Financial Aid

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The Office of Financial Aid’s primary goal is to ensure that students who have been admitted to the university will have access to the resources necessary to complete their education. CU-Boulder students receive financial aid each year from federal, state, university, and private sources. Total aid for graduates and undergraduates is approximately $310 million and is a combination of loans, work-study, grants, and scholarships.

Applying for Financial Aid

Students apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at Based on a federal formula, the FAFSA determines a student’s eligibility for need-based and non-need-based financial aid, as well as some scholarships. Students must reapply for financial aid every year.

For financial aid for fall 2012, spring 2013, and summer 2013, the 2012–13 FAFSA must be submitted. Students should apply as soon as possible after January 1, 2012.

After submitting the FAFSA, applicants receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the federal processor. The Office of Financial Aid receives the SAR results electronically if CU-Boulder is listed on the application. 

Students must be admitted to the university before their financial aid application can be considered. However, prospective students do not need to wait for formal acceptance to CU-Boulder before applying for financial aid or scholarships.


Eligibility for financial aid is based on the cost of attending CU-Boulder and the amount students and their families are expected to contribute toward the cost of attendance. Each year the financial aid office calculates the cost of attendance using local and national cost-of-living data. 

The expected family contribution (EFC) is determined by an analysis of the student’s FAFSA. A student’s financial need is calculated by subtracting the EFC from the cost of attendance. 

The financial aid award is funded from a combination of need-based and non-need-based financial aid sources in an effort to meet each applicant’s total financial eligibility. Students may need to borrow educational loans and work part-time while they are in school. 

Financial Aid Awards

Most financial aid is awarded in April, but aid is offered as long as funds are available. Freshman and transfer students applying for aid for the 2012–13 academic year are encouraged to submit their FAFSA applications by April 1, 2012, in order to receive aid information in time to make an informed decision. Awards available to CU-Boulder students are listed below.


Students submit the FAFSA to be considered for the following loan programs.

Federal Direct Stafford Loan. Funds are awarded and disbursed by CU-Boulder. Undergraduate students may qualify for a combination of subsidized (federal government pays the interest) and unsubsidized loans. The interest rate is fixed at 6.8 percent. Annual limits depend on the year in school; freshmen can be awarded up to $5,500; sophomores, $6,500; and juniors and seniors, $7,500. Independent students may borrow additional unsubsidized loans; freshmen and sophomores, $4,000; juniors and seniors, $5,000.

The maximum loan a graduate student can borrow is $20,500. The loan is unsubsidized and the interest rate is 6.8 percent.

Interest on unsubsidized loans can be repaid while the student is in school. Repayment begins six months after the student graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours for undergraduates; 4 credit hours for graduates).

Federal PLUS Loan. This federal loan is available to graduate students and parents of dependent undergraduate students. The interest rate is fixed at 7.9 percent for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2006. Repayment begins within 60 days of full disbursement of the loan. Typically, repayment begins in March for an academic year loan; however borrowers may now request a deferment on payments until their student has finished with school. Borrowers must complete a credit check. Note: Borrowing a PLUS loan will be regarded as parental support on in-state residency petitions for dependent students. 


Students submit the FAFSA to be considered for need-based work-study. Work-study students earn their award by working for on-campus or approved off-campus agencies. Students may apply for a variety of jobs at competitive rates. Jobs can be found online through the portal for students. Students who are not awarded work-study may call 303-492-7349 to have their name added to the work-study waitlist. 


Grants are awards that do not have to be repaid. Students submit the FAFSA to be considered for federal, state, and institutional need-based grants (including Pell, SEOG, Colorado Responsibility Grant, etc.).

CU-Boulder Scholarships

Students may apply for scholarships offered by the Office of Financial Aid through the student portal beginning December 1 each year. Your FAFSA results must be on file in the financial aid office no later than the first business day in March to be considered for scholarships with a financial need requirement. 

Scholarships are highly competitive at CU-Boulder. The selection committee considers academic achievement, honors, leadership, school activities, and service to the community. Students should also search for scholarship opportunities within their academic program, college, club, or campus organization.

Private External Scholarships

Students who receive a private scholarship from an organization outside the university must report the scholarship via the student portal. In addition, students are encouraged to write to their donors and express their gratitude. 

When a scholarship donor does not specify how to disburse the funds, the financial aid office equally divides awards of $1,000 or more between the fall and spring semesters. Private scholarships less than $1,000 are applied in full to the current semester bill. 

Donors should mail their checks, payable to the University of Colorado, with a cover letter to:

University of Colorado Boulder, Office of Financial Aid, ATTN: Scholarship Services, 77 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0077

If a student’s scholarship check is not received by the bill payment deadline, he or she should make other arrangements to pay the bill.

Drug Conviction

In accordance with the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005, students who have been convicted under federal or state law for possession or sale of a controlled substance will be suspended from Title IV aid eligibility if the offense occurred while the student was receiving Title IV aid.

If a student is convicted for possession, the ineligibility period begins as of the date of the conviction and is: 

  • first offense = one year
  • second offense = two years
  • third offense = indefinite

If a student is convicted for sale of an illegal substance, the ineligibility period begins as of the date of the conviction and is:

  • first offense = two years
  • second offense = indefinite

A student may regain eligibility by successfully completing a drug rehabilitation program that complies with criteria established by the Department of Education. More information is available by calling the U.S. Department of Education at 1-800-433-3243.

Financial Aid Policies

Satisfactory Academic Progress

 Students who apply for financial aid at CU-Boulder are responsible for knowing and complying with the satisfactory academic progress policy. Briefly, the policy outlines the requirements to maintain satisfactory progress (i.e., minimum grade point average [GPA], completion rate, etc.), the consequences of failing to meet the requirements, and the process for appealing if the student loses eligibility.

Study Abroad

Students must be enrolled in a CU-Boulder study abroad program to be eligible for financial aid through CU-Boulder’s financial aid office. Students participating in a study abroad program through another university are not eligible for financial aid from CU-Boulder.


If a student enrolls at CU-Boulder, receives financial aid, then withdraws, his or her financial aid is adjusted according to federal regulations. The student may owe a bill to the university after the financial aid is adjusted. Visit for more information regarding these policies and others.

Other Resources

Student Employment

Jobs provide students with income, work experience, and the opportunity to explore career options. Research studies indicate that students who work are as successful academically as those who do not. Freshmen usually work 8–15 hours per week. The Student Employment Office posts an average of 800 part-time on-campus and off-campus jobs for students. In addition, an on-call temporary employment service allows students to register for occasional work including one-time child care, yardwork, and clerical jobs.

Visit the Student Employment Office in Regent Administrative Center 205 or call 303-492-7349 for more information.

Student Work Assistance Program (SWAP)

This program gives students who are living in the residence halls a credit against their housing bill in exchange for hours worked in one of the dining centers. More information is available at 303-492-6325 or