While our financial aid application procedures are designed to solicit information from families throughout the world, we understand that there are some unique circumstances that are not communicated on the forms.
The following information provides the most common reasons we would either increase and decrease a student’s financial aid award. Contact your financial aid counselor if you or your parents are concerned that your financial aid decision does not take your family’s financial aid situation into account, or if you have new information you want to bring to our attention.
If we need to decrease your award because you receive additional financial aid from some source, we’ll contact you.
When applying for financial aid, we encourage you to explain any special circumstances such as unemployment, change in family status, serious injury or national disaster that are not reflected in the previous year's income. Please don’t just describe the issue in words – provide numbers that show the impact on your family finances. For example, if one of your parents becomes unemployed, give us a new estimated income from all sources, both taxable and untaxable.
If you’re applying for MIT financial aid, provide a detailed explanation of your special circumstances in a letter that can be sent with your family’s tax returns through the IDOC service. If you’re applying only for federal financial aid, you can provide additional detail in the comments section of the FAFSA.
If your special circumstance relates to whether both your parents are willing to submit financial information because of a previous or ongoing separation or divorce, call us to discuss how to proceed. There are instances in which we will waive the submission of the financial information of your noncustodial parent (the parent with whom you are not living).
We consider each financial aid application on a case-by-case basis within our general guidelines for awarding need-based financial aid. While we don’t negotiate financial aid offers or match another school’s offer, we’re always willing to have a discussion with families who are concerned that they can’t afford MIT with the financial aid package we offered.
If you’re appealing your financial aid award, we ask that you talk first to your financial aid counselor. After this initial conversation, we may ask you to complete a supplemental form such as a Parents’ Estimated Annual Year Income Statement or a Monthly Cash Flow Statement.
To provide some guidance, the most common reasons we increase financial aid awards are:
There is no guarantee that we will adjust your financial aid award, but we encourage you to contact us as we may be able to recommend a financing strategy that supplements your financial aid award.
We expect undergraduate financial aid recipients to pitch in and help with their expenses by borrowing and/or working during the academic year (we call this your self-help) and by working and saving during the summer (we call this your summer savings expectation).
Our summer savings expectation varies by class:
Your student contribution listed on your financial award letter is ordinarily the same as your summer savings expectation unless you have significant savings of your own or high earnings during the prior tax year – in which case your student contribution will be greater than your summer earnings expectation.
If you live outside of the US, you have a zero summer savings expectation. We expect that you’ll go back home and work during the summer (in which case your earnings cover your travel expenses) or that you’ll stay and work in the United States (in which case your earnings cover your summer living expenses).
Self-help is the loan and term-time work over and above your student contribution. Our self-help expectation for 2013-14 is $6,000.
If you are receiving a scholarship, grant or benefit from any federal, state or private source which isn’t administered by MIT, we let you use it to offset your self-help.
A lot of students get confused about what to do if they have difficulty finding a summer job or choose to spend their summer studying, traveling or volunteering. If you are unable to earn and/or save your summer savings expectation, you may be able to work or borrow more during the academic year to make up the difference. However, we recommend that you spend some of your summers working and saving to spare yourself excessive borrowing or work during the academic year.
An overaward occurs when the aid you receive from all sources is greater than your eligibility. While we take care not to overaward a student initially, circumstances may change after we award aid that result in an overaward. For example, you may receive a scholarship or grant from an outside organization, or a research or teaching assistantship from an MIT department. When these circumstances arise, we may be required to adjust the need-based financial aid in your package.
If you are overawarded, we reduce your financial aid package so your total need-based financial aid does not exceed your financial need and so your total need- and merit-based financial aid doesn’t exceed your budget. It’s also possible for your financial aid award to be cancelled or adjusted after it’s disbursed to your student account. We’ll notify you if we need to adjust your financial aid package.
The budgets we use for undergraduate, graduate and professional students are listed in the How Will I Afford an MIT Education? section of this site.