Life At RIT
College is a big investment; not just for the student but often for the entire family. RIT recognizes a student's need for financial assistance, and the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships assists students and families in identifying sources of financial aid to help meet the cost of a quality education. While the primary responsibility for educational expenses rests with the student and the student's family, RIT offers a comprehensive financial aid program consisting of merit-based scholarships and a full range of need-based grants, loans, and campus employment programs.
As you may have read about in FERPA and Parent Access, financial aid information is protected by federal law and is considered part of a student's private records. Your student may have already granted you access to financial aid information. One important thing that you can do is have conversations with your students about financial aid. It is very valuable for students to recognize the cost of attending RIT and how this cost is being covered. An understanding of the financial commitment involved, as well as expectations about their and your financial contributions, will help students see the value of their education.
Each student has a financial aid counselor. The counseling staff is divided into sections based on the student's college. There is also a counselor solely dedicated to NTID and cross-registered NTID/RIT students. Counselors are available to assist your student, and you, in understanding more about financial aid packages.
Here are some of parents' most frequently asked questions to get you started:
Eligibility for Aid
Eligibility for aid is based on the difference between the estimated cost of attendance and the amount of money that families can reasonably be expected to contribute towards these costs. Even if you don't think your student will be eligible, you should still apply. At the very least, students who are either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident may be able to borrow a low-interest Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan.
Applying for Aid
The process for applying for aid varies slightly depending on if your student is an incoming RIT or NTID student or a current student. You can find the step-by-step process for both on this page.
To begin the application process, you will need to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Application priority dates are listed on the Financial Aid website. In general, applications are due in March or April depending on if your student is an incoming or current student (check the link for exact dates). Award letters for incoming students are mailed out on a rolling-basis beginning in mid-March; awards letters for returning students are mailed out on a rolling-basis following spring semester (beginning mid-June).
Grants vs. Loans
Grants and scholarships are considered "gift aid." Gift aid is "free" money that does not have to be repaid. Loans are considered "self-help.” Loans have to be repaid by the borrower. There are loan programs for students and loans where the parent can be the borrower.
Federal PLUS Loans are provided by the federal government to help parents of dependent undergraduate students finance their education. Parents may borrow up to the full annual cost of education less any other financial aid for each dependent undergraduate student.
Federal Work-Study Program
Students who complete the FAFSA may be awarded Federal Work-Study (FWS). Students can secure a part-time job on campus through the Student Employment Office. Students who participate in the Federal Work-Study Program are paid directly through a bi-weekly payroll check. Earnings vary depending on the number of hours worked and the rate of pay. Work-Study earnings are taxable and should be reported on income tax forms just like any other type of income. However, FWS earnings will not negatively impact a student's eligibility for federal student aid in the subsequent year. Students are asked to report earnings from Federal Work-Study on the FAFSA. The reported FWS earnings will automatically be excluded from the student's adjusted gross income when calculating the expected family contribution.
Re-applying for Aid
Students must reapply for need-based financial aid each year. Students receiving merit-based scholarships do not need to re-apply; these will be automatically renewed at the same level, as long as the renewal requirements are met.
In most cases, the financial aid award will stay the same; every effort will be made to continue a similar level of institutional gift aid each year. Assuming a student remains in good academic standing, files the application forms by the recommended deadline, and demonstrates a similar level of need, the student can expect approximately the same level of institutional gift aid each year.
Changes in Financial Situation
Students may submit a letter to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships describing changes in financial situation. The new information will be reviewed and financial aid eligibility recalculated. With this information, please also provide documentation of the change (e.g. termination letter, copies of medical bills) as well as specific dollar amounts (e.g. amount paid out in medical/dental expenses, projected amount of decrease in annual income). A change in a family's financial situation can be reviewed at any time during the academic year. Please note that the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships must receive this information in writing in order to properly document a change in student's financial aid situation.
Financial Aid during Co-op
RIT does not charge tuition for enrollment in cooperative education. With the exception of the federal Pell Grant, most forms of financial aid are not awarded for semesters of co-op employment. Financial aid includes federal and private alternative loans as well as grants and scholarships. If students have concerns pertaining to their living expenses during their co-op term, they should contact their financial aid counselor to discuss some various strategies as to how to cover these costs.
Co-op earnings will not negatively impact a student's eligibility for federal student aid in the subsequent year. Students are asked to report earnings from a co-op on the FAFSA. The reported co-op earnings will automatically be excluded from the student's adjusted gross income when calculating the expected family contribution.