Financial Aid Policies

Financial Aid Policies

Navigating financial aid policies can be confusing but Paul Smith’s College Financial Aid Office is here to help students and families through the entire process from start to finish. This webpage provides information about important financial aid policies impacting eligibility. Information on this page is updated regularly and should be reviewed at least annually.
Alternative/Private Student Loans

An alternative student loan is a loan obtained for educational purposes that is not borrowed through the federal student loan program. There are many private lending institutions and banks that provide student loans. No member of Paul Smith’s College can advise a student what lender to use. When a student applies for an alternative student loan, the lender will send a “certification request” to the Financial Aid Office to confirm student eligibility. Paul Smith’s College may refuse to certify an alternative loan if the student has not borrowed their federal student loans first.

You may use ELM Select to compare lenders.

What to Consider When Selecting a Lender

Students are encouraged to research the interest rates, credit check requirements, conditions, terms, and repayment of alternative loans when selecting a lender. Below are some questions to ask when comparing lenders.

  • What is the interest rate?
  • Is the rate fixed (rate does not change) or variable (rate changes)?
  • Are there any fees associated with the application or early repayment?
  • Can I defer principal and interest payments while enrolled in school?
  • Am I required to have a co-signer?
  • Will a co-signer help lower my interest rate?
  • Is there an option to have my co-signer released from the loan after a specified time period?
  • Do I have to be enrolled in a minimum number of credit hours to receive the loan?
  • What is the repayment period?
  • When do I enter repayment and how long do I have to repay?
  • Can I use the loan to cover a prior balance? If yes, how long after that semester is over can I apply?
  • Are there any other benefits/incentives offered with the loan?
Consortium Agreements

A consortium agreement is an agreement between two colleges to recognize your course registration at each location for financial aid purposes. It certifies that your “home” institution (the school you’re receiving your degree from) is the only school that’s allowed to administer your financial aid.

PSC students who are unable to find a required PSC course needed for completion of their degree program may take the required class at another institution and receive federal and/or state financial aid for the course through PSC. The student should request a “Financial Aid Consortium Agreement” from the PSC Financial Aid Office. 

Cost of Attendance

Cost of Attendance is the average annual cost to attend Paul Smith’s College and can be found on the student’s award offer and in their financial aid portal. It is used to calculate how much financial aid a student is eligible for and consists of direct costs such as tuition, fees, and on-campus housing. Direct costs are billed by PSC and paid by the student. Cost of Attendance also includes indirect expenses that are not billed by PSC. Indirect expenses include books/supplies, off-campus living expenses, transportation, and personal expenses. If a student’s expenses exceed their Cost of Attendance, they can request an update. For more information on how to request an update, visit the Professional Judgement webpage

Eligibility for Federal Aid

To be eligible for federal financial aid at PSC, students must:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen, a national, or other eligible non-citizen
  2. Not be in default on any federal student loans or owe a refund or repayment on any federal grant. This also applies to parents applying for Federal Parent PLUS Loans.
  3. Have a valid Social Security number
  4. Be accepted in an eligible degree program at PSC
  5. Have a high school diploma from an accredited high school, or a GED
  6. Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements as outlined in PSC’s SAP policy

For more information on federal financial aid eligibility, visit the Federal Student Aid eligibility website.


Income Adjustments

When students complete their FAFSA, they report income from two year’s prior. For example, while completing the 2022/2023 FAFSA, families report their 2020 income. Since financial situations can change a lot in two years, there is a process to allow students/families to use more recent information on the FAFSA. For more information, visit our Professional Judgement/Income Override webpage.

Paul Smith’s College is prohibited under federal regulations from making any false, erroneous, or misleading statement directly or indirectly to a student, prospective student, member of the public, accrediting agency, state, agency, or to the U.S. Department of Education. Misleading statements include anything that is likely to deceive or confuse on topics including but not limited to PSC’s education programs, financial charges, employability of graduates, relationship with the Department of Education, etc. Statements can be made by any means including written, visual, or word-of-mouth. This includes testimonials given under duress or because such testimonial was required to participate in a program.
Students may not be awarded financial aid over their estimated Cost of Attendance. If additional resources become available to a student, the Financial Aid Office may reduce previously paid or anticipated awards to keep the student’s financial aid within the estimated cost of attendance. Every effort will be made to make the smallest reduction possible. To avoid overawards, it’s important for students to disclose any outside scholarships they’re anticipating to the financial aid office.

Overawards of “need-based” financial aid (ex: Federal Subsidized Student Loans) can also occur when changes to a student’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) or financial aid awards. This usually results in Federal Subsidized Student Loan eligibility being converted to a Federal Unsubsidized Student Loan. You can read more about the difference in these two loan programs on the Federal Student Aid webpage.

Any adjustments made to financial aid will appear immediately in student’s Financial Aid portal. It is important to check the portal often.

Release of Information/FERPA

In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Financial Aid Office will not release information a student to anyone (including to parents), without the specific written consent of the student. To provide written consent, students must submit a FERPA Educational Records Release Form to the Registrar’s Office. Visit the PSC Registrar’s website to learn more about FERPA.

Repeat Coursework

Federal regulations specify that students can receive federal financial aid for one repetition of a previously passed course. All repeated courses impact Satisfactory Academic Progress calculations.

Repeated coursework can be financial aid eligible in the following situations:

  • A student received a failing grade. Students may repeat a failed course until it is passed.
  • If a student passes a class once, retakes the class and withdraws from it, the withdrawn course does NOT count as their paid retake. The student may receive financial aid for another attempt. 
Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requires students to meet minimum academic standards in order to maintain eligibility for financial aid. Students must maintain a minimum GPA and completion ratio (percentage of credits earned versus those attempted), as well as completing their program before attempting 150% of the number of credits required for their degree.

Students experiencing academic difficulty should discuss the impacts on SAP and future financial aid eligibility with the Financial Aid Office.

For detailed information, please visit our SAP website

Thank You Letters

Scholarships and grants provided by Paul Smith’s College are funded in part by generous donations from alumni and friends of the College. If your PSC aid is funded by a donor, we will notify you during the academic year and ask you to write a thank-you note. Failure to do so could result in a hold being placed on your student account, preventing access to grades, transcripts, etc. 

Tuition Exchange
Paul Smith’s College participates in the Tuition Exchange program and the Council of Independent Colleges – Tuition Exchange Program. Eligible students are dependent children of full-time faculty and staff at more than 400 participating colleges and universities across the country. The TE scholarship at PSC will not exceed 4 years or 8 semesters. All students receiving the TE scholarship are required to live on campus. The total amount of the award is PSC tuition minus federal, state, and PSC institutional funds. Continued participation in the program is contingent upon maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Eligible PSC staff and faculty should apply to participate in Tuition Exchange by our priority deadline, November 1st. Dependent children of eligible PSC staff and faculty seeking admission to a partner institution must notify the TE Liaison Officer of intent to apply for a TE scholarship by completing an Eligibility Form available from the Financial Aid Office and returning it to the Tuition Exchange Liaison Officer.


Verification is the process used by the U.S. Department of Education to confirm the accuracy of the information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If a student is selected for verification, they must submit specific information including but not limited to:

  • Tax transcripts and/or W-2s
  • Proof of utaxable income
  • Household size information
  • Number of household members in college
  • Asset information
  • Other data elements reports on the FAFSA

Students whose FAFSA is selected for verification are required to submit a Verification Worksheet and federal tax transcripts (or signed tax returns) if they did not use the IRS data retrieval tool when completing the FAFSA. Students selected for verification will be notified through email. Students can see a list of the information they need to submit to the Financial Aid Office at any time by viewing their PSC Financial Aid Portal. Financial Aid cannot be disbursed until the verification process is complete, nor will anticipated financial aid appear on the student’s bill. To prevent delays in processing financial aid, students starting in the fall semester should submit their verification documents no later than July 15th. Students starting in the fall semester should submit their verification documents no later than November 15th.

Some students may be selected for verification mid-semester, after their financial aid has disbursed- this usually occurs when a student makes a change to their FAFSA mid-year. If this happens, students must immediately submit their verification documents to avoid account holds; future disbusements will be withheld, and students may become liable for any financial aid previously disbursed to their student account. 

Withdrawal (Return of Title IV Funds) Policy

Students earn a portion of their Federal (Title IV) financial aid for every day of attendance or active participation in academically-related activity. Eligibility for aid must be recalculated for a student who withdraws from all classes before completing 60% of the period of enrollment. If recalculation determines the student owes the federal government a portion of the loans or grants received at the beginning of the semester, the university will automatically pay this to the government on the student’s behalf. This may result in a debt created on the student account and an institutional hold, preventing registration or release of official transcripts until resolved.

Depending on when and why the student withdrew, the student may receive prorated refunds for tuition, or room and board. These institutional adjustments do not impact the official withdrawal calculation described above. If a student withdraws prior to their financial aid being disbursed by the PSC Financial Aid Office (typically the first two weeks of classes), the student may be eligible for a “post-withdrawal disbursement” if the student attended their classes prior to withdrawing. the Financial Aid Office will email information about “post-withdrawal disbursements” and request student permission before applying these financial aid funds. 


There are two types of student behaviors that will result in a recalculation review:

  1. Official Total Withdrawal: Students who withdraw from all courses are eligible for a percentage of financial aid based on the percent of the semester completed. For example, a student who withdraws from all classes after completing only 30% of the term will have “earned” 30% of any federal financial aid received. The school (or sometimes the student) must return the remaining 70% to the government.
  2. Unofficial Withdrawal: A student that doesn’t officially withdraw from their classes but doesn’t earn any credits in a semester may be considered an unofficial withdrawal. In this situation, federal financial aid will be recalculated based on the mid-point, or 50% point of the semester unless there is documentation that shows the student attended classes or participated in an academically- related activity beyond this date.

Students thinking about withdrawing from classes should speak with the Financial Aid Office to understand how it may impact financial aid.

To learn more about how PSC prorates tuition, fees, room, and board for students that withdraw from all their classes during any semester, see the Refund Policy in the PSC Catalog.

Review Award Offer

Log in to the portal to view aid offered, accept/decline financial aid, check for outstanding requirements, and more.


Contact Us »

Office of Financial Aid

Paul Smith's College
Phelps Smith Admin Building
Room 103
PO Box 265
Paul Smiths, NY 12970-0265
(518) 327-6248
(800) 421-2605
(518) 327-6055: fax

Hours: M-F, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.