A variety of financial aid options

Student Financial Services is committed to helping undergraduate 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 the relevant deadlines, since any financial aid forms submitted after the posted deadlines will be considered in light of available resources

Incoming students who wish to apply for financial aid should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for federal financial aid.

You must file the FAFSA each year by the posted deadline.

International students, visiting students, mobility students and students in other special categories are not eligible for financial aid.

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

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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 applicants who have completed their application for admission)

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 to applicants who have completed their application for admission)


You must submit your form(s) by:

  • November 15 for early decision
  • February 15 for regular decision
  • March 25 for transfer students
  • May 1 for current students


  1. RISD scholarships are awarded based on financial need. Recipients of RISD scholarships must apply for financial aid each year.

  2. RISD offers several scholarships each year to first-year students who exhibit outstanding academic and artistic achievement but do not necessarily demonstrate need. Two awards of at least $10,000 are made to students participating in the National YoungArts Foundation competition. Two awards of at least $10,000 are also made to participants in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

    To be eligible for these scholarships, applicants must enter the YoungArts or Scholastic competitions.

    RISD-controlled financial aid is not available to special, visiting, international or exchange students.

  3. RISD is pleased to participate in the Post 9/11 GI Bill® Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides additional financial assistance to veterans who qualify for 100% of Post-9/11 GI Bill® educational benefits. RISD provides scholarship assistance in the amount of $10,000, which is matched by the federal government for a total of $20,000. Participation is limited to 25 veterans, with Veterans Affairs (VA) regulations stipulating that assistance be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

    To be considered for this program you must provide a copy of your VA Certificate of Eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon to RISD. Qualified students seeking assistance for the upcoming academic year can begin submitting certificates on April 1; application materials submitted prior to April 1 are not accepted.

    Please note: Scholarship assistance cannot exceed tuition and fees from all sources. If an applicant receives scholarship assistance from RISD, $10,000 of this scholarship amount will be designated as the Yellow Ribbon match. If the total of scholarship assistance from RISD, the Yellow Ribbon Program and Chapter 33 benefits exceeds tuition and fees, the scholarship assistance offered by RISD will be reduced commensurately.

    GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Veterans Affairs. More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official US government VA benefits site.

  4. RISD provides a matching Americorps award of up to $5,550 to two students each year. Students must provide a copy of their letter of eligibility for the Segal Americorps Education Award no later than April 1 of each year. This award is granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

  5. RISD is in partnership with Scholarship Universe, an online portal that works to match you with outside funding opportunities. Sign in with your RISD account and answer questions to build your profile, which will provide you with information on scholarships you may be eligible to apply for. The portal allows you to save scholarship results and receive emails about deadlines.


    • You will apply with individual organizations, not RISD, and they 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 pertaining to Scholarship Universe.


Federal resources

The US federal government provides several resources to help you finance your education. All of these require a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), current for each academic year.

The FAFSA is part of our aid consideration and also used to award all federal financial aid, including grants, work-study jobs and loans. Applicants who to apply exclusively for federal student aid should complete a FAFSA application only.

When filling out your FAFSA form, please list RISD’s federal code 003409 so that our Financial Aid office receives your information. Please note you cannot complete your FAFSA application prior to October 1 for the following academic year. 

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.

For details about all federal programs, view and download this 2023–24 federal student aid program summary from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

  1. Your completed FAFSA form determines student eligibility for:

    Federal grants and most state grants are considered entitlement grants based on financial aid rather than merit.

  2. Direct Subsidized Loan

    Interest on these loans does not accuse while a student is enrolled at least half-time. Repayment begins six months after graduation or when a student stops attending school at least half-time.

    You can find additional information, including rates, from the US Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office.

    Direct Unsubsidized Loan

    Interest on these loans begins to accrue at time of disbursement. Repayment begins six months after the student recipient graduates or ceases attending school at least half-time.

    For additional information, including rates, visit the US Department of Education’s 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 these steps with the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office.

    Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans

    Creditworthy parents of a dependent undergraduate student can apply for a Federal Student PLUS loan. These loans are not based on demonstrated need and may be used to replace all or part of the calculated family contribution for students who have completed a FAFSA.

    RISD will not certify a PLUS loan until it accepts a student for admission and the student has paid a commitment deposit to attend. Please visit Federal Student Aid for PLUS rates and additional information.

    A parent (biological, adoptive or stepparent) listed on a student’s FAFSA should first apply for the PLUS loan and then the PLUS master promissory note.

    Apply for the PLUS loan by July 15 before each academic year. If denied, please email Student Financial Services for counsel.

Private loans

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.

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. See below for more information.

  1. 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.


  2. 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.


Federal Work Study

  1. FWS is a need-based work program that lets students earn wages through a variety of job opportunities. Jobs may include:

    • helping in an administrative office
    • bringing prospective students on tours
    • helping out in a studio 
    • gallery monitoring at the RISD Museum

    There are also off-campus FWS jobs available. Contact the Student Employment for more information.

    Your FWS award is available to you for one year. You need to submit a new FAFSA form each year—they are due in February—and may be awarded FWS again.

    FWS is not a traditional “grant” and earnings are not applied to tuition. Instead, students are paid for hours worked.

    Eligibility is based on financial need. There is no obligation to earn the entire award.

  2. Although departments are asked to consider students with FWS first during the hiring process, students who have a been given FWS as part of their financial aid package are not guaranteed a job.

    Depending on your previous work experience and how much effort you invest in your search, you may be able to find a job related to your academic/creative and career goals. A job that isn’t related to your field of study can still provide valuable experience and a better understanding of workplace dynamics, so keep an open mind.

    Remember, many supervisors are open to expanding a routine job into new responsibilities. The more initiative you demonstrate, the more likely your supervisor will be to assign you higher-level tasks and/or promote you.

    Students who have been awarded FWS can find on campus jobs on RISD’s Career Center/ArtWorks platform. When searching for on campus jobs, remember to choose “RISD Student Employment Hourly Paid On Campus” under the “Type of Job” filter.

    Contact listed employers to learn more about posted positions or to set up interviews. Introduce yourself as a FWS student, and write emails with the same formality you would use for a business letter. If you don’t hear back, it may be appropriate to follow up to be sure the prospective employer received your initial email.

    If you need further assistance in your job search, contact Student Employment.

  3. The I-9 Form is a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services form used by employers to verify employees’ identities and to establish that workers are eligible to accept employment in the US. It is officially known as the Employment Eligibility Verification Form.

    Employers are legally required to have employees complete the I-9 Form, including providing required originalsupporting documents to establish the identity and eligibility of any individual hired to perform work for an employer in the United States.

    To determine eligibility to work, students must provide acceptable documentation. Documents presented to complete the I-9 Form must be originals. Faxes, photocopies and laminated documents will not be accepted.

    If a document submitted as identification requires a signature and is not signed, it will be considered invalid. The student then must provide an alternate form of identification. Students may not use any form of expired identification to establish identity and eligibility. 

    The most common documents used are:

    • an original, unexpired, US Passport, or
    • an original Social Security Card, or
    • an original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority or outlying possession of the US, bearing an official seal.

    A list of acceptable documentation can be found online.