Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a Boston University Merit Award?

Most BU merit awards don’t require any special application—recipients are selected by the Board of Admissions based on high school credentials. However, you may need to apply for admission by an earlier date to be considered for certain merit awards. Some awards require a separate application or other action. For example, for Dean’s Scholarship consideration you must file both the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and College Board CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. For more information, as well as further explanation of individual awards, see the complete list of BU merit awards.

How do I get Boston University need-based aid?

To be considered for BU need-based financial aid, you must file both the College Board CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). We strongly encourage you to review the application instructions and deadline information carefully. And be sure to check your BU web account frequently for the status of your application and requests for additional information. If you have questions, email BU Financial Assistance or call 617-353-2965.

What factors are considered when I apply for need-based aid?

If you are an incoming student, your application for a need-based BU grant award will be considered based on several factors. These include calculated financial eligibility, academic achievement, and the availability of funds for your program of study.

If you are a returning student who previously received a grant award, your award will be renewed at a similar level, provided you meet all eligibility criteria and your financial eligibility continues at a similar level.

If you are a returning student who has not previously received a grant award, you will be considered on a funds-available basis, provided you meet all eligibility requirements, including a 2.50 grade point average for the prior academic year.

What is an Expected Family Contribution?

An Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated from financial information reported on the CSS PROFILE and FAFSA. The expected contribution is not a judgment about how much a family should be able to pay from current income—it’s an estimate of their capacity to absorb the costs of education over time. Many families raise the funds through a combination of savings, current earnings, and borrowing. Learn more.

My parents are not together and do not share the same household. How do I report information on my financial aid application?

When you complete the FAFSA and the CSS PROFILE to apply for financial aid, report information about yourself and your “custodial parent,” the parent you’ve lived with most during the past 12 months. If your biological/adoptive parents are divorced, separated, or were never married to each other, CSS will send you an email after receiving your PROFILE submission. You’ll be instructed to forward this email, which includes a link to the Noncustodial PROFILE, to your noncustodial parent. Learn more.

How is my eligibility determined if I have a unique family situation or special circumstances?

We encourage you to bring any special circumstances to our attention. Contact us by email, letter, or fax. Learn more about our appeal process and how we consider a variety of special family situations.

Should I wait until I receive a decision from BU Admissions before applying for financial aid?

No. If you delay submitting your application for any reason, it could be too late to get full consideration for financial aid. Submit your financial aid application well before our incoming student deadline. Don’t wait until after you’ve filed your taxes; the financial aid application lets you estimate your income before filing.

I’m applying as an Early Decision candidate. Is the financial aid process the same as for regular admissions?

The CSS PROFILE deadline for Early Decision (November 1) and Early Decision 2 (January 4) is earlier. But remember, in addition to the PROFILE you are still required to file the FAFSA. Review the filing instructions carefully. As an Early Decision/Early Decision 2 candidate, you agree to apply only to Boston University and forfeit any opportunity to compare your BU financial aid decision with potential offers from other universities. Apply only if you’re comfortable with these restrictions.

If I get private, non-BU scholarships, will they affect my financial aid awards?

Federal regulations require a reduction in aid when total aid from all sources exceeds calculated financial eligibility. Our policy is to help you receive the maximum financial advantage: we will not reduce your BU need-based aid when you receive private scholarships unless required to by this federal law. If a reduction is required, any self-help assistance (subsidized loans and/or Federal Work-Study) will be reduced before your grant assistance.

If you are receiving only merit-based aid from BU, your grant will be reduced only when aid from all sources exceeds the cost of attending Boston University.

Why wasn’t I awarded Federal Work-Study?

Federal Work-Study (FWS) funds are limited. There are several possible reasons why FWS may not have been included in your award package:

  • Your calculated financial eligibility is lower than that of other recipients.
  • All available FWS funds were awarded to students who completed their applications earlier.
  • When you completed your FAFSA, you did not enter an appropriate code on the Work-Study question to indicate that you wanted to be considered for Work-Study.

The BU Student Employment Office maintains an extensive listing of non-Work-Study jobs, so work opportunities are readily available to all BU students.

What if I don’t qualify for or don’t receive enough aid from BU or government-sponsored loans to attend?

BU Financial Assistance will help in every way possible, but only you and your family can decide if it is financially feasible for you to enroll. We encourage you to apply for private scholarships through your high school and to use scholarship search services. Credit-based loan programs and a monthly payment plan are also available. We urge you and your parents to research these options carefully, compare programs and features, and borrow responsibly.

What is the cost of attendance for the current academic year?

The Cost of Education page provides a breakdown of estimated expenses for the current academic year for both resident and commuting students.

Will my financial aid be renewed?

Boston University is committed to renewing aid award offers comparable to what you are currently receiving, provided you maintain your enrollment status, meet eligibility criteria, complete all application procedures by the financial aid renewal deadline, and continue to demonstrate comparable financial eligibility.

How will participating in a Study Abroad program affect my financial aid package?

If you enroll in a BU Study Abroad program, your aid award will be adjusted as follows:

  • If you are awarded a Charles River Housing Grant, which requires that you live in a residence hall on the Charles River Campus, it will be canceled for the semester you are abroad.
  • If you have Federal Work-Study, it will be adjusted based on the amount you earned or will earn during the semester that you are in Boston.
  • If your Study Abroad charges are less than charges for study at the Charles River Campus, your loans may be adjusted or your need-based scholarship and/or grant may be reduced.
  • If you have a tuition-based merit award, it will be adjusted to cover the same percentage of the tuition portion of your program fee as it would otherwise cover of your Charles River Campus tuition.

If you attend a non-BU program, you may not receive a Boston University scholarship or grant. To pay for a non-BU program, you can use any federal and state financial aid for which you qualify, provided a Consortium Agreement has been completed and approved. You can also use credit-based loans.

Learn more about Study Abroad and your financial aid.

What financial aid opportunities are available to international students?

Unfortunately, need-based financial aid is not available to international students, as consideration is limited to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and eligible non-citizens. On the basis of merit, international students are considered for the Trustee Scholarship and Presidential Scholarship. Learn more.

What happens if I reduce my enrollment to part time?

If you register for fewer than 12 credits in a semester, or withdraw from one or more courses leaving fewer than 12 credits, your eligibility will usually decrease and therefore your aid will be reduced. Your aid for the following year may also be affected, since you are required to successfully complete 12 credits each semester to be eligible for renewal of aid. Before withdrawing from a course, you should discuss any reduction in your enrolled credits with BU Financial Assistance. For more information, see Satisfactory Academic Progress.

What if I withdraw or take a leave of absence from my undergraduate program?

A tuition refund or adjustment of financial aid may be required. These are governed by federal regulations and University procedures.

You must submit notification of a withdrawal or leave of absence in writing to the University Service Center. Your withdrawal or leave is effective on the date the University is notified. Requests for refunds must be made in writing to Student Accounting Services.

Where can I find out how much I have to repay on my student loans?

The best source of information is the National Student Loan Data System website (NSLDS). It provides a listing of the federal loans you’ve received for each academic period, interest rates on each loan, the cumulative amount of your Federal Perkins Loans, and where you should send payments. You’ll need your federal FSA ID (the FSA PIN replacement, effective 5/10/2015) to access NSLDS. If you have not set up your FSA user name and password, click on the link on the NSLDS home page to create your FSA ID.


When do I have to begin repaying my loans?

After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have one six-month period before you must begin repaying your loans. This is called the “grace period.” Your repayment period begins the day after your grace period ends. Your loan servicer will notify you of the date your payment is due and send a billing notice to the address on file. However, you must make payments even if you do not receive a bill or repayment notice.

Whom do I contact with questions or problems?

Your loan servicer can help with questions about your loan, as well as address or name changes, estimated repayment information, repayment plan changes, deferment, and forbearance. For your loan servicer’s contact information, see the National Student Loan Data System website.

What are the different Federal Stafford Loan repayment plans?

There are four to choose from, offering different monthly payments and repayment periods. See them at Federal Stafford Loan Repayment Plans.

What if I have problems repaying my federal loans?

If you think you might have a problem making a scheduled repayment, contact your loan servicer immediately. They’ll work with you to help you avoid the costs and consequences of delinquency or default.

There are several options available to help you avoid default, including changing repayment plans, deferment, or forbearance. You may be eligible for a deferment if you are:

  • Pursuing at least half-time study at an eligible school
  • In a graduate fellowship program approved by the U.S. Department of Education
  • In a rehabilitation training program for individuals with disabilities, approved by the U.S. Department of Education
  • Conscientiously seeking but unable to find full-time employment (for up to three years)
  • Experiencing economic hardship (for up to three years)

Get more information on deferment and forbearance from your loan servicer.

Can I consolidate my student loans to make repayment easier?

Yes. You may want to consider a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan to simplify repayment and decrease the amount of your monthly payments. Consolidation lets you make only one monthly payment to cover all your federal loans. However, if you extend the repayment period when consolidating your loans, you’ll pay more interest and your total repayment amount will increase. We urge you to consider your options carefully.

The loan servicer can’t resolve my problem. What do I do now?

The Federal Student Aid Ombudsman resolves disputes about borrower complaints from an impartial, independent viewpoint by serving as an informal fact-finder. Ombudsmen can recommend solutions but do not have the authority to reverse decisions. They also work to bring about changes that will help prevent problems for other student loan borrowers. For more information, visit the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman website or contact:
U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman
830 First Street NE, Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20202-5144

Can I get help paying back my loans?

Yes, help is available from a variety of sources. Although you alone are responsible for making sure your loans are repaid, you may qualify for repayment assistance from other federal agencies, a state or local agency, your employer, private organizations, or the military. Many state and local education agencies provide assistance if you are employed in certain fields within their jurisdiction—teaching, medicine, and social services, for example.