Financial Aid


We understand that navigating Financial Aid and the Admission process can be a big task, so we put together an FAQ to help address some of these question, uncertainties, and anxieties.


What is the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is how students can apply for federal aid for each school year. Eligible students submit the free application every year, and their Student Aid Index (SAI) will be calculated based on the information in the FAFSA. Depending on a family or student’s SAI, applicants could be eligible for various grants or loans, such as the Pell Grant, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Work-study, or subsidized or unsubsidized loans. The FAFSA can be completed at Once the FAFSA is complete, it can take 3-4 business days for the Office of Financial Aid to receive it.

What is financial need?

Financial need is the difference between cost of attendance and ability to pay (what is expected of the family to contribute to a student’s education). 

How is financial need calculated?

The Department of Education (DOE) determines financial need through the formula of Cost of Attendance (COA) – Student Aid Index (SAI)  = financial need. 

What is SAI?

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is a number that’s used to determine eligibility for need-based aid. It is calculated using information that the student (and contributors, if required) provides on the FAFSA form. The SAI will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) starting in the 2024–25 award year. A student’s SAI can be a negative number down to –1500.

What is a FSA ID?

Every student that wishes to complete the FAFSA must create a FSA ID on This ID is used to submit and sign your FAFSA, complete loan Entrance Counseling, sign a Master Promissory Note, as well as access other information. If a parent contributor enters information on the FAFSA, they will also need to create a FSA ID in order to sign the FAFSA for processing.

Do I have to complete a FAFSA every year?

Yes, the FAFSA must be completed every year. It becomes available to complete on October 1st of the preceding year. (i.e. 2022-2023 FAFSA became available on October 1st, 2021). You will want to complete the FAFSA as early as possible as some aid, such as the SEOG grant, is available only on a first come, first served basis.

Note: The 2023-2024 FAFSA has been delayed, and will be coming out in December, though we don’t know the exact date as of yet

How long do I have to submit the FAFSA?

While it is best to submit the FAFSA as early as possible, for the 2022-2023 academic year you have from October 1st, 2021 through September 10th, 2023. For the 2021-2022 academic year, you have until September 10th, 2022 to be considered for aid.

If I made a mistake on the FAFSA, what should I do?

Don’t worry if you made a mistake on the FAFSA. Corrections can easily be made by logging in with your FSA ID to You will click on the option to file a correction and then update the information. That correction will then be sent to our office within 3-4 business days. We encourage students/parent contributors to make corrections as needed so that you receive an accurate financial aid package.

When will I be notified of my financial aid offer?

Once the Office of Financial Aid has finalized your offer, you will receive an official offer letter. If your file is incomplete or must be corrected, you will receive a provisional offer letter until your file is complete and finalized. Please contact us at if you need further information about your offer letter.

Can I get financial aid over the summer?

Financial aid is only available for Fall and Spring semesters at Cornish College of the Arts. 

Cost of Attendance/Budgets

What is the Cost of Attendance and what does it mean for me?

The Cost of Attendance is a number determined by each individual school to help determine financial need. This typically includes tuition, room and board, supplies, etc. The Cost of Attendance creates a student budget, and that budget for Cornish can be found here:


If I am awarded a Cornish Merit scholarship, is it renewable every year?

Yes, as long as students are enrolled full-time every year and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), which includes keeping at least a 2.0 GPA and completing 67% of the classes attempted, the Merit Scholarship will automatically renew with a 2% increase every year, for a maximum of 4 years.

What if I receive an outside scholarship?

Students are allowed to accept outside scholarships. If you have received a scholarship from an outside source, please let the Office of Financial Aid ( in case we need to reduce your loan amount.

Where can I find outside scholarships or other funding resources?

The Office of Financial Aid maintains a scholarship database that is available through Compass. Check the “Financial Aid” tab in the top menu and navigate to “Resources” on the left-hand menu to find the database. We also recommend or is specifically for scholarships tailored towards Washington residents and students. Also, Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search gives you access to more than 5 million college scholarships. You can search for college scholarships that match your skills, activities, and interests based on your profile.

What federal aid do I have to pay back?

Scholarships and grants, such as Pell or SEOG, do not need to be paid back. They are money given to you towards your education. However, Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans and any other loans taken do need to be repaid. Student loans are deferred while enrolled at least part time (6 credits) and then 6 months after graduation or dropping below part time.

Professional Judgment Review

Professional Judgment Review

Financial aid is calculated based on information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Cornish College recognizes that in some special cases, a change in a family’s financial situation may not reflect what is shown in the original FAFSA submission.  These changes can result in adjusting data elements in the Cost of Attendance or an Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation.

A Special Circumstance may include:

  • Parent contributor’s change in employment status
  • Significant reduction in income or benefits
  • Outstanding medical expenses not covered by insuranceDeath in the family

Cornish also recognizes that an individual may experience Unusual Circumstances, where the financial aid administrator can make an adjustment to the student’s dependency status.  This is commonly referred to as a dependency override.

Reconsideration of a student’s dependency status from “dependent” to “independent,” if you fall into any of these categories related to no contact with your parent contributors:

  • Parent contributors are both incarcerated
  • You have no knowledge of where either parent contributor lives and have no way to communicate with them.
  • Left home due to an abusive or abandonment situation

You should not request this adjustment if you fall into the below circumstances. Instead, please complete your FAFSA as a dependent student and include both you and your parent contributor(s)’ information.

  • Your parent contributors refuse to contribute to your college expenses
  • Your parent contributors refuse to supply the necessary information for FAFSA or FAFSA verification completion
  • You parent contributors don’t claim you as a dependent for federal tax filing
  • You demonstration complete financial self-sufficiency

Students may apply for either one of these Professional Judgments or both. 

A Professional Judgment Form is for those students who have experienced an unusual or extenuating circumstance warranting a reevaluation of financial aid. This form and required documentation must be submitted in order for your circumstance to be considered. The form includes a table of required documentation for each situation. Submitting a Professional Judgment Form does not guarantee a change in aid.

Once the form and required documentation is received, the Office of Financial Aid will begin the review process. You will be notified by email within 7 business days of when the Professional Judgment form was received and if any additional information is needed. If additional information is requested, please make sure you are submitting the documentation as soon as possible to avoid any delays in processing this request. You will be notified by a financial aid administrator regarding the outcome of your Professional Judgment form.  This process generally takes 3 weeks. Due to peak processing time, it may take up to 4 weeks to process these requests.  We appreciate your patience during this process and if you have any questions, please contact

Download the Professional Judgment Form. You may submit the form and required documentation through the secure link provided on the PDF.

2023-24 Professional Judgment Form


What is the difference between Federal and Private loans?

Federal loans are funds provided by the government, such as the Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans, typically have lower interest rates than private loans do. Federal loans have many different repayment options after students leave school, and some could result in loan forgiveness. For parent contributors of undergraduate students, they may apply for a Parent PLUS loan which also comes from the federal government, though it requires a credit check where Subsidized and Unsubsidized do not. Private loans are loans provided by a bank, credit union, or financial institution, and a credit check is used to determine the interest rate. Terms are different at every institution, and it’s important to read the fine print so you understand what is expected of you in repayment.

What is the difference between Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans?

Subsidized loans are loans where the interest on the loan does not accrue while you are in school at least part time (6 credits) and 6 months after graduating or dropping below part time. For Unsubsidized loans, the interest accrues while you are in school. If you need more information, please visit:  Federal Loans.

Do I need to be full time to receive loans?

No, you do not need to be full time (full time is typically 12 or more credits per semester), however, you do need to be enrolled in at least 6 credits to be eligible for loans.

Admitted Students

After I have been admitted into Cornish, what are my next steps with accepting/viewing my financial aid offer?

If you have been admitted and applied for financial aid, you will receive one of the following notifications:

  1. An official offer via your Admissions Portal outlining your financial aid eligibility, if you completed all financial aid requirements
  2. An email indicating that items are missing from your application for financial aid or a missing FAFSA. Your scholarship/provisional offer states: Call the Financial Aid Office or Free Application of Federal Student Aid.

Look out for emails from Cornish regarding your FAFSA, verification, loan promissory notes, as well as the possibility of reapplying for aid.

How do I accept my financial aid offer?

Admitted applicants can accept or decline their loans via their offer letter using the QR code provided. New students accepting loans must complete Undergraduate Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note at Federal loans don’t need to be paid back until 6 months after you graduate or drop below half time (6 credits). If you need help, please let your counselor know. You don’t need to accept institutional/federal grants. These are gifts towards education and do not need to be paid back.

How can parent borrowers apply for the Parent Plus Loan?

Parent borrowers can apply online at Applications open on/after April 1st for the next (not current) academic year. Parents must use their own FSA ID to log in to the loan application. The parent can borrow up to the total cost of education, minus the financial aid awarded to their student.

Work Study

What is Work Study?

Work study is a need-based award, awarded with either State or Federal government funds, that students do not need to pay back. Students earn their work study funds by working at an approved Cornish work study job, and new job opportunities can be found on the Work Study Job Board.

How can I participate in Work Study?

Work Study is awarded based on the Student Aid Index (SAI) that is calculated through the FAFSA application, so it is important to apply for the FAFSA if you wish to participate in Work Study. Students with an SAI below $16,000 will likely be eligible for either State or Federal Work Study based on their residency. 

What are the benefits of Work Study?

Work study allows students to gain work experience while earning above minimum wage pay with approved Cornish work study partners. Work study students start at $17.27 and this can increase depending on the job you are hired for. Once you apply for and are hired to an approved work study job, you will receive an allocation detailing the total amount of hours you have been approved to work. This number depends on the remaining eligibility you have in your budget, as well as the number of hours needed for the job you were hired on for. This number can be increased or decreased as needed.

How do I apply for a Work Study job?

Students can find Work Study jobs on our Work Study Job Board. Instructions on how to apply are included in each position listing. The Work Study Job Board is updated frequently based on the need and availability from our job partners.

What kind of jobs can I get through Work Study?

A variety of positions are available to students and many of our students work as office assistants, audition assistants, tutors, production assistants, content creators, and many more. 

Who would I contact for questions about Work Study?

If you have questions or concerns about Work Study, please do not hesitate to contact our Work Study Coordinator, Jennifer Tobin, at or 206-726-5035 through our form:

Satisfactory Academic Progress

What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?

A large part of gaining and maintaining your financial aid is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). SAP is made up of Federal, State and Institutional requirements. SAP requires that you maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above, maintain at least a 67% Pace of Progression and complete your degree requirements within Maximum Timeframe (150% of the published length of the degree). You will be considered to be in “good standing” with Financial Aid if you can meet these standard requirements.

How often is SAP determined?

Every semester, once grades have been posted, your records are reviewed to make sure that you are maintaining the standards set by SAP. 

What is the Pace of Progression?

Pace of progression is one of the guidelines required to be met for SAP. It is your credits attempted divided by the credits you have completed, which provides us with a percentage that is used to calculate your ability to complete your degree within Maximum Timeframe. Credit attempted include Incomplete (I) and Withdrawal (W) grades, as well as any repeated classes. 

What is the Maximum Timeframe?

Maximum Timeframe is the guideline which states that you must complete your degree within 150% of the intended length of your degree to maintain eligibility for Federal/State aid. For example, a 4 year degree must be completed within 6 years to remain eligible for financial aid. If it becomes clear that you will be unable to graduate within this timeframe, you will lose eligibility for aid. With an approved change of major or program your pace can be recalculated. Your transcript will be evaluated to determine which credits will transfer to the new major/program and those credits will be used to determine your ability to stay within Maximum Timeframe. Institutional aid (such as the Cornish Merit scholarship) is only guaranteed for the determined length of a program and an appeal is required if you wish to receive institutional aid past the length of your program. 

Are there any differences between State or Federal SAP requirements?

Washington State and Federal requirements encompass all the requirements listed above, however, State aid has additional SAP requirements. In order to maintain State Aid eligibility, you must also meet the following guidelines:

*If you are enrolled Full Time: must complete a minimum of 12 credits a semester with a minimum of 24 credits per year.

*If you are enrolled Three-Quarter Time: must complete a minimum of 9 credits per semester with a minimum of 18 credits per year.

*If you are enrolled Half Time: must complete a minimum of 6 credits per semester with a minimum of 12 credits per year. 

*If you accept State aid and complete at least half of your credits but lower than the required number of credits, you will be placed on probation. As with Federal aid, you can still receive aid while on probation, however, during your probationary semester you must make up the deficit credits in addition to the credits required for the semester. If you are able to complete all credits required within the semester, you will regain “good standing” and be allowed to maintain State aid. Failure to meet these requirements will result in loss of eligibility.

What is Financial Aid Warning?

Financial Aid Warning is the first step you will take if you begin to not meet SAP requirements. You will not lose aid when on Financial Aid Warning, however, you are given one semester in which to show that you can meet standards in order to maintain your aid eligibility. If you fall below standards for two consecutive semesters, then you will lose eligibility for Financial Aid. 

What if I lose eligibility for Financial Aid?

If you fail to meet standards for two consecutive semesters, you will lose eligibility for Financial Aid. You can request reinstatement through an appeal process. You will want to respond to the email sent to you if you lose eligibility and fill out the SAP appeal form explaining your situation and your plan to return to meeting standards, along with documentation, if applicable, to explain the mitigating circumstances that caused you to fall below minimum standards. Filing an appeal does not guarantee reinstatement of Financial Aid but if your aid is reinstated, then you will be placed on a probationary semester in which you must meet the conditions outlined in your appeal decision. 


How many credit hours do I take to be considered a full-time student?
Students must be registered for 12 credits or more to be considered full-time

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