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Our approach to aid: Understanding your award

When you receive your financial aid award letter, you’ll notice that it is broken down into several components. Here’s what they mean.

Estimated cost of attendance

The estimated cost of attendance is the budget we use for every student who applies for financial aid. It approximates the cost of attending MIT for one year, and we use it to determine your specific financial need. It incorporates direct costs such as tuition and fees, as well as indirect costs for things such as personal expenses and food.

Your actual costs will depend on a number of personal factors, including your housing and dining options, as well as other individual expenses. The majority of expenses incurred are billed through MIT and will appear on your award as direct costs. These include tuition, student life fee, health insurance (if you remain on the MIT plan), on-campus housing, dining plans, or TechCASH.

The remaining expenses are considered indirect costs—items that are not billed through MIT, but are out-of-pocket expenses that you make for books, supplies, personal purchases, and travel.

We do not change your budget based on your individual expenses. Whether you end up spending more or less than our allowance, your financial need and financial aid award stay the same.

Family financial contribution

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.

We use a variation of the College Board’s methodology to determine eligibility for MIT undergraduate scholarships, and the Federal Methodology to determine eligibility for federal student financial assistance for undergraduate students.

Parent contribution

We assess the parent contribution based on your family’s financial circumstances and the information provided in your financial aid application. It is a measure of how much your family can be expected to contribute to the cost of your education for the upcoming year. We carefully review each application to make sure you receive the award that is right for you. We consider a number of factors when calculating need.

Families whose total income is less than $75,000, with typical assets, are not expected to contribute toward their student’s MIT education. However, students are still expected to contribute toward their own expenses from their summer savings contribution and student employment during the school year.

Student contribution

The amount that you, as a student, can reasonably be expected to contribute toward your educational expenses each year. The typical amount that students are expected to contribute is $5,400. This can be earned over the summer and by working 6–8 hours per week during the semester. You may also use outside scholarships, including the Federal Pell Grant, to meet this expectation. Your student contribution is comprised of the following:

Summer savings contribution

The amount you can reasonably be expected to contribute from savings earned over the summer. For most undergrads, this is $2,000.

Student employment

This is considered a part of your financial aid award. You may see a suggested amount on your award letter, typically $3,400, that can be earned by working during the school year. This is separate from your summer earnings expectation, and you can do this through a combination of term-time work, outside scholarships and grants (including the Pell Grant), or student loans.

You can also meet this requirement with a UROP or other job during the fall and spring semesters. If your need is greater than $3,400, we award an MIT Scholarship to you.

Although we encourage MIT students to consider term-time work as one of the ways to meet the student contribution, some students prefer maximizing their student loan eligibility.