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Financial Aid Basics
Types of Aid
Applying for Aid
Receiving Aid
Frequently Asked Questions about Financial Aid
Summer Financial Aid
Forms and Publications
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Helpful Links and Resources
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Undergraduate Aid
(413) 545-0801
Graduate Aid
(413) 545-0801

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about financial aid. We've added the following categories to help you with your search. If you need additional information, please call our office at (413) 545-0801.

General Information
Applying for Aid
After Applying
Changes in Aid
Disbursement of Funds
Summer Financial Aid
Continuing and Professional Education
International Students
Scholarships, Grants, and Loans

General Information

How many students at UMass Amherst receive financial aid?
Last year Financial Aid Services assisted 20,000 students in receiving a total of more than $198 million in financial aid from federal, state, corporate, and institutional sources.

Am I allowed to receive financial aid from more than one institution at the same time?
No. If you are enrolled at more than one college or university at the same time, you may receive financial aid from one of the institutions, not both.

Is my financial aid considered taxable income?
The funds that you receive from scholarships, benefits, fellowships, and grants that, combined, exceed the cost of tuition, fees, books, and required equipment and supplies, are considered taxable income. This includes Federal Pell Grants but not federal loans.

For example, any amount that you use to pay for room and board or any stipends for living expenses are taxable. You are responsible for your own record-keeping, so that you can complete your tax forms properly. You may want to keep a receipt file of educational purchases.

For more detailed information, consult the IRS, your income tax form instruction booklet, or your personal tax adviser. Visit the FinAid! Web site for more on financial aid and taxes.

I have stopped attending classes and the term is not over. What do I need to do?
You need to notify the campus that you are no longer attending classes by completing a Withdrawal Form. You may obtain a Withdrawal Form at the Dean of Students Office or from your academic dean. Visit the Bursar's Office website for information regarding the impact of
withdrawing on your student charges. If you live in a residence hall, you must contact your residence director to properly check out of your room to avoid additional charges.

Federal regulations require Financial Aid Services to apply a formula established by the U.S. Department of Education to determine the amount of federal financial aid a student has earned as of the date in which the student's withdrawal is processed by the Registrar's Office. The amount of federal financial aid returned to federal aid programs is determined by the amount of time the student spent in academic attendance, but has no relationship to the institutional charges incurred by the student. After 60% of the semester has passed, the student has earned 100% of the federal financial aid awarded to them. For students receiving state financial aid, a state refund calculation will be completed. The state refund calculation takes into consideration the amount the student owes and the amount of federal aid the student may remain eligible for.

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Applying for Aid

How do I apply for financial aid?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) serves as the single application for financial aid at UMass Amherst. Students who complete the application are considered for federal, state, and university student financial aid programs.

More on applying

Which FAFSA form should I use - the online application or the paper application?
Financial Aid Services at UMass Amherst recommends that students use the online FAFSA form. Both you and your parents will need a PIN to complete the online application. The PIN is available at the Federal Student Aid Pin Web site. If you need to apply using the paper form, it is available in the Financial Aid Services office at 255 Whitmore Administration Building.

What is the Federal School Code for UMass Amherst?
Our Federal School Code is 002221.

Is there a deadline to apply for financial aid at UMass Amherst?
Yes, you should apply for financial aid by February 14 to ensure that your application arrives at the central processor by our March 1 priority deadline.

More on deadlines

How often do I have to apply for financial aid?
You should complete the FAFSA form each year. If you are a returning student, you may be eligible to file the Renewal FAFSA. This will already include most of your information, so you will only need to add new or updated information.

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After Applying

When can I expect to hear about my aid package?

New Students: New students receive aid decisions beginning April 1 and ongoing. If your file is complete, you will receive your award notification by email prior to the Candidate's Reply Date of May 1 for freshmen and June 1 for transfer students. This is the date by which accepted students must notify UMass Amherst of their intent to enroll.
Returning Students: Returning students receive aid decisions beginning in the middle of June and ongoing. After spring-term grades are posted in early June, Financial Aid Services must check each student's file for
More on appeals

How do I appeal my residency status?
You may appeal your residency status for the purposes of tuition classification by submitting a Residency Appeal Form. Before submitting this form, you should first read the accompanying documentation Tuition Classification: Rules and Regulations Governing the Residency Status of Students for Tuition Purposes and Summary of Residency/Tuition Reclassification information. Refer to the section on Residency Reclassification to download these documents.

What does it mean to be selected for verification?
The U.S. Department of Education or Financial Aid Services may ask you to confirm certain information you reported on your FAFSA. Being selected for this verification process does not necessarily mean that you have made a mistake or provided erroneous information. If you are selected for verification you will be required to supply additional information.

If you are an entering freshman or transfer applicant and meet the March 1 FAFSA deadline you will receive your financial aid award before the Candidates' Reply Date (May 1 for freshman, June 1 for transfers). Entering freshman or transfer students selected for verification will receive a tentative financial aid offer. Once Financial Aid Services receives all documentation it needs to complete the verification, the documentation will be reviewed and your tentative award will either be finalized or adjusted.

More on verification

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Changes in Aid

What happens if I change my credit load?
If you are a part-time students, and you change the number of credits you are taking, we will recalculate your Cost of Attendance. If you are a full-time student and you reduce your credits to less than full time, your financial aid may be adjusted as well.

What if my graduation date changes?
You must notify the financial aid office of any changes to your graduation date. If you are graduating in December we will adjust your financial aid award for the fall semester enrollment. If you are extending your graduation date we will repackage your financial aid award for a full academic year. Remembers that you must take six or more credits in a term in order to qualify for most types of aid.

What will happen to my financial aid awards if I move to off-campus housing?
Moving from on-campus housing to off-campus housing generally does not affect your financial aid awards, as living expenses are included in your financial aid budget. It will, however, affect the cost of your housing. Visit the Off-Campus Housing Web site for assistance in navigating your options.

Can I get financial aid to purchase a computer?
Yes. You can complete a financial aid appeal form detailing the cost of your computer expense and providing documentation regarding the cost. In most cases, you will be eligible for additional student loans to assist you with this purchase.

I am a student-parent. Can I get help for my childcare expenses?
Yes! Childcare assistance is available to undergraduate students through the Office of Family Resources. There are a limited number of subsidized slots at the University Childcare program. In addition, the state offers some childcare assistance to low-income families, and some towns also have assistance programs. Contact the Office of Family Resources at (413) 545-0865 or email for more information.

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When can I get my loan funds?
Loans are disbursed by term. Once you have resolved all eligibility issues (including verification and satisfactory academic progress) your financial aid for the upcoming term will be disbursed ten days prior to the start of classes. Final adjustments due to changes in your credit load will occur approximately six weeks after the start of the term. Your financial aid will be credited to your UMass Amherst tuition and fees, room and board (if living on campus), and miscellaneous fees.

More on disbursement

What about excess funds?
If the amount of financial aid and other credits on your bill exceed tuition, fees, and other charges, you may receive a refund. You may use your refund for off-campus living expenses, indirect expenses, or any other education expenses for the term. You need to arrange for direct deposit into your bank account through Excess Express. No excess funds will be released before the first day of classes.

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Summer Financial Aid

Who can apply for and receive summer financial aid?
Active UMass Amherst students who are currently enrolled in a degree-granting program and making Satisfactory Academic Progress are eligible for financial aid for the summer term. Visit the Summer Financial Aid section for complete information on applying and receiving summer aid.

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Continuing and Professional Education

Who can take UMass Amherst Continuing and Professional Education courses?
CPE courses are ideal for working professionals, stay at home parents, human resources mangers looking for new opportunities for employees and/or UMass Amherst alumni. Anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED) may register as an undergraduate and may enroll in courses before being formally admitted to a degree program. However, if you are not formally admitted to a degree program, there may be restrictions on financial aid eligibility. Some courses may also require prerequisite college-level work. Finally, you must possess a bachelor's degree to be admitted to a graduate degree program.

Do I have to pay for my courses when I register?
No, students are no longer required to pay for classes at the time of registration. You will be billed through the Bursar's Office via email. If you have an official financial aid award letter you may defer grants and federal loans applicable to the term in question.

How much do CPE classes cost?
Fees for each course are listed with the course description, and may vary by program. Residency (in-state or out-of-state) does not affect the fee structure for students enrolled in Continuing & Professional Education courses.

How do I apply for financial aid for Continuing and Professional Education?
Students in Continuing and Professional Education must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered for federal, state, or university resources.

Visit the Continuing and Professional Education section for complete information on applying for aid.

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Are there services for veterans on campus? Where can I get information on the GI bill?
The Veterans Services Office is located in the Dean of Students Office. The staff is prepared to assist you with all matters concerning GI benefits. Visit the Veterans Services Office Web site for more information.

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International Students

Is financial aid available to international students?
Financial aid is available to eligible non-citizens. Generally you are an eligible non-citizen if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • U.S. permanent resident with an Alien Registration card (I-551)
  • Conditional permanent resident (I-551C)
  • Other eligible non-citizen with an Arrival - Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: "Refugee," "Asylum Granted," "Parole" (I-94 confirms paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired), or "Cuban - Haitian Entrant."

If you are in the U.S. on an F1 or F2 student visa, a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa, or a G series visa you are not eligible for federal student aid. If you are an international student who does not meet these eligibility requirements, there are a number of Web sites that you can search for scholarship opportunities.

Please contact the International Programs Office for more details.

What other sources of aid are there for international students?
Financial aid is very limited for international students studying at colleges and universities in the United States. However,, a Web site for international students created by provides extensive information that will help students understand what aid may be available. Start with their section on financial aid.

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Scholarships, Grants and Loans

If all I want is a student loan, do I still have to apply for financial aid?
Yes. In order to be considered for a William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loan, you must complete a FAFSA form. Certain alternative loans do not require a FAFSA form, but Financial Aid Services recommends that you apply for financial aid so that we may consider you for all sources of assistance.

What is the difference between merit-based and need-based aid?
Merit-based aid is awarded based on academic criteria, such as test scores, grades and activities. Your financial need does not factor into the decision. In most cases, merit-based awards are scholarships. Need-based aid - which is far more common - is determined based on your financial need, and consists of scholarships, grants, loans, and federal work-study. Visit Determining Need for more information on how we calculate your financial need.

I'd like to see what scholarship opportunities are available. Where do I go? Who can I speak to?
You can start at Scholarships, which provides links to various scholarship resources. If you are on the UMass Amherst campus, you can also see lists of scholarships on the bulletin boards outside of 243 Whitmore.

What happens if I get scholarships from private sources?
If you receive educational financial awards - including scholarships, grants, waivers, or educational loans - through sources other than the Financial Aid Office, you must report them. If you are granted one or more additional awards, Financial Aid Services may be required to adjust your need-based aid. In most cases the additional aid will be applied towards your remaining need before your loans, work-study, grant, or scholarship aid will be reduced.

You can report outside financial aid awards on the award summary page in SPIRE Student Self Service.

Are there scholarships for transfer students?
Most scholarships are not specific to transfer students, although transfer students are eligible for many. There are, however, a few programs created for students transferring to UMass Amherst from a Massachusetts community college. These include the Community College Scholars Program and the Tuition Advantage Program. Go to Scholarships for details on the Community College Scholars Program and Tuition Waivers for more on the Tuition Advantage Program.

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