSA, you’ll need to update it with your new school’s information by the deadline. Aid is typically distributed by school, and each school has different amounts that are available to students.
  3. Review your new aid offer. After you update your FAFSA, your new school should contact you with a new financial aid award letter. You can then review this letter and accept any aid offered.
  4. Contact your current school. Your current school’s financial aid office should be able to assist you with any questions regarding your transfer. Ensure that your account is fully settled before transferring and submit a withdrawal request if you’re transferring midsemester to cancel any future disbursements. You will still be responsible for paying any past disbursements.

Will my aid amount change when I transfer schools?

Federal student loans have annual loan limits, so you may not have enough available funds left when you transfer schools. Additionally, private lenders typically set borrowing caps at the total cost of attendance — which may be different at your new school.

Programs that help you pay for college, like work-study, may not transfer either. Even if you participate in work-study at your current college, your new school may not have a similar program available.

Will my loans enter repayment if I transfer schools?

When you withdraw from school, even if you’re planning on enrolling elsewhere, your lender will be notified. This could send your loans into repayment, since most loans enter repayment once you withdraw or drop below half-time enrollment.

With that said, the federal government typically places loans back into deferment status automatically when you enroll in a new eligible academic program. Private loan companies may have stricter guidelines, but typically there are similar programs available. If your lender isn’t notified about your new enrollment automatically, follow up and ask about in-school deferment options.

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Written by
Hanneh Bareham
Student loans reporter
Hanneh Bareham specializes in everything related to student loans and helping you finance your next educational endeavor. She aims to help others reach their collegiate and financial goals through making student loans easier to understand.
Edited by
Student loans editor