Financial Aid Policies

We maintain a robust financial aid program that makes a Pomona education affordable for every admitted student. This page highlights information for some of our policies and guidelines. The Financial Aid Handbook [pdf] will provide additional information on the topics below as well as other policies.

Financial Aid Policies

Sources of Financial Aid Funding

The financial aid program at Pomona College uses a combination funding sources including federal grants (Pell and FSEOG), state grants, and institutional scholarships to offer a complete financial aid package to each eligible student. 

Eligibility for institutional aid is based on the CSS Profile. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the only form required to apply for and receive federal financial aid which includes the Federal Pell Grant Program, Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), state grant programs including the Cal Grant, Federal Work Study, and federal loans. Additional information on federal aid programs is available at

Students are strongly encouraged to apply for grants and scholarships from private outside sources.  These funds, when coordinated with College-administered awards, can reduce the cost of paying for college. The total aid received by students from all sources cannot exceed the student's total cost of attendance. Outside scholarship funds are applied in the following manner:

  • Reduce the standard student contribution ($1,900 for first-year students)
  • Reduce the student work award ($2,800)
  • Reduce the expected parent contribution (amount will vary from student to student)
  • Reduce Pomona College Scholarship
  • Please note: Some outside scholarship organizations have rules that are more restrictive, when that is the case, we must comply with the request of the outside scholarship organization

Outside Scholarships

In the event that a student receives aid from private outside sources, like scholarships, these funds will be coordinated with College-administered awards. Please visit our page on scholarships for more information.

Tuition Benefits and 529 Plan Payments

Some students may receive financial assistance in the form of tuition benefit from their parent(s)' employer.  Families should report on the CSS Profile if such a benefit is expected.  In some cases, this may be the only financial assistance received by the student.  If you are not applying for aid from the College, you should still report any expected tuition benefit assistance to our office.

529 payments for all students should be reported on the CSS Profile. It is important to report the source of the funding. 529 assets saved by your parent(s) should be reported as a parent asset on the FAFSA and CSS Profile. 529 payments from a plan saved on behalf of the student by someone other than the parent must be reported as untaxed student income on the FAFSA and CSS Profile in the following academic year.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy is designed to ensure that all students who are receiving financial aid are making adequate progress toward completing their degree program. Students receiving financial assistance will receive standard financial aid packaging (no loans) for 8 semesters of enrollment. Standard full time enrollment for all students is four full courses in each of the eight semesters; the minimum is three courses. The Academic Standards Committee (ASC) meets bi-annually to review any students not meeting the quantitative or qualitative standards set by the College. The Academic Procedures Committee (APC) is a standing committee charged with ruling on a student's petition for exceptions to the academic rules and regulations of the faculty. For more detailed information on academic standards, please refer to the Pomona College catalog.

Taking a Leave of Absence

Taking time away from Pomona—a semester, a year, or more—may impact your financial awards or loan repayment. Before you make a decision, review our policies on leaves of absences.

Additional Semesters of Enrollment

Students requiring additional semesters of enrollment beyond 8 semesters to complete their studies at Pomona will need to petition the Academic Standards Committee for approval. If approved, students are welcome to apply to renew their aid by following the standard renewal procedures. However, the financial aid offer will include additional loan and work allotment awarded to meet student need and/or increased expected family contribution before any scholarship or grant assistance will be offered.

Independent Students

When administering College-funded financial aid, Pomona defines independent student status more strictly than the definition found on the federal application. Applicants who are wards of the court, orphans or who have been part of extremely adverse home situations that have led to estrangement from their families may request consideration for financial aid as independent students. If you think you may qualify for independent student status, please contact the Office of Financial Aid directly to learn what documentation you will be required to submit. Written verification of estrangement from the family will be required from a court official or social worker.

Change of Circumstances

Sometimes things change. You may always appeal to the Financial Aid Committee for a reconsideration of your award decision if your family experiences a significant change in circumstances. We meet on a regular basis throughout the year to discuss appeals for more aid.

If you have new information to bring to our attention, you should contact us or submit a Change of Circumstance Form to request a review of your award decision. It is usually best to speak directly with a financial aid officer first, and then follow up with a detailed letter of explanation and any supporting documents as instructed by the officer.

Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)

All students enrolled in SHIP who receive Pomona College financial aid will be provided with grant assistance to cover half of the cost of the health insurance. Students are welcome to request a loan for the remaining half of the insurance, otherwise this cost will be included in the Fall semester invoice. Students who do not receive Pomona College financial aid can contact the Office of Financial Aid to request loan assistance to cover the full cost. Student health insurance brochures are available from the Dean of Students Office.

Taxable Scholarships, Fellowships and Grants

Generally, under IRS laws, students should not have to pay taxes on scholarship, fellowship or grant aid if they use the funds for tuition, fees, books, and equipment required for classes or enrollment. However, any portion of those funds spent on incidental purposes, including housing and food, could be included in your taxable income for that year. Therefore, you may have to pay income tax on the portion of the aid spent on items like travel, research, and medical insurance.

You will receive a 1099MISC form in January for the prior year if the total of all special summer scholarships, fellowships or grants exceeds $599. To determine that a portion or all of the funds are not subject to tax, save receipts, canceled checks and other documents that could show the total amount of qualifying expenses and contact your personal tax advisor to determine how to report these non-taxable funds.

Additionally, international students whose countries do not have tax treaties with the U.S. and students without Social Security numbers or individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN) have withholding requirements on all aid amounts as follows:

International students whose countries have no tax treaty with U.S.:

  • Federal withholding - 14%
  • California withholding – 7% if the sum of amounts disbursed is over $1,499

Students without Social Security numbers or individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN):

  • Federal withholding - 28%
  • California withholding – 7% 

Please note this FAQ is only intended to introduce you to the possible consequences of scholarship, fellowship, or grant amounts. Since individual tax liability depends on each individual circumstance, you should contact your personal tax advisor with any questions or concerns. Please refer to this IRS form [PDF] for more information.