Frequently Asked Questions

  • What types of aid does RISD offer?
    The Financial Aid Office helps families in need of financial assistance to find the necessary combination of aid. Approximately 40% of the student body who demonstrate artistic and academic excellence and financial need receive RISD scholarships. An award of financial aid may include several different types of aid: RISD scholarships and grants, Federal and/or State grants, loans, work study and also outside scholarships. For more information on these various types of aid, visit Types of Aid
  • What are the deadlines to apply?
    The Financial Aid deadlines and notification dates vary, depending on whether you are applying for a spot as an undergraduate or graduate student, or if you are a returning or transfer student. For specific deadlines, see the chart at Apply for Aid
  • How do I apply?

    To apply for Financial Aid, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and specify RISD’s school code: 003409.

    If you are applying as a first-year or transfer student (undergraduate) and want to apply for institutional financial aid, you also need to file the CSS Profile Application, specifying RISD’s school code: 3726.

    For more information, see Apply for Aid  

  • What are the costs of an education at RISD?

    The cost of education is made up of direct costs (tuition, fees and housing/dining, depending on individual choices) and indirect costs (personal and travel expenses, books and supplies). As such, the Cost of Education is meant to serve as an estimated cost to attend RISD. Individual costs may vary.

    RISD tuition and fees 2015–16

    Estimated total costs of education

  • Should I send in my tax forms and other paperwork before you ask for it?

    You should not submit tax forms unless specifically requested to do so. Paperwork that is not required causes us to take time away from reviewing information that was requested.

  • Should my parents and I complete our federal tax forms before filing the FAFSA?
    The FAFSA allows estimates for income and tax information if the applicant and/or applicant's parents have not yet completed federal tax forms for the end-of-year.  If you do estimate, keep in mind that you must correct your FAFSA later using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool at FAFSA.gov since you are obligated by law to report an accurate picture of your family's finances. We prefer that you file the FAFSA with estimates instead of waiting for a completed federal tax return, if waiting for your tax return will prevent you from meeting our priority-processing deadline. The priority deadline for completing the FAFSA for incoming students is February 15 each year.  It is important to note that changes to the FAFSA may result in changes to federal and institutional awards.
  • How and when is Financial Aid disbursed?
    Financial aid is awarded for the entire academic year.  When you receive your tuition bill each semester, it will include half of the total financial aid you have been awarded. For more information on how specific types of aid are credited to your account, see Financial Aid and Your Bill.
  • What are the rights and responsibilities of students receiving aid? What grades do I need in order to keep my financial aid?
    Financial aid recipients must be matriculated, pursuing courses leading to a degree, and meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. For more information, see Rights and Responsibilities.
  • What are the various types of student loans available and what are the differences?
    There are several different types of Federal student loans, including Stafford and Perkins that are taken in the student’s name and Parent PLUS loans that are taken in the parent’s name. In addition, you may also want to consider private student loans. More information about these various types of loans is available at Loans.
  • How do I calculate how much I should borrow from the PLUS loan program?

    Since you are allowed to borrow up to the cost of attendance less financial aid you should have an understanding of what this means. Cost of attendance, or COA, is our official estimate of a student's total cost to attend RISD in a particular year. A COA includes both direct costs (tuition and fees) and indirect costs (supplies, personal/travel expenses and living expenses if not living on campus).

    For 2015-16 the cost of attendance for undergraduate students is $64,713; the cost of attendance for graduate students is $70,380.
    To determine what you should borrow, take into consideration your own personal resources, then look at your invoice and your financial aid award to view your charges and the aid that has already been/will be credited to your account.
    You should then estimate the expenses that are not listed on your invoice—the indirect costs mentioned above—and add this to whatever is unpaid on your invoice. This would be a fair estimate of what you may need to borrow to support your educational objectives this academic year.
    Please note: If you do not identify a specific loan amount on the PLUS Request we will process a loan for the cost of attendance less your financial aid, which is your maximum loan eligibility.

  • I am a graduate student. How much can I borrow for my Graduate PLUS loan?

    The maximum PLUS loan amount you can borrow is your cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial assistance you will receive. 

    For example, the cost of education for 2015-16 for a graduate student at RISD is $70,380. The following calculation assumes you borrow the full unsubsidized Stafford loan amount of $20,500 and you are receiving no other aid (scholarships, fellowships, work-study assistantships, etc):

        9-Month cost of education:    $70,380
        Maximum Stafford loan:      $20,500
        Graduate PLUS eligibility:    $49,880

  • How do I choose a lender for a Private Education Loan?

    Private education loans are consumer loans that should only be considered after first exhausting your federal loan eligibility. Typically, federal loans provide students with more beneficial terms and conditions. Some of these federal loan benefits may include a lower annual percentage rate, fewer and lower fees, and more favorable repayment options. A number of private educational loans are available to students who need extra funding to assist in managing the expected family contribution. You must apply for private educational loans directly with the lender/agency. Borrowers must be creditworthy to participate in these programs. Students who are not creditworthy by program guidelines may still be eligible to participate if they can find a creditworthy person to co-sign their loan application. Families are free to choose any lender which best serves their needs. You should visit each potential lender's website to fully evaluate the benefits that they offer before making a final choice of a lender for your loans. For more information on private education loans please go to www.elmselect.com

  • Does RISD receive revenue from any student loan providers?
    No, RISD does not have a revenue-sharing arrangement with any student loan providers. These agreements are prohibited. In addition, RISD Financial Aid staff members are bound to disclose potential conflicts of interest and to act in compliance with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrator's Statement of Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct for Institutional Financial Aid Professionals.
  • Where can I find available work study job openings?
    Work study jobs are offered to undergraduate and graduate students through the Financial Aid Office, and posted on RISD's work study website. Off-campus job listings include community service opportunities in non-profit agencies in the Providence metro area; jobs in the local community (babysitter, waiter/waitress, retail sales, lawn/garden, etc.) and professional opportunities such as freelance art and design jobs. Students must provide documentation proving they are eligible to work.
  • How are graduate Assistantships + Fellowships determined?
    All Assistantships + Fellowships originate from each graduate program and are assigned by the Graduate Program Director. They are processed by the Graduate Studies Office before being processed by the Financial Aid Office and/or Payroll Office. For more information, visit RISD Financial Aid
  • My Student Aid Report (SAR) indicates that I was selected for verification. What does this mean?
    Each year the federal government randomly selects applications to undergo a process called verification in which we are required to verify that your FAFSA information corresponds with your federal tax information. This means that your aid award will not be finalized until you submit copies of you and your parents' federal tax returns and a completed federal verification worksheet to our office.
  • My financial aid awards were reduced. How can aid be reduced after it was awarded it to me?

    Federal and state financial aid laws state that a student cannot receive a financial aid amount greater than the cost of attendance minus any other aid and their "Expected Family Contribution." If you completed your FAFSA with estimated income information OR if your FAFSA was randomly picked for verification by the Department of Education, your award will not be final until we receive copies of both your and your parents' (if dependent under federal guidelines) federal tax returns and make any needed adjustments to the original data you reported.

    Awards may also be reduced if we discover a significant difference between the income and asset information reported on your FAFSA and the information submitted on your federal tax returns. RISD is obligated to reduce your federal or state aid if outside aid or scholarships result in an over-award situation. For example, if a student receives a new scholarship mid-year, causing him/her to be over-awarded, then the aid package will need to be reduced to compensate for the scholarship. Had we known about this scholarship when the original financial aid package was calculated, the aid amount would have been lower in the original package. To adjust for an over-award, we normally reduce the Federal Stafford Loan OR Federal Work Study, before we would revise your remaining eligibility for grants.

  • My parents don't claim me as an exemption on their federal tax return and do not pay any of my school expenses. Am I independent?
    Dependency, according to federal financial aid law, is not determined by any of the above situations. For example, a student who is classified as independent for federal tax filing purposes may or may not also be classified as independent for financial aid filing purposes. In general, your answers to the questions in "Step Three" of the FAFSA determine whether or not you can file the FAFSA as an independent student (which means you do not include parent information on your FAFSA). If you can answer "yes" to any of these items, then you are considered independent for financial aid purposes, and can complete the FAFSA without parent data. For additional information please go to https://fafsa.ed.gov/help.htm
  • How can I make a payment?

    RISD accepts payment by checking or savings account, MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover at risd.afford.com. All payments should be made online with the exception of Scholarship and 529 payments. For the safety of our students and staff, we do not accept cash.

    Interest free payment plans are available through Tuition Management Systems for a flat rate of $60 per semester.  The fall plan begins August 1st and the spring plan begins January 1st. Each term includes five monthly installments.  Enrollment can be completed online at risd.afford.com or by calling 1-800-279-1869. 

    International bank transfers can be made by visiting www.peerTransfer.com/risd.  PeerTransfer offers best pricing guarantees, transfer tracking and distribution in a secure manner.

  • When and how are bills sent out?

    The first bill of each term will be mailed home and also available electronically through the Student Accounts Center. The fall statement will be mailed early July. The spring statement will be mailed early December. Monthly e-statements and real-time account activity can be viewed 24/7 at risd.afford.com.

Foundation Studies students consider each other's work under the guidance of Professor Merlin Szasz.