Understanding the Bill
Q. Now that I have my financial aid award, what will my bill look like?
A. Your expenses at Brown are classified as being direct or indirect. Direct expenses are items that are charged from a particular department directly to your bill, such as tuition and fees, room and board, and health insurance. Indirect expenses are expenses that you will incur as a student, but are not charged to your bill. Indirect expenses include your travel to campus, books and supplies, and miscellaneous expenses such as toiletries.
Only direct expenses will appear on your bill. However, if you look at your financial aid award, you will notice that your total academic year budget is determined by combining your direct and indirect expenses. By combining these expenses, we are able to award financial aid based on your total academic year expenses and not just those billed by the University. Note: Charges are assessed on a per semester basis.
** An additional fee for the academic year will be charged to students living off-campus. All student wishing to live off-campus must request permission from the Office of Residential Life.
Direct Charges - Financial Aid (not including work-study) = Balance Due
Simply add up your financial aid credits (all items on your financial award letter except for work-study) to determine the total dollar amount that will be applied to your account. Subtract your total financial aid credits from your total direct/billed charges. Any remaining balance due should come from the expected family contribution. If your financial aid exceeds your direct expenses, it is possible that you are eligible for a refund, which will cover your indirect expenses. The Bursar's Office processes all refunds. Please refer to the "Common Questions" section of the Bursar's Office web site for more details on the refund process.
Keep in mind that these calculations are only estimates to assist you with planning. These calculations do not substitute for an actual bill issued by the Bursar's Office. If you have questions about charges on your bill or would like to know your most recent balance, please contact the Bursar's Office at Bursar@brown.edu or (401) 863-2484.
Also, the Stafford Loan amount shown on your financial aid award is the gross amount borrowed. A loan fee is deducted proportionally from each loan disbursement.
Q. What are the "Memo Items" on my bill?
A. Aid that shows as a Memo are funds that you expect to have credited to your student account but have not yet been received by the university. The most common types are federal loans, grants, and outside scholarships. Memo credits are noted on your student account and reduce the balance due. However, these credits will not become real payments until you take appropriate action, such as signing your promissory note to allow loan funds to be disbursed, completing your financial aid application, receiving an outside scholarship check, etc. Refund checks cannot be generated as a result of Memo credits.
Memo Credits are removed from all student accounts on or before October 15 for Semester I and February 15 for Semester II. The outstanding student account balance will become due immediately. If payment is not received prior to the 14th of the following month, late fees will begin to accrue. If your outside scholarship has not arrived one month into the semester, and the removal of this memo credit will create a balance due that you will be unable to pay, contact the agency from which the outside scholarship was awarded immediately. Please note that depending on the balance due, you may also be restricted from pre-registering.
Q. What is Authorized Financial Aid?
A. Authorized Aid are funds that will be credited as payments to your account once a specified date passes. i.e. the start of classes. The items listed as Authorized do not require any action to be taken by you.
Q. How do I dispute a late payment fee?
A. The Bursar's Office assesses a 1.5% late fee on balances past due. The Office of Financial Aid cannot remove late fees. All requests to waive a late fee should be made directly to the Bursar's Office at Bursar@brown.edu or (401) 863-2484.
Q. What happens if I fail to sign my loans and/or complete Entrance Loan Counseling?
A. Failure to complete the loan process will create a balance due on your student account, which will generate a late fee. Depending on the balance due, you may also be restricted from preregistration.
It is mandatory that all first-time borrowers complete Entrance Loan Counseling and sign a Master Promissory Note. Students who fail to do so will not have their loan credits released to their bill. The credits will remain memo credits, not “real” credits and will eventually be removed entirely from the student account. Please read the section on memo credits above for more information. First-time borrowers will receive specific notification from the Loan Office. For more information contact the Loan Office or 401-863-3296.
Q. Do I have to sign for my loans every semester?
A. The Federal Direct Stafford Loan has a master promissory note, which means that you only sign the promissory note once and your future Stafford Loans can be disbursed without your signature (for up to ten years). There is also a Federal Perkins Loan master promissory note that is separate from the promissory note for the Direct Stafford Loan, but has the same feature of a one time signing. Until you have taken appropriate action to sign your loans, these funds will appear on your bill as memo credits, not real credits. Therefore it is imperative that you sign your promissory note(s) when instructed to do so by the Loan Office. Otherwise late fees may be incurred on your student account.
Your most recent financial aid award letter reflects your current academic-year loan amounts. Contact the Office of Financial Aid if you would like to increase or decrease your student loan amount.
Contact the Loan Office if you have questions regarding your promissory notes at Loans@brown.eduor (401) 863-3296.
Q. What do I do if I can't pay my bill due to a change in my family's financial circumstances?
A. If, after receiving your initial financial aid award for the academic year, your family has experienced a significant unexpected change that affects their ability to contribute towards your education, or if you believe there are special circumstances that were not considered in the initial review of your financial aid application, please notify us in writing. Our Financial Aid Appeal Form can help you, and your family, explain and document your special circumstances. We suggest you use the Appeal Form whenever there has been a significant and unexpected change in income due to job loss, salary reduction, or a change in benefits.
In your appeal, please include, in detail, your unique circumstances, how this will impact your family's income and/or expenses and when these circumstances occurred. Provide as much documentation as possible. Examples of documentation may include, but are not limited to: letters from third-person parties, pay stubs, canceled checks and billing statements. Students will be notified, in writing, of the appeal decision approximately two weeks after the appeal was submitted. It is important to understand that submission of an appeal does not guarantee an adjustment to a student's financial aid award. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have any questions about the appeal process.
Special Note: Due to limited funds, international students should first consult the financial aid office before submitting an appeal form.
Q. What do I do if there has been no change in my family's financial circumstances, but I still need additional funds?
A. Without a change in financial circumstances or updated financial information, the Office of Financial Aid can only offer additional assistance through loans. If you would like to borrow additional funds in the student's name, we suggest that you contact our office as you may have additional student loan funds available to you through federal financial aid programs. We will provide you with the maximum loans available to you through these programs as the interest rates and repayment options will likely be more favorable than borrowing through private agencies or local banks. If federal loan programs have been exhausted and additional loan funds are desired in the student's name, we suggest that you investigate other private borrowing options. Please review "Financing a Brown Education" for more information. Parents may apply for a PLUS Loan through the Brown University Loan Office.
Q. What do I do if my parent(s) are unwilling to pay their contribution?
A. Brown believes that the primary responsibility for meeting educational expenses lies with the student and the family. Financial aid at Brown is awarded solely based on a student and family's financial need. Should parents discontinue their financial support for reasons other than ability to pay, Brown will not assume the parental responsibility for financial support of the student.
Students are advised to first make a reasonable effort to gain support from their parents. If this obstacle persists, students should make an appointment with a financial aid counselor. First, a financial aid counselor can determine if your circumstances warrant an exception, which is granted in very rare circumstances such as situations of abuse and neglect. Second, a counselor can advise you on your student loan borrowing options to help manage this difficult situation
Q. How does the refund process work?
A. If the credits on your student account exceed your direct charges, and a credit balance exists in your student account it is possible that you are eligible for a refund. The Bursar's Office processes all refunds. Please refer to the "Common Questions" section of the Bursar's Office website for details and to download a Refund Request form.
Q. What is a PLUS loan?
A. A PLUS loan is a federal non-need based Parent Loan for undergraduate students borrowed to cover all, or a portion of, the expected family contribution. Eligibility is based on credit worthiness. Brown University is a direct lender of PLUS Loans and encourages families to apply directly through the Brown University Loan Office if interested.
If a parent is denied the PLUS loan, additional Stafford Loan borrowing options can be made available to the student through unsubsidized student loan borrowing. If you believe that you may qualify for this exception, simply have your parent apply for the PLUS through the Loan Office. Notify our office upon denial of the PLUS. We will then inform you of your additional borrowing eligibility.
Visit the Loan Office for more information on the PLUS Loan (including current interest rate), or to obtain an application.
Q. What is a Private Education loan?
A. Private loans are loans that are available to students through private agencies and banks. These loans are not based on a student’s financial need, but on applicant credit worthiness.
Generally, students apply for private loans only after exhausting all borrowing options through the Federal Stafford and Perkins Loan programs, as well as parent borrowing options. We recommend that all students apply for these federal loan programs prior to borrowing through a private loan program.
Q. How do I apply for an private loan?
A. If you would like to borrow additional funds in the student's name, we suggest that you contact our office as you may have additional student loan funds available to you through federal financial aid programs. We will provide you with the maximum loans available to you through these programs as the interest rates and repayment options will likely be more favorable than borrowing through private agencies or local banks.
If federal loan programs have been exhausted and additional loan funds are desired in the student's name, we suggest that you investigate private borrowing options. Please review "Financing a Brown Education Planner" for more information.