Financial Aid: FAQ

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 Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) will be calculated based on the information in the FAFSA. Depending on a family or student’s EFC, 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. Fill out your FAFSA at

How is financial need calculated?

The Department of Education uses the following formula to calculate need: Cost of Attendance (COA) – EFC = Financial Need

What is an FSA ID?
Every student who fills out the FAFSA must set up an FSA ID on This ID will be used to submit your FAFSA, complete Entrance Counseling, sign a promissory note, and access other information. If a parent enters information for a student, they must also set up an FSA ID.

Do I have to complete the FAFSA every year?
Yes, students will complete the FAFSA every year they wish to apply for federal aid. The FAFSA will be available every year starting in October.

When can I start submitting a FAFSA?
Oct. 1 is the first day that students may begin submitting a FAFSA for the following school year. We recommend that students submit their application sooner rather than later, as some funds, like the SEOG grant, are provided on a first-come-first-serve basis.

How long do I have to submit a FAFSA for the 20xx-20xx school year?
For the 2021-2022 school year, students can begin submitting a FAFSA as early as October 2020, and they have until Sept. 10, 2022.

If I accidentally answered something incorrectly on the FAFSA, what should I do?
Don’t worry if you’ve accidentally entered something incorrectly! You can log back into and make any corrections you need. We encourage students and/or families to make corrections as needed so that you receive an accurate financial aid package.

When will I be notified of my financial aid package?

Once the Office of Financial Aid has finalized your package, you will receive an official award letter. If your file is incomplete or must be corrected, you may receive a provisional award letter until your package is completed and finalized.

Can I get financial aid over the summer?
Financial aid is only available for the fall and spring semesters at Cornish College of the Arts.


A full tuition breakdown for both semesters and the full year can be found here.


If awarded a Merit Scholarship, is it renewable every year?
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 renew with a 2% increase every year, for a maximum of 4 years.

What if I receive an outside scholarship?
Students are able to accept outside scholarships! Please let the Office of Financial Aid ( in case we need to reduce your loan amount.

Where can I find outside scholarships and other funding resources?
The Office of Financial Aid maintains a database of outside scholarships used by previous Cornish students on 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, which is a database of scholarships geared towards Washington residents and students.

What federal aid must I pay back? What aid will I not pay back?
Scholarships and grants are aid that you do not have to pay back. If awarded a Pell Grant or SEOG grant, students do not have to pay that back. Work-study is pay earned by working a job on or off-campus, and students do not have to pay that back. Direct subsidized or unsubsidized loans will have to be repaid.

Special Circumstances

What if my and/or my family’s financial situation changes since filling out the FAFSA?
The Office of Financial Aid recognizes that sometimes special circumstances arise, such as a loss of income or a change in employment status, that will no longer reflect the financial information provided in the FAFSA. If that is the case, you may submit the Professional Judgment form along with supporting documentation to request an appeal in financial aid. Please note that submitting this form does not guarantee a change in financial aid.

If you have any questions about your specific situation, please feel free to contact us at


What’s the difference between federal and private loans?
Federal loans provided by the government, such as the Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans, typically have lower interest rates than private loans do. Subsidized loans are considered need-based, as the government pays for the interest while you are at school (at least half-time) and six months after completing school. Federal loans have many different repayment options after students leave school, and some could result in loan forgiveness. For parents of undergraduate students, they may apply for a Parent PLUS loan which also comes from the federal government. 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.

Work Study

What is work study?
Work study is a need-based award, either with 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 sign up for work study?
Work study can be applied for through the FAFSA application, and eligibility is based on the Expected Family Contribution calculated on your FAFSA application. Students with an EFC below $16,000 will likely be eligible for either State or Federal work study based on residency status.

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 $16.69, 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.

What kinds of jobs can I get as a work study student?
Our Work Study Job Board is updated frequently based on need and availability from our work study partners, so we recommend you check the board regularly for any new job postings. Our students work in many different positions, including as office assistants, audition assistants, tutors, production assistants, and many more.

Who do I talk to about work study?
If you have any questions or concerns about work study, feel free to contact Haley Donwerth, our Work Study Coordinator, directly at or 206.726.5035.


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

More Information