Q. How do I appeal my financial aid award?

A. Only a few departments have funding to offer grant or stipends to graduate students. The Office of Financial Aid offers no aid besides loan borrowing and cannot adjust your current financial aid award. If you wish to appeal your departmental funding or have special financial circumstances, we suggest contacting your program directly.

Q. Can I appeal for additional loans?

A. If you require additional loan funding but currently do not have any remaining loan eligibility, you may submit a Loan Eligibility Appeal to our office. This process is used to determine if your actual educational expenses, outside of Tuition and Fees exceed your estimated budget allowances. Documentation (i.e. copies of rent/lease agreements, utility bills, computer purchase receipt, etc.) will be required to be submitted with the Loan Eligibility Appeal for review.

Q. How do I start the Loan Eligibility Appeal process?

A. You can request a Loan Eligibility Appeal by simply stopping by our office or email your request at [email protected].



Paying for Books and Travel Expenses 

Q. How do I pay for my books, travel to/from campus, and personal expenses?

A. Your Cost of Attendance budget includes allowances for your books, travel and/or personal expenses depending on your program. These allowances are estimates. A student’s actual expenses may be higher or lower than what is covered by your overall funding. Students are not required to submit receipts or any documentation to the Office of Financial Aid to substantiate their actual expenses. However, if a student would like to explore the option of borrowing additional loan funds to cover expenses that exceed the standard allowance, documentation must be provided. This can be done through our Loan Eligibility Appeal mentioned above. A financial aid counselor can discuss this option and provide information regarding the feasibility of borrowing loan funds to cover expenses in excess of the standard allowance for books, travel and personal expenses.

Students who have applied for financial aid, whose loans and/or program funds exceed the amount billed, may receive a refund to assist with these expenses. Refunds will not be available until late September. Most students will be responsible for paying these expenses out-of-pocket, as part of the expected family contribution (EFC) toward total educational expenses. Students should plan to arrive on-campus with enough funding to purchase first-semester books and any necessary personal items and supplies. Below are a few suggestions that may help you meet these expenses.

◦Pre-College Savings: Use any educational savings for college expenses for your initial indirect costs.

◦Bookstore Account: Your Brown ID Card can be used as a charge account at the Brown University Bookstore. This will allow you to purchase your books upon arrival. However, if you do not pay off this account within 30 days, you will incur finance charges. This option works best for students who are expecting a refund after their financial aid is applied to their account.

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Outside Scholarships

Receiving outside scholarships and tuition benefits is an excellent way to help reduce your need to work and/or borrow student loans while at Brown. Keep in mind that federal regulations stipulate that an outside scholarship cannot be used to reduce your family's expected contribution. When you receive an outside scholarship, our office is required to reevaluate your financial aid package and account for the additional resource. This could result in a reduction of federal or private loan funding depending on the amount of outside funding received.

Q. How do I notify the Office of Financial Aid of my outside scholarships?

A. It is the student's responsibility to notify the Office of Financial Aid in writing of the receipt of any outside awards throughout the academic year.  This can be accomplished by simply emailing our office directly at [email protected]. Be sure to list the source of the award, the amount you have been awarded, the terms of the award and whether it is renewable.

Q. Will outside scholarships reduce my program support?

A. To determine if outside scholarships will affect your financial aid package awarded by your department you must contact your department directly.

Q. Will outside scholarships reduce my loan(s)?

A. If after any outside funding is received by Brown your total combined financial aid award is higher than your Cost of Attendance budget, then we are required to reduce your loan(s).  This would affect both federal and private educational loans.

Q. Is there any way to avoid a decrease in my loan(s)?

A. If you receive an outside scholarship that causes your total financial aid package to exceed your Cost of Attendance Budget, you may wish to consider one of the following two options. (1) You may submit a Loan Eligibility Appeal with supporting documentation to request a re-evaluation of your Cost of Attendance Budget. (2) You may consider using a portion of your outside scholarships as an allowance towards funding a one-time purchase of a computer. Outside Scholarship funds may be used to be applied towards reasonable expenses associated with the purchase of a computer. The computer and related accessories must be considered educationally relevant and reasonable in cost in order to be covered. For example, digital camera, gaming software, etc. would not be covered. A printer, carrying case and service protection plan are examples of allowable expenses. Any questions regarding what would be considered a reasonable expense for a computer and/or add-ons should be directed to a Financial Aid Counselor prior to purchase. For more information on using your scholarship to fund the purchase of a new computer, please read the answers to the next few questions.

Q. A one-time Computer Purchase is another way to maximize the benefit of Outside Scholarships. What do I have to do to take advantage of this opportunity?

A. If the amount of the outside scholarship/ tuition benefits you received results in the reduction of desired loan, then Brown allows you to benefit from the Outside Scholarship through a "one-time" computer purchase

Q. Does the one-time computer purchase adjustment change my Expected Family Contribution?

A. NO. This adjustment does not affect the Expected Family's Contribution for the academic year. The student must still contribute the same amount of money to total education costs, regardless of the outside scholarship. When used for the purchase of a computer, the outside scholarship does not reduce the student contribution determined by FAFSA nor does it affect the total charges billed to the student account.

Q. What happens if I receive half of my scholarship in the fall and half in the spring?

A. If the scholarship comes in two separate checks - one for fall, one for spring - the student will not have access to the second half of the scholarship funding until the funds are actually sent to Brown. No advances will be given on scholarship funding. Therefore, students who want to purchase a computer first semester may need to charge the computer or wait until they receive the additional funds second semester before purchasing the computer. (This may also happen to a student whose scholarship arrives late in the fall semester or is applied entirely in the spring semester.) The result may be that the student pays more of its contribution in the fall semester than in the spring. Contact the outside scholarship agency to find out when the funds will be sent to Brown. If you have questions about the process, please contact our office.

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Tuition Benefits 

Q. How will employer/outside Tuition Benefits affect my financial aid award?

A. Tuition Benefits are treated as an outside resource and will goes towards any unmet need in your financial aid package. If after any tuition benefits are received by Brown your total combined financial aid award is higher than your Cost of Attendance budget, then we are required to reduce your loan(s) if part of your financial aid package.  This would affect both federal and private educational loans.




Q. How does the student account refund process work?

A. If the credits on your student account exceed your direct charges, and a credit balance exists in your student account it is possible that you are eligible for a refund. The Bursar's Office processes all refunds. Please visit the student account refund section of the Bursar's Office website for details.



How much have I borrowed? 

Q. How can I find out how much I have borrowed since enrolling at Brown?

A. For information on Stafford, Perkins, and University Loan totals for the current academic year, please view your financial aid award on-line. To determine borrowing for prior years and other loan programs, please read the information below.

  • Perkins and Federal Direct Loan visit the National Student Loan Database Service (NSLDS) website and click on "Financial Aid Review." If you are unable to access the information on-line, you may contact the Loan Office for your borrowing history.
  • Private Loan Contact the private lender from which you borrowed the loan.
  • Program Loan Contact your program director directly if program-based loan is offered.

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Undocumented Students 

Q. Can undocumented and DACA students apply for financial aid?

A. If you are a graduate student applying as undocumented or DACA, then you may still be eligible for consideration of any program funding if available. However, this should be confirmed with the department whom you should contact directly. 

Unfortunately, you would not be eligible for any federal financial aid. If you become a US citizen or permanent resident while at Brown, you will be able to apply for and, if eligible, receive federal financial aid. While you can still apply for private educational loans, you would still need a co-signer who is a U.S. Citizen/Permanent Resident with favorable credit history in order to be eligible.



Deferred Students 

Q. Will deferring my acceptance to the University affect my financial aid package?

A. Potentially. For any federal financial aid funding, you may simply need to fill out the next available FAFSA. However, you should contact your program directly if they have offered you any funding and their policies towards aid in regards to deferring your acceptance.



Leave of Absence 

Q. What should I do if I’m considering taking a leave of absence?

A. First, you should review the Leavetaking Considerations checklist and meet with any offices that may assist you as you weigh your decision. Then, meet with your program director and a dean at the Graduate School to discuss your possible plans during your leave.

Please reference the Leaves of Absence page on the Graduate School website for more details.

Q. How does taking a leave of absence affect my current financial aid?

A. If you currently receive financial aid, your aid award will be reevaluated as a result of your leave.  If the date of your leave precedes the start of classes, your federal financial aid will simply be cancelled.  If the date of your leave is after the start of classes, your financial aid award will be adjusted according to federal regulations and institutional policies. 

In general, the level of federal financial aid you are eligible to keep is proportionate to the amount of time you attended Brown during your semester of leave.  However, if you took a leave after the 60% point in the semester, you will retain all of your federal financial aid. 

Your Brown institutional financial aid will also be subject to adjustment. To determine how your leave will affect any intuitional financial aid, please contact your program’s department directly.  The decision to take a leave of absence will not solely affect an aided student’s eligibility for federal financial aid upon his or her approved return to Brown as an active student.  However, students must adhere to any published deadlines in applying for financial aid through their program before returning to Brown.

Please reference the Refund and Withdrawal Policy for Graduate Students on the Graduate School website for more details.

To determine how Brown’s charges may be amended according to the date of your leave, please refer to the Refund Policy published by the Bursar’s Office. 

Q. What should I do when my leave of absence has been approved?

A. First, consult the Checklist for Leavetaking for a list of items to do at Brown to facilitate your leave.  Once the Graduate School approves your leave, the Registrar's Office will be notified of the effective date of your leave.  Then, your enrollment status will be changes from active in inactive.  The Office of Financial Aid will then receive official notification of your leave.  In the meantime, feel free to communicate your leave approval to our office.  Shortly after notification, we will adjust your federal financial aid funding according to federal regulations and institutional policies, described above.

Q. What do I need to do in order to receive financial aid upon my return to Brown?

A. First, follow the steps outlined in the Checklist for Returning to Brown from a Leave to learn what you need to do to be approved for readmission.  To request readmission approval, you must first contact the appropriate dean by published deadlines.

If you owe a balance on your student account, payment is necessary before your readmission can be granted.  Late fees will accrue on any unpaid balances. 

If you have had University and/or Perkins Loans in the past, each must be in good standing in order for you to be readmitted.  If you have had a Federal Direct and/or PLUS Loan in the past, each must be in good standing so that you may receive federal student aid upon your return to Brown.  If your Federal Direct and/or PLUS Loans are not in good standing, then the Office of Financial Aid will not replace your loss in federal student aid with any funding.  Please contact your program regarding the process of re-applying for any institutional financial aid.

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