Carnegie Mellon University

Graduate Financial Aid Process

Meeting the cost of a graduate education is a significant investment; however, CMU is committed to making it financially possible for graduate students to enhance educational development and reach their career goals.

To apply for federal financial aid for the 2023-2024 academic year, follow the process below. 

Computer icon with the text FAFSAComplete FAFSA

Timeline: Available in October
Preferred Deadline: February 15

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required if applying for federal financial aid programs, such as an Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan or Graduate PLUS Loan. While the FAFSA can be completed after the preferred February 15 deadline, meeting the deadline supports the timely delivery of award letters and disbursement of aid as it allows financial aid staff time to collect and process any supporting documentation that may be required.  


Award letter iconReceive Award Letter

Timeline: June/July (if application is complete)

Once the student's application is complete and all required documents have been submitted, a financial aid package will be determined. The student will receive an email notification that a financial aid award letter has been posted to SIO. If a student's circumstances change, then eligibility will be re-evaluated and the student will receive notification that a revised award letter is available. Students may provide access permission for another individual to view their award letter through My Plaid Student (MPS).


Accept or decline loans iconAccept, Reduce or Decline Loans

Timeline: After award letter is received
Deadline: Loan funds will not disburse until this is completed

In order for any financial aid funds (scholarships and/or loans) to disburse to a graduate student's account, the student must accept or decline all federal loans included in their financial aid award. The amount of awarded loan funds may also be decreased. This simple process can be completed in the financial aid portal via Student Information Online (SIO).


MPN iconComplete MPN & Entrance Counseling

Timeline: After award letter is received
Deadline: Loan funds will not disburse until these are completed

All first-time Federal Direct Loan borrowers are required to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete an online entrance counseling session. The session provides information about borrower rights and responsibilities. CMU is notified when a student has completed entrance counseling. Students who completed a federal entrance counseling session while at CMU, do not have to complete another one.


PLUS iconApply for PLUS Loan (if Desired)

Timeline: After June 1

Federal Graduate PLUS Loans are available to graduate and professional students, allowing a graduate student to borrow on his/her own behalf up to the standard graduate cost of attendance less other aid received to assist with educational expenses. A Grad PLUS Loan is a non-need based loan provided by the Department of Education to creditworthy graduate students. Learn more

VIEW instructions

Graphic of federal building and moneyTitle IV Authorizations

Timeline: Following completion of MPN & Entrance Counseling

Students who are awarded and/or receive Title IV funds (federal grants or federal loans) should complete Title IV Authorizations in SIO by selecting 'Financial Aid Permissions' under the 'Finances' tab. When the amount of Title IV funds is greater than the cost of tuition, fees, housing, and dining charges, the credit balance is refunded to the borrower. By completing their authorizations, students designate whether excess funds are held as payment for future semester charges or applied to non-institutional charges. Otherwise, excess Title IV funds are refunded directly to the borrower and any student account balance remaining will be due from the student. 

Complete Title IV Authorizations

Hand holding money iconFunds Disburse

Timeline: Financial aid funds disburse (or are applied to your student account) according to your semester of study or loan period

Grant and scholarship funds disburse as early as June 25 for the fall semester, November 25 for the spring semester, and March 25 for summer sessions.

Loan funds disburse as early as 10 days before the first day of class for the loan period. View loan disbursement dates. Keep in mind that the amount of federal loans credited to the student account will be less than the total amount borrowed due to origination fees

View Additional Details

Missing Documents

If we are unable to process a student's financial aid package due to missing documents, a Financial Aid Alert email will be sent to the student requesting the required documents. Until the entire application process is completed and all required documents are submitted, our office may be unable to complete a student's financial aid package. Students may log in to SIO to view documents that have been received by our office. View instructions for submitting missing documents.

Teacher Certification

Teacher certification students at the graduate level should be aware that federal regulations classify them as a grade level 5 undergraduate student for Federal Direct Student Loan purposes. Teacher certification students are, however, considered a graduate student by Carnegie Mellon for academic purposes.