Financial Aid

Q. What is financial aid and what is in a financial aid package?

A. Funds offered by an institution to assist students with educational expenses are considered financial aid. The combination of these sources is defined as a financial aid package and may include:

  • Loans - Do need to be repaid
  • Work-Study - Allows students to earn money while enrolled in school to help pay for educational expenses
  • Scholarships/Grants

Many families do not consider loans financial aid. However, two key components of the federal financial aid system are Perkins and Stafford Loans - federal loan programs with rates and terms beneficial to students. One or both of these loans are typically included in a financial aid package.

Q. Does Brown award merit-based financial aid, such as academic and athletic scholarships?

A. No. As a member of the Ivy League, Brown does not award academic or athletic scholarships. All financial aid awarded by Brown is need-based meaning that no factors are considered except the family's demonstrated financial need. Brown only takes into account a family's ability to pay before awarding any financial aid funds to a student.

Q. How does Brown determine my financial need?

A. Financial need is calculated using the following formula:

Cost of Attendance - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need

The difference between what it costs to attend Brown for one year and what Brown expects a family to contribute is considered financial need. Financial need is first met with a standard amount of student effort (student loan and student employment) then with any state and/or federal entitlement grants for which you are eligible. Any remaining need is then met with Brown University Scholarship funds.

To learn more about the EFC and Financial Need go to the need analysis explanation in the Undergraduate section.

Click here to access our calculator that will allow you to ESTIMATE your EFC.

Q. What is need-blind admission and who is eligible?

A. Brown University admits first year incoming students who are U.S citizens on a need-blind basis, meaning the financial status of the student and his/her family is NOT considered whatsoever as a criteria for admission. Incoming transfer or International students are admitted on a need-aware basis, meaning the financial need of the student may be considered as a basis of admission. For more specific details please review the Need-Blind Policy section.

Q. How is the Parent Contribution calculated?

A. The Parent Contribution is calculated using both federal and institutional formulas that assess your parents' total income, including taxed and untaxed income, your parents' asset value, the number of people in the household, and the number of children in college. The calculations also take into account taxes paid, a standard living allowance, and a number of expenses, such as private school tuition payments for siblings and significant medical expenses. Due to the fluctuations that can occur over the course of a year, parent contributions are reexamined each year and require that the family re-apply for financial aid annually.

The formula used to calculate an Expected Parent Contribution is primarily an income-based formula. Assets do affect the calculation, but do not have the same impact as income. Therefore, substantial changes in income will likely have a significant impact on the student's financial need for aid. Families with income that varies greatly from year to year will want to keep this in mind when planning for educational costs.

Q. How do investments impact the calculation?

A. Student and parent investments are treated very differently in determining the Expected Family Contribution. A contribution of 20% of a student's assets is expected each year. For example, if a student reported $10,000 in assets, the student asset contribution expectation would be $2,000. In comparison, an expected parent contribution from assets does not typically exceed 6% of the reported parent assets.

Investments in qualified retirement plans, such as an IRA or 401(k), should not be included when reporting parent or student assets on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, student investments in qualified retirement plans must be reported on the Brown University application.

Please note that contributions made to retirement plans the year prior to any application for financial aid are included in total income. For instance, if your parents contributed $10,000 to a 401(k) retirement plan in the prior calendar year, their total income for purposes of financial aid for the upcoming academic year would include that $10,000 contribution.

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Financial Aid Initiatives Unique to Brown Q&A

Q. What is Brown’s financial aid philosophy?

A. Financial aid at Brown is a partnership that draws on the combined resources of the student, his or her family, federal and state governments, and the University itself. Financial aid eligibility is determined solely on financial need. Brown University does not offer aid based on academic achievement, athletic ability or any other form of merit.

Q. How is financial need determined?

A.The difference between the estimated costs to attend Brown for one year and what Brown expects a family to contribute is considered financial need.

Cost of Attendance - Expected Family Contribution = Financial Need

Brown uses standard federal and institutional needs analysis methodologies to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is calculated based on the family’s income, assets, and other information as reported on the financial aid application materials and tax documents. Since Brown meets 100% of a student’s demonstrated need, the financial aid award will be equal to the student’s need.

Q. What financial aid initiatives, unique to Brown, were developed to assist families?

Undergraduate financial aid applicants with total parent incomes less than $100,000, at the time of admission, do not have a loan component in their awards. Students with family earnings above $100,000 have moderate loans dependent on family total income level.

Families with total parent earnings less than $60,000 and assets less than $100,000 are not required to make a parent contribution toward the cost of education.

Families with total parent earnings less than $60,000 and assets greater than $100,000 have a significantly reduced parent contribution (contribution from assets only).

Students are able to use outside scholarships to eliminate all of the student-effort components in their awards including the summer savings expectation.

Q. How does Brown calculate total income?

A.  A family’s total income is determined by reviewing tax documents and financial aid application materials. Total income is the sum of Adjusted Gross Income plus all untaxed income. Examples of untaxed income include untaxed social security benefits, untaxed business revenue, pension contributions and withdrawals, child support received, etc. Please visit the parent income section of our website for complete details of the determination of total income.

Q. Will the non-custodial parent’s income be included in determining total income?

A. Yes. Brown believes that the primary responsibility for financing a student's education lies with the student and the family. As a result, financial information from the non-custodial parent is required to apply for Brown University Scholarship and is included in the determination of overall financial aid eligibility. Please review the Non-Custodial Parent Contribution information for further details.

Q. What types of assets are included in determining the Parent Contribution?

A. Brown collects parent asset information to help determine a family’s overall financial strength. Some examples of assets that must be reported are savings, checking, CDs, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, college savings plans, real estate, business equity, and home equity. The value of retirement plans, such as pension funds, annuities, non-education IRAs, Keogh plans, or the value of life insurance plans are not included in determining the Parent Contribution.

Q. What happens if my family’s total income and assets change in future years, how will my award change?

A. Your loan group will stay the same but your Expected Family Contribution may change. Students are assigned a loan group at the time their first year award is determined. If in future years, there is a change in the family’s financial situation, the student’s loan group will not change. For example, if a student is admitted to the University with no loans in their award, their future years’ awards will not include loans. However, the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be evaluated each year and will be based on the income and asset level as reported on the most recent financial aid application materials. If there is a significant difference in family income, assets, household size and/or the number of dependents in college from the prior year, the EFC and resulting award will change.

Q. If my financial aid award does not include loans, can I take advantage of the Federal Stafford Loan program?

A. Yes, in most cases U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents will have the option of borrowing a Federal Stafford Loan to help cover the student effort component of the financial aid award. Stafford Loans are either “subsidized” or “unsubsidized”. Subsidized Stafford loans do not accrue interest while a student is enrolled in college at least half-time. Unsubsidized Stafford loans do accrue interest while the student is in school. A student may be eligible for either or both of these loan programs based on his/her calculated need, and the other components of the financial aid award. Students should explore Stafford loan eligibility with a financial aid counselor before borrowing any other type of loan.

Q. In what ways will I be expected to contribute toward my educational expenses?

A. Student effort levels are determined on an annual basis and generally include a standard contribution from summer earnings, as well as campus employment and student loans.

All students are expected to contribute from summer earnings to defray the cost of education. This expectation is a standard amount set by the University and is included as part of the Expected Family Contribution. In addition, financial aid awards will include a campus employment expectation, sometimes referred to as work-study. Students may also have subsidized loans as part of their financial aid awards. The sum of these three components (summer earnings expectation, campus employment, and student loans) is referred to as student effort. Students with assets will have an additional contribution equal to 20% of the total asset value.

Q. What happens if I receive an outside scholarship?

A. Outside scholarships and employer tuition benefits are an excellent way to help reduce the need to work and/or borrow student loans while at Brown. When you receive an outside scholarship, our office is required to reevaluate your financial aid award and account for the additional resource.

Outside scholarships can be used to reduce the entire amount of student effort. Student effort includes campus employment, student loans, and the standard summer earnings expectation. Federal regulations stipulate that outside scholarships cannot be used to replace the Parent Contribution or any additional Student Contribution derived from student assets.

This policy does not apply to entitlement awards (State Scholarships, Pell Grants and Federal SEOG). Receipt of these funds will result in dollar for dollar reduction in University Scholarship

If your outside scholarships exceed your student effort, your Brown University Scholarship will be reduced, in which case you may wish to consider taking advantage of the Brown Computer Purchase Program. More information about Outside Scholarships and the Computer Purchase Program is available in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Q. At the time of Admission, if my Brown financial aid award is different than my award(s) from other school(s), may I request a review of my Brown award?

A. We want you to have all the information you need to make the right decision. Please contact our office to discuss possible reasons for a variance with a need-based financial aid award made to you by another institution. When comparing financial aid awards, be sure to consider the relative cost of the colleges involved. Also, consider the amount of aid offered via scholarship/grant as opposed to self-help assistance.

Q. I have never received financial aid in the past; can I qualify for aid?

A. Eligibility for financial aid is established based on our Need-Blind Admission principles and a family’s demonstrated need, in accordance with federal regulations and University policies. All applicable requirements and deadlines must be met. Please review the Brown’s Needs Analysis Guidelines for additional information.

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Applying for Financial Aid

Q. How and when do I apply for financial aid?

A. Application instructions and eligibility for financial aid are dependent on your student category, such as Early Decision, Transfer, or Resumed Undergraduate Education Program (RUE). Eligibility may also be affected by the timing of your first application for financial aid.

Applying at the time of application for admission to the University: You can apply for financial aid by following the directions based on the category into which you fall, such as Prospective/Admitted student or Returning student.

Applying after admission to the University: Students who did not apply for financial aid at the same time they applied for admission to the University may have limitations. Students should first read the information provided on our website regarding Brown's Need-Blind policy, which will provide details regarding eligibility for students who did not apply for financial aid at the time of application for admission.

Applying as a returning student who received financial aid in a prior year: You can apply for financial aid by clicking here and following the directions based on the category into which you fall, such as a Renewal or Returning RUE student.

Q. What happens if I submit my financial aid application after the published deadline?

A. Failure to submit an on-time financial aid application, either along with your application for admission to the University or as a returning student, can have serious consequences for financial aid. The results will vary based on the program to which you apply, such as Early Decision, Transfer, or Resumed Undergraduate Education (RUE).

Late application at the time of admission: Please read the Need-Blind policy information provided on our website, which will provide details regarding late applications based on your situation.

Late application as a returning student:

Returning Students (traditional Sophomore, Junior, Senior) – Failure to meet the published deadline for renewal application materials will result in the assessment of a late penalty. For more details regarding the late penalty structure, please click here.

Returning Resumed Undergraduate Education (RUE) Program Students – Failure of a RUE student to meet the published deadline for renewal application materials will result in the loss of scholarship eligibility for the entire academic year.

Q. Does applying through Early Decision, as opposed to Regular Decision, affect my financial aid eligibility or package?

A. No. The evaluation of a student's financial aid package is the same regardless of when the application is received, either through the Early or Regular Decision process. Our office uses the same calculations to determine the family contribution and will award financial aid packages using identical processes and methodologies.

Q. Why do you require financial information from my non-custodial parent?

A. Brown believes that the primary responsibility for financing a student's education lies with the student and the family. As a result, financial information from the non-custodial parent is required to apply for Brown University Scholarship. For federal student aid (Pell Grant, Stafford and Perkins Loans, and Work-Study), the custodial parent and current spouse, if any, must complete the FAFSA. The non-custodial parent is not required to report information for federal student aid purposes.

Q. What should I do if my non-custodial parent is unwilling to contribute or complete the Non-Custodial Parent Statement (NCPS) application requirement?

A. Brown believes that the primary responsibility for educational expenses lies with the student and the family. As such, Brown requires the submission of non-custodial income information detailing the parent's ability, not willingness, to contribute. 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.

The Office of Financial Aid has a standard letter that can be mailed directly to the non-custodial parent explaining that submission of the NCPS will be used to measure but does not obligate the parent to contribute to the student's educational expenses. The letter will explain the reason for Brown's request. If you would like our office to send this letter, please contact us with the non-custodial parent's full name and address.

Waivers of non-custodial information are granted in very limited circumstances, such as abuse, neglect, drug addiction, and a long-standing documented history of refusal to support applicant. If you believe that your situation fits one of these special situations, please download and complete the Non-Custodial Parent Waiver Petition. Do not leave any questions blank.

Students are advised to first make a reasonable effort to gain support from their non-custodial parent. If this obstacle persists, students should make an appointment with a financial aid counselor. First, a financial aid counselor can determine if your circumstance warrants 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 confidential is the information I am sending to your office?

A. Only the financial aid officers at Brown University will review the information submitted to our office. Parents who do not want their information shared with the student applicant should notify our office in writing.

Q. How can I as a parent ensure that my financial information is not shared with my son or daughter?

A. Since Brown University holds the student accountable for all University matters, the Financial Aid Office routinely shares all financial matters with the students. Parents who do not want their information shared with the student must notify the Office of Financial Aid in writing.

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Leave of Absence

Q. What should I do if I’m considering taking a leave of absence?

A. First, you should review the Leavetaking Considerations checklist and meet with any offices that may assist you as you weigh your decision. Then, see a dean at the Dean of the College to discuss your possible plans during your leave.

Q. How does taking a leave of absence affect my current financial aid?

A. If you currently receive financial aid, your aid award will be reevaluated as a result of your leave.  If the date of your leave precedes the start of classes, your financial aid will simply be cancelled.  If the date of your leave is after the start of classes, your financial aid award will be adjusted according to federal regulations and institutional policies. 

In general, the level of federal financial aid, including Parent PLUS loans, you are eligible to keep is proportionate to the amount of time you attended Brown during your semester of leave.  However, if you took a leave after the 60% point in the semester, you will retain all of your federal financial aid. 

Your Brown institutional financial aid will be prorated to correspond to the University’s tuition refund policy, which is based upon the week of your leave.  For example, if you take leave from the University during week 5 of classes and tuition is prorated by 20%, each component of your institutional funding will be reduced by 20%.  If your leave is after week five of the semester, you will retain all of your Brown institutional financial aid for the semester of your leave. 

Please reference the Refund and Withdrawal Policy for Undergraduates on our website for full details.

To determine how Brown’s charges may be amended according to the date of your leave, please refer to the Refund Policy published by the Bursar’s Office. 

The decision to take a leave of absence will not affect an aided student’s eligibility for financial aid upon his or her approved return to Brown as an active student.  However, students must adhere to all published deadlines in applying for financial aid before returning to Brown.

Q. What should I do when my leave of absence has been approved?

A. First, consult the Checklist for Leavetaking for a list of items to do at Brown to facilitate your leave.  Once the Dean of the College approves your leave, the Registrar's Office will be notified of the effective date of your leave.  Then, your enrollment status will be changes from active in inactive.  The Office of Financial Aid will then receive official notification of your leave.  In  the meantime, feel free to communicate your leave approval to our office.  Shortly after notification, we will adjust your financial aid award according to federal regulations and institutional policies, described above.

Q. What do I need to do in order to receive financial aid upon my return to Brown?

A. First, follow the steps outlined in the Checklist for Returning to Brown from a Leave to learn what you need to do to be approved for readmission.  To request readmission approval, you must first contact the appropriate dean by published deadlines.

If you owe a balance on your student account, payment is necessary before your readmission can be granted.  Late fees will accrue on any unpaid balances. 

If you have had University and/or Perkins Loans in the past, each must be in good standing in order for you to be readmitted.  If you have had a Stafford and/or PLUS Loan in the past, each must be in good standing so that you may receive federal student aid upon your return to Brown.  If your Stafford and/or PLUS Loans are not in good standing, then Brown will not replace your loss in federal student aid with any increase to your institutional funding above your standard eligibility.  This means that your full financial aid would not be met by your financial aid award.

Although readmission decisions are rendered by the Office of the Dean of the College, the Office of Financial Aid independently determines a student’s aid eligibility.  If you were admitted to Brown prior to the Class of 2007, please view Brown’s financial aid policies and contact the Office Financial Aid for more information about your aid eligibility.

If you are a traditional student admitted to Brown with or after the Class of 2007 who is being readmitted after a leave, you must reapply for financial aid by the later of 30 days after your readmission notification or the following dates.  Failure to meet the appropriate financial aid deadlines may result in a decrease to your financial aid award, so your full financial need may not be met by the financial aid package.

Regular Students

May first - Returning for fall semester

November first - Returning for spring semester

 

RUE Students

March 15th prior to the academic year for which you wish to be considered for University Assistance.

RUE students who fail to meet the deadline will not be considered for scholarship assistance until the following academic year.

Q. What must I submit in order to complete my application for financial aid upon return from a leave of absence?

A. The financial aid application requirements for readmitted students are no different than the standard requirements.

Q. When taking a leave of absence, do I need to do anything in regard to loans that I or my parents have received through Brown University, such as Perkins, Stafford, University or PLUS Loans?  

A. For both current and former financial aid recipients, since taking a leave means that you are no longer an active student at Brown, contact the Loan Office .  You must complete loan exit counseling and establish a repayment schedule in the event that the grace period of your federal or institutional loan(s) ends during your period of leave.  You should also contact your private lender(s) if you have borrowed any private education loans as an undergraduate to learn of any repayment obligations. 

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Living Off-Campus

Q. How does living off-campus affect my financial aid award?

A. Living off-campus does NOT affect your financial aid award. Your scholarship is not adjusted based on your decision to live off-campus. Our office assumes that you will spend the same amount of money living off-campus as you would on-campus.

Important note: Students interested in living off-campus must apply for approval through the Office of Residential Life.

Q. How does living off-campus affect my student account/bill?

A. You will not be billed for the room charge on your student account. However, you will be billed a non-resident fee. Some students may also decide not to take the meal plan when living off-campus. In that case you would not be billed for the meal plan. Not having the room charge and/or the meal plan charge will decrease the amount that you owe on your student account. (For students who live in Brown-owned housing, the housing charge will be billed to your student account.)

Q. Will I receive a refund to help pay my off-campus expenses?

A. In most cases a refund will not be issued, because the scholarship and loan awards do not exceed the tuition and fee charges. In general, only those students whose total scholarship and loan awards exceed direct billed charges by Brown University will receive a refund. For most students, the fact that the bill does not include room and board charges means that you and your parents will pay less to Brown University but not pay less overall. Paying less to Brown means that a greater portion of the Family Contribution will be available to help pay for your off-campus living expenses. To determine if you will actually receive a refund when living off-campus, complete the Living Off-Campus worksheet. For additional questions feel free to e-mail our office Financial_Aid@brown.edu, call, or stop by.

Q. If I expect to receive a refund, how do I get it?

A. You will not be able to receive a refund until all anticipated credits have been replaced by real credits on your student account; for example, all promissory notes for loans must be signed and outside scholarship checks must be received.

 You must complete the refund process with the Bursar's Office.

Q. What happens if living off-campus costs less than living on-campus?

A. If you can manage to spend less off-campus than the established standard budget for room and board costs billed by Brown University for the academic year, you get a "break." No change is made to your financial aid award.

Q. What happens if living off-campus costs more than living on-campus?

A. If living off-campus costs more than the standard budgeted for room and board cost for the academic year, additional scholarship will not be awarded to assist with the increases. However, talk with a financial aid counselor as we may be able to award additional loan or increase your work-study to assist with additional costs.

Q. What should I consider when planning for off-campus living?

A. Be prepared for up-front expenses, like first and last month's rent and a security deposit. Include expenses for utilities (ie. electric, water, and gas), computer hook-ups, and the non-resident fee that will be charged each semester to your student account. Project how much you will spend on groceries, if you are planning on canceling the meal plan. Finally, keep in mind that you may be required to take a lease for a full 12 months even though you only plan on being in Providence for 9 months. Remember, if these expenses exceed the standard budget for room and board expenses for the academic year, you will essentially be increasing your Family Contribution for the academic year.

You may also wish to visit the Office of Residence Life  website for information concerning living off-campus.

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Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (FASAP)

Answers to the most common questions regarding FASAP are detailed below. For specific details about the effects to your financial aid award review the FASAP Policy.

Q. Is a minimum GPA required to maintain eligibility for University scholarship?

A. Brown does not calculate a GPA for its students. Therefore, the Committee on Academic Standing (CAS) expects students to complete a minimum number of credits based on the number of semesters a student is enrolled.

Based on the number of credits completed and the number of semesters a student is enrolled, CAS places students in the following categories: Good Standing, Warning, Serious Warning, or Suspended. CAS determines if a student is Refused Registration and gives permission for students to return to Brown after a Leave of Absence. For full details on the number of credits required to maintain satisfactory academic progress, please review the FASAP policy.

Q. Will my grades impact my financial award?

A. All financial aid awarded at Brown is based on financial need; therefore, a student will not receive additional financial aid based on academic performance at Brown. However, all students receiving financial aid are expected to maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by the Committee on Academic Standing (CAS).

Q. How often does the Office of Financial Aid check my academic status?

A. Brown University ensures that all Federal aid recipients are meeting FASAP each academic year following both the fall and spring semesters.

Q. How does placement on Serious Warning by the Committee on Academic Standing affect my financial aid award?

A. If CAS places you on Serious Warning, you risk losing your federal financial aid during the following academic year. Students placed on Serious Warning receive a warning notification from the Dean of the College. For specific details about the effects to your financial aid award review the FASAP Policy.

Q. If I am allowed to return after suspension, will I be eligible for financial aid?

A. If the Committee on Academic Standing documents mitigating circumstances, the Financial Aid Award Committee will review those circumstances and determine if federal financial aid may be reinstated. Brown cannot award federal financial aid to a student who is not making satisfactory academic progress. An academic plan must be in place.

Q. How do I apply for aid for a ninth and/or tenth semester at Brown? For a ninth and/or tenth semester, will there be any differences in myfinancial aid award?

A. Provided you meet all of Brown's renewal application deadlines and requirements for the academic year, you will still be considered for University Scholarship.  However, the level of loan borrowing will be maximized in your award before scholarship funds are awarded. This adjustment applies to all semesters that exceed Brown's standard eight semester financial aid eligibility.

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How much have I borrowed?

Q. How can I find out how much I have borrowed since enrolling at Brown?

A. For information on Stafford, Perkins, and University Loan totals for the current academic year, please view your financial aid award on-line. To determine borrowing for prior years and other loan programs, please read the information below.

  • Perkins and Stafford Loan visit the National Student Loan Database Service (NSLDS) website and click on "Financial Aid Review." If you are unable to access the information on-line, you may contact the Loan Office for your borrowing history.
  • University Loan (typically for International students) Contact the Brown University Loan Office at (401) 863-3296.
  • Private Loan Contact the agency from which you borrowed the loan.

Fee Waivers

Q. How do I get a fee waiver for CSS PROFILE?

A. To receive a fee waiver for the CSS PROFILE, you must complete the profile form. The software analyzes your data and determines if you qualify for a waiver immediately. If you have not been advised that your fee had not been waived, then you are not eligible.

Q. How do I get a fee waiver for a graduate school application fee?

To receive a waiver for a graduate school application fee, you must follow the specific instructions of the school to which you are applying, which typically require that our office complete a brief form or send a brief letter. If documentation of your financial need must be substantiated to a third party, please contact our office to review and expedite.

Q. How can I apply for a Fee Reduction Certificate to reduce the costs of taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test?  

To qualify for a GRE fee reduction certificate authorized by the Education Testing Service (ETS) you must be: 

  • a U.S. citizen or eligible non-resident qualified to apply for Federal financial aid; 
  • a college senior receiving financial aid through Brown University, or a returning un-enrolled Brown graduate who has applied for financial aid; and either
  • a dependent college senior whose Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Student Aid Report (SAR) shows an estimated parent contribution of not more than $1,200 for the senior year, or a se