Student Guide to Financial Aid

This page provides important details about your financial aid awards and Institute award policies.  Please bookmark it for future reference.

Rensselaer Scholarship and Grant awards are provided to help finance the student enrollment costs and based on view the students are required to live in RPI housing and participate in an RPI meal plan for their first five semesters.   Awards are not provided for terms when the student is not charged for tuition or fees for Rensselaer taught courses.   Awards are paid on a term-by-term basis throughout enrollment:  if a student completes their program ahead of schedule the funds intended for the future terms of non-enrollment are not paid.   Please see the Revision of Awards section for additional information.

Returning students must file a Renewal FAFSA in order to apply for renewal of need-based RPI awards.   The CSS Profile is not required for returning students.   If the subsequent year FAFSA indicates a lower financial need than the prior year, RPI need-based awards may be reduced.   This happens most often when family income has increased or if siblings have departed college since the first-year application was processed.

Specific information for the Coterminal Degree Program, The Arch Program, and Summer Financial Aid are available on our website.


Your Responsibilities

Review and complete these requirements to verify your aid is received and processed correctly.

Remember Your RIN

Provide your Rensselaer Idenification Number (RIN) on all correspondence sent to our office and respond promptly to any future request for additional information from the Office of Financial Aid.

All Students Must Complete the FAFSA

All students seeking Federal aid or Rensselaer need-based aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at  You may use this same website to see the status of your FAFSA, if you have already completed the application. Our school code is 002803.

New Students Must Complete the CSS Profile

New students are also required to complete the CSS Profile form to determine eligibility for Rensselaer need-based aid. The form is available online at and our school code is 2757.

We May Need to Verify Your Information

If you have been awarded Federal aid we may need to verify that the information on your FAFSA and/or CSS Profile is accurate. We will advise you of what items we will require you to submit. Please note that we do NOT participate in the College Board IDOC (Institutional Documenation) Service.

Use SIS to Manage Financial Aid Awards

Using your Student Information System (SIS) access, you are able to accept, decline or reduce loan or work study financial aid programs offered to you.  No one other than you may accept, decline or reduce an aid award.  See “Your Awards” below for additional information about SIS functionality.

Report Outside Scholarships

You must promptly report to the Office of Financial Aid any additional funds you may receive from sources other than what is listed on your award with Rensselaer. You shoud use the Outside Scholarship Report to report funds from other sources. Federal regulations require schools to apply outside funding sources against students’ demonstrated need prior to certifying eligibility for Federal Student Aid programs such as Direct Loans and Work Study. Rensselaer reserves the right to adjust your need-based institutional gift awards based on receipt of outside funding. See the “Revision of Awards” section below for a summary of our award revision environment.

Work Study

If your aid package includes an offer of Federal Work Study (FWS), you must accept or decline the offer using your SIS access and submit a Work-Study application by the appropriate deadline.  If you do not accept the offer or if you do not submit a Work-Study application you cannot be considered for FWS employment.

Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress

You must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress, as defined in Rensselaer’s Academic Catalog. Students receiving need-based Federal financial aid are expected to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward achieving their degrees. If you do not, you may lose your ability to receive these programs.  Additional information may also be found here.

Maintain Full-time Status

It is assumed that you will enroll full-time (at least 12 credits per semester).  Students are advised to discuss plans and receive approval to enroll on a part-time basis with the Advising & Learning Assistance Center (ALAC). Changing your enrollment to less than full-time will result in a reduction or elimination of awards that require full-time enrollment.

Financial Aid, Tuition and Fee Refunds

Tuition and fees apply to in-person, hybrid, and/or remote instruction.  No refunds or credits will be provided should there be a change in course format (i.e. full remote instruction) due to pandemic or any other reason.

When students withdraw from all classes prior to the end of a term, their billing account is reviewed to identify the amount of tuition, fees, and other charges they remain responsible to pay. Their financial aid account is reviewed to identify the amount of Federal, State, or Institutional aid that may be retained as payment against their adjusted charges. The return of funds does not apply to any student whose date of withdrawal is beyond the 60 percent enrollment period for which the student has been charged.  

The student's last date of attendance is used for both account adjustment calculations and reflects the date the student began the Institute's withdrawal process, the student's last date of recorded attendance (or other acceptable academic activity), or the midpoint of the semester for a student who leaves without notifying the Institute. Official withdrawals and leaves are coordinated through the Office of Student Experience.

Tuition and RPI grants and scholarships are adjusted based on the amount of time the student was enrolled.  For example, a student whose tuition is reduced by 80% will have 20% of their tuition charges remain on their bill and the student will retain 20% of their Rensselaer grants, scholarships, and other gift aid awards for the semester. For additional information regarding policies that impact the refund of tuition, fee, room, board, and other charges, please visit the Bursar Office website or catalog information.

Federal grant and loan eligibility is adjusted based on the number of days the student was academically active within the term of withdrawal. For example, a student who was enrolled for 17% of the days in a semester would retain 17% of their Federal grant and loan eligibility total. State of New York and other state grant programs follow similar policies when students withdraw prior to completing a term of enrollment.

For additional details please visit the Financial Aid Refund and Repayment section of the RPI catalog.

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~ General Information ~

General Information


Your Awards

In SIS, select Financial Aid from the Main Menu or click on the Financial Aid Menu tab. Select Award Package by Aid Year, then choose the Aid Year and click Submit.  There you will see your estimated cost of attendance and your financial aid awards. Unless otherwise noted, we are assuming full-time attendance, a room and board allowance based on the costs of an on-campus, double occupancy room and the average board plan. Your actual expenses may differ depending on your living arrangements. Billing statements are provided electronically by the Bursar Office in July for the Fall Semester, in December for the Spring Semester, and in May for the Summer Semester.  

Recipients of the Rensselaer Tuition Remission benefit are not eligible to receive other Rensselaer scholarships or grants unless the student would otherwise receive Rensselaer aid that would exceed the value of the Tuition Remission benefit.  The total of all sources of grants, scholarships, education loans, and Federal Work Study may not be greater than the published cost of attendance used for financial aid purposes.

The total of all RPI awards may not exceed the total tuition charges during periods of graduate enrollment, including the Coterminal Degree Program (effective with students accepted to the Coterminal Program Fall 2023 and later).

Here are additional topics related to our awarding and billing environment:

Cost of Attendance

This includes the basic annual expenses as indicated on your award letter. The health insurance fee is not included since this charge may be waived if you have alternate health insurance by accessing or contacting the Rensselaer Health Center at 518-276-6287.  The official Cost of Attendance is generally finalized in the spring preceding the start of the academic year. An estimated cost is used before that time.

Average Direct Loan fee, personal or other miscellaneous expenses are NOT charges that are billed to you by Rensselaer. Books and supplies may be charged to your student account if purchased through the Rensselaer Book Store.  Financial aid in excess of your billable Rensselaer charges may be used to defray these costs.

The Average Direct Loan fee is based on the average fee paid by all students who applied for a Direct Loan in the previous academic year.  Your fee may be higher or lower than the average fee in the Cost of Attendance depending on how much you borrow.  Specific fee details are provided in the Federal Direct Loans section of this document.

Estimated Total Family Cost to Attend Rensselaer

This figure represents our cost of attendance including books, transportation, and personal expenses minus your financial aid awards.  This figure will be higher than your estimated direct billing costs and does not represent the "Student Aid Index" (SAI) as determined by the Department of Education through the FAFSA filing process.

Estimate Your Annual Direct Billing to be Paid

To estimate your annual billing amount, subtract the total of your gift awards and accepted student loans from the total of your actual tuition and fees plus your actual room and board charges.   Do not subtract your work study eligibility.  Your actual charges will be based on your confirmed enrollment level and housing selection.

Additional Resources

Many students/parents utilize other resources to help meet the remaining cost after all financial aid has been considered.  Our Financing a Rensselaer Education page provides information about the most common alternative funding options.

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Revision of Aid Awards

The Rensselaer Office of Financial Aid reserves the right to revise your award according to Federal, State, and Institute policies and regulations or due to unexpected business disruptions caused by natural disasters or other emergency situations impacting campus operations.

Situations when awards are reviewed for revision include but are not limited to the following:

  • When the student or family make changes to their original application information
  • When we make application information changes while completing an income verification review or resolving conflicting information (Federal or Institute Selections)
  • Based on student receipt of additional outside aid awards such as Veteran Education Benefits, Tuition Remission, or other “Outside Scholarships”
  • When the student withdrawals from some, or all, of their courses
  • If the student's renewal FAFSA indicates a lower calculated need for funding (Cost of Attendance minus FAFSA "Student Aid Index")
  • If the student is granted waiver approval to end their on-campus housing and meal plan obligation sooner than required by Student Living and Learning policies

You may notify us of outside awards by sending a completed Outside Scholarship Report Form.  Scholarships that we receive that do not include information about renewability will be assumed to be renewable until we are notified otherwise.

Generally, outside aid will be treated as follows:

  • First, it will be used toward any unmet need in your package. Unmet need is the difference between your Estimated Family Cost to Attend Rensselaer and your Federal SAI.
  • Next, if the outside aid exceeds your unmet need, Federal Regulations require us to reduce need-based Federal sources (i.e. Work Study, SEOG, and/or Subsidized Direct Loans) by the amount received.
  • Finally, the remaining outside aid will replace existing Rensselaer need-based aid rounded up to the nearest $50 increment.   This adjustment will not impact your Rensselaer merit scholarships, unless combined sources exceed the  Cost of Attendance.

We will verify the accuracy of the information reported on your initial and/or subsequent FAFSA and/or CSS Profile applications.  Please note that your award eligibility may change based on this comparison.  Should your eligibility change a revised award notification will be made available to you.

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Other Family Members in College

In determining your eligibility for Rensselaer need-based grants and/or scholarships, we do not consider other family members who are attending graduate school nor a parent attending college.  

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Disbursement of Aid

With the exception of work programs and outside scholarships, awards for students who have completed all application requirements including submitting required eligibility verification documents in a timely manner will be disbursed to their billing account immediately prior to the start of each term. Students selected for FAFSA data verification must have all requested documents submitted to the Office of Financial Aid at least two weeks prior to the start of their first term of the award year to help ensure their eligibility review is completed prior to the start of their first term of the year.

Financial aid eligibility is based on the student’s actual enrollment level for each term.  If it is determined after the start of any term that a student whose aid disbursed based on assumption of full time enrollment is not enrolled in 12+ credit hours, their awards will be reduced based on Federal, State, and Institutional awarding rules and regulations.

Book Expenses for Federal Pell Grant Recipients:   All colleges must provide a mechanism for Federal Pell Grant recipients to obtain their books within seven days from the start of each term if the student is expected to receive a credit balance refund from their Pell Grant. Rensselaer accommodates Pell eligible student needs by allowing bookstore charges to be added to the student’s Bursar Office billing account charges.

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~ Program Information ~

Program Information


Grants and Scholarships

Recipients of Rensselaer awards are provided a maximum of eight semesters of full-time undergraduate eligibility, with the exception of School of Architecture program students who may receive up to ten semesters of eligibility. Additional award policy description documents can be found on our website. Specific documents are provided for: Coterminal Degree ProgramsArch Enrollment pattern awarding; and Summer Semester awarding for non-Arch students. 

Merit based award amounts neither increase nor decrease in subsequent academic years, unless it is due to reasons described in the Revision of Awards section of the Student Guide to Financial Aid.

Need based awards require continued demonstrated need per annual FAFSA filing for renewal.

Returning student eligibility for Federal Pell Grants and/or state grants is fully dependent on annual FAFSA filing outcomes.

Awards below with an asterisk (*) are supported by donations from Rensselaer alumni and friends. If a basic Rensselaer gift award is merit based, all or a portion of the awards may be replaced at any time with an endowed Rensselaer merit award that best matches a student’s profile and/or academic record. If a basic award is based on financial need, the award may be replaced all or in part with an endowed Rensselaer award that is need-based.

Rensselaer Leadership Award*

This merit-based award is given in recognition of an outstanding record of academic and personal achievement, a strong commitment to excellence, and illustration of intellectual curiosity.  

Rensselaer Medal Award

First presented in 1916, the Medal is a merit-based scholarship awarded to promising secondary school juniors who have distinguished themselves in mathematics and science. Responsibility for selecting the Medalist belongs to the faculty and staff within the participating secondary school. 

Rensselaer Garnet Baltimore Award*

This merit-based award is given to outstanding students of African American descent.

Rensselaer Grant*

This need-based grant is awarded to students who exhibit strong academic and extracurricular achievement, and display a strong commitment to excellence. Award amount may change if the student’s demonstrated need decreases significantly.

Rensselaer Access Grant*

This limited need-based grant is awarded to students who demonstrate extreme financial hardship as determined by the Rensselaer Office of Financial Aid.

Rensselaer Recognition Award*

This award is not need-based.It is provided to students based upon a holistic view of the student’s academic record, extracurricular activities, and potential for success at the Institute.

2024 Bicentennial Award*

This award assists recipients to attain the benefit of a Rensselaer education and is supported by donations from Rensselaer alumni and friends since the inception of the Institute in 1824.

Federal Pell Grant

Need-based aid that we have estimated using the information provided on the FAFSA application.  Students are limited to 12 semesters of full-time eligibility or the part-time equivalent. 

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

Awarded to some Pell Grant eligible students who demonstrate exceptional financial need.  

Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

A need-based state grant awarded to New York State residents to be used only toward tuition. The amount shown may be an estimate based on data you provided. If you have not already done so, you will need to complete an Express TAP Application (ETA) provided by New York’s Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC); you may apply on-line. HESC will send a certificate, either in writing or electronically, indicating the actual amount of your award; it is not necessary for you to send it to us. RPI will not complete enrollment certification until after a student has fully incurred their tuition charges for a given term. Funds will disburse to student accounts sometime after the enrollment certification is complete.


Student Loans & Work Study

Visit Federal Student Aid online for additional information.

Subsidized Federal Direct Loan

"Subsidized" means that the federal government pays the interest on your behalf while you attend college at least half-time and six months thereafter. Eligibility is based on financial need. The Department of Education may retain a percentage (currently 1.057%) of the amount you borrow for an origination fee. The annual interest rate is a fixed rate equal to the high yield Treasury Note as of June 1st plus 2.05%.  The 2023-2024 interest rate is 5.50%. You will repay interest plus principal beginning six months after you graduate, registered for less than six credits, or leave school.  The monthly payment varies depending on the total amount borrowed. The standard repayment term is 10 years. 

Subsidized Federal Direct Loans are only available to undergraduate students.

Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan

"Unsubsidized" means that the Federal government does not pay the interest on your behalf while you attend college at least half-time. Interest begins accruing while you are in school at the time of disbursement. You may choose to make interest payments while in school.Should you choose not to make payments while you are in school, interest accrued will be added to the principal amount borrowed. The annual interest rate, loan origination fee and loan repayment term are the same as in the Subsidized loan program.

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Loan Fees & Interest

Requires matriculation with enrollment levels at 6 credit hours of enrollment per semester  Federal Direct Subsidized Loan Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
Need Based Yes No
Subsidized (Federal government pays interest while in school)  Yes No
Interest Rate (23/24)  5.50% 5.50%
Origination Fee - Loans with First Disbursement Between 10/1/23 - 9/30/24  1.057% 1.057%
Can pay interest while in school?  No Yes
Standard Repayment Period  10 years 10 Years
Grace Period  6 months 6 months
Federal Direct Loan Annual Maximum 

Freshman:  $5,500 with no more than $3,500 from the subsidized program Sophomore:  $6,500 with no more than $4,500 from the subsidized program Junior +:  $7,500 with no more than $5,500 from the subsidized program 


Additional unsubsidized loans for Independent student or … dependent students whose parents are denied the PLUS loan Freshman/Sophomore:  $4,000 
Junior/Senior +:  $5,000 


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Federal Work Study (FWS)

The amount of your FWS award is the maximum amount you may earn during the academic year.  If you do not work, you will not receive any FWS funding.  Working up to 7 hours a week should allow you to earn your maximum award. Remember, you must accept the offer of Federal Work-Study on SIS and submit a Work-Study application by the appropriate deadline on the application before you will be consideration for employment.

Bi-weekly payment for hours worked is made directly to students.  Potential earnings do not appear as anticipdated aid on student billing statements. Students are placed into positions by the Office of Financial Aid based on best match to student skills and experience. There is no guarantee that the money will be earned or that you will receive your preferred job.