Financial Aid FAQ

WPI Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that the process of applying for financial aid either as a new student just applying to college or a returning student can be challenging sometimes.  Since financial aid can come from many resources such as WPI itself or the Federal or State governments there are ever changing rules that apply to financial aid so we hope that this page will help assist you with some of the most frequently asked questions.

Location: Bartlett Center
Phone: 508-831-5469
Fax: 508-831-5039
How do I apply for financial aid at WPI?

The forms required to apply for financial aid at WPI will vary depending on your applicant type, be it a student just applying to WPI, a returning student, or a graduate student. Each applicant group may have different forms to complete. To determine which forms you are required to file, please visit our Applying for Aid page and then click on the link that applies to you.

I'm a returning student (rising SO, JR or SR) what do I need to do to apply for aid and when will I receive my offer?

Students that will be returning to WPI for the next academic year only need to file a FAFSA for the next academic year. The FAFSA for the next academic year is usually available around the first week of October. The FAFSA for the next academic year is due May 1 of the current academic year.

Financial aid offers for returning students are not sent until the first week of July each year. The awarding process cannot start until all grades have been posted after the end of D Term as as student's academic standing may affect their financial aid.

For more information about applying for aid as a returning student, please visit the Applying for Aid Returning Undergraduate Student page.

Why am I still considered a “dependent” student?

Federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily your and your family’s responsibility to pay for your education. Because a dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, the parents’ information has to be assessed along with the student’s, in order to get a full picture of the family’s financial strength.

If you are a dependent student, it does not mean that your parents are required to pay anything toward your education, including their information is simply the method the Department of Education uses to look at everyone in a consistent manner

Determining a student’s dependency status is important in determining a student’s eligibility for federal aid programs. Your answers to questions on the FAFSA determine whether you are considered a dependent or independent student. An applicant is considered to be a dependent student unless they can answer “Yes” to one of the dependency status questions on the application and are able to provide supporting documentation. If student applicant answers “No” to all of the dependency status questions then they are considered to be a dependent student for federal student aid purposes and must provide parental information.

Please be aware that not living with your parents or not being claimed by them on tax forms does not make you an independent student for purposes of applying for federal student aid. Occasionally, unusual circumstances may exist that warrant a review of a student’s dependency status. If you feel that you have a special circumstance that prevents you from including your parent’s information on your application, contact the office for more information.

I'm applying for aid, my parents are divorced, and the Noncustodial Parent CSS Profile application cannot be completed. What can I do?

If you cannot have the Noncustodial CSS Profile completed by your noncustodial parent due to lack of contact or other personal reasons, you can submit the Noncustodial Profile Waiver Request Form, found below.

My parents are divorced or separated and they share custody, who is considered the Custodial Parent?

For academic year 2023-2024, federal aid guidelines state that the parent with which the student lives the most is considered the custodial parent and that is the parent that should be filing the FAFSA. If the parents state that the student lives with each parent an exact equal amount of time in a year then the next measure is which parent provides more financial support for the student, therefore if time is equally split between both parents then the parent providing the most financial support would be the custodial parent and the parent that should be filling out the FAFSA.

For academic years 2024-2025 and beyond, federal guidelines state that the parent who contributes more financial support is considered the custodial parent. The parent who pays child support should include the amount of child support paid during the relevant 12-month period when determining which parent is the parent of record based on providing more than half of the student's support. For example, if the mother is paying the child support to the father, that child support counts as part of the mother's (not the father's) support for the child.

WPI also requires the CSS Profile application for financial aid. We require a CSS Profile from both the custodial and noncustodial parent.

I want to decline some of the loans or work study in my offer, how do I do that?

There is an online process that allows you to reduce or completely decline items in your financial aid offer.

The above attachment gives you step by step guidelines on how to access and use the online award reduction form.

I'm a newly accepted student, how do I accept my financial aid offer?

WPI uses passive acceptance of your financial aid offer. In other words, we assume you want to keep all of the aid that was outlined in your offer. You do not need to take any additional steps unless you reduce or decline parts of your award by following the steps listed in the FAQ above.

If you are accepting your federal or institutional loans, you will be sent information during the summer on how to complete your loan documents.

Should I apply for aid even if I probably will not qualify?

Yes. The application is free, and some sources of aid (Federal Unsubsidized Loans and Parent PLUS Loans) are available regardless of need. There are no penalties in applying for federal aid; any loan offers that result from completing the FAFSA may be declined.

What can I do if I have accepted all of my financial aid and it is still not enough to pay for school? How do I get more financial aid?

We always award students with their maximum eligibility in federal aid based on availability of funding. However, because of federal loan limits, students may not have enough federal funds to cover all of their educational costs. If you are in need of additional funding beyond the federal aid you were awarded, you could consider a Parent PLUS Loan or a private student loan. Only the parents of dependent students may apply for a PLUS loan to offset costs.

What is the difference between a subsidized loan and an unsubsidized loan?

After you apply for federal aid, you may be offered either a subsidized or unsubsidized loan, or a combination of both. The primary difference between the two is the interest rate and when the interest begins to accrue.

Subsidized Loans are awarded on the basis of financial need. You will not be charged any interest while the loan is in deferment status, such as while you are enrolled, as the federal government subsidizes or pays the interest.

Unsubsidized Loans charge interest from the time the money is first disbursed until it is paid in full. The interest is capitalized, meaning that you pay interest on any interest that has already accrued. One way to minimize how much interest accrues is to pay the interest as it accumulates.

Only undergraduates with demonstrated financial need are eligible for Subsidized Loans.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need. The student financial aid office uses federal regulations to determine the amounts each student may borrow by considering the cost of attendance and other financial aid.

To find out more about the differences between Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, visit the Department of Education’s Direct Loan comparison website.

What is verification and why was I selected?

Verification is a process mandated by the US Department of Education to confirm the accuracy of the information provided on the FAFSA via submission of specific documentation and forms by the selected student and/or parent. All requested documentation must be provided before a student’s financial aid eligibility will be determined.

A student's FAFSA can be selected for verification in two ways:

  1. The Department of Education selects a certain number of FAFSAs for Verification during the processing stage, either randomly or based upon pre-determined edit criteria. These applications are required to be verified by our office.
  2. Our office may also select applications for verification independently from the Department of Education. FAFSAs may be selected for Verification based upon criteria such as family income/asset levels, number in family/college, and significant changes in an individual student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC)/Student Aid Index (SAI) from year to year, to name a few.

NOTE: Worcester Polytechnic Institute will always resolve conflicting information, regardless of whether the applicant is selected for verification or not.

I received notification that I'm eligible for a MA Grant (or VT or PA Grant) why isn't it in my award?

State grant programs, including Massachusetts, Vermont, and Pennsylvania, notify students of eligibility in late spring but generally do not send rosters of eligible students to the school until close to the end of the summer. Our office will not award State Grant funds until we have received and certified the rosters sent to us by the particular state as there are sometimes changes that delay or eliminate funding before the student appears on a roster.

What are the financial impacts of an NR?

Only undergraduate students are able to take an NR. NRs allow for some flexibility in their academic choices without a potential negative impact. A student’s tuition charges will not change if a NR is earned.

If multiple NRs are earned throughout the academic years at WPI it could change a student’s scheduled graduation date, which could result in additional time to complete degree requirements. Students are eligible for a maximum of sixteen terms of institutional financial aid. Therefore, this could increase a student’s total cost of their degree.

Contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss your individual situation or the Office of Academic Advising for potential implications of the NR.

Will my financial aid change if I take an NR?

In following WPI’s Financial Aid Policiesundergraduate students must earn 24 credits per academic year (A to D Terms) to remain in good academic standing and to have no impact to their financial aid. If a student accumulates enough NR courses to impact their academic standing, or academic progress, that could result in an adjustment to the financial aid package. Review of academic progress is done after D Term each year, for the next academic year. Any adjustments made will be for the next academic year.

Contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss your individual situation or the Office of Academic Advising for potential implications of the NR.

*Please note that the WPI Institutional financial aid policy differs from the federal financial aid policy so review the policies carefully and reach out if you have questions.

May I appeal any changes made to my financial aid package based on NR courses?

Yes, you may appeal if your financial aid package changes based on academic performance. If you have concerns or questions about your financial aid package and how NR courses may impact your funding, contact the Office of Financial Aid.

How does being a part-time student affect my aid?

Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits per semester to be eligible for WPI grant and scholarship aid (there are exceptions for participation in a Co-Op experience or students returning from a leave of absence). Students taking less than 12 credits per semester may still be eligible for federal aid. Please reach out to the Office of Financial Aid if you have questions about how going part-time may affect your financial aid.