Financial Aid Basics
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 college.
To be eligible to receive most types of financial assistance from CIM, you must register for a full-time class load. An undergraduate full-time load is 12 credit hours. Full-time load for graduate students is 9 credit hours.
Before receiving the first disbursement of any aid, all students must have on file with the Registrar’s Office their official final transcript from High School (or Home School or GED) as well as official final undergraduate college transcript for graduate students. These items are generally due no later than July 15.
Students who attend half-time may receive prorated Federal aid, if eligible. Half-time is 6 credit hours for undergraduate students and 5 credit hours for graduate students. Enrollment for less than a full-time class load must be approved in advance by the CIM Dean.
Basic student eligibility for Federal Student Aid requires a valid FAFSA and meet these requirements.
While we do our best to meet as much need as possible, CIM cannot guarantee to meet all of your financial need. Awards may include a combination of scholarships, grants, loans, work study, or assistantships. Degree program, year of attendance, FAFSA EFC (Expected Family Contribution), CIM funding levels from the government and our institutional budget all are factors in determining how much we may award you from any type of aid.
As the above-mentioned factors change from year to year, the amount offered from each type of aid may vary, other than the CIM Scholarship, which is renewed at the same level each year for the normal duration of the program, assuming renewal deadlines are met and the student maintains satisfactory GPA, academic and artistic progress.
Prior to confirming the status as a confirmed new student, all international students are required by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to document the ability to pay for the first year at CIM. It is required to obtain the I-20 needed to get the F-1 visa. While this requirement only pertains to ability to pay for the first year, please plan ahead and consider your ability to fund the additional year(s) of your CIM enrollment.
The following links provide excellent information on financial aid resources for international students, including free searchable databases of scholarship and grant assistance:
If you have a sponsor or other aid to help pay the first year, and it is not available in subsequent years, CIM shall not be expected to make up the difference. Remember, the CIM Scholarship is renewable at the same dollar amount each year for the normal duration of the program (assuming GPA, academic and artistic progress requirements are being met). Newly admitted international applicants must show documentation of ability to pay prior to being confirmed as a new student and this process should be complete by the April 15 (graduate) or May 1 (undergraduate) Intent to Enroll deadlines.
International students must also document official TOEFL score minimums as defined by the CIM Admission office.
Each year, U.S. citizens and permanent residents will submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The processed result of the FAFSA is the EFC, the "Expected Family Contribution," which is the U.S. Department of Education's determination of your family's financial strength.
The EFC is the key element for determining most Federal and state aid eligibility, some of which is need-based and some of which is not. A zero EFC indicates the highest financial need and a 99999 indicates the lowest.
Even if you feel your family situation will not result in financial aid, we do encourage all to complete the process, as CIM Scholarships take into account both merit and financial need and eligibility for both the Federal Direct Stafford and PLUS Loans do not require any financial need, but are only an option if there is a valid FAFSA on file.
Your EFC may result in significantly different aid offers among schools. Not all schools participate in all of the same aid programs and may have varying levels of federal funding for those programs. With the variance in cost among schools, you may not qualify for a specific type of aid at one school, but you may at another. The amount of your EFC does not mean that CIM specifically will expect you and your family to pay that amount, but we are required to use that number in the aid awarding process to compare relative need among students and for all federal need based aid decisions.
The FAFSA is year-specific. Your EFC may fluctuate from year to year, which may cause your Federal and State aid to fluctuate as well. If you wish to get a better idea of where you will stand prior to completing your actual year-specific FAFSA, you may complete the "FAFSA 4caster" in advance at www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov.
In accordance with federal financial aid regulations, the data entered on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by many students must be verified for accuracy. The U.S. Department of Education selects approximately one third of all FAFSA filers to undergo this process. The CIM Financial Aid Office also has authority to select applicants and conduct the Verification process. If you are selected for FAFSA Verification, your eligibility for federal financial assistance for the award year cannot be finalized until this process has been completed.
If FAFSA Verification is required. For more details, please refer to the Verification Policy.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is designed to protect the confidentiality of the records that educational institutions maintain on their students and to give students access to their records. Students must provide written consent to CIM annually if they wish to give us permission to discuss student-specific information to parents or anyone else other than the student. Learn more in CIM's FERPA Policy.
The SAP Policy form details academic standards that are required to be eligible for nearly all financial aid types.
CIM does its best to offer students competitive awards based on financial need and merit. Students are strongly encouraged to seek local, state, and community-based scholarships to help offset the cost of attendance. CIM applicants who experience a significant change in his/her family's financial circumstances after completing the FAFSA may request reconsideration for need-based aid. You must be able to document your family's change of circumstances. To request reconsideration, please email email@example.com and attach all supporting documentation. If you have questions about your financial aid package and ability to enroll at CIM, please contact our Financial Aid Office to discuss your options.
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. Please allow 3 weeks for the results of this appeal. CIM will not begin reviewing current student appeals for the following year until after May 1. Links to forms for enrolled students are found on Studio.
Cost of Attendance Adjustment Appeal
The Cost of Attendance (COA) is an estimated student budget that is designed to provide students, living within a moderate lifestyle, an accurate projection of reasonable costs for a typical academic year (9 months; does not include summer). There is statutory language that determines what cost items schools are to include in these budgets. In limited cases, a student may petition to have the estimated COA adjusted to account for their costs being significantly different than the averages we set for the standard budget. If such an adjustment occurs (documentation of expense and a form is required), it will never result in any additional CIM funding, but may allow a student additional borrowing options via federal and/or private loans. Schools are limited by law on what may be adjusted within the COA and such adjustments may only occur for expenses that occur during the applicable period of enrollment. Expenses incurred in the summer or in a prior or future semester are not applicable for COA adjustment consideration in any case.
Visit Studio to access the Cost of Attendance Appeal Form.
- Instrument Purchase - CIM permits students to petition one time in their CIM enrollment (lifetime) an appeal to adjust the student's COA of up to $10,000 for an instrument purchase. If the purchase price is less than $10,000, this appeal is only valid for up to the purchase price. If the purchase price exceeds $10,000 and you do not have other remaining aid eligibility, you will need to pursue funding the balance privately.
- Tuition Surcharges for Dual Degree and Double Major are automatically added to applicable student's budgets. Any other CIM surcharge, such as Secondary Study Fee or Over 18 Credit Surcharge would need to be requested by the student specifically to be added. A copy of that semester's billing statement must be attached to that COA adjustment request.
- Loan Fees - While the budgeted loan fees in the standard COA are based on school-wide borrowing averages, some students may borrow significantly more, which would incur higher loan fee costs. We can make adjustments to add the actual loan fee amount to the COA, but the student must request such a revision in writing to the Financial Aid Office
- Free Room and/or Board - If a student does not have to pay for these standard costs that are built into the budget for all students (Resident Assistant free housing, for example), the student's budget must be reduced to reflect that this is not an actual cost for the student. Students are required to notify the CIM Financial Aid Office when such free room or board situations arise.
- Other - While schools are not permitted to add any category of expense to a student budget that is not already in the federal COA, other adjustments to the existing categories may be possible, as applicable, for unique situations as reviewed on a case by case basis. This may include adjusted costs for Study Abroad expenses (if enrolled via CIM during standard academic year), dependent care costs and disability related expenses of student, computer purchase, etc. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you have any questions.
Note 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. All appeals are considered on a case by case basis.
When a student withdraws from school without completing a period of enrollment (semester), the school must determine the amount of Federal Title IV funds "earned" for the portion of the payment period or period of enrollment the student attended. Unearned Federal student aid must be returned. Earned aid that the student has not yet received must be offered to the student by the school as a post-withdrawal disbursement.
The Registrar and Dean Offices are designated as contact points for students who wish to withdraw.
Registrar/Dean determines the withdrawal date and reports it to other CIM offices. The Financial Aid Office then notifies the Department of Education (NSLDS).
The Financial Aid Director calculates the return of Title IV funds formula (per Federal regulations) and will notify the student of his or her obligation to repay funds, tracks the repayment, whether a repayment agreement will be offered and monitored by the institution, as well as the timing and responsibility for referring overpayments to DOE.
You may find our current CIM Polices as linked here:
Part Time means any semester with less than a full time status and requires advance approval from the CIM Dean. For undergraduates, full time status requires a minimum of 12 enrolled credits as of the last day of drop/add for any term (including summer). Graduate full time status requires a minimum of 9 enrolled credits as of the last day of drop/add for any term (including summer). To be eligible for any institutional aid, a student must be enrolled as full time for a fall or spring term. No institutional aid is applicable for summer sessions, regardless of full time/part time status. With half time enrollment (6 credits for undergraduate, 5 credits for graduate), a student may be eligible only for prorated federal Stafford, federal PLUS or private loans, as applicable. There are limited private loan opportunities for less than half time enrollment.
Students enrolled part time are billed the same fees as full time students, with the exception of the tuition fee itself. Instead of the standard full time tuition fee, the student is billed by the credit hour, which is calculated annually. The same payment policies apply to all students, regardless of enrollment status.
Any time a student drops below half time status, the grace period will begin for any loan(s) that they have. The grace period is a status where no payments on the loan are due, although interest will continue to accrue on any unsubsidized loan(s). Once the grace period has expired, normal repayment of your loan(s) begins, per the terms and conditions of the Promissory Note signed prior to the loan being disbursed. Stafford Loans have a 6 month grace period; Perkins Loans have a 9 month grace period; CIM Institutional Loans have a one year grace period. PLUS Loans have no grace period, but Graduate PLUS loan borrowers will generally receive the same grace period in place for their Stafford Loan. Consolidation loans have no grace period.
Status as a home schooled student may affect your eligibility for Federal financial aid. Home schooled applicants are eligible to receive Federal Student Aid funds if their secondary school education was in a home school that state law treats as a home or private school. Some states issue a secondary school completion credential to home schooled students. If this is the case in the state where the student was home schooled, they must obtain this credential in order to be eligible for Federal Student Aid funds. Many home schooled students also obtain a GED, which will fulfill the federal aid eligibility issue. If your state does NOT issue such certificates, you need to provide CIM documentation of that from an official source from your state of residence and we may waive need to obtain the certificate or proof of GED.
While CIM does not offer any institutional aid during the summer term, if a student is enrolled at least half time, he/she may be eligible for federal aid, if the annual limit for such aid was not fully used during the previous fall/spring academic year. Students enrolling less than half time in summer may pursue private educational loans. CIM treats summer terms as a "trailer" of the preceding semesters and summer aid eligibility must take into account aid used in those prior semesters. In most cases, PLUS loans or private loans will be the only remaining aid option for summer students. Enrollment status for summer is the same as during the fall/spring semesters: full time for undergraduates is 12 credits and half time is 6 credits; for graduate students, 9 credits is full time and half time is 5 credits. Loan disbursement dates for summer term will be disbursed no earlier than the first Friday of the term, assuming all items in the aid file are complete. Attendance must be documented.
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.