We know that parents have concerns and questions related to the financial assistance process. Below are the most commonly asked questions we receive from parents each spring. If your question is not answered, please feel free to contact us. We want to make the financial assistance process easy for you and your student.

When is the FAFSA due?

For new students, the FAFSA priority deadline is March 1. The March 1 deadline is simply a priority deadline, however; we process all FAFSA information received.
For returning students, the FAFSA priority deadline is April 1.

What if our tax return will not be ready when we need to file the FAFSA?

It is best to use your final tax return to complete the FAFSA. This assures that the information is accurate. However, if this is not possible, the FAFSA does allow you to estimate your tax information. If, later, you are selected for verification, you may be required to submit your IRS tax transcripts in order for your student to receive financial assistance.

What should we do if we need to correct our FAFSA?

Using your federal PIN codes, you and your student can make changes online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. When the changes have been processed, your student will receive a corrected Student Assistance Report via the email address he/she provided on the FAFSA. The colleges listed on the SAR will receive a corrected electronic version.

When can we expect to receive our student's financial assistance award?

We begin sending out new-student awards in late March to the student’s home address. Continuing-student awards are available to view on the student’s Cornell self-service account in mid April.

We were selected for verification. What does this mean?

The federal processor selects students for verification randomly. You simply need to make sure you have used the IRS Data retrieval system available on the FAFSA or submit 2012 IRS tax transcripts for both the parent and the student.  We also require the Federal  Verification Worksheet. Your financial assistance counselor will compare these documents with the FAFSA you completed. Your student will be notified if changes in verification affect his/her financial assistance award.

What should I do if I have filed a tax extension?

For students and parents who have been granted a tax filing extension, please provide the following:

  • A copy of your IRS Form 4868
  • A copy of all W2 forms
  • If self-employed please provide a signed statement with the amount of your Adjusted Gross Income and U.S. income taxes paid.
  • Once your tax returns are complete, please utilize the IRS Date Retrieval Tool or submit a copy of your federal tax transcript to the Office of Financial Assistance.

What should I do if I have amended my tax return?

Students or parents who file an amended return cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

Instead, you will need to provide the following documents:

  • A signed copy of the IRS Form 1040X that was filed and
  • A signed copy of the original tax return that was filed.

My student's Student Assistance Report said he/she does not qualify for a Pell Grant. Does this mean he/she will not receive any financial assistance?

No. It simply means your student did not qualify for a high-need-based federal grant. Your student will still be considered for other types of assistance, including college grants.

Is our EFC what we will owe the college?

No. The estimated family contribution is only an estimate. Depending on the costs of your student's education and the amount of his/her financial assistance award, you could owe more or less than the calculated EFC.

What happens if I receive my student's financial assistance award and it is not enough to allow him/her to attend Cornell?

The first thing to do is to call our office and speak to a financial assistance staff member. The Financial Assistance staff will be able to tell you whether additional loans and/or scholarship opportunities are available.

What should I do if we have special circumstances that were not indicated on the FAFSA?

Please submit the special circumstances form.

Can we expect our award to change after the freshman year?

We try to keep awards consistent from year to year. However, if there are significant changes to a family's resources, the award may be affected.

Is there a payment plan available to parents?

Yes, Business Services at Cornell administers a financial assistance payment plan. You will be receiving detailed information over the summer on how to set up a payment plan. There are also Federal Parent Loans available to assist you with financing your student's education.

Where can we find more information about private scholarships?

Private scholarships are excellent resources for students and can be found in a variety of places.  We've done our best to compile and simplify the information on our outside scholarships page.