The Office of Financial Aid's primary goal is to ensure that students have access to available resources to fund their education. CU Boulder students may be eligible to receive financial aid from our office each year from federal, state, university and private sources.
Applying for Financial Aid
Students apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once the student lists CU Boulder on the FAFSA (using school code 001370), the Office of Financial Aid receives results electronically and uses them to help determine a student's eligibility for grants, work-study and loans, as well as some scholarships.
The FAFSA is school-year specific. Submit the 2021–22 FAFSA to be considered for financial aid for Fall 2021, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022. Students should apply as soon as possible after it opens October 1 each year, as some funds are limited and eventually run out. Students must do the FAFSA every year to be considered for aid.
Financial aid eligibility is based on a variety of factors, such as the student's FAFSA, the cost to attend CU Boulder and the availability of funding.
The FAFSA determines the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is an index number schools use to determine a family's financial situation. It's not the amount of money a family will pay for college, nor is it the amount of financial aid a student will receive.
Each year the Office of Financial Aid calculates the estimated Cost of Attendance (COA) for an academic year. This COA estimate includes both university-billed costs (tuition, fees, on-campus housing and dining) as well as out-of-pocket expenses (books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses). The FAFSA EFC index number is subtracted from the cost estimate to determine a student's financial need. This financial need is considered when determining eligibility for aid.
View more information on cost and budget examples.
Types of Financial Aid
Financial aid offers begin as early as March for the upcoming fall semester, but aid is continually offered as long as funds are available. First-year and transfer students applying for aid for the 2021–22 school year are encouraged to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and any additional documentation requested as soon as possible, as some funding is limited. In previous years, some funding has run out as early as late-March or early-April before the fall semester.
Types of financial aid available to CU Boulder students are listed below.
Grants are a type of aid that don't have to be repaid. Students should submit the FAFSA to be considered for federal, state and institutional need-based grants (including Pell, Colorado Student Grant, etc.).
Students submit the FAFSA to be considered for the following loan programs:
Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
Federal Direct Loans are federal student loans that are offered and disbursed by CU Boulder. Undergraduate students may qualify for a combination of subsidized (i.e., federal government pays the interest) and unsubsidized loans. The interest rates for direct loans are determined annually. An origination/loan fee is charged based on when the loan is disbursed. Annual limits depend on the year in school: first-year students can be awarded up to $5,500, sophomores $6,500, and juniors and seniors $7,500. Independent students may borrow an additional amount of unsubsidized loans (first-year students and sophomores $4,000 and juniors and seniors $5,000).
Interest on unsubsidized loans can be repaid while the student is in school. Repayment begins six months after the student graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours for undergraduates; 4 credit hours for graduates).
Federal Parent PLUS Loan
Federal PLUS loans are available to parents of dependent undergraduate students. The origination fee and interest rates are dependent on when the loan is paid to the student's university bill, but interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan.
The FAFSA has to be done every year in order to apply for a Parent PLUS Loan. Borrowers must complete a credit check, but it's possible for a borrower to qualify for a PLUS loan with a bad credit score, as long as they don't have an adverse credit history.
Note: Parents borrowing a PLUS loan for their student will be regarded as parental support on in-state residency petitions for dependent students. Parents may request a deferment on payments until their student has finished with school.
Students offered work-study are provided an amount of money they can work to earn through approved on- or off-campus agencies. Students don't get the money up-front, nor is it applied to their tuition and fee bill; they will receive a paycheck for hours worked just like any other hourly job. Students should submit the FAFSA to be considered for work-study, since it's based on financial need.
Students may apply for a variety of work-study jobs at competitive rates. Jobs can be found online through the CU Boulder Student Job database.
Donations from private individuals, corporations, foundations and the University of Colorado are all sources for scholarships. Incoming students are automatically considered for some scholarships through their admissions application.
CU Boulder Scholarship Application
Students may apply for scholarships offered by the Office of Financial Aid each year. For scholarships with a financial need requirement, applicants must have submitted a FAFSA before the scholarship deadline in order to be considered. The scholarship application is open November 1–March 15, with some scholarship opportunities closing as early as mid-February.
Prospective students don't need to wait to be accepted to CU Boulder before applying for financial aid or scholarships.
Scholarships are highly competitive at CU Boulder. The selection committee considers academic achievement, honors, leadership, school activities and service to the community. Students should also search for scholarship opportunities within their academic program, college, club or campus organization.
Private External Scholarships
Students who receive a private scholarship from an organization outside the university must report the scholarship to CU Boulder in Buff Portal. To ensure fast processing, the check should be mailed or dropped off with a completed donor form. In addition, students are encouraged to write to their donors and express their gratitude.
When a scholarship donor does not specify how to disburse the funds through a donor form, the Office of Financial Aid equally divides scholarships of $1,000 or more between the fall and spring semesters. Private scholarships less than $1,000 are applied in full to the current semester bill.
Donors should mail their checks, payable to the University of Colorado, to:
University of Colorado Boulder
Office of Financial Aid, ATTN: Scholarship Services
Boulder, CO 80309-0077
Checks should be received by the first day of class in order to avoid incurring late and service charges. If a student's scholarship check is not submitted before the bill due date, they should make other arrangements to pay the bill.
Special Scholarships & Grants
Students can apply directly to the following programs to be considered for their scholarships, grants and programming.
The Boettcher Scholarship is a merit-based, full-ride scholarship awarded annually to Colorado high school seniors who can apply those funds to any four-year institution in Colorado. With a history of scholars on campus dating from 1952, the University of Colorado Boulder has a large, vibrant Boettcher Scholar community.
Benefits of being a Boettcher Scholar include:
- An on-campus Boettcher Scholar Mentor
- The largest Boettcher Scholar peer community in the state
- The longest-standing Boettcher Scholar Alumni network in the state
- Individual, peer and group mentoring
- Academic, professional and personal support
- Social activities with Boettcher Scholars and Norlin Scholars
- Access to enrichment, research and Top Scholarship advising
- A fifth-year tuition benefit for concurrent degree seekers
High school students apply for the scholarship directly through the Boettcher Foundation in the fall of their senior year of high school. Once selected, scholarship recipients have the opportunity to choose which campus they will attend.
The interdisciplinary Norlin Scholars Program is geared toward students interested in a liberal education. Norlin Scholars develop expertise in their chosen fields through research, deep engagement and self-reflection. Upon graduation, they're in a strong position for whatever comes next: the job market, graduate and professional schools or fellowships.
Students can apply as high school seniors for a four-year scholarship or as second-year college students for a two-year scholarship. Norlin applicants must apply to CU first, though they do not need to be admitted to be considered.
Benefits of being a Norlin Scholar include:
- Annual scholarship (amount varies)
- small, invigorating courses (NRLN 2000 and NRLN 3500)
- research or creative projects with faculty
- individual, group and peer mentoring
- access to top scholarship advising and guidance
- opportunities for professional training and development
- a stimulating, interdisciplinary peer group
The Norlin Scholars program builds community through shared experiences and support. Explore what it means to be a Norlin Scholar and the scholar support system on the Norlin Scholars website.
Visit the Norlin Scholars website for application information.
Professional and Academic Conference Endowment (PACE)
PACE provides funding, support and mentoring to qualified undergraduates to present their work at conferences. Conference presentations may be oral presentations, poster sessions, round-table discussions, or creative or performance pieces. Students from all majors, departments, colleges and schools are welcome to apply for PACE grants.
Aside from receiving funds toward conference expenses, recipients benefit from faculty and peer supported conference preparation and exposure to working professionals and cutting edge scholarship in the field. Additionally, conference presentations:
- Complement classroom learning
- Take undergraduate research to the next level
- Provide a range of professional credentials
To accommodate the year-round schedule of professional conferences, PACE deadlines are rolling. Consult the PACE website for more information.
Top Scholarships helps you prepare a thoughtful application to some of the most prestigious, nationally competitive scholarships offered, like the Rhodes, Marshall, Truman and Goldwater, among others. This office helps high-achieving students already enrolled at CU, usually in their sophomore, junior or senior years. For help with scholarships for incoming first-year students, or to inquire about scholarships already awarded, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.
Top Scholarships provides:
- Guidance in selecting a fellowship or scholarship that fits your plans
- Expert advice on scholarship opportunities listed
- Individualized assistance preparing applications, essays, and proposals
- Practice interviews and interview strategies
Please see our Top Scholarships website for more information, including benefits of making an application to Top Scholarships and how to apply.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)
CU Boulder has a rich culture for cultivating undergraduates as emerging scholars, artists and practicing researchers. UROP provides consultation services, informational workshops and grants to promote undergraduate research as a high-impact learning practice for student success.
Each year UROP funds hundreds of students who produce new knowledge and creative work in partnership with CU's world-class faculty. We serve students and faculty whose learning and teaching goals include outside-the-classroom enrichment.
In a UROP project, students:
- Explore academic interests beyond the classroom
- Get hands-on experience with research or creative production
- Develop student-faculty relationships for professional references
- Acquire academic and professional skills and credentials
- Demonstrate successful grant-writing skills
- Refine their academic and career goals
From development of a research interest or question to completion of an application takes some time. UROP deadlines precede the academic year in which the research or creative work will be undertaken and students apply in partnership with the faculty mentor. Visit the UROP website for more information.
The Office of Financial Aid follows regulations provided by the Department of Education, the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005, the Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) and in-house policies to administer federal, state and university funding.
Adjustments to Financial Aid
There are a variety of circumstances that may require an adjustment to a student’s financial aid. Students should understand how dropping and adding courses, receiving other aid, or corrections on their FAFSA will impact their aid.
Students must be enrolled in a CU Boulder education abroad program to be eligible for financial aid. Students participating in an education abroad program through another university are not eligible.
The Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records (which includes financial aid).
Students may only repeat a course once and be eligible to receive financial aid if they previously received a grade of “D-” or better in that course.
Return to Title IV Funds and Refund Policy
If a student enrolls at CU Boulder, receives financial aid, then withdraws, their financial aid is adjusted according to federal regulations. The student may owe a bill to the university after the financial aid is adjusted.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Students who apply for financial aid are responsible for knowing and complying with the satisfactory academic progress policy. Briefly, the policy outlines the requirements to maintain satisfactory progress (i.e., minimum grade point average [GPA], completion rate, etc.), the consequences of failing to meet the requirements, and the process for appealing if the student loses eligibility.
Student Loan Code of Conduct
The Office of Financial Aid has established a set of principles and policies to govern educational lending practices for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Our staff will follow the Student Loan Code of Conduct to ensure the integrity of the student loan process.
Students Rights and Responsibilities
Students who receive any form of financial aid, have certain rights and responsibilities. The university is also required to disclose certain information to all students. Also view CU Boulder Consumer Information.
Students may be asked to provide additional information as part of the verification process. Verification checks the accuracy of answers provided on a student's FAFSA.
In accordance with the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005, students who have been convicted under federal or state law for possession or sale of a controlled substance will be suspended from Title IV aid eligibility if the offense occurred while the student was receiving Title IV aid.
A summary of the most pertinent policies are available as financial aid guides on the Office of Financial Aid's policy webpage.
Research studies indicate that students who work while attending college are as successful academically as those who do not. Jobs provide students with income, work experience and the opportunity to explore career options. Student Employment, within the Office of Financial Aid, supports students and employers with work-study employment, finding and posting job opportunities and providing guidance on student employment policy.
Students offered work-study are provided an amount of money they can work to earn through approved on and off-campus agencies. Students don't get the money up-front, nor is it applied to their tuition and fee bill. These students receive a paycheck for hours worked just like any other hourly job. Work-study students should submit the FAFSA to be considered for work-study, since it's based on financial need.
Find a Job
Student Employment posts part-time on-campus and off-campus jobs for both work-study and non-work-study students. In addition, an on-call temporary employment service allows students to register for occasional work including one-time child care, yard work and clerical jobs.
Student Employee Work Hours Policy
Undergraduate student employees are limited to working a maximum of 25 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters and 40 hours per week during the summer, per the Student Hourly Employee Work Hours Policy. The policy does not affect students working in non-university off-campus jobs, though we encourage students to prioritize their academics first when considering outside work commitments. View more information about this policy and other student employment policies on the Student Employment policy web page.