YES YOU ARE! If you’re applying to college as a high school senior, you should apply as an incoming freshman. Regardless of your AP credits, community college attendance (while in high school), IB Diploma or anything else that might have you on a less-than-four-year path through college, apply as a freshman, not a transfer student. Why? Because freshmen get more financial aid and scholarships. Consider:

  • The University of Florida has 9 scholarship programs for incoming freshman and two scholarships for transfer students.
  • Santa Clara University, which does not have a policy of fully meeting need, offers a multitude of merit scholarships for incoming freshmen only.
  • Trinity University has multiple merit scholarship programs for entering freshmen and one for transfer students.
  • The University of Oregon has automatic merit scholarships (no application required) for incoming freshmen of up to $4,000 annually, with additional scholarships up to the full cost of attendance based on application, but a maximum merit award of $3,000 for transfer students and only by application.
  • Lewis and Clark College “offers a number of top entering first year and transfer students a Trustee, Dean’s, or Faculty Scholarship based on their academic program and performance” but has another approximately $1 million in merit scholarships available to incoming freshmen only.

Chances are that whatever schools you’re applying to, you’re likely to get a much more generous financial aid package applying as a freshman. And applying as a freshman won’t keep you from getting any college credit you’ve earned while in high school.