Types of Aid

Financial Aid Solutions Tailored to Your Family’s Needs

We understand that everyone’s financial situation is unique and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Each applicant’s financial aid package is dependent on multiple factors, and you may receive more or less aid than shown in the examples. All families are encouraged to start by using the Financial Aid Calculator, an online tool that will provide you with estimated eligibility for financial aid from Cornell.

Definitions and Types of Financial Aid

  • Cornell Grants: Gift aid provided by Cornell that does not need to be repaid. The amount is based on family financial need, with no minimum or maximum amount of gift aid that can be awarded.
  • Work-Study: Students who receive financial aid may also be eligible for Federal Work-Study. Students are eligible for part-time employment (typically 9-12 hours per week) to earn money to be applied to your educational expenses.
  • Loans: Aid that must be repaid with interest after you leave school (having graduated or dropped below half-time).
  • Total Annual Cost for Family: After factoring in Cornell grants, loans and work-study, the remaining portions the total annual cost for each family. This is a combination of the parent contribution and student contribution.
    • Student Contribution: Students are asked to contribute to the cost of their education through summer employment and a portion of the student’s savings or trust. This amount is based on the student’s year in college and will increase every year.
    • Parent Contribution: Income, assets, family size and the number of undergraduate children enrolled full time in college are all considered when calculating the amount your family can contribute. Cornell reviews financial information from both parents, regardless of marital status.  This cost can be covered by parent assets, federal loans, private loans or other types of assistance. Families with a total family income of less than $60,000, and total assets of less than $100,000 (including primary home equity), will have no parent contribution and no loans.
  • Outside Scholarships: Some outside private and non-profit organizations award aid based on specific criteria, such as academics, special talents, traits or interests. Outside aids will reduce the starting loan and work component of a student's financial aid package. 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. Outside aid will not reduce the parent contribution.

Please note: Cornell does not offer aid based on special talents, interests or athletic ability. All Cornell grants are awarded based on a family financial need.

Information on Federal Aid Disbursement 

The various forms of aid (grants, scholarships, and loans) administered by the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment are applied directly to your student account as an anticipated credit to pay billed expenses (ie. tuition, fees, room and board). There are institutional and federal guidelines for checking eligibility prior to disbursement. When students are registered and meet eligibility requirements for disbursement, our aid is disbursed as follows:

Aid Disbursed by the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment

  • Grants: Generally grants will disburse in August for the Fall bill and in December for the Spring bill.  After the initial disbursement, aid for both terms is then disbursed daily, as additional students meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Loans: Once the promissory note and other loan requirements are met, loans will be disbursed in equal installments for the Fall and Spring.

Aid Disbursed by Outside Agencies

The grants, scholarships and loan funding students receive from outside agencies (state, local, private) are disbursed to the student account as they are received from the outside agency.