Financial Aid Timeline Updates
Due to national delays impacting financial aid this year, financial aid offers are now expected to begin in late April. CU Boulder is extending the confirmation date from May 1 to June 1 for first-year students admitted for Fall 2024. Visit the Financial Aid Timeline & Confirmation Extension webpage for details and updates. 

Below are common financial aid questions. We have additional FAQs for PLUS loans, the CU Promise, and how to complete online forms requiring multiple signatures.

We're here to help. If you don't find the answer to your question, contact us.

General Financial Aid FAQs

What & where is my Student Identification Number (SID)?

A Student Identification Number (SID) is a series of nine numbers that identifies you as a CU Boulder student. Students are assigned an SID during the application/admissions process and will retain that same ID throughout their time with CU Boulder.

To find your SID:

  • In Emails: Students can refer to emails from the Office of Financial Aid, which contain the SID when we are asking students to complete an action.
  • Online: Students can lookup their SID by verifying their identity
  • Student portal: Students can check their Buff Portal.
    • Current Students: You can view your SID in Buff Portal under "Profile & Settings" in the right-hand menu.
    • Admitted Undergraduate Students: You can see your SID on your admissions status page after you have been admitted.
What is considered Financial Aid?

There is a common myth that financial aid is just grants, but financial aid is really everything we include in a financial aid offer such as grants, scholarships, work-study, federal student loans, and federal parent loans. 

Here's where it gets confusing: There are more types of aid/assistance that are included in calculating how much aid/assistance you are allowed to receive in an academic year. Per federal regulations, you cannot receive more aid/assistance than it costs to attend. For instance: if you receive a housing & food waiver because you are working as a Resident Advisor (RA), that is considered "assistance." So if you have scholarships, financial aid and a waiver that together equal more than the cost of attendance, your financial aid will be reduced.

How do I apply for Financial Aid?

You have to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out if you are eligible for any of these types of aid. Many scholarships also require it. Remember: it has to be completed every year. See tips for completing the FAFSA.

Do I need a CSS Profile to apply?

No, CU Boulder does not require the CSS Profile. If we need additional information, we will notify you via email and add a to-do item in Buff Portal.

What is the deadline to apply for financial aid?

The most important thing to know: the earlier you apply, the better! Schools usually provide a "priority date" which is a date they recommend you complete the FAFSA by so you don't miss out on funding you could have been eligible for. Additionally, some CU Boulder scholarships require your FAFSA be completed to be considered.

If that timeline isn't possible for you - it's ok! You can still apply for financial aid well into the semester. We recommend you speak to a financial aid counselor about your specific timeline.

Why do my parents have to turn in tax documents?

We are required by law to check the accuracy of income reported on the FAFSA.

Has CU Boulder received my FAFSA?

Our office will send you a confirmation email when we receive your FAFSA. If you have access to Buff Portal, select the school year on the Financial Aid card drop-down menu.

How do I know if I've done everything I need to do?

To make sure your financial aid application is complete, check your financial aid status in Buff Portal. If we need further information from you, it will be listed as a ‘To Do’ item when you log in. You should also continue to check your campus email for correspondence from our office. We will email you if you have any missing information or further action to take to complete your aid application. If you have submitted all requested information and accepted your aid, financial aid will apply directly to your bill 10 days prior to the first day of classes.

How do I apply for scholarships?

The first place you want to look is right here at CU Boulder's Scholarship Services. We have automatic scholarships, scholarship search tools, information about private scholarships, and tips on how to apply.

How do I apply for student loans?

First, you have to complete the FAFSA. Once you’ve been offered a loan, you will need to accept it in Buff Portal, complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN), and complete Entrance Counseling. We will remind you of these requirements once you have accepted your first loan.  You will only need to do the Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling once, which makes applying for student loans pretty easy.

TIP: Keep track of your loans, only borrow what you need, make a plan for how you will repay these loans when you graduate, visit the Office of Financial Aid for one-on-one help.

What if I only want loans?

Federal loans are part of financial aid, so you will still need to use the FAFSA to apply for loans. For more information about these loans, visit types of aid on our website.

I don’t have enough financial aid to pay the bill, are there other options?

We have compiled some options for paying for college. Applying for scholarships is always a good way to reduce your tuition bill, but if you start applying when the bill is due it might be too late. Loans or payment plans available from the Bursar's Office are typically the best options to help pay the bill.

How do I pay my bill using my financial aid?

First, we encourage you to authorize your financial aid to cover all your university charges. Then, you’ll need to set up direct deposit. Financial aid is applied to your bill the Monday before the first day classes in fall and spring, and 7 days before the start of summer classes as long as all necessary steps are completed (for example, loan agreements/Master Promissory Notes for loans). If anything is left over we send you a refund via direct deposit.

TIP: When calculating how much aid will be applied to the bill, exclude work-study. It is paid through our payroll system as the student begins working. Learn more about your aid and the bill.

What happens to my financial aid if I need to withdraw from school?

We understand there may sometimes be a need to withdraw either from one class or from all of them. Withdrawing may impact your financial aid and some funds may need to be returned. We strongly encourage you to read our Return to Title IV policy before you withdraw or meet with a counselor to make sure you are informed before you make any decisions that could impact your financial aid. 

How do I repay my loans?

Repayment on most federal student loans begins when you leave college or drop below half-time enrollment. Repayment on PLUS loans, however, begins when the loan is fully disbursed. To reduce the overall amount that you will pay on your loans, we encourage you to make monthly interest payments on your loans before your repayment begins.

All federal student loans have a loan servicer that handles billing and other services. You can find your federal loan servicer information by visiting Once you have identified your servicer, visit their website to make a loan payment. For private loans, contact your lender for details about repayment. For information on federal loan repayment and repayment plans, visit

What is an Income Share Agreement (ISA)?

An Income Share Agreement (ISA) is a financial contract between a student and a university. The student receives money from the university to fund their education. In exchange, they agree to pay the university a percentage of their income after graduation for a set number of months or years. An ISA is considered a type of financial aid and the amount cannot exceed the student's cost to attend. Receiving an ISA may result in adjustments to other financial aid.

Availability of Income Share Agreements is currently limited to students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science

Does CU Boulder participate in Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)?

No, CU Boulder does not participate in Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), which is an interstate tuition savings program.