Financial Aid FAQs
The following are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding Financial Aid at Carnegie Mellon. If you have a question that isn't answered here, contact The HUB at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graduate student? See more Financial Aid FAQs.
I am a prospective student and I still haven't submitted my actual 2013 federal tax returns, but I have received a financial aid package anyway. Do I still need to submit my federal tax returns to you?
Yes. You must send the actual 2013 tax documents via IDOC to confirm your financial aid package. Although you have received a financial aid determination, it is subject to change until we review your actual tax documentation.
I am a prospective student and I submitted a copy of my FAFSA. Do I still need to submit the FAFSA to the Federal Processor?
Yes. Your financial aid award is tentative if you have only submitted a "copy" of your FAFSA. All financial aid packages are tentative until we electronically receive the results of a federally-processed FAFSA.
How do I use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?
Will my financial aid package change if personal information changes after I apply?
Your eligibility for need-based financial aid is determined by using a Congressional formula called Federal Methodology. It uses your parent(s)' and your total taxable and untaxed 2013 income, federal tax paid, and current equity in assets which you were required to report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and size of household and number enrolled in college at least half-time, to determine the amount you are expected to pay toward your education. This amount is called your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
The number of family members attending college has changed. Should I inform you?
Yes. The number of dependent family members enrolled on at least a half-time basis in a degree-seeking or certificate program affects your financial aid eligibility. Please notify us directly in writing if the number in college changes after you have filed your FAFSA and CSS PROFILE. In addition, please update your FAFSA online. We will re-evaluate your eligibility and notify you if your financial aid package changes. Student Financial Aid will verify this information during the fall semester.
Can enrolling part-time affect my financial aid package?
Yes. Your financial aid package is based on full-time (36 units or more per semester) enrollment. If you are enrolled part-time and assessed part-time tuition, your financial aid package will be revised to reflect this. You have to be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for financial aid.
Under what special circumstances will my financial aid package be increased?
In the determination of a student's financial aid eligibility, circumstances such as loss of employment or changes in employment status, parents' divorce or separation, or the death or disability of a parent are considered.
If your custodial parent(s) or you (independent students only, and your spouse if applicable) anticipate a reduction in income of at least 10 percent of your total taxable and untaxed income for 2014, we may re-evaluate your financial need. Please contact The HUB for a Reduced Income Form, which allows you to explain your family's financial reduction in detail. Once we review this form, we will notify you if there is a change to your financial aid package.
Please estimate carefully. After the 2014 calendar year, we will verify your projection by requesting that you submit your 2014 federal tax documents to us by March 15, 2015. If your actual 2014 information is higher than your projection, we will recalculate your financial aid eligibility and notify you of any adjustments.
We will carefully consider the information submitted, but this does not guarantee a revision to your financial aid eligibility. You will be contacted if additional documentation is required.
Can my financial aid package change from year to year?
Yes. The most common reasons why your financial aid package could change include:
- Increase or decrease in family income
- Change in the number of family members in college
- Change in household size
- Increase in cost of attendance
- Receipt of an outside scholarship
- Unsatisfactory academic progress
You need to apply for financial aid each year because the information used to determine your eligibility may change annually.
If I am not selected to receive a Carnegie Scholarship as a freshman, can I apply for one as an upperclass student?
No. Carnegie Scholarships are awarded to incoming freshmen only during the admission process.
My student aid report says I was "selected for verification." What does this mean and what do I have to do?
The U.S. Department of Education requires colleges to "verify" students applying for aid and selected for federal verification. Carnegie Mellon will ask for confirmation of the data provided on your financial aid applications. We will verify all undergraduate students selected for verification by the Department of Education and any student with inconsistent or conflicting information. The applicant data that must be verified includes: Household size, number of family members in college, adjusted gross income, wages, taxes paid and untaxed income.
Can my academic performance affect my financial aid package?
Yes. The U.S. Department of Education requires recipients of Federal Title IV Financial Assistance to meet academic progress standards each year. Federal Title IV Financial Assistance includes the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work-Study, Federal Direct Loan and Federal Direct PLUS Loan programs. Each university determines its own policy regarding satisfactory progress standards. Federal academic progress standards must include two elements: cumulative QPAand cumulative units. At Carnegie Mellon, we define this as follows: first-year freshman students must pass 80 percent of all cumulative units attempted at Carnegie Mellon and have a 1.75 cumulative QPA after the first year, all other students (excluding graduate students in The Tepper School and Heinz College) must pass 80 percent of all cumulative units attempted at Carnegie Mellon and have a 2.0 cumulative QPA.
I am a returning student, and I received an unsatisfactory academic progress letter. What should I do?
We encourage students to submit an appeal explaining any extenuating circumstances that may have affected academic performance. Examples include, but are not limited to: Extended illness, changes in major, difficult transition to first-year in college (academically and socially), recent diagnosis of learning disability, or a recent death of a close family member.
Students who are unable to meet the minimum satisfactory academic requirements for federal aid are required to design and submit a Federal Financial Aid Academic Improvement Plan. The goal of the Academic Progress Improvement Plan is to ensure the student makes documented steady progress toward meeting our federal "satisfactory academic progress" standards and graduates within the university's normal time frame to complete a degree. The need for the plan will be determined on an individual student basis and depend on the length of the student's enrollment, class completion rate and earned grade point average. All subsequent or second appeals will require an academic plan.