Frequently Asked Questions

Below you'll find the answers to some of the questions we get most often at the Office of University Financial Aid. If you don't find the information you're looking for on this list, feel free to contact us in person or by phone.

Financial aid is the combination of gift, loan and/or student employment that is included in a financial aid award or package designed to help a student manage the cost of attending Case Western Reserve University.

The Office of University Financial Aid uses financial information received to determine what you and your family can reasonably contribute to your educational expenses. After considering all the resources available to a student, including any scholarships awarded, the university may provide gift and self-help assistance (a combination of loans and student employment) to provide support with your educational costs.

It is very important that you review and accept your financial aid award letter online through My Financial Aid. There you may also decline and/or reduce any of the aid that is offered to you and view any outstanding documents on the Documents tab. Aid will not pay to your student account if you have not accepted your award and completed all documents. If a Parent PLUS Loan is part of your award, parents must apply separately.

Visit our New Borrower/Loan Application Information page to learn how to apply for the loans that CWRU includes in Financial Aid packages. Parents can view the application steps for the Parent PLUS Loan.

Yes. Since Case Western Reserve University may have already met your full financial need, university assistance is adjusted if you receive additional aid beyond the university's financial aid award. If you receive an external scholarship from outside of Case Western Reserve University and your financial need has been met, the scholarship will be substituted first in place of loan or student employment previously awarded.

When you notify the Office of University Financial Aid of any outside funding, please indicate if you prefer to retain the maximum student loan and work available to you.

Scholarships, grants and loans are applied to the student's account at CWRU to pay direct charges (tuition, fees, housing and meal plan). Institutional scholarships, grants and loans are initially applied as pending/anticipated aid but are actually disbursed on the first day of the fall and spring semesters for students who have met all eligibility requirements and have completed all required loan documents. (Fall disbursement for first-year undergraduates takes place 10 days before the start of the semester to provide families with time to pay the remaining financial obligation during orientation.) Disbursement is then run on a weekly basis for the term. Once disbursement occurs, no pending/anticipated aid will be shown in SIS. Financial aid for the summer term is disbursed in early July in accordance with the university’s fiscal year.

Outside assistance, including outside scholarships and private loans, is disbursed as funds are received from the sponsor/donor. Earnings from student employment are paid directly to the student throughout the academic year, based upon rate of pay and the number of hours worked in a given pay period.  

If financial aid disbursements exceed charges, the excess funds are refunded to the student or, in the case of undergraduate parent loans, the parent. 

Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for financial aid and prevent themselves from receiving it by failing to apply. In addition, there are sources of aid such as unsubsidized Direct Loans and Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) that are available regardless of need. We encourage all students to apply.

Case Western Reserve University is primarily a residential university, and we believe undergraduate students benefit from living on campus. A student’s financial aid eligibility is determined by subtracting their family’s contribution from their cost of attendance (tuition, fees, living expenses, books and personal expenses). For those students who choose to commute or live off-campus (not with family), the university uses a smaller cost of attendance or budget to award need-based grant. These students typically receive less grant assistance than those living on campus.

For students living off campus, their cost of attendance will reflect an off-campus living allowance of $9,390. For students living in a Greek life house, their cost of attendance will reflect actual Greek-life living costs.

Summer funding is limited to Federal Loans, private loans, and Federal Pell Grants for those who qualify. Students should complete the financial aid application before March 1 to receive consideration for summer assistance. Although federal loan and grant funds may be available for summer, students must also enroll for the following fall semester in order to meet the minimum enrollment length requirements for federal assistance.

Only students taking at least 12 credits in a semester are eligible for CWRU merit scholarships, unless they are receiving a medical accommodation. If you are in your final semester and taking fewer than 12 credits, any CWRU merit scholarships will be adjusted on a prorated basis with written approval from the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

We recommend that you refer to the university’s retention policy.

Financial aid eligibility is based in part on the number of people living in your household. For grant eligibility, this includes you, your parent(s), and any siblings who are 24 years of age and younger. Siblings enrolled in college over the age of 24 are considered independent for purposes of financial aid.

If you receive RA compensation and your financial need has been met, the value of the free room and stipend will first replace loan or student employment previously awarded. It can be the case that a student earning money as a resident assistant will have their need-based grant reduced as they realize an increase in resources as part of their financial aid package.

Federal regulations require that institutions provide a way for students who are eligible for federal student aid to obtain or purchase books and supplies by the seventh day of the semester if they will or do have a credit balance on their account.

All CWRU undergraduates are eligible to use "Bookstore Bucks" to purchase their books and supplies at the Barnes & Noble University Bookstore. This program allows undergraduate students to charge textbooks and academic supplies directly to the student's financial account. The program is available for approximately 6 weeks each semester from approximately 4 weeks prior to the start of the term through the end of the drop/add period. Students who do not wish to use this program may buy their books and supplies elsewhere. The use of "Bookstore Bucks" authorizes CWRU to use Title IV, federal student aid to pay for the charges associated with them.

Graduate and professional students may request a refund advance of up to $1,000 if they will have a credit balance on their account. Refund advances request forms can be send to the Office of University Financial Aid and for students enrolled in the following schools: Undergraduate Colleges, School of Graduate Studies, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Weatherhead School of Management and the Mandel School of Applied Social Science. Students enrolled in the Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, and Law apply for and receive their funds from their school of enrollment. The processing of refund advances begins three days before the first day of the academic term.

You have the right to appeal your financial aid offer if your family has special or unusual circumstances that have not been adequately addressed. Each appeal request and supporting documentation will be thoroughly evaluated and may or may not be granted at the discretion of the financial aid committee. The decision of the financial aid committee cannot be appealed to the Department of Education.

Examples of situations where an appeal might be approved would be if a family has a unusually high medical, dental, nursing home, or child care expenses not covered by insurance; a change in family income since the year being evaluated; or the death of a parent. Each situation must be documented by a third party or official document that warrants the review.

Examples of situations where an appeal may not be approved would be normal fluctuations in family income based on self-employment or employment bonuses, vacation expenses, tithing expenses, and standard living expenses for which we already use national standards to estimate such as housing, utilities, credit card expenses, etc.