How Aid Works
Financial aid eligibility is determined by a student's and his/her family’s financial circumstances. While students and families have the primary responsibility for paying for college, financial aid can bridge the gap between the total costs and the family's ability to pay.
Federal financial aid eligibility is determined by using a Congressional formula called Federal Methodology. It uses information reported on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine the amount a student or family is expected to pay toward education. This amount is called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Eligibility for institutional grant and scholarship financial aid programs is determined using Institutional Methodology. Carnegie Mellon uses information collected through the CSS PROFILE, which collects more comprehensive and detailed information than the FAFSA. Tax documents may also be requested.
Students will receive consideration for all types of federal aid by completing the FAFSA and will receive consideration for all types of institutional aid by completing the CSS PROFILE.
A Combination Strategy to Meet Education Costs
Like any major investment, most families pay for education with a mix of current income, savings and borrowing. Finding the right balance among these resources can save money.
First, students should determine the difference between costs and any financial aid they expect to receive. This is a good estimate of the amount a family is expected to pay.
There are payment plan options to help budget payments of educational expenses and limit debt.