Terms of International Scholar Awards

Please review the International Scholar Award terms and frequently asked questions. Items are explained in the order they appear in your financial aid offer.

Estimated Cost of Attendance

Represents the estimated total cost to attend Cornell for one academic year. The cost of attendance includes expenses that are billed, such as tuition, mandatory fees, housing, dining, and health insurance. It also includes out of pocket expenses we know students will incur, such as books and supplies, transportation and personal and miscellaneous.


These are estimated expenses that will not appear on your bill from Cornell. Your actual expenses may be higher or lower, depending on your coursework and major.


The dining budget is based on the “Unlimited” dining plan. The actual cost that will appear on your bill will depend on the actual dining choice you make. If you opt for a less expensive meal plan, you will be charged less on your bill.


Represents the student activity fee for the college or school to which you have been admitted. These are expenses that will appear on your bill from Cornell. The activity fee is billed each semester.

Health Costs

International students are required to purchase the University’s health insurance plan. Students are billed each semester for the Student Health Plan and the Health Fee.


The housing budget is based on a standard double room rate for a dormitory. The actual cost that appears on your bill will depend on the housing choice you make. If you choose a more expensive single room, or if you elect to reside in the Townhouse Community, that is an additional cost that you and your family should plan to cover.


These expenses include several costs we know students will incur even though they are not billed directly by Cornell such as: laundry expenses, entertainment, telephone costs, etc. Your actual costs may be higher or lower, depending on the choices you make.


This is a fee that is charged by the United States Department of Homeland Security to obtain your F-1 student visa. You must pay this fee at the time you apply for your student visa. We have included the SEVIS fee in your fall cost of attendance budget so that it is accounted for as part of your overall expenses.

Transition Allowance (only if included in your budget)

Understanding that some students will need additional assistance as they transition to Cornell, we have included an additional transition and winter allowance in your fall cost of attendance budget.


This budget item recognizes that students have costs associated with transportation to Ithaca, New York, for the start of the academic year in August, and back home at the conclusion of the academic year in May. Students are expected to use their own resources to purchase tickets for their round-trip airfare.

Details of the Financial Aid Award

Family Contribution

This is the amount Cornell has determined that your family can contribute towards the cost of attendance at Cornell. This typically is used for expenditures that are not directly billed to your bursar account, but depending upon the amount of your family contribution, you may have to use a portion of the family contribution to pay your bursar bill. We assume that you will use half of this amount each semester.

Estimated Financial Need

This is the amount Cornell has determined you are eligible for in financial assistance.

Financial Aid Awarded

Cornell Grants and Scholarships: Includes any Cornell University-administered grant, which do not have to be repaid. This amount may also include any other outside scholarships you have been awarded.

Employment Earnings: Students are expected to contribute to their educational costs through on-campus work. Your earnings can be used to pay for other miscellaneous expenses that are not billed to your bursar account. Please note that earnings expectation is different from the “Federal Work-Study” program that is used by some domestic students. Cornell does not place students in jobs. There are many jobs available, and you are free to apply to the positions that best suit you. Your earnings will be paid directly to you (not your Cornell bill) as a paycheck once every two weeks based on the number of hours you work and your rate of pay.

Foreign Student Loan: If you have received a foreign student loan, it will need to be paid back after you graduate from Cornell. Payment will be deferred, and no interest will accrue as long as you remain a full-time registered student, either undergraduate or pursuing an advanced degree. This loan is awarded from Cornell University, so you do not need to contact an outside lender. You will receive more information during the summer with detailed instructions on how to accept this loan.

Tax Withholding

Grants and scholarships from Cornell may have tax implications for international students. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers the amount of grants, scholarships, and allowances students receive in excess of tuition and mandatory fees, as taxable income for non-resident aliens. When this occurs, Cornell is required to withhold 14% of the amount that exceeds your tuition and mandatory fees. The withholding amount depends on your tax status and whether the United States has a tax treaty on file with your home country.

Cornell’s tax office determines an individual’s tax status. In situations where withholding is required, you will see the tax withheld appear as a charge on your electronic Cashnet statement issued by the university bursar’s office. Students are encouraged to plan for these expenses each year.

To evaluate eligibility for non-withholding, students are encouraged to complete a foreign national questionnaire with the tax office. Access to the online Questionnaire can be gained by emailing cu_fnis@cornell.edu and requesting a username and password.

If the 14% withholding charge creates a financial hardship, you may apply for an institutional loan from the financial aid office to cover the withholding by completing the Undergraduate Student Appeal Form. Include in Step 4 that you are an international student requesting a loan to cover your withholding tax.

In the spring, students can expect to receive a form 1042-S that shows the amount of grant aid in excess of tuition and mandatory fees. These are issued from Cornell University’s tax compliance office. You may be eligible receive all or part of these taxes back if a tax return is filed for the calendar year. Cornell’s Office of Global Learning, International Services has resources available to assist students with tax support.

Documentation of Financial Support for Receiving an I-20

If you are receiving full financial aid from Cornell, you do not need to submit documentation of financial support. If you have a balance of expenses to be met from your own resources and/or a family contribution, you must send us documentation of that amount by submitting the Declaration of Finances form, which you will receive in April.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I cover my summer expenses?

Financial aid awards are made for the academic year only (August through May, excluding winter and summer session). If students choose to remain in Ithaca during periods of non-enrollment, they need to plan to cover their living expenses accordingly. More information regarding employment in the United States will be available after you arrive on campus.

Is my financial aid guaranteed until I graduate?

Because all financial aid is based on need, we require that you reapply for financial aid each year. Financial need will be determined using your family’s prior tax year information, and your need will be met by a combination of grant aid, on-campus employment, and student loans, if packaged, as long as your family’s situation remains similar year to year. Your graduation date is determined upon registration with the University, taking into consideration advanced standing credits and the requirements for graduation.

As long as you have financial need, we are committed to providing you with financial aid to meet your expenses for the number of semesters required for a student to complete an undergraduate degree. Except for the five-year program in architecture, which requires ten semesters of full-time enrollment, we will provide up to eight semesters of funding. Funding for additional semesters, double majors, or dual degrees is not available.

Please note that you must maintain satisfactory academic progress to continue receiving financial aid. This involves maintaining a minimum grade point average (around a 2.0 for most colleges at Cornell) and successfully completing a certain number of credits each semester (approximately 12).

Is financial aid available if I want to take classes over the summer or winter?

Financial aid is only available during the academic year (August through May, excluding summer and winter session).

Students may choose to take classes during the summer or winter, but financial aid is not available. Students will need to make arrangements to fund summer or winter enrollment at their own expense.

Can I pay my bill in monthly installments?

The Cornell Installment Plan (CIP), also known as the Full-Service Payment Plan, administered by Cashnet, enables students and their families to make monthly installments to cover each semester’s tuition and expenses.

You must self-enroll each academic year. Enrollment must be completed electronically by visiting the Cornell Bursar's Cornell Installment Plan page.

Further Information

Remember to notify us in writing whether you will accept our offer of admission and aid by the date given in your award letter, in addition to finalizing your enrollment online. Also, please register for the PREPARE program if you plan to attend.

Should you have questions about your award or other financial concerns once you are here, please contact the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment.