Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs:

Is my financial aid application complete?

Entering freshmen and transfer applicants may view a list of received and requested items through the Rice Admission Portal on the Financial Aid tab. Current students may view their list through ESTHER.

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 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.

How long does it take Rice to receive my FAFSA/CSS PROFILE/IDOC after I complete them?

It takes an average of two to three days for the FAFSA to be received. The CSS Profile and IDOC each take up to five days to be received.

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

Parents or students that are not required to file a tax return should submit the appropriate Non-Tax Filer Statement. This form is available through IDOC and on our website in the forms section. If you are unable to locate the form, please email us to request a copy. Income reported on the Non-Tax Filer Statement should also be accomanied with income documentation such as W-2 or 1099 forms.

How does Rice determine a familys 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 to the family. 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. For more information, visit Understanding Your Eligibility and Demonstrated Need.

IDOC does not recognize my name and Social Security number.

After completing the CSS Profile, you will be provided a direct link to log into IDOC and upload documents. A confirmation email will also be sent to you with information about using IDOC. You may login IDOC with either your CBFinAid ID or Social Security number, but you are not required to enter both. If you continue to experience problems with IDOC or the CSS Profile, contact the College Board at 305-420-3670 or

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

Entering undergraduate international students are eligible to apply for need-based aid by indicating on the admission application their intention to apply for aid and completing the CSS Profile. Additional documentation may be requested after Rice receives the CSS Profile.

Current undergraduate international students are eligible to apply for need-based aid if they were eligible to receive need-based aid in their first year at Rice. Additional information for undergraduate international students is available on International Students.

Graduate international students should contact for information concerning the availability of graduate student stipends or grants for international students.

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

Outside aid may be reported to the Office of Financial Aid through ESTHER and is considered a resource which will reduce the amount of need-based financial aid you are offered in the initial financial aid package. To report outside aid in ESTHER, navigate to the following tabs:

Financial Aid > Award Status > Award for Aid Year > Resources and Additional Information.

When reporting outside aid, be sure to include the name of scholarship, amount, one-time only or renewable, method of payment to Rice (i.e., paper check, wire transfer, etc.), frequency of payment (i.e., one payment at beginning of the year or sent each semester).

Visit Outside Aid for additional information.

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?

First-time loan borrowers for Federal Direct Loans may accept, reduce or decline the loan offered through ESTHER. If you accept the any loan amount, then you are also required to complete entrance counseling and sign a master promissory note (MPN) at

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.

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

Undergraduate students may apply for institution aid in their first eight semesters of enrollment. Students enrolled beyond eight semesters may apply for federal and state aid for two more semesters. If a student attends school part time during a semester, withdraws during the term, or has taken coursework at other colleges and universities, that semester(s) is counted toward the eight semesters of Rice-sponsored aid available to him/her.

Architecture students may apply for Rice-sponsored aid for up to 10 semesters, which includes two semesters following their preceptorship.

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

We use both direct costs and indirect costs to determine your cost of attendance budget for financial aid.

Direct costs are the items which are billed directly by the university. Tuition, fees, room and board (meal plan) are direct costs.

Indirect costs are other estimated expenses not reflected on your bill, but we expect students will experience. These include books, personal expenses and transportation.

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 or in the number of children enrolled in an undergraduate program.

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

Yes, your financial aid is prorated to reflect your reduced enrollment if your billed charges are also reduced. 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.

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. In cases where 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, then we will adjust your cost of attendance budget to reflect your program’s costs which may result in a reduction in financial aid.

Be aware that Rice will not release funds early. Students should plan ahead and make arrangements to meet advance costs such as airfare, deposits or other costs that arise prior to the start of the semester abroad. Many study abroad programs offer a payment deferral option for recipients of financial aid. Information is available with the individual programs.

Is financial aid offered for the summer term?

Limited financial aid is available to degree-seeking students that are enrolled in summer coursework at Rice. These funds cannot be used to pay for coursework that is not sponsored by Rice University. For more information, visit the summer webpage.

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.

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.

Contact Us

Office of Financial Aid
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892
713-348-4958 office
713-348-2139 fax