Financial Aid FAQ

The Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment will continue to update this page with new information.  The following questions and answers are provided as a resource for students and families regarding financial aid topics. Click any of the questions below to expand the answer. If you have additional questions, please contact our office and a member of our staff will be happy to assist you.

Prospective Applicants

  • How do I correct my CSS Profile?

To make corrections to your CSS Profile, you should print the page(s) with the incorrect data, hand write in the correction(s), and then upload or fax the corrections directly to the Financial Aid Office . Make sure to include your full name and date of birth.

Please be advised that we do not accept documents via email, as this is not a secure way to submit information. Documents can be submitted to our office via one of the following secure methods:

  • How do I get a FAFSA PIN?

We do not have access to your FSA PIN. The Department of Education will issue your PIN and you create the password. For more information about the FSA PIN, please visit: FSA website.

  • How do I know my file is complete?

You may check the status of your application by monitoring your Financial Aid To-Do List.

If there are any new or outstanding items on your To-Do List listed with the status of “initiated,” you will need to take action to complete the item(s). As requirements are submitted and processed, the items will disappear from your To-Do list.

  • I filed the FAFSA, is this all I need?

When applying for financial aid, the documents you are required to submit, as well as submission deadlines, vary depending on the type of student you are. Please contact the Financial Aid Office if you are unsure which category below applies to you.

  • Do I need to provide my noncustodial parent’s information?

When completing applications for financial aid to Cornell, students must include income and asset information for both parents. If the whereabouts of the noncustodial parent are unknown, or if there are extenuating circumstances, students may complete the Noncustodial Parent Waiver Petition, which is located in IDOC or on our website. A parent's unwillingness to contribute financially is not an accepted basis for a waiver.

You may upload this to IDOC or send it directly to our office via secure fax (607-255-6329) or Secure Online Upload.

  • May I use Veteran Education Benefits?

Veterans can apply for Federal Student Aid and Cornell institutional grant aid in conjunction with VA benefits. Seeing a complete picture of aid options helps students make an informed decision on how to best utilize VA benefits as part of college financing.

Cornell University does not require eligible students to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill® and/or Yellow Ribbon benefits to pay for college. Cornell offers aid based on financial need. Students can first apply for need-based financial aid to determine eligibility for institutional funding prior to utilizing VA benefits.

VA benefits are taken into consideration for institutional aid eligibility but they do not impact a student’s eligibility for Federal Student Aid, such as Federal Direct Loans and Pell Grants. Students who choose to utilize their Post-9/11 GI Bill® and/or Yellow Ribbon benefits should still complete the FAFSA application in order to maximize all financing options.

For further information visit our Veterans Education Benefits page.

  • What is my Cost to Attend?

Estimated costs include:

  • Tuition and Fees
  • Housing and Dining
  • Books, Supplies, Personal/Miscellaneous
  • Travel

Find more detailed information on Cornell University’s costs Cost to Attend.

  • How did you calculate my Student Contribution?

Cornell expects you to save money during the summer to go toward your academic year expenses. This amount is standard based on class year – and it increases each year. If your student contribution is higher than our standard summer savings expectation (SSE), it is because we also calculated a contribution from your (the student’s) assets.

  • How can I qualify for NYS resident tuition?

The Bursar’s Office has information on NY State Residency.

Please know that if your tuition rate changes, aid will also be adjusted accordingly. Your Expected Family Contribution remains consistent unless your family reports significant changes to your financial situation. In other words, if your Cost of Attendance increases or decreases, your demonstrated financial need (and therefore your financial aid) changes proportionally to reflect your new costs.

  • Does Cornell offer merit scholarships?

There is no merit aid or athletic scholarships awarded at Cornell. Financial aid is only awarded based on demonstrated financial need.

General Financial Aid Questions: 

  • Are student jobs available?

The availability of student jobs depends on individual hiring departments and their HR units. Work expectations are included in award offers, and we are encouraging departments to continue posting student positions where possible. Please review the Student Employment Job Database for current available opportunities. Students also have the option to replace their work expectation with loan upon request.

Cornell does not place students in jobs and no job at Cornell is guaranteed. Ultimately, it is up to you to conduct a job search, apply for jobs, interview, and be hired.

  • I received an email notification from Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), stating that my enrollment could not be confirmed by my school.  How can I update my school code to correct this issue?

If you received this message, it is likely that you have reported the wrong school code for Cornell.  As a reminder, Cornell has 2 undergraduate school codes:

  • 0175: school code for Cornell University’s Endowed Colleges
    • College of Architecture, Art and Planning
    • College of Arts and Sciences
    • College of Engineering
    • Cornell SC Johnson College of Business – School of Hotel Administration
  • 0174: school code for Cornell University’s State Contract Colleges
    • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
    • College of Human Ecology
    • Cornell SC Johnson College of Business – Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
    • School of Industrial and Labor Relations

You may make school code changes online by visiting your HESC account through Student Access. Alternatively, you may make a change to the school code and/or student address by calling the HESC Customer Communication Center at 888-NYS-HESC (888-697-4372) and speaking with a representative. School code changes may also be made using our automated telephone system or through live chat.

  • I received an Outside Scholarship/Tuition Benefit; how do I notify financial aid? Will my aid be impacted?

Outside scholarships or tuition benefits will reduce the starting loan and work component of a student's financial aid offer. These funds can also be used to replace Cornell's standard student contribution. If all of the starting loan and work in your financial aid offer is canceled and your student contribution has been replaced, any remaining funds will reduce your Cornell Grant aid dollar for dollar.

Scholarships will be divided equally between fall and spring semesters unless otherwise indicated in writing by the donor. It’s important to notify the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment of any outside scholarships you receive, so the appropriate adjustments can be made.

All scholarship checks should be mailed directly to:

  • Cornell University
  • Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment
  • Scholarship Division
  • P.O. Box 752
  • Ithaca, NY 14851

Please do not send photocopies of checks to this address.

  • I have costs that are not reflected in the Cost of Attendance. Is there funding available to me to assist in covering these costs?

There are a few reasons that you may need to request additional financial aid. Most of the time additional aid is awarded in the form of a loan. If you have any questions, please call or visit to speak with one of our staff members.

  • If you were unable to earn and save your standard Student Contribution over the summer as expected, you may request a loan to replace this amount through the Undergraduate Student Appeal Form.
  • If you have exceptional expenses not already included in Cornell’s cost of attendance, we may be able to provide additional funding through the Undergraduate Student Appeal Form.
  • If you are in need of an additional funding options beyond the Student Contribution replacement and Cost of Attendance appeal, please let us know by emailing or calling our office. We will review your account and notify you of any additional loans available to you. Be aware that your eligibility for additional loans is based on your federal financial aid eligibility, which is determined by the FAFSA.
  • If your family circumstances change, see information about our Appeal Process.

Financial Aid Offer and Cost of Attendance:

  • What does it mean that my financial aid is still pending?

Financial aid will begin disbursing to the Bursar, at the earliest, 10 days prior to the start of each semester. When it comes to paying your Bursar statement, you should pay the new balance after pending aid, which you can find in the Activity Details section of CASHNet.

  • I will be living off campus, will my aid continue to cover my living costs?

If you live off-campus in Ithaca, your financial need is calculated exactly the same way as if you lived on-campus. The major difference is that the bursar will not charge you for your housing expenses. You will need to pay your housing expenses directly to your landlord, as outlined in your lease.

If your financial aid credits exceed your billed charges, you can expect to receive a refund from the Office of the Bursar to assist you with off-campus living expenses. On the other hand, if your bursar charges exceed your financial aid credits, your family contribution should be used to pay off the Bursar charges, Cornell Card charges, and your off-campus living expenses.

  • I’m expecting a refund this semester, when can I expect to receive the funds?

Students who are eligible for refunds can receive them via direct deposit typically starting the first day of class each semester, assuming you have fully completed your financial aid application and received your award notice.

Students who are not signed up for direct deposit will be notified when a paper refund check is available to be picked up in the Bursar’s Office.

  • How do I apply for additional loans?

Students should complete an Undergraduate Student Appeal to:

  1. Borrow your student contribution
  2. Borrow for educational expenses beyond the standard budget
  3. Document job related expenses that prevent you from contributing the required 50% of your gross Summer FWS earnings toward educational expenses.

A parent may also apply for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan for Parents of Undergraduate Students.

In addition to federal and university loans there are also other alternative loans and financing options to consider.

  • Can I file a financial aid appeal if my family is now experiencing a financial hardship due to loss of income as a result of COVID-19?

Students who believe they may require additional aid for the upcoming year should review the options for appealing. Appeal responses can take several weeks and typically require supporting documentation (i.e., proof of unemployment).

  • I am re-applying for financial aid for the 2022-23 academic year. I thought I only needed to complete the FAFSA. Why do I need to submit the CSS PROFILE Application?

Additional information, including but not limited to the CSS PROFILE application, is required in cases where there is an indication of a change in circumstances that would impact your eligibility for need based financial aid. This includes but is not limited to substantial increases or decreases in income, changes in your parents’ marital status, or prior year requests for reconsideration based on new or extenuating circumstances. The more detailed information provided through the CSS PROFILE application will be used in combination with the FAFSA application and other application materials to review your eligibility for aid.

  • I received my financial aid offer and am wondering if I am eligible for more loans? If so, how do I apply?

Loan eligibility is unique to each student. If you were unable to earn and save your standard Student Contribution over the summer as expected, you may request a loan to replace this amount through the Undergraduate Student Appeal Form. We realize that families are experiencing financial hardship and students may have had difficulty finding summer employment opportunities. The university is still exploring options for a path forward. If you have exceptional expenses not already included in Cornell’s cost of attendance, we may be able to provide additional funding through the Undergraduate Student Appeal Form. Parents can also look into applying for the Federal Parent PLUS Loan

  • What will happen to my aid if my Cost of Attendance changes?

The amount of financial assistance a family needs each year is determined by the following formula:

Cost of Attendance – Expected Family Contribution = Demonstrated Financial Need

Your Expected Family Contribution remains consistent unless your family reports significant changes to your financial situation. If your Cost of Attendance increases or decreases, your demonstrated financial need (and therefore your financial aid) changes proportionally to reflect your changing expenses.

Changes in Circumstances: 

  • My family’s financial circumstances have changed as a result of COVID-19, and I have concerns about our ability to contribute to my educational expenses. What should we do?

Students who believe they may require additional aid for the upcoming year should review the following Frequently Asked Questions about appealing your financial aid.

Typically, awards can be reviewed if your family’s financial situation has changed significantly since you applied for aid, or if there is additional information that was not included on your original application. For example, a family may be experiencing extended unemployment or extraordinary uninsured medical expenses which may qualify for an adjustment.

Our FAQ serves as a resource for families in determining if they are eligible for an appeal and what documentation may be required.

Next Steps:

  • How do I accept, reduce or decline my loans and/or work-study? 

Students need to actively accept, reduce, or decline offers for all Federal Work Study (FWS), federal student loans, and university loans through Student Center. For instructions on how to accept FWS or loans, please review this tutorial. FWS cannot be earned and student loans will not credit to the Bursar statement until they are accepted, or reduced, and all standard Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Notes are complete.

  • How do I complete Entrance Counseling for my Federal Direct Loan? 

Loan counseling is a required online tool to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a Direct Loan borrower. 

To complete the entrance counseling requirement:

  1. Under Complete Aid Process, open "Complete Entrance Counseling" on the Student Aid Website
  2. Log in with your FSA I.D.
  3. Progress through the counseling tool until you complete all sections.

You should plan 20-30 minutes to complete.  Cornell will be notified of your completion within 3-5 business days. 

  • How do I complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN) for my Federal Direct Loan? 

The MPN is an agreement to repay your Direct Loans along with accrued interest and fees. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loans.

To sign the MPN:

  1. Under Complete Aid Process, open "Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN)" on the Student Aid Website
  2. Select the type of Direct Loan MPN that corresponds to your student status (undergraduate or graduate/professional) and log in with your FSA ID.
  3. Progress through the entire MPN process until you complete all sections.

You should plan 20-30 minutes to complete.  Cornell will be notified of your completion within 3-5 business days. 

  • How do I sign my promissory note for my Cornell University Loan?

Once you have accepted your loan, you will receive an email from Heartland ECSI (webmaster@ecsi.net) with your PIN number and instructions for completing the MPN and/or Regulation Z requirement for your loan. You will need to provide your Social Security Number, last name, first name, and date of birth. If you are an international student or do not have an SSN, use 99 plus your student ID. 

Processing may take up to 3 business days from the time the requirements with ECSI are completed to when the Cornell To Do List updates.

If you did not receive an email from Heartland ECSI or have any questions regarding your PIN, contact Heartland ECSI at 1-888-549-3274. Check your spam folder to ensure that it wasn’t misdirected.

  • How does my parent apply for a Direct PLUS Loan?

You can apply for the PLUS loan by following our Federal Parent PLUS Loan instructions. The information provided in the application will be sent to Cornell. We will use that information to determine your eligibility for a Direct PLUS Loan and process the loan.

Before you can receive a Direct PLUS Loan, you must complete a Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (Direct PLUS Loan MPN), which explains all of the terms and conditions of Direct PLUS Loans and constitutes your legally binding agreement to repay all Direct PLUS Loans that you receive under the Direct PLUS Loan MPN. You will have an opportunity to complete the Direct PLUS Loan MPN after you complete the Direct PLUS Loan Request.

Office Contact Information:

  • Is the Financial Aid Office open, and if so, how can I contact you?

Please contact the Financial Aid Office and one of our representatives will be happy to assist you.

Office Hours:

Monday-Thursday 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM & 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Phone Hours:

Monday-Thursday 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM & 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Schedule Counselor Appointments: Cornell Chatter

  • Who do I contact if I have additional questions?