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Update July 14:

To learn more about MIT’s changes to the fall 2020 cost of attendance as well as the Covid-era grant, please see our expanded FAQ webpage. You can also read more about the evolving policies and other key questions related to MIT’s COVID-19 response.

2020 Financial support for undergrads

We’ve compiled key information that we hope will help you make a plan for the fall that is best for you. It all starts with the student budget or what we call the cost of attendance.

Cost of attendance

The annual student budget, or cost of attendance, is the total amount we estimate it will cost a student to attend MIT for one year. It includes costs that are billed by MIT, such as tuition, housing, and dining, and estimates for other expenses, such as books, supplies, and personal expenses. We use this budget to determine financial aid for every student.

How we calculate aid

Every award is different. We evaluate how much we believe a family can contribute towards the cost of attendance based upon the information you provide, then calculate the expected parent and student contributions. Once we determine how much a family can contribute—the sum of the parent and student contributions—we ensure that students have scholarships (most of which are from MIT) to cover the difference between that and the total cost of attendance.

Please note: The student contribution can be reduced by outside scholarships, including the Pell grant. Email us at to learn more.

Adjusting your award for 2020–21

With the new plan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the estimated cost of attendance has been adjusted and your award will be revised with these new numbers. Because certain costs (like tuition) are going down from the original financial aid award letter, you may see a change in your award. Your adjusted award also reflects the fact that we are providing a $5,000 grant to all enrolled undergraduates in recognition of the burdens facing students and families in the COVID-19 era.

Your cost of attendance will vary by semester, depending upon your expenses and whether you are living on or off campus.

Our goal is to update all undergraduate financial aid awards by July 20.

2020–21 Cost of attendance

Because we expect that most students will live on-campus for one semester and off-campus for the other, your budget will look like this, by semester:


2020–21 Academic Year On-campus semester cost of attendance Off-campus semester cost of attendance
Tuition $26,725 $26,725
Student life fee $0 $0
Housing $5,500 $2,750
Dining $2,500 $1,250
Books & supplies $415 $415
Personal expenses $1,091 $1,091
Travel Varies $0
Total $36,231 + travel

We understand some students will not fall under our assumption that most students will live on-campus for one semester and off-campus for the other. We have a response in the FAQ section below.

We have broken down each category to outline the changes for the coming year.

  • Tuition: Tuition will remain at the 2019–20 rate. There will not be the planned 3.8% increase this year.
  • Student life fee: No one will be charged a student life fee for the coming academic year regardless if you are on campus or not.
  • Housing allowance: Typically, our housing allowance is tied to the most expensive double room on campus. That remains true this year, even though all students will be living in single rooms. MIT is only charging for a double room.
    • For students living off-campus, we expect that many students will be living at home and will not have housing expenses. However, in recognition that there may be other costs, MIT has decided to offer students half the on-campus allowance.
    • We do recognize that living at home is not a viable option for everyone. If this is the case, you may request to live on campus through the student housing assistance review process (SHARP). If your SHARP request is granted, your aid will be readjusted to the on-campus level. We provide options for seniors who signed leases in the FAQs section below. Please note that, as a general rule, incoming first-year students’ requests will not be considered except in cases of significant hardship. More information about this guidance for first-year students is available on the SHARP website.
    • If you feel you cannot live at home and cannot live on campus, you may appeal through SHARP. SHARP will evaluate your request to determine if additional financial support will be provided.
  • Dining allowance: Typically, our dining allowance is tied to the most expensive meal plan, originally set at $3,160 per semester for the 2020–21 school year. This year, there will only be one meal plan, a 14 meal/week plan that will cost $1,900. MIT is subsidizing the actual cost to help with your expenses. So that students can supplement their meals per week, the dining allowance in the cost of attendance is $2,500 per semester.
    • We expect that students living at home will have reduced food costs, and we are offering an allowance of half the on-campus rate.
  • Books, supplies, and personal expenses: These are standard allowances for books, supplies, and personal expenses, set at $1,506 per semester, for both on-campus and off-campus students.
  • Travel: For the on-campus semester, we are offering students an allowance to support one round trip to and from campus. We are not offering an allowance for travel during the semester off-campus.

Additional support

  • Covid-era grant: In recognition that this year there will be financial uncertainties for many families, we are offering a one-time grant of $5,000 to all undergraduates enrolled for the full academic year 2020–21.
    • Based on feedback from students, we have clarified that every student will see the full benefit of the $5,000.
    • We will apply the full $5,000 in the fall semester for all enrolled students, and it will appear as a credit on your student account. This means that if you have an outstanding balance of $5,000 or more, your bill will be reduced by that amount. If your bill is greater than $0 but less than $5,000, your bill will be zeroed out and you will receive the remainder as a refund. If your bill is already $0, you will receive the full $5,000 as a refund.
    • The grant will appear in your financial aid award letter (for those receiving financial aid) and on the fall bill (for everyone), which are scheduled to go out respectively on July 20 and August 10.
  • Guaranteed employment or research opportunity: All undergraduates, remote or on-campus, will have the opportunity for a paid UROP, teaching opportunity, or public service opportunity through the PKG Center.
    • These experiential learning opportunities will be available to every undergraduate student, whether remote or in person, through programs such as UROP, MISTI, PKG, Open Learning, or Sandbox, and will offer a stipend of up to $1,900.
    • The guarantee is for one semester but does not prevent students from earning more in that semester or engaging in more than one experiential learning opportunity.
  • Technology: To promote collaboration and small group problem solving for our enrolled students, whether remote or on-campus, MIT will loan a cellular-enabled Apple iPad and Apple Pencil to any undergraduate student who does not already have one, or who wishes to upgrade relative to what they own.
    • For more details and to indicate whether or not you wish to enroll, fill out this short form here. Further, as during the spring semester, MIT will once again loan WiFi hotspots and computing equipment, including laptops, to those who need them. Visit for more information.
    • 24/7 technical support by phone or email will also be available to all.


We have put together answers to some of the questions that students and families have been asking over the past several days.

Why does my award letter say that my net cost is the same, even though I was awarded a $5,000 Covid-era grant?
In order to award you the $5,000 Covid-era grant, we also increased the expense line in your cost of attendance. This will make it look like your total net cost is the same, even though your actual net cost is reduced by the full $5,000.

On my financial aid award, there is $12,000 listed for Room & Board as a direct cost. Is this for both semesters, including the indirect charge for my off-campus semester?
Yes. The $12,000 listed for Room & Board is a combined number. Under normal circumstances your award would not be split this way, and we understand this is confusing.

Unfortunately, due to limitations in our system, we had to display the room and board as a combined number (and as a direct cost) on your award letter. The breakdown for the $12,000 follows the cost of attendance.

$5,500 On-campus housing allowance (direct cost)
$2,750 Off-campus housing allowance (indirect cost)
$2,500 On-campus meal allowance (direct cost)
$1,250 Off-campus meal allowance (indirect cost)
$12,000 Total as appears on your award
REMEMBER: Your award is not meant to map directly to the actual charges that will appear on your August bill. The award reflects the allowances for each potential charge, and your actual fall housing will determine the charges that appear on your bill.

For example: Let’s take the on-campus housing allowance. You are being allotted $5,500 for the semester in your financial aid award. However, you will live in East Campus which costs $3,577. You will only be billed for $3,577 on the August bill—not $5,500—and you will be able to apply the extra $1,923 to another use.

Please see the next question to learn how to estimate your charges in advance of the August bill.

How can I figure out how much I actually need to pay to MIT?
We know this can be confusing—so here’s a breakdown in case you want to do it yourself in advance of your August bill.

  1. Add together all of your actual costs/charges from MIT for the fall term: tuition, housing and meal plan (if on campus), health insurance (if you need it)
  2. Next, add together all of your grants and scholarships. Including the Covid-era Grant.
  3. Now, subtract your total grants and scholarships from your total costs/charges.
    1. If you have a positive number, that is what you will owe MIT.
    2. If the number is negative, you will receive a refund.

Will the Covid-era Grant be applied on top of the net cost or does my award already take the grant into account for the fall term?
The Covid-era Grant will be applied to your net cost. It will be applied to charges on your fall term bill. If you have any portion of it left over, you will receive a refund.

My expected parent and student contribution did not change after my financial aid award was recalculated. How come?
Your parent and student contribution is based upon 01 The Family Financial Contribution is a measure of how much you and your family can be expected to contribute to the cost of your education for the upcoming academic year. It is comprised of the Parent Contribution and the Student Contribution.   your personal financial situation. It is not based on, or affected by, the cost of attendance.

As with every year that you are an MIT student and apply for financial aid, if costs go up, so will your MIT scholarship in support of your demonstrated financial need. The parent and student contribution stays constant because it is based on what we believe your family can contribute to your education. It is not impacted by the cost of attendance in any way.

You have calculated my financial aid award presuming one semester on-campus and one semester off-campus. What if that is not the case for me?
In order to get awards to students quickly, we calculated aid based on the expectation that students will spend one semester on campus and one semester off campus. However, we know that student situations may vary, and we may adjust your award up or down accordingly.

When will you update my financial aid award with my actual room and board? Will my financial aid be updated with new health insurance and room and board allowances if I am on campus for both semesters or not at all?
Our goal is to have all awards updated by the first bill of the semester on August 10. If you are approved through SHARP to alter your plans, the financial aid team will revise the housing allowance on your award. We will email you at your MIT email address if/when your award has been revised.

The charges for health insurance will appear on your August bill. For detailed information about health insurance for the coming year or how to waive it, please visit the MIT Medical website. And please note the deadline to waive insurance is August 27!

If I’m not on campus will I still have to pay for the extended health insurance?
You will be charged for the extended health insurance on the initial bill unless your waiver has already been processed. You can still submit one after the August bill if you feel you don’t need the coverage, and we’ll adjust your account accordingly. Please check the MIT Medical website to see under what conditions you can waive the insurance.

I will not be living on campus after November 20, will I get a refund on my housing costs?
The cost of attendance for housing and dining has been calculated for the entire semester. Your August bill will reflect a prorated cost for September–November. However, your financial aid award will stay the same; you will still receive the full housing and dining allowance. If you are allowed to stay on campus after November 20, we will add the remainder of the housing and dining costs to your bill.

I am not able to leave campus in November due to extenuating circumstances; will I be able to stay on campus?
Students who are unable to travel home due to extenuating circumstances will be able to request to stay on campus for the remainder of the semester. If your request is granted, the additional housing and dining charges will be added to your bill.

I am not able to live at home. What do I do?
We understand that some students are not be able to live at home during their off-campus semester. The Division of Student Life has developed a student housing assistance review process (SHARP) for you to request special dispensation to live on campus. You are eligible to apply under the following circumstances:

  • You are currently in a short-term arrangement or on-campus emergency housing and cannot return home due to travel restrictions, circumstances in your home state/country, or circumstances of your home life
  • You have a home environment that would significantly impair remote learning
  • You do not have another place to live or being at home is unsafe given circumstances in your country or home

Please note that incoming first-year students will only be considered through this process if they are facing extreme hardship. More information about this aspect of the SHARP guidance is available on the SHARP website.

I can’t live at home and I can’t live on-campus. What should I do?
The Covid-era grant is designed to provide students and their families with additional financial resources that can be used in many ways, including applying the grant to off-campus housing expenses.

Students who are experiencing significant hardship and believe that they absolutely can not live at home and cannot live on campus, can submit a form through SHARP so that student support professionals can better understand your situation. The SHARP team may consult with appropriate offices, including Student Financial Services, to make sure they are making the most informed decisions. The result of this process will determine if additional financial support beyond the Covid-era grant will be provided.

If I am allowed to stay on campus after November 20, how will the additional housing/dining charges impact my payment plan?

The additional charges posted to your account in November will impact the remaining two payments left in the fall payment plan. The payments for December and January will be increased to cover the additional housing and dining costs you incur by staying on campus.

I’m staying on campus until November 20. Will I receive a refund for housing and dining costs after I leave campus in November?

No. The housing and dining charges on your fall bill already reflect the prorated cost to live on campus from September–November. If you are allowed to stay on campus after November 20, additional housing and dining charges will be added to your November bill, which is due December 1.

I am a senior who has signed a lease and wants to access MIT’s campus this fall. What are my options?
Accessing MIT’s campus requires students to live on-campus this fall. MIT’s Off-Campus Housing Office has put together helpful directions on how you can potentially sublet, assign, or terminate your lease. For more details, and contact information, please visit 

We understand that some students may be unable to sublet and therefore may have additional costs if moving on campus, while maintaining a lease for three months. The Covid-era grant is intended to address a range of financial uncertainties our students will face, including this situation.

If I receive financial aid, will I be expected to work as part of my award this year?
Yes. Students that have a student contribution as part of their financial aid award generally meet that expectation through term-time work. We recognize that it might be harder to find opportunities, so MIT is developing research, public service, and teaching positions to help fill the gaps. To that end, every undergraduate student will be guaranteed a paid research or employment opportunity this academic year (see “Guaranteed employment and research opportunity” in “Additional Support” section of this page).

  • These experiential learning opportunities will be available to every undergraduate student, whether remote or in person, through programs such as UROP, MISTI, PKG, Open Learning, or Sandbox.
  • Outside scholarships, including the Federal Pell Grant, can also reduce your work expectations.

What if my family’s income has changed due to COVID-19; can I appeal my financial aid award?
Many families may find themselves in a new circumstance, and we are here to work with you during this challenging time. If you think that you may need to appeal your financial aid award, you are welcome to do so.

We will consider changes to overall income if there has been a 10% or larger reduction in your family income. You will need to fill out the estimated income appeal form and send it to us with your appeal.

You should reach out to your financial aid counselor directly and they will work with you to review your appeal.

What if I have extenuating circumstances and I need more financial support?
Students in this situation should contact us so your financial aid counselor can learn more about your extenuating circumstances. Your counselor will work with you and possibly other offices such as Student Support and Wellbeing, Housing and Residential Services, the International Students Office, among others, to determine potential next steps.

  1. The Family Financial Contribution is a measure of how much you and your family can be expected to contribute to the cost of your education for the upcoming academic year. It is comprised of the Parent Contribution and the Student Contribution. back to text