Frequently Asked Questions
Before you contact us, please review the list below where you will find answers to many common questions.
The Financial Aid Office does not issue fee payment codes for the CSS Profile for freshman or transfer applicants. However, your fee may be waived by the College Scholarship Service (CSS) if you meet their criteria. If you have any questions about your eligibility, please contact CSS at (844) 202-0524.
The Financial Aid Office does not issue fee waivers for the Common Application. See more information about eligibility.
We are unable to confirm receipt of documents prior to admissions decisions being sent. So long as you received confirmation from College Board and FAFSA that your application forms were received and you indicated Stanford’s school code on both forms, our office should be able to access the data for our review process.
Please do not send us your Student Aid Report or a printout of your Profile. These forms must be submitted online. Be aware that sending in your documents multiple times can add delay in processing your paperwork. If you are missing requirements, you will be notified at the time of the review.
The College Scholarship Service (CSS) does not permit applicants to make corrections online after submission. If the corrections are to update student and parent income detail as you initially reported estimated income and you’ve now filed for federal taxes, you do not have to send in corrections. Instead, we ask that you submit your and your parents' complete federal tax returns including W-2 forms to the College Board through the Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC). We will verify your family’s income information during our review process.
If you are making corrections to information other than current income, you may print a copy of your completed Profile and make necessary corrections by hand. You may send your documents using our Document Upload.
Yes. However, we are unable to assure a timely review and awarding. If you wish to receive your award letter before the Admissions Decision deadline or May 1, you will need to apply by the priority deadline.
We expect both parents to participate in paying for your education. We will compute separate contributions for your custodial and non-custodial parents. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the applicant lived the most during the 12 months prior to filing the application, or the most recent 12 months during which the student lived with a parent, regardless of who claimed the student as an income tax exemption. The custodial parent submits the CSS Profile and your other parent submits the online noncustodial profile.
If applicable you must submit parent 2015 Federal Tax Return (1040), including all schedules filed and 2015 W-2 earning statements. The International Certification of Finances is not necessary for international students living in the U.S.
Our office will provide you with a contingent award based on the information provided on the CSS Profile and FAFSA. Tax return from a prior year may not be submitted in place of the current tax filing. Because your parents are unable to meet the priority filing date for IDOC, we are unable to guarantee a finalized award to you by May 1.
Document Upload is our preferred method. Please upload your documents once only to avoid further delay of processing your paperwork.
The College Board’s Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC) provides a way for students and families to submit documents required by colleges and programs. IDOC is the best way for Stanford admission applicants to submit tax documents to our Financial Aid Office. The IDOC service is provided for Profile filers at no additional cost.
The College Board has implemented security controls to ensure the highest level of data integrity and privacy. Documents are stored in a secure environment and shared only with the financial aid offices of participating schools and programs to which you are applying.
You may either upload your documents on the IDOC site or mail in a paper packet. There are further details and instructions for both methods on the IDOC site.
Here are the standard list of tax documents required to complete your application for financial aid. Only send those applicable to you and your parents.
- 2015 Federal Tax Return (1040), including all schedules filed
- 2015 W-2 earnings statements
Please note that additional documents may be requested during the review process. If you or your parents will not file a federal tax return for 2015, you may complete a Non-Filer Statement available on the IDOC site.
You may verify receipt of your documents by signing in to your IDOC account or document management dashboard. The processed documents section of your document management dashboard will display the date the College Board processed each IDOC document and the date it was made available to Stanford. Also, College Board will notify you when they have processed your IDOC information, which can take 2-3 business days.
For Restrictive Early Action admitted students, the priority filing deadline is November 15. For Regular Decision applicants, the priority filing deadline is February 15.
Our office will provide you with a contingent award based on the information provided on the CSS Profile and FAFSA. Tax returns from prior years may not be submitted in place of the current tax filing. Because your parents are unable to meet the priority filing date for IDOC, we are unable to guarantee a finalized award to you by May 1.
Yes. We will provide estimated awards through January. For those completing the application requirements in February and March, award letters will be sent in April.
You can submit a Request for Revision to report any new information to our office. During April we will make every effort to respond to your request promptly. If there are changes later in the year, or in future years, you can submit a revision request at that time. For Restrictive Early Action Admits, new information submitted to our office will be reviewed along with your FAFSA in preparation for a finalized award to be sent April 1.
Stanford does not match merit-based awards from other universities. However, if you receive a need-based award significantly better than Stanford's, the other university may have new information about your circumstances. In this case, you may consider submitting a Request for Revision to our office.
- Create your SUNet ID and Password.
- Log on to AXESS.
- At the top of the AXESS page, hover over STUDENT.
- Under Quick Links, select View Award Letters.
You may need to disable pop-up blockers in your browser in order to view your award letter. It can take up to 24 hours after creating your SUNet ID before the STUDENT tab becomes available in AXESS. If you have any issues, feel free to contact the Financial Aid Office.
The family that has equity in a home is typically in a stronger financial position than one that does not. For that reason, we believe that it is important to include home equity in the consideration of a family's ability to pay for educational costs. However, a large amount of equity is not particularly helpful if the family income does not support use of that equity. In Stanford's calculation of the expected parent contribution, we cap the amount of home equity considered at 1.2 times the total family income.
For applicants who report total annual parent income up to $125,000, we generally consider "typical assets" to be an adjusted total net worth of less than $300,000. Adjusted total net worth usually reflects the sum of the following amounts:
- Cash, savings, checking
- Home equity, capped at 1.2 times annual income
- Equity in real estate other than the home
- Business net worth
We do not include formal retirement assets (401k, 403b, IRA, Keogh) in our analysis. The Financial Aid Office reserves the right to make the final determination of the expected family contribution, in consideration of all factors affecting a family's overall financial situation and ability to pay.
Many families choose to use the Federal PLUS Loan to help with educational costs. A PLUS loan allows your parents to borrow the amount of the parent contribution, and extends repayment of the loan over 10 years. As a student you may also borrow student loans through our office to help meet your expenses.
Your award letter may list documents or information you must submit to our office before we can finalize your award. It is possible that your award will change if the information you submit is different than originally reported to us.
The University has over 1,200 named scholarships. By completing the CSS Profile, you have already been considered for all sources of scholarship funding. Students who qualify for need-based aid from Stanford are initially awarded scholarship from the Stanford Fund. During the course of the academic year, the Financial Aid Office will reallocate funds to award these named scholarships. This does not affect the calculated family contribution. When you accept scholarship funds from Stanford, your name, major and hometown will be released to the donor of that scholarship. In most cases, you will be expected to write a thank-you letter to the person who made your scholarship possible.
In most cases you can meet your academic year earnings expectation without jeopardizing your academic priorities. If you choose not to work, you can reduce or eliminate your earnings expectation with outside awards or student loans.
You will receive an electronic billing statement well in advance of each academic quarter. Your bill will include tuition, room and board, and other charges for the quarter. Payments are due on September 15 (Autumn quarter), December 15 (Winter) and March 15 (Spring).
Your financial aid award letter shows the amount of aid that you will receive for each quarter. If your quarter's aid is less than the balance due, you are responsible for paying the remaining balance and all other expenses with your own funds. However, if your quarter's aid exceeds your balance due, you will receive a refund for the amount of the overage.
Your scholarship, grants and/or loans are applied to the university bill once your award is finalized and you are enrolled full time. Though this will not occur until after the bill due date, you may still deduct the anticipated financial aid from the total balance due. Any portion of the bill that will be paid eventually with financial aid (scholarship, grants and/or loans) will not be considered late.
If your award package is pending receipt and review of certain documents or information, this will be noted on your award letter. These pending requirements may also appear as “To Do” items on your Axess account.
If you are still uncertain, you may contact the Financial Aid Office to verify your award package and pending requirements.
Your financial aid will not be applied to your university student account or bill until all requirements have been received and reviewed by the financial aid office. The bill deadline may not be extended under any circumstance so, you will need to pay your family’s portion of the bill by the specified date despite your award not finalized. Though your award is a contingent award, you may use this to assess your portion of the bill for now.
Your scholarship, grants and/or loans will pay the bill or "direct costs" first. If your aid covers all of the expenses on your bill, a refund will be issued to you and funds may be used to pay for your “indirect expenses” such as books, supplies, personal expenses and/or transportation costs. If your total scholarships, grants and/or loans are less than the total charges on your university bill, your expected parent contribution and student responsibility are used to cover the balance and all of the "indirect costs".
If you are expecting a refund after your financial aid is disbursed, you may enroll in direct deposit through Axess to receive your refund faster and more efficiently.
All types of outside scholarships will reduce your student responsibility from work dollar-for-dollar. This amount is typically $5,000/year. If your outside scholarships exceed your student responsibility from work, your university scholarship will be reduced. If you have been awarded multiple outside scholarships, you may defer one or more of your non-renewable awards to a different year to maximize the use of your outside awards. You will need to contact your donor directly to make this request.
Part-time employment during the academic year is indicated on your award letter as either academic year earnings or federal work study. While both are earnings from work, the two differ in terms of awarding. Federal work study is awarded based on need as federal funds are used to pay your wages, unlike a regular job where your wages are paid by your employer. The amount of federal work study funds you may earn will be determined by the financial aid office.
The Financial Aid Office does not make job assignments. You can apply for jobs through Stanford's Cardinal Careers system or seek employment off-campus. Once you obtain employment, you will be responsible for allocating your earnings at your discretion. If FWS is not included in your financial aid award, you may send a request to email@example.com to have your eligibility reviewed.
The cost of a computer is not part of the student budget. Student loans are available to cover computer expenses that are purchased during the academic year. You may apply for a computer loan only once during your undergraduate enrollment. The computer loan form is available on the Forms page of the Financial Aid Office website.
The university requires that every student is insured which is why all students are pre-enrolled in the university health insurance plan, known as Cardinal Care. If you have health insurance coverage through your parents, you may waive Cardinal Care via Axess before September 15 to avoid additional cost. You will only need to do this once per academic year.
If you do not have family health insurance coverage and must purchase Cardinal Care, you may request assistance from the FAO by sending an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Scholarship or loan may be offered to cover this cost depending on the student’s eligibility.
You need to reapply for financial aid for each academic year. You can find the application requirements, deadlines and links for continuing students on our Applying for Aid web page.
April 30 is the priority deadline for continuing students to apply for aid for the upcoming academic year.
Yes. However, we are unable to assure a timely review and awarding. If you wish to receive your award letter by the start of Autumn quarter, you will need to apply by the priority deadline.
Continuing students' financial aid applications are reviewed during the summer. Award notices are sent out on a rolling basis starting in June. If you applied by the priority deadline, you should receive a response from the FAO by August 1.
We are unable to estimate how an award package will be impacted by changes to your family's financial information without a thorough review. For an estimate of your parent contribution, you may use the Net Price Calculator on the financial aid office website.
If you are attending a Stanford overseas program or the Stanford-In-Washington program, our office will automatically revise your financial aid award to include standard travel costs associated to the program you are attending. If you receive Stanford scholarship you will be considered for a one-time grant and loans to help with your extra costs. You do not need to notify our office of your acceptance into the program, we obtain this information directly from Bing Overseas Studies.
If you are attending a program through another school, you cannot receive any University aid during that time. However, you may arrange a consortium agreement in order to use your federal or state aid to attend a non-Stanford program. The funds that may be used under a consortium agreement are: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Stafford Loan, Federal PLUS loan, and Cal Grant. For more questions, please contact the financial aid office. Please see our Study Abroad web page for more information.
The Student Services Center manages the student billing and payment processes.
- for loans administered by our office go to Axess > View Financial Aid > Scheduled Disbursements.
- for Stanford fellowships or assistantships contact your home department.
- for fellowships from outside agencies, check the status in Axess > Finances Tab > View Outside Awards.
- for funding billed to a third party contact The Student Services Center.
If you receive federal loans or work-study, your total financial support cannot exceed your student budget. An increase in financial support or a change to your student budget may require our office to reduce or cancel your federal funding, and you may be required to reimburse funds already disbursed. Your loan eligibility may decrease if:
- you enroll in fewer units than you reported on your application
- you receive additional funding not reported on your application
- you move to on-campus housing after submitting your application
- you fail to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress or complete the minimum units required for your program
- you do not submit all documentation required by our office
When you start your search for funding, your first stop should be the office of your individual academic department. Department offices can provide you with information about fellowships and other forms of grant assistance; research assistantships; teaching assistantships; and external funding sources.
If you do not qualify for aid through your department, you want to consider borrowing loans. Federal Student Loans are available to U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens through the FAO. You may also seek funding through private lenders outside of Stanford.
International students are encouraged to first speak with their academic department for any eligible department support. Most graduate student loan programs are for US Citizens and eligible noncitizens only. A few US banks will offer student loans to international students if the loan is co-signed by a creditworthy US citizen or eligible noncitizen.
To be considered for educational loans, you will need to complete the following required forms every year:
You can expect to receive notification of availability of an award letter at your Stanford email address within 6 to 8 weeks of completing all application requirements. You can track your status and award information on Axess.
The budget amounts for tuition, campus health service fee and medical insurance reflect the amounts that you will be charged on your University bill. All other budget items are allowances meant to estimate the typical costs incurred by graduate students.
If you have children or other legal dependents, we may be able to add allowances for dependent care and other costs to your budget. You should list all of your family members and any expected child-care expenses on your Graduate Student Loan Application and provide documentation of your expenses.
Your financial aid award will be revised to include this additional aid and may affect your eligibility for financial aid funds. If you are receiving federal loans or work-study, your total funding may not exceed your cost of attendance. Depending on your situation, you may be required to immediately repay some or all of your financial aid disbursements, even if the funds have already been spent.
It is possible that your financial aid will be reduced as tuition charges are based on unit enrollment. If you are billed for less tuition charges than originally budgeted for on your award package, your financial aid will be adjusted accordingly. You may be required to immediately repay some or all of your financial aid disbursement, even if the funds have already been spent.
Send Your Documents
Use the secure document upload form to send your completed PDF files online to the Financial Aid Office.
For general questions send email to
Do not send tax returns or other documents as email attachments.
Instead, send your documents using our secure document upload form.
For Federal Work-Study questions send email to
Be sure to include your Stanford ID number, if applicable.
Be sure to include your Stanford ID number, if applicable.