Carnegie Mellon University

Financial Aid FAQs

If your question is not answered below, please contact The HUB at

The cost of attendance (COA) we use to calculate your financial aid award will include a standard room and board even if you are in an off-campus apartment. For 2020-21, CMU made the decision to make the housing allowance for students living independently off-campus the same as for those living on-campus in university housing. Equalizing the on- and off-campus (living independently) cost of attendance will allow for a smoother transition for students whose fall semester living situation may be different than their spring semester; for students receiving financial aid, the benefit is that such a change in housing/living circumstances will not require an adjustment to financial aid.

Yes, your cost of attendance will not include a housing allowance, but it will still include the standard dining rate. This will result in a lower cost of attendance and may reduce your financial aid eligibility. 

If your financial aid is greater than your billable costs (usually tuition, fees, and health insurance), you will receive a refund to use toward your off-campus living expenses. Be sure to link a bank account to Student Information Online (SIO) to designate for electronic refunds to have faster access to these funds.

If you do not have a housing allowance included in your cost of attendance, we have either assumed or you have confirmed that you are living at home with parent(s), guardian(s) or others as a dependent.

If you continue to feel that your financial aid award does not properly represent your housing election for the spring semester, please confirm your survey answers in Student Information Online (SIO) and contact your  HUB liaison.

The elements on your award letter represent cost of attendance (COA) allowances and not necessarily billable charges. These standard estimates are used to calculate your financial aid award whether you are living on- or off-campus. 

After you receive your initial financial aid package for 2020-21, you should contact your HUB liaison to discuss your situation. 

We understand that there may still be uncertainty regarding housing situations this spring. If housing plans change at any time, we are able to reconsider financial aid once plans are finalized, survey answers are updated in Student Information Online (SIO) and your HUB liaison has been informed.

View various scenarios related to housing situations, cost of attendance and financial aid packaging.

If you started the financial aid application process (completed a FAFSA and CSS Profile), be sure to check the financial aid portal in SIO (Financial Aid Award/Status under the Finances tab) to verify that all requested documents have been received.

If you are considering taking a leave of absence and are concerned about any potential implications related to financial aid, we encourage you to consult your HUB liaison. Upon taking a leave of absence, federal and institutional financial aid for the semester in which you are taking a leave is adjusted on the same basis as tuition.

Upon returning from a leave of absence, your eligibility will be re-evaluated. Generally, a student’s financial aid award does not change significantly from year to year, unless the family and/or student’s financial situation has changed.

The initial disbursement of student loans for the spring 2021 semester will be January 25, 2021. This date has been delayed in order to remain compliant with federal regulations due to the revised spring semester start date.

If you are expecting a refund of any loan proceeds, be sure to link a bank account to SIO and designate it for electronic refunds to have faster access to these funds.

If you are in need of emergency assistance, we recommend contacting your HUB liaison.

Yes, if you enroll in the university's student health insurance plan (SHIP) by February 15, 2021, you will be eligible for partial support from the university. Learn more on the Graduate Education website.