Click on the questions below to find answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about Financial Aid at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Financial aid is the combination of gift, loan and/or work study assistance that is included in a financial aid award or "package" designed to help a student manage the cost of attending CIM.
Your financial need is calculated as the difference between the Cost of Attendance (COA) to CIM for the year and the ability of you and your family to reasonably contribute to those expenses. Generally, the formula to determine student need is as follows:
COA minus FAFSA EFC = Financial Need.
The COA includes both billed/direct costs as well as estimates/averages for non-billed/indirect costs. Indirect cost values are based on current student survey responses. Your true cost may be more or less than our budgeted COA. You may view the 13-14 COA budget here. The 14-15 year COA will be published in February, 2014.
Many families mistakenly think they won't qualify for any financial aid other than merit scholarships and fail to apply. This is not true. Actually, a student with a valid FAFSA and no financial need is eligible for the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan or/or Direct PLUS Loan (parent of dependent undergrads or graduate student borrower). We encourage all students to apply for need-based aid by submitting these forms.
No. CIM's application process is online and does NOT involve a separate CIM financial aid application. The next steps for need-based aid require that by 2/15, applicants seeking need-based aid must complete the FAFSA, CSS PROFILE and Non-Custodial Statement, as applicable. See the "How to Apply" tab for more details. Students seeking only merit scholarship may have the FAFSA and PROFILE waived.
No. A decision regarding your admission will be made without regard to, and without knowledge of, financial circumstances. Scholarship / Financial aid is offered only to students that have been officially admitted.
CIM Institutional Scholarships are awarded based on need and merit as well as our assessment of your potential. We take into account all of the following: financial need as determined by FAFSA and/or CSS PROFILE (for those seeking need-based consideration), audition results, academic record, letters of recommendation, test scores, etc. Federal aid eligibility is solely determined by student FAFSA results. Timeliness of required documents is also a factor.
You may always file a FAFSA with estimated figures. Keep in mind that you are REQUIRED to submit a corrected FAFSA when the actual numbers are known, if they are different at all from what you had previously estimated. If a corrected FAFSA results in a different EFC, your financial aid package may be adjusted to remain within Federal guidelines.
DO NOT wait until after February 15 to submit your FAFSA just because your taxes are not prepared. While it may take a little more time if you need to estimate first, then correct later, that is much better than submitting the FAFSA late just to have the return completed first. Failure to have forms completed by the due dates posted gives the impression that your financial aid award is not a priority.
We strongly urge all FAFSA filers to have their tax return data updated with the IRS Data Retrieval option on the FAFSA. This will assure the correct values are entered for the tax return fields and will make the Verification process much simpler for both student (and parent, if applicable) for all the FAFSAs selected for the Verification Process.
All aid offered is pending and subject to change until finalized tax return data has been submitted on the student FAFSA. The FAFSA priority deadline for new applicants is February 15; for returning students, March 1.
Beginning February 1, 2014, students and parents who have submitted their 2013 IRS tax return will be able to select the IRS Data Retrieval option on the 14-15 FAFSA to transfer tax information there. We strongly encourage you to select this option during the initial filing or when subsequent corrections are made to your FAFSA. This option will expedite the processing of your financial aid application and improve the accuracy of your aid eligibility in a timely fashion. Until final tax information is documented via an official federal option listed above, disbursement of all need-based federal aid for all students will be on hold.
According to the IRS, electronically filed tax return information will be available online from the IRS site in 1-2 weeks after the return has been filed. Data from paper tax returns will be available in 6-8 weeks. Detailed step by step help for using the IRS DRT is found at http://www.irsdataretrievaltool.com/irs-data-retrieval-tool-step-by-step-instructions.
*You will be unable to use this option if:
- Your marital status changes after December 31.
- You filed married filing separately.
- You filed an amended return.
- You filed a foreign tax return.
*For any of these scenarios, filers will need to request an IRS Tax Return Transcript via IRS Form 4506-T, www.irs.gov/Individuals/Order-a-Transcript or by calling 1-800-908-9946.
Schools may no longer accept personal photocopies of tax returns to verify FAFSA data. Now, we may only use official IRS Data Retrieval which is selected on your FAFSA to import the processed tax return data or an official IRS Tax Return Transcript of the required tax return(s). IRS Tax Transcripts may be requested by calling 1-800-908-9946, online at www.irs.gov/Individuals/Order-a-Transcript or by sending IRS Form 4506-T to the IRS. CIM will require either the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or the official Tax Return Transcript before any federal need based aid is disbursed. No exceptions. If you are a late filer or plan to file an extension, you may need to make alternate arrangements to pay your bill if we are not able to process the federal aid in a timely manner to satisfy the semester billing due date.
The EFC, or Expected Family Contribution, is the Department of Education's (DOE) calculated measure of your family's financial strength and is the "result" of the FAFSA. The EFC is the dollar amount the DOE calculates you and your family can afford to contribute to your educational costs for that year. The EFC is used to determine your eligibility for Federal student aid. CIM also references the EFC when CIM Institutional Scholarships are awarded.
The formula for the EFC calculation is established by law. The lower the EFC, the more financial need exists for the student. The EFC may change if corrections are later made to the FAFSA (from Verification). If the EFC changes, your aid package may change as well, if the difference impacts aid eligibility.
The SAR, or Student Aid Report, is the student's version of the data sent to schools from your submitted FAFSA. It is normally emailed to you 1-3 days after the online FAFSA is submitted. It is very important to review the SAR immediately to make sure the FAFSA was successfully processed and there are no errors or missing information that needs to be resolved. Until the processed FAFSA generates a valid EFC, the FAFSA process is not complete. The EFC may be any number from 0 to 99999, but if blank, there is an issue that requires attention.
If the FAFSA is missing signatures, either student or parent, it will not process. If the SAR has an asterisk (*) next to the EFC, that means the FAFSA was selected for Verification by the Department of Education. If this occurs, your school is required to collect additional documentation from you, including signed IRS tax transcripts (if the IRS Data Retrieval tool was not used) to verify the data submitted on the FAFSA is accurate.
Yes, for need-based aid CIM requires the CSS PROFILE for both undergraduate and graduate as well as either U.S./Green Card or international status. The PROFILE is not required for students returning for subsequent year(s) of study in the same program.
The due date for the 14-15 CSS PROFILE is February 15, 2014, the same due date as the 14-15 FAFSA (also required for all U.S./Permanent Resident need-based aid applicants).
Generally, no. CIM has limited Federal funding for Work Study and we typically award it all at the beginning of the year. You may request consideration for Work Study the next year on the FAFSA and/or your Intent to Re-Enroll Form. There is always a waiting list of students seeking Work Study, as funding limits for the program never cover all of the students who wish to participate, who would otherwise be eligible.
Limited funding levels for many types of aid, including Work Study, do not allow CIM to offer Work Study to all students who would otherwise be eligible. Work Study is a need-based program. It is awarded first to the students who met all aid application/aid renewal deadlines who had the highest financial need. If you are not awarded Work Study, you may request to be put on the waiting list, in the event funds may become available later. Eligibility is year specific, so if it is awarded one year, do not assume it can be offered the next. Work Study does not automatically renew for the next year, as eligibility is year-specific.
Maybe. Many students and parents are astonished by the amount calculated as the EFC. Many do not feel they could actually afford to pay that much each year for college costs. The EFC is used to determine Federal aid eligibility, as required. CIM awards as much need-based aid as possible, but we must balance our own budget which means we cannot always match your need. In some cases, parent or private loans will be needed to offset unmet need that CIM is unable to award to the student. For institutional aid purposes, you should view the EFC in actuality more as an index by which schools are able to compare financial need across their entire population of students/applicants.
Your expected family contribution (EFC) is calculated by the US Department of Education based on information provided on your FAFSA. The analysis considers income and assets of the student and parent while making allowances for family size, taxes, and certain living expenses.
No. Parents are only responsible for any Federal PLUS loans they receive or if you are under 18 and they co-sign your loan. In general, you alone are responsible for repaying your educational loans.
However, if your lender or loan servicer offers an electronic payment service that automatically deducts monthly payments from a bank account, your parents can agree to have the payments deducted from their account. But your parents are under no obligation to repay your loans.
If you are a parent of a dependent undergraduate student (must be U.S. citizen or green card holder) you may apply for a PLUS Loan for any amount up to the Cost of Attendance minus any other aid/resources the student has. The parent will complete the PLUS Application and sign a Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) online at studentloans.gov.
PLUS Loans are subject to credit approval from the Direct Loan Servicing Center. If the PLUS Loan is denied due to credit check, the student will automatically become eligible for an additional $4000 Unsubsidized Direct Loan ($5000 if Junior or Senior student), or the parent may add a creditworthy cosigner to the loan.
If you are a parent that has taken out a PLUS Loan in the past year, you do not need to do the Master Promissory Note again. Only the PLUS Loan Application is required annually.
For additional information about PLUS Loans, please visit this government website: Parent PLUS Loans
There is a Federal law pertaining to student privacy, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Tuition bills, financial aid information, loan refunds, etc. are always addressed to the student for this reason. Parent PLUS loan refunds are the only exception, since this loan is taken out by the parent, not the student. It is the student's responsibility to notify the parent(s) if the student expects a parent to take care of paying tuition or filling out forms, etc. The student may fill out a FERPA release form, so that if a parent calls with specific questions, we are allowed to discuss them with the parent. However, mailings will always go to the address provided by the student.
Starting with 14-15 applicants, CIM will offer merit-only CIM Institutional Scholarships based on audition results, academic record, letters of recommendation, test scores, student potential, etc. However, this is the only award that will be considered. If the student seeks consideration for any Work Study, Student Loans or other federal/state grant aid, the FAFSA and/or CSS PROFILE is mandatory.
The FAFSA is required (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) for those seeking federal student need-based aid, including loans, work study and federal/state grants. Students awarded any federal aid will require student (and parent, as applicable) tax return information verified via either IRS Data Retrieval Tool or an official IRS Tax Return Transcript, before such funds may be disbursed to the student account.
All applicants seeking need-based aid must also complete the CSS Profile in which parent income and assets must be disclosed.
Note that all graduate students are automatically classified as independent for federal student aid purposes. As they have this independent status, the FAFSA for graduate students does NOT require any parental information at all. Only undergraduate FAFSA filers must include parental data.
The FAFSA asks many specific questions to determine if a student is dependent or independent. Unless you can legally answer "yes" (and provide documentation, if requested) to any of the following questions, you are a dependent student for federal aid purposes. Note that dependency status for aid purposes does NOT have the same criteria as being a dependent for tax purposes. For the 14-15 academic year, the FAFSA dependency questions are:
- Were you born before January 1, 1991?
- As of today, are you married? (Also answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced
- At the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
- Do you now have or will you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015?
- Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2015?
- At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in legal guardianship?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
In very limited cases, schools may consider a dependency override. These situations generally must involve documentable cases of abandonment, abuse or neglect. Specifically, the following circumstances do not merit a dependency override, either alone or in combination:
- Parents refuse to contribute to the student's education;
- Parents are unwilling to provide information on the application or for verification;
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes;
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.
For more information on what may or may not be a valid reason for a school to consider a dependency override, please see http://www.finaid.org/educators/pj/dependencyoverrides.phtml. Any request for review must be accompanied by documentation from a person other than the student (police, clergy, counselor, etc.)
Award information is provided by April 1 to admitted students, assuming all forms and required documents are submitted on time. This process is entirely online, via the student NetPartner account, CIM’s Student Financial Aid Portal.
CIM makes its best offer of financial assistance in the initial award made to students prior to the first semester of study. CIM understands that certain circumstances may present your family with unique financial challenges and therefore newly admitted students may request reconsideration of our aid offer through a formal appeal process. Newly admitted student appeals will not be considered until all admitted students have received an aid offer, or by April 1, whichever is first. Once CIM has received your tuition deposit/Intent to Enroll or you have accepted your CIM aid offer, we are unable to accept an appeal unless the triggering involuntary and unexpected event occurs after the date of confirmation of Intent to Enroll, and can be documented as such. If an appeal is warranted, please print and return the appropriate form below, based on your aid request type (as noted on your application for admission and printed on your award notification email from the Financial Aid Office):
- Need and Merit Applicant Appeal Form
- Merit Only Applicant Appeal Form (it is generally expected such a request involves changing aid request status to both need and merit and submit previously waived need based application forms for re-evaluation).
Current student appeals may only be considered in the event of a recent, involuntary, unexpected AND documentable event such as parent loss of job/reduction of income, major illness or death of immediate family member, natural disaster, etc. Receipts, canceled checks, letters from employers, doctors or other applicable documentation must accompany any appeal. For all such special circumstance appeals to be considered, completion of the Verification process (if not already selected by Department of Education), which requires official 2013 tax return information in addition to the Appeal Form must take place before your review will occur. Please allow 3 weeks for the results of this appeal CIM will not begin reviewing current student appeals for the 14-15 year until May 1. CIM specifically will NOT accept an appeal for any of the following reasons, whether singly or in combination:
- Annual increase in cost of attendance - this is not a special circumstance, it is applicable to every student every year and is disclosed to all upon admission.
- Parent retirement, unless due to disability - this is considered a voluntary change in income.
- Illness/death of family member other than spouse, parent or sibling - this is outside the scope of financial status of immediate family.
- Student wins competitions or excels academically - being a good student is not a "special circumstance," you were admitted with the expectation that you will thrive at CIM.
- Graduate students: Parent reduction of income (for any reason) for U.S. or permanent resident - no parental income/assets are included on your FAFSA for your financial need determination, as all graduate students are classified as independent for federal aid purposes. As such, there is an assumed $0 parent contribution for all graduate students already.
- Fluctuations in currency exchange rates between the U.S. and another country.
Download form here: Returning Student Appeal Form
Notes for ALL appeals: Not all appeals will result in increased aid. Nor should CIM be expected to provide institutional financial aid to cover an unexpected loss of financial resources while enrolled for study. In such circumstances, the student may need to take out additional loans privately, take a leave of absence or withdraw from school. Ability to pay is a consideration that must be made when deciding which school to attend. CIM's admission philosophy is to encourage students and parents to find a school that is "the best fit"; "best fit" includes financial affordability. All appeals are considered on a case by case basis.
You are required by federal regulations to complete entrance counseling prior to borrowing a Federal Direct and or Federal Perkins Loan. The counseling contains important information on both obtaining and repaying your loans. It is important that you fully understand all financial aid transactions prior to entering a commitment.
Since entrance counseling is required for recipients of these loans, funds from the loans will not be applied to the student's tuition account until entrance counseling has been completed.
Maybe. Since CIM and/or federal aid may have already met the student's full financial need, previously awarded aid may be adjusted if the student receives additional aid CIM was unaware of when the awards were originally packaged. If a student receives an external scholarship from a source not directly associated with CIM, and, if the student's financial need has been met, the scholarship will be substituted in place of loan or work study assistance previously awarded. If a student’s need has not been met, the scholarship will be used to meet financial need first. If Federal need-based aid has been awarded and demonstrated need has been met, then loans, work- study and/or grant aid will be reduced in that order to prevent an "over-award," which Federal law prohibits. Under no circumstances may total aid from all sources exceed cost of attendance. Grants and Scholarship funds would always be the last type of aid adjusted.
Generally, no. CIM Scholarships are renewed each year at the same fixed amount for the normal duration of your program as long as satisfactory academic and artistic progress is maintained and renewal application deadlines are met. Students who excel or win competitions should not expect additional CIM aid. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA to retain CIM scholarship at the same level. If there are extenuating financial circumstances that occur after a student is enrolled (parent divorce, loss of job, major medical illness in the family, etc.) the student may submit a "Special Circumstance Appeal" and have the aid package re-evaluated. Otherwise, the scholarship amount is expected to remain constant throughout the student's enrollment at CIM.
CIM cannot guarantee to meet your full financial need. CIM's admission philosophy is to encourage students and parents to find a school that is "the best fit." "Best fit" includes financial affordability.
There are many factors that may figure into such differences:
- Not all schools participate in all of the same aid programs and may have varying levels of federal funding to support those programs.
- Your merit rank at one school may differ greatly to that at another school. Admission and aid offered at CIM is based upon comparison of the newly admitted student to the achievement level and expectation of current CIM students, which may vary considerably to other school(s).
- Some schools have much more competitive criteria for admission than others. Admission and financial aid at a conservatory is not necessarily comparable to that of a state school or community college.
- Different cost of attendance budgets at schools can impact your eligibility for a specific type of aid at one school differently from another.
- From year to year, any given school may have more or less openings for any particular instrument, which may figure into the admission and financial aid decisions considerably.
Maybe. If you receive CIM scholarship, grants (Pell, SEOG, etc.), and/or outside scholarships and those combined types of aid exceed the cost of tuition and other qualified fees as defined by the IRS, the amount exceeding qualified tuition and fees is taxable to the student, and must be reported on the student tax return. Any grant aid that covers room and board expenses, specifically IS taxable. CIM is only required to report to the IRS these taxable situations for nonresident alien students, but U.S. citizens and Green Card holders are still liable to report on their own. To see if you have taxable aid, please consult a tax accountant or the the IRS web page. CIM does not provide tax advice.
All types of work-related financial aid, such as Work Study, Service Awards, Fellowships, etc. are taxed prior to the disbursement of the award. These types of aid require the student to complete new hire tax forms to get on the CIM payroll before funds will be disbursed. The gross pay (award amount) and net pay (amount after taxes) are detailed on the annual W-2 which is provided to the student for use in preparing the tax return.
See the "Types of Aid" page to see what forms of CIM aid are applicable to international students. The CSS PROFILE is required for all international students seeking need-based financial aid consideration. The following links provide excellent information on financial aid resources for international students, including free searchable databases of scholarship and grant assistance:
Students can usually apply their financial aid to assist in covering the cost of studying abroad. Make sure your FAFSA is up-to-date for the period when you wish to study abroad.
Before applying to a study abroad program, check the program's expenses. Take into consideration the cost of tuition and fees, room and board, airfare, passport, visa, immunizations, fluctuations in exchange rates and spending money. While the amount of your aid may be increased due to the additional costs involved in studying abroad (flight, cost of living, etc.), do not assume you will be receive adjustments to your financial aid to cover the cover the costs of your program. Always seek additional or alternative sources of funding.
The timing of aid disbursements will be adjusted to reflect the enrollment dates at the study abroad school, not those of students enrolled at CIM. There will be documentation requirements of the start/end dates of your semester abroad, as well as proof of your enrollment and completion of coursework. Be sure to discuss this with the CIM Financial Aid Office far in advance of actually leaving for your study abroad school, to avoid confusion later.
To be eligible for Title IV funds, a student must be a regular student as defined in section 600.2 of the General Provisions regulations: "A person who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential offered by that institution." Therefore, students are not eligible to receive federal Title IV assistance for credit hours/course work which will not count towards the completion of that student's degree program requirements.
For example, many degree programs include "elective" courses and, as such, students may receive Title IV aid only for those elective courses which are a required part of the program completion requirements. If audited or "pass/fail" courses are elective courses and the credits received will count towards program completion, they may be included in the student's enrollment status. The same would be true for graduate level courses taken while enrolled in an undergraduate program; the student would only be allowed to receive Title IV aid to cover the graduate courses if one or more of those graduate courses counted as elective credit towards the student's undergraduate degree program requirements. Certain exceptions exist for remedial courses and non-degree students who are taking courses that are required for enrollment in a program leading to a degree or certificate. Students must plan for a full time class load made up completely with courses applicable for their degree requirements. If enrolled in more classes above and beyond the base full time load, that’s ok (for the normal program duration and so long as total attempted credits do not reach the cumulative 150% attempted limit as noted in the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy).