Carnegie Mellon University

Understanding Your Offer

Understanding your financial aid eligibility and offer will help you and your family navigate financing decisions for attending college.

Once a student completes their financial aid application, which includes a FAFSA and/or CSS Profile, they will receive notification that a financial aid offer is available in their My Student Aid portal. The offer will outline their total financial aid package for the upcoming academic year. Offers may include grants and scholarships, as well as Federal Work-Study and Federal Student Loan amounts for which the student may be eligible. We recommend reviewing your offer carefully, paying close attention to the cost of attendance and whether there is a gap in your funding for which you and your family will need to cover. 

It is important to note that some scholarships and grants awarded may not be renewable each year and the amounts may be based on maintaining a certain QPA. Some scholarships may need to be applied for each year, so be sure to understand the specific criteria for each award. Additionally, you may need to complete specific steps (i.e., MPN signing and entrance counseling) before any offered loan amounts are distributed to your student account. Federal loan amounts may be decreased or cancelled at the request of the student by completing a Loan Adjustment (pdf) form and submitting it to Carnegie Mellon.

Change in Circumstances

Please remember that it is important to notify Carnegie Mellon of significant changes to your and/or your family’s financial situation. A change in circumstances that may be appropriate for review include loss of income, change in assets, natural disaster, divorce or separation, medical expenses, change in the number of undergraduates enrolled in college, or receipt of outside scholarships. These scenarios may result in changes to your financial aid eligibility and offer. Additional documentation may be requested and can take up to 14 business days for review. If your change in circumstances results in a change to your eligibility, you will receive a revised financial aid offer.

A Combination Strategy

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.

To determine the amount a student or family will need to contribute, calculate the difference between cost of attendance and any expected financial aid. This is a good estimate of the amount a family is expected to contribute. To help, students and families may choose to enroll in a monthly payment plan to help budget payments of educational expenses and limit debt or they may choose to borrow a private loan

Some parents and graduate students may be eligible to apply for a Federal PLUS Loan to help finance educational costs, as well. 

Graduate Federal Aid Eligibility

A graduate student's federal aid eligibility is determined by financial circumstances. Students are considered for federal financial aid programs by completing the FAFSA.

Students can calculate their estimated loan eligibility using the cost of attendance, which varies depending on the school/college in which they're enrolled:

Cost of Attendance - Scholarships, Fellowships, Untaxed Tuition/Fee Stipends
= Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan Eligibility

Students who need additional funding after borrowing a Federal Direct Student Loan may wish to consider a Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan or private loan.