Lovett Hall at sunset

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Is my financial aid application complete?

2.  What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) or a Tax Return Transcript?

3. How long does it take to get my FAFSA/CSS PROFILE/IDOC into my Rice records after I complete the item? How can I check if you have my application items?

4. What if my parent or I will not file a tax return?

5. How does Rice determine a family's expected contribution?

6. IDOC Student Dashboard does not recognize my name and social security number.

7. I am an international graduate student and I have questions about available aid.

8. I am an international student and I would like to know about applying for aid.

9. I have an outside scholarship. How do I report it? Will it affect my aid?

10. If my parents or I am offered a federal loan, what do we need to do to have the funds credited to my student account?

11. If my family needs help in meeting our family contribution, what options are available to us?

12. How many semesters is a student eligible for Rice sponsored aid?

13.  Why does the budget in my award letter and my bill statement show different costs?

14. Why could the total amount of my need-based awards differ from year to year?

15.  If I enroll for less than 12 credit hours, will my financial aid change?

16. If I am considering studying abroad, can I apply for financial aid through Rice?

17. Is financial aid offered for the summer term?

18. Why could the general student budget used in awarding me aid differ from my actual costs of attending Rice? 

19. What is the difference between need-based aid and merit scholarships?

20. What if my family has Special Circumstances?

21. If I have additional questions and I call or email the Office of Financial Aid, how long will it take to receive a response?





1.  Is my financial aid application complete?

Check your ESTHER account under the Financial Aid tab to see if all required application items are complete.  We urge you to check your Rice email account regularly for updates as well.

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2.  What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) or a Tax Return Transcript?

The IRS DRT will transfer tax information directly from your tax returns on to the FAFSA.  This is the fastest, most accurate, and most efficient way to submit your information with the FAFSA. 


A Tax Return Transcript is a document provided by the IRS showing most lines from your tax return and all information that would be transferred to the FAFSA using the DRT.  This can be requested on the IRS website and must have the student’s name and Rice ID number or birth date on it when mailed, faxed, or emailed to us.  Either submission is acceptable, however be advised that the Tax Return Transcript may result in a longer processing time.

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3. How long does it take to get my FAFSA/CSS PROFILE/IDOC into my Rice records after I complete the item? How can I check if you have my application items?
After your application is complete, it takes an average of two to three days for the FAFSA, one week for the CSS profile, and up to two weeks for IDOC to appear in your records. 

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4. What if my parent or I will not file a tax return?

If the parent or student is not required to file a tax return, complete the appropriate Non-Tax Filer Statement and submit it with IDOC.  If you are unable to locate the form on IDOC, email us for a copy.  Be sure to include all income documentation such as W-2 or 1099 forms with the statement.  These items are required.


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5.  How does Rice determine a family's expected contribution? 
Rice considers it the responsibility of parents to contribute to educational costs.  We calculate each family's contribution in part by using a federal methodology approved by Congress, but we also consider other resources available.  Although Rice recognizes that parents have many financial obligations and preferences for how to allocate their resources, we expect that a student’s undergraduate education will be a priority in the use of those resources.


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6. IDOC Student Dashboard does not recognize my name and social security number.

First, you must complete the CSS Profile. If you experience any problems with IDOC or the CSS Profile, contact the College Board at 305-420-3670 or help@cssprofile.org.

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7.   I am an international graduate student and I have questions about available aid.

International graduate students should contact graduate@rice.edu for detailed information concerning the availability of graduate student stipends or grants to International students.


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8.  I am an international student and I would like to know about applying for aid.

Refer to the Office of Admission page concerning Freshman International Citizens. You can also visit our webpage about aid for International students here, and view additional resources on the Office of International Students & Scholars’ website.


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9.  I have an outside scholarship. How do I report it? Will it affect my aid?

Please refer to the Outside Awards section of our webpage for detailed information.


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10.  If my parents or I am offered a federal loan, what do we need to do to have the funds credited to my student account?
To complete the loan process as a first-time borrower for Direct Stafford Loans, you need to submit entrance counseling and sign a promissory note. If you have received loans in the past, you will need to accept the award(s) on your ESTHER account and no further action is needed.



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11.  If my family needs help in meeting our family contribution, what options are available to us?
Rice offers a payment plan that allows families to pay in installments.  We also participate in the federal parent loan program (PLUS), which allows parents to borrow low-interest loans.  Many families take advantage of both the payment plan and the PLUS loan program to meet their expected contribution.  Students also have the option of helping meet their family contribution through both subsidized and unsubsidized student Federal Direct Loans as well as private loans.

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12.  How many semesters is a student eligible for Rice sponsored aid?
A student is eligible to apply for Rice-sponsored aid during his/her first eight semesters at Rice.  Students enrolled beyond eight semesters may apply for federal and state aid for two more semesters.  Even if a student attends school part-time during a semester or withdraws in the middle of a term, that semester is counted towards the eight semesters of Rice-sponsored aid available to him/her.  (Architecture students may apply for Rice-sponsored aid for two terms following their preceptorship.)


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13.  Why does the budget in my award letter and my bill statement show different costs?
In calculating your financial need, we rely on the same average comprehensive cost of attendance that the Cashier's Office uses to generate your bill, including tuition, room and board.  However, we add other expected costs that are not reflected on your bill, such as transportation and personal expenses.


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14.  Why could the total amount of my need-based awards differ from year to year?
Your financial aid eligibility is assessed every year.  Many factors can affect a student’s need-based award eligibility. Common factors include changes in a family's income or assets, in the number of children enrolled in an undergraduate program, or in the amount of merit aid the student receives. 


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15.  If I enroll for less than 12 credit hours, will my financial aid change?
Yes, your financial aid would be prorated to reflect your reduced enrollment, if you have been approved for part-time enrollment.  No financial aid is available if you enroll for less than six hours. For information on part-time approvals, visit the Dean of Undergraduates webpage on Special Registration


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16.  If I am considering studying abroad, can I apply for financial aid through Rice?
Yes, if the program is approved by the Study Abroad Office.  If the program you are attending is more expensive than Rice, we will grant aid based on Rice's standard cost of attendance.  If the program is less expensive, we will adjust your cost of attendance to reflect your program’s costs.  You should be aware that Rice will not release funds early so that you can pay for airfare or other costs that arise prior to the start of the Rice semester.  You will need to make arrangements to meet these costs on your own, which you can make up when you receive your Rice funds.


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17.  Is financial aid offered for the summer term?
Students who have remaining loan eligibility may be able to borrow funds to meet their summer educational costs.  These funds cannot be used to pay for coursework that is not sponsored by Rice University.  


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18. Why could the general student budget used in awarding me aid differ from my actual costs of attending Rice? 
The general student budget reflects the average budget for a student attending Rice; individual budgets are not created for each student based on his/her actual expenses.  We award financial aid based on the average budget.  In most instances, the budget is not increased unless a student documents higher expenses and wishes to secure additional loan funding.  It is up to the student to make responsible financial decisions regarding their indirect costs.  


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19. What is the difference between need-based aid and merit scholarships? 
Need-based aid is awarded by the Office of Financial Aid based on a family’s income profile.  Merit scholarships are granted based on the admission application and are not influenced by the FAFSA or CSS Profile.  The Office of Financial Aid plays no role in the selection of merit scholarship recipients.


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20. What if my family has Special Circumstances?

An Appeals Committee reviews Special Circumstances based on the documentation you are able to provide.  This review will only affect the current aid year.  File reviews are carried out with great care and under the guidance of the Office of Financial Aid's upper administration. Only one appeal will be considered each year.


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21. If I have additional questions and I call or email the Office of Financial Aid, how long will it take to receive a response?
Our office makes every effort to respond to your questions as soon as possible.  Ideally, we try to respond on the same day that you contact us.  However, during our peak periods in the summer and the first few weeks of each semester, it may take us a few days to get back to you.  If you are requesting that we review your financial aid file, allow several days for a decision.  


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