Graduate aid and opportunities

Student Financial Services is here to help graduate students understand the aid process and how best to finance their education.

In this section you'll find financial aid:

  • information
  • forms
  • deadlines

Please note all relevant deadlines. Financial aid forms submitted after the posted deadlines will be considered in light of available resources.

All admitted graduate students are considered for fellowships and assistantships. There is no application process to be considered for these awards.

US citizens and permanent residents may also apply for federal student loans by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You must file the FAFSA each year by the posted deadlines.

We are here to help with any additional questions or concerns regarding financial aid.

Contact Us

How to apply

Domestic students (US citizens and permanent residents)

To be considered for financial aid resources, you must complete the following two forms:

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (to be considered for federal financial aid; use federal school code 003409)
  • Institutional financial aid form through the Admissions applicant status portal (available to students who have completed their admissions application)

International students

Starting with the 23–24 academic year, RISD will provide an international student aid application to better support our international student community. If you are an international applicant you will need to complete the following:

  • Institutional financial aid form through the Admissions applicant status portal (available soon)


  • FAFSA for domestic students: February 1
  • Student aid application for domestic and international students: February 1
  • FAFSA for current students: May 25

Financial Assistance

  1. The Society of Presidential Fellows program provides full tuition support and professional development opportunities to select graduate students for the duration of their studies. All applicants admitted into a RISD graduate program for academic year 2023–24 will be considered for the fellowship. No additional application is required. Admitted applicants will be nominated by their academic department or program.

  2. Graduate fellowships are awarded by the Student Financial Services office in conjunction with the student’s academic department. Fellowships may be based on financial need as determined by completion of the FAFSA, merit, or a combination of both (based on departmental preferences).

    Typically, fellowships are awarded in equal payments for fall and spring semesters. Payments are made directly to a student’s tuition account.

  3. Graduate assistantships are awarded through each graduate program and are assigned by the graduate program director. Assistantships are awarded during the admissions process. However, specific positions may not be assigned until the beginning of each semester.

    International students or those without a social security number cannot be assigned an assistantship during the first semester.

  4. RISD partners with Scholarship Universe, an online portal that matches you with outside funding opportunities. Sign in with your RISD account and answer questions to build your profile. This will provide you with info on scholarships you may be eligible to apply for. The portal lets you save scholarship results and receive emails about deadlines.


    • You will apply with individual organizations (not RISD) that will contact you with updates.
    • Scholarship Universe listings are fully vetted.
    • Keeping your Scholarship Universe profile current improves scholarship matching.

    Please contact Student Financial Services with any questions about Scholarship Universe.


Federal loans

RISD uses the FAFSA to award all federal financial aid, including grants, work-study jobs and loans. Applicants wishing to apply exclusively for federal student aid exclusively should complete a FAFSA application only. Our federal school code is 003409.

Please note you cannot complete this application prior to October 1. Students who do not apply for financial aid by the deadline but still wish to be considered for federal student loans may still complete the FAFSA application.

  1. GradPLUS loans are intended for graduate students in need of additional resources in order to finance their education. Approval of GradPLUS loans is based in part on the determination that the applicant does not have any adverse credit. Visit the US Department of Education's Direct Graduate PLUS Loan overview for rates and additional information.

  2. Interest begins to accrue at time of disbursement. Repayment begins six months after the student graduates or ceases attending school at least half-time. For additional information, including rates, please see the US Department of Education FAQ overview of subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

    All borrowers need to complete a Master Promissory Note with the Direct Loan Program. First-time borrowers at RISD will need to complete a loan entrance counseling session, even those who have borrowed at a previous institution.

    Borrowers can complete both steps via the Federal Student Aid Office.

  3. Private student loans are consumer loans that should only be considered after first exhausting your federal loan eligibility. Typically, federal loans provide students with more beneficial terms and conditions. Some of these federal loan benefits may include a lower annual percentage rate, fewer and lower fees, and more favorable repayment options.

    A number of private educational loans are available to students who need extra funding to assist in managing the expected family contribution. You must apply for private educational loans directly with the lender/agency.

    Borrowers must be creditworthy to participate in these programs. Students who are not creditworthy by program guidelines may still be eligible to participate IF they can find a creditworthy person to co-sign their loan application. Families are free to choose any lender which best serves their needs.

    We encourage you to visit each potential lender's website to fully evaluate the benefits that they offer before making a final choice of a lender for your loans.

    Credible and ELMSelect

    There are other tools in addition that can help you and your family better understand the private loan options available to you: Credible and ELMSelect. These are loan comparison tools that provide borrowers with the ability to compare information about various lenders.

    Credible provides borrowers with competitive, personalized loan offers from multiple vetted lenders in real time without impacting the borrower's credit. It is not a lender or a bank, but rather partners with a number of leading lenders to offer options that best fit the needs of the student. Credible allows students to analyze prequalified rates, terms and eligibility rules side by side in a short time.

    Go to Credible

    The ELMSelect loan comparison tool offers the ability to compare and select the loan that best suits student needs. With ELMSelect, students can view, filter and compare private student loan options from lenders included on RISD’s lender list.

    Go to ELMSelect

Work Study

  1. Federal and RISD Work Study programs allow students to earn an income to offset educational expenses. Over 1,300 RISD students, more than half the student body, participate in the Work Study Program. This consists of both Federal Work Study (FWS) and student employment.

    Priority is given to FWS financial aid recipients for jobs on campus. However, RISD also allows other students to work if there are jobs left unfilled by FWS recipients. Work study offers five levels of hourly pay rates and students are paid bi-weekly.

    Work study is separate from assistantships awarded by your academic department. All assistantships originate from each graduate program and are assigned by the graduate program director.

  2. Both on- and off-campus jobs are posted by RISD Student Employment. Off-campus job listings include the following:

    • community service opportunities at nonprofit agencies in the Providence metro area.
    • jobs in the local community (babysitter, waiter/waitress, retail sales, lawn/garden, etc.). 
    • professional opportunities such as freelance art and design jobs.

    To prove eligibility to work, students must provide RISD with documentary evidence of:

    • identity (driver’s license, RISD ID or government photo ID).
    • US citizenship (US passport, social security card or birth certificate with a seal).

    Copies are not acceptable. You may request a duplicate social security card from the Social Security Administration. If you plan to work while at RISD, please bring the correct documentation with you.