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Update January 4: Have questions about financial aid? Check out the undergrad financial aid section of our site. Learn more about the 2020–2021 academic year by visiting our FAQ page, financial support page for undergrads, or MIT’s COVID-19 response site.

2020–2021 Financial support FAQs

We have put together answers to some of the questions that students and families have been asking about the 2020–2021 academic year. Questions are grouped by topic and link directly to the answer in the page below.

My financial aid award
  1. Why is my financial aid lower this semester?
  2. Why don’t I see the Covid-era grant in my financial aid for the spring semester?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. If I receive financial aid, will I be expected to work as part of my award this year?
  6. I’m an undergraduate student living abroad; can I do remote paid work?
  7. I’m not eligible to work an hourly paid position; does this affect my expected MIT work contribution?
Covid-19 Grant and financial changes/support
  1. Why don’t I see the Covid-era grant in my financial aid for the spring semester?
  2. What if my family’s income has changed due to COVID-19; can I appeal my financial aid award?
  3. What if I have extenuating circumstances and I need more financial support?
Housing: on campus and off
  1. I am not able to live at home. What do I do?
  2. I can’t live at home and I can’t live on campus. What should I do?
  3. 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?
  4. If I’m not on campus will I still have to pay for the extended health insurance?
  5. What happens if I move to campus mid-semester?
  6. How are my housing and meal plan impacted if I take a leave of absence mid-semester?

Why is my financial aid lower this semester?

Back in the fall, we recalculated all financial aid awards for the 2020–2021 academic year, based upon the updated cost of attendance and the information you provided in your financial aid application. If your housing plans were different in the fall than in the spring, your aid was adjusted. The portion of your financial aid award that was allotted for the spring semester, has been applied to your spring bill.

Some students have seen their financial aid reduced because they are not living on campus. The allowance for housing and dining for students not living on campus is lower than for those living on campus, because many students are able to live at home with reduced expenses.

As a reminder, MIT offered the $5,000 grant in the fall in full, so students would have immediate access to it. However, we know that many families continue to experience challenges due to the pandemic, and we want you to know that we’re here to guide you through the semester. If your situation has changed, please reach out to us as soon as possible at sfs@mit.edu. We will do our best to make sure you are all set for spring.

Why don’t I see the Covid-era grant in my financial aid for the spring semester?
A few of you have reached out wondering why you don’t see the Covid-era grant in your spring financial aid award. As a reminder, MIT distributed the full $5,000 in the fall semester so that students would have immediate access to the funds. This means that the entire $5,000 was in your fall award.

At the time, students were experiencing many different circumstances—some were unable to work, some had to live off campus but not at home and needed money for rent, and others had more specific challenges. We decided that instead of trying to solve each of those problems by some policy that would help only some and not others, we would instead offer a $5,000 grant to all students that could be used for their specific needs. We distributed the full grant in the fall so students would have immediate access to it.

Should you have any questions about the Covid-era grant, or your aid in general, please reach out to us as soon as possible at sfs@mit.edu. We will do our best to make sure that you are set for spring.

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 semester bill. The award reflects the allowances for each potential charge, and your actual 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 $4,580. You will only be billed for $4,580 on the semester bill—not $5,500—and you will be able to apply the extra $920 to another use.

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.

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 semester 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 am not able to live at home. What do I do?

If you are experiencing significant hardship and need to move on campus, you should reach out to Student Support Services at s3-support@mit.edu and one of their deans will be in touch with you. If you have an existing relationship with a dean in S3, you may also contact them directly.

I can’t live at home and I can’t live on campus. What should I do?

We understand that some students are unable to study from home due to their particular home environment. In the fall, those students were able to petition through the Student Housing Assistance Review Process (SHARP) for additional support. If you are experiencing significant hardship and believe that you absolutely cannot live at home and absolutely cannot live on campus, you should contact your financial aid counselor. Although there is no formal SHARP process for the spring, we are still working with the SHARP team to review these urgent requests.

Please note: This process is for students who are experiencing extreme hardship and not for those who would prefer to live off campus and not at home.

What happens if I move to campus mid-semester?

If you have been living off campus and move to campus in the middle of the semester, both your housing and meal plan will be prorated based on your move-in date. Your financial aid award will also be adjusted proportionately based on your updated cost of attendance.

How are my housing and meal plan impacted if I take a leave of absence mid-semester?

If you take a leave of absence in the middle of the semester, both your housing and meal plan will be prorated based on when your leave begins. Once we receive notification that you are no longer a student, we will make the necessary adjustments to your student account and financial aid.

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 (read more on our 2020 information 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.

I’m an undergraduate student living abroad; can I do remote paid work?

Due to international tax and compliance issues, ​MIT is not able to offer paid UROPs or other hourly wage opportunities (including grading or TA positions) to undergraduate students who are not physically located in the U.S.​ You may still pursue an experiential learning opportunity for a stipend in which the funding is paid in 1–2 lump sum disbursements at the start and end of the semester. MIT is offering a paid experiential learning opportunity (up to $1,900) for every undergraduate student. For a detailed explanation on all experiential learning opportunities, please see elo.mit.edu.

I’m not eligible to work an hourly paid position; does this affect my expected MIT work contribution?

MIT is not changing student work expectations given that there are still other opportunities for students, including being able to earn money from stipends. For a detailed explanation on all experiential learning opportunities, please see elo.mit.edu.

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.