How Aid Works

All financial aid at Pitzer is need-based. This means we review your and your family’s financial information, not your academic records, to determine eligibility.

We use the information from the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and tax documents to carefully review and evaluate your family’s individual circumstances and calculate an expected family contribution (EFC). The EFC along with the cost of attendance (COA), are key to determining your financial need (also known as your financial aid eligibility). Financial need is:

COA minus EFC = financial need

For example, the cost of attendance at Pitzer is about $75,000, if your EFC is $30,000, your financial need would be $45,000. That means Pitzer will meet 100% of this need with a combination of a loan, work-study, and grants/scholarships.

Commensurate with need, most first-year domestic students receive a small student loan for $3,500, work-study for $2,460, and the rest of their need is met with grants/scholarships from Pitzer, and the federal and state governments, if eligible.

Curious about your aid eligibility? Visit Estimate Costs for calculating tools.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Financial aid is considered a supplemental resource to help bridge the gap between the cost of attendance (COA) and what a family can contribute. The EFC measures the resources (income and assets) that the student and parents (custodial and noncustodial) have available to assist with college; it is key to determining aid eligibility. The EFC is divided into four components: parent income, parent assets, student income, student assets.

  • Parent Income

    The parent contribution from income takes into account total income, including taxed income from the IRS 1040 tax return, as well as untaxed income (such as disability benefits, voluntary retirement contributions, etc.).

    We take this total income and subtract tax obligations (such as federal, state and FICA taxes) and other allowances (such as a cost of living allowance). This gives us the net available income, which is used to determine the EFC.

    Pitzer’s Office of Financial Aid also allows for other income protections such as, but not limited to, high medical/dental expenses above the cost of insurance, cost of private elementary/secondary tuition for younger siblings, elder care support/expenses and parent educational loan repayments. These protections are considered special circumstances and must be reported and documented in order to be considered. If your family has these types of expenses, please report them on the CSS Profile application.

  • Parent Assets

    The parent contribution from assets takes into account all cash/savings, investments, businesses and real estate property (including the primary home). The contribution from assets measures all assets, liquid and non-liquid, equally and takes anywhere from 3% – 5% of all total assets to determine the parent contribution from assets.

  • Student Income

    The student contribution from income is measured in a similar way as the parent contribution from income. However, because most students do not have earned income, the calculated contribution from income is often low.

    All students who attend Pitzer have a summer earnings contribution that ranges from $900 to $1,850 (depending on their year in school). The summer earnings contribution is built with the expectation that students will work over the summer and save to help toward their college costs.

  • Student Assets

    The student contribution from assets is based on 25% of the student’s total assets, including but not limited to cash, checking, savings, investments, trusts and properties.

A Few Tips

We know the financial aid application process requires many steps; hopefully these tips will make the process easier.

  • Answer "Yes" to Financial Aid question on the Common App

    On your Common Application, make sure to answer “yes” to Pitzer’s question that asks “do you intend to pursue need-based financial aid?” Students who answer “no” to this question are not considered for financial aid and cannot change their response once admitted.

    International students who indicate “no” to the financial aid question cannot be considered for financial aid during their time at Pitzer.

    Domestic students who indicate “no” cannot be considered for institutional aid for the first two years; however, eligibility can be reviewed for the last two years. Student and parent loan options may be available to help fund the first two years.

  • Use your Social Security Number (SSN)

    We encourage you to use your SSN on all your online applications (FAFSA, CSS Profile, Common Application). U.S. Citizens and Eligible Non-Citizens should take time to double check that their SSN is accurate on the FAFSA (which requires an SSN or is considered invalid).

    While your SSN is not required on the CSS Profile or your admission Common Application, we encourage you to include your SSN to avoid processing delays. Without your SSN, it takes longer for our office to match all of your records (and let you know what we need).

  • Submit all required documents

    We know we ask for a lot. The best way to make sure we have everything we need is to submit complete copies of your documents. We require complete copies of all tax documents for the student, the custodial parent/s, noncustodial parent/s and stepparents. This includes copies of all personal tax returns, business tax returns, W-2s and 1099 forms.

    All documents and any requested forms should also have signatures. Visit Apply for more application details. You can also keep track of your documents by logging into your Pitzer Connect page to view your Financial Aid Checklist. The Financial Aid Checklist will be available starting November 15.

  • Check your email

    Our office sends missing document notices and follow-up form requests to you (the student) via email. We do not email parents. However, we understand that students and their parents often work together to navigate the financial aid process; we encourage students to forward relevant information to their parents to assist in the process. Timely replies to our emails is key to making sure your aid application is reviewed. Make sure to add financial_aid@pitzer.edu to your safe sender list on your email settings.

Planning Ahead

Financial aid eligibility is determined on a yearly basis. Each year you must re-apply for aid by our establish deadlines to be reconsidered; need-based scholarships are not automatically renewed.

Changes to your family’s circumstances may affect your eligibility year-to-year. The following factors can cause changes to your aid:

  • Parent income increasing/decreasing
  • Parent assets increasing/decreasing
  • Parent marrying/remarrying
  • Changes to your household size
  • Changes to your sibling’s college enrollment (i.e. graduating from undergrad or being enrolled less than half-time)
  • Student income increasing
  • Student assets increasing

Each year that you re-apply, we will review tax documents for a new year. Changes to both the income on your yearly taxes or changes to the tax law can affect eligibility. Below are the tax years that will be reviewed each academic year.

Academic YearTax Year
2020-20212018
2021-20222019
2022-20232020
2023-20242021

In addition, each year students receive additional loan and work eligibility. As you progress toward your degree, there is an expectation that you take more responsibility for your educational costs. Therefore, your summer earnings contribution, subsidized loan and work-study amounts will increase from year-to-year. Below are the summer earnings contribution, subsidized loan and work-study limits for students for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Year in SchoolSummer EarningsLoanWork-Study
First-year$1,550$3,500$2,460
Second-year$1,750$4,500$2,680
Third-year$1,800$5,500$2,900
Fourth-year$1,850$5,500$3,130