Frequently Asked Questions

General

Is my financial aid application complete? Where can I find my outstanding requirements?

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 I need to correct my FAFSA or CSS Profile information?

We verify all information we receive using the documentation you submitted at the time of your application. For this reason, we will make corrections on your behalf, and you should not need to make changes to your Profile or FAFSA application unless you are asked to do so by our office.

If you believe the documentation you've submitted to us contains an error, please contact us directly at fina@rice.edu and allow us to make the changes.

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 accompanied with income documentation such as W-2 or 1099 forms.

What if my parents are divorced? Whose information will you need and will this impact my financial aid?

We need information from both biological/adoptive parents, even if they are divorced. Eligibility for aid is based on the expectation that both parents should contribute financially to their child’s educational expenses; therefore, both parents must submit financial aid application information to Rice. The parent listed on the FAFSA (referred to as Parent 1) should be the first to complete the CSS Profile. Once Parent 1's household information has been entered and the CSS Profile is completed, Parent 2 (the other biological or adoptive parent) should then complete their own CSS Profile.

A separate contribution is calculated for each parent and added together to determine a total family contribution. If either parent has remarried, we will also review their income as part of our analysis.

In rare circumstances, Rice may waive the requirement for Parent 2's information. If you have extreme family circumstances that prohibit one or more of your parents from completing the aid application, you should complete an application to waive that parent's information by submitting the Noncustodial Waiver Application on the CSS Profile page to our office.

For the Custodial Parent: Complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile, including current spouse and children in household.

For the Non-Custodial Parent: Only complete the Non Custodial CSS Profile, including current spouse and children in household.

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 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 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 help@cssprofile.org.

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.

We do not offer financial aid or merit-based scholarships to international transfer applicants. This policy applies to applicants at the time of review and to admitted students, throughout their years of study at Rice.

Graduate international students should contact graduate@rice.edu 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.

How do I obtain federal student loans if they were not offered in my award?

Send an email request to fina@rice.edu, and our team will be happy to offer you federal student loans after determining your grade year and eligibility. You will have to still accept the loans on ESTHER even after emailing our Office. We will also require Federal Loan Entrance Counseling and a Loan Agreement. Both of these can be completed by the student on https://studentaid.gov.

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 StudentLoans.gov.

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.

I’m an Early Decision student and have received my financial aid offer. Figures are based on the 20-21 year. When tuition, fees, and room and board are finalized, how will these updates to the total cost of attendance affect my award amount?

If you fall within The Rice Investment, our Office will automatically adjust your award so that (depending on which group you are in) tuition, fees, and/or room and board are corrected in your offer to reflect the new amounts. Otherwise, if you do not qualify for The Rice Investment, our Office will still change your award accordingly after we adjust your cost of attendance figures. We will send you an updated award notice once these changes have been made.

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.

Is there a financial aid PIN for use at the bookstore? Can I use financial aid to buy my books?

The Office of Financial Aid does not utilize or provide PINs to purchase books at the Rice Campus Store or on the BKSTR.com website. If students have an approved financial aid award that exceeds the amount of billed charges on the student’s Cashier account, then a refund of any excess aid and/or loans may be issued to be used towards those expenses. Refunds will not be available until closer to the beginning of the semester, since financial aid must first disburse to the student account.

In order to receive a refund, you must either have Direct Deposit set up with the Cashier’s, or you will receive a check from them within 14 business days after aid disburses. If you have a question about a refund, please email cashier@rice.edu.

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 fewer 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 federal financial aid is available if you enroll for fewer than six hours. For information on part-time approvals, visit the dean of undergraduates webpage on Reduced Course Load Requests.

Will living at home with my parents affect my financial aid?

Students living off campus AND at home with parents will have an adjusted cost of attendance that does not include room. You may see a reduction in your aid as the expense for room ($4950/Semester) is no longer factored in your direct costs of attendance. As was consistent with the spring 2020 semester, students receiving financial aid to cover room expenses who returned home during the shut-down, did not receive a reimbursement of their grant aid covering room expenses. Board is a direct expense incurred by families and will remain in the cost of attendance analysis for students on financial aid. Students indicating that they will be living at home with their parents on the Dean of Undergraduates survey due July 24, 2020 will receive a new financial aid analysis. The new financial aid awards will be provided to enrolling students by August 14, 2020 and will be reflected on the bills that go out on August 17, 2020. Should housing arrangements change to on-campus or rental for Spring 2021 a new cost of attendance will be calculated. For any questions about your specific financial aid circumstance please reach out to fina@rice.edu.

How does living off-campus (i.e. renting apartment, etc.) affect my financial aid?

Financial aid for students renting housing off campus is not impacted since our budget estimates off-campus room and board costs to be similar to when living on-campus. Financial aid which exceeds the student bill is refunded at the start of each term to be used toward these expenses. Students living at home with parents will have an adjusted cost of attendance which does not include room. You may see a reduction in your aid as the expense for room is no longer factored in your direct costs of attendance.

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.

Is there a minimum GPA requirement for my merit scholarship?

Yes, if selected, merit scholarships are awarded upon acceptance and are renewed annually as long as a student maintains full-time enrollment and a minimum cumulative of 2.8 or 3.0 GPA. The GPA requirement is specific to your award, but is referenced in your Admissions merit award letter. If you no longer have a copy, please contact the Office of Admissions to obtain another. The Office of Financial Aid does review annually to renew merit funding. If your minimum GPA goes below the requirements outlined in your scholarship letter, it may result in the removal of the scholarship from your account.

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.

What is the financial aid process for undocumented and DACA students?

Rice University welcomes all applicants and considers candidates for undergraduate admission (as first time entering students or transfer students) without regard to nationality or citizenship, including undocumented students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status at the time of admission and those without DACA status who graduated from a U.S. high school and who have lived in the U.S. for an extended period of time.

For domestic students, Rice University follows need-blind admissions and meets the full demonstrated financial need of admitted students through a combination of scholarship awards, work study and available loans.

Domestic students are individuals who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, undocumented students who have been granted DACA status at the time of admission or undocumented students who do not hold DACA status but are long-term residents in the U.S. and who graduated from a U.S. high school.

Undocumented and DACA students should first complete the College Board’s CSS Profile form. The fee is waived for those who already have an SAT fee waiver or who qualify based on income.

Once the Profile is complete, you may receive an email that asks you to submit US tax returns and W-2 forms to the secure College Board documentation service called IDOC. If you or your parents did not file a US tax return, you can submit the non-filer form available on the IDOC website.

If you have a noncustodial parent, they should also complete the CSS Profile. If additional documents are requested of your noncustodial parent, those may be submitted to the College Board IDOC service as well.

Refer to the First Year Applicants webpage for application instructions.

Rice Investment

What exactly is The Rice Investment?

We’ve taken a bold step toward making education affordable with our signature financial aid program, The Rice Investment. Through a need-based financial aid package, The Rice Investment grants families in the income ranges listed above either awards that cover full tuition, fees, and room and board; full tuition; or half tuition, depending on total income and assets. We also meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for families that do not fall within the listed income ranges.

Is there a separate application for The Rice Investment?

No, there is not a separate application. To be considered for The Rice Investment, students must complete the standard financial aid application requirements for need-based aid.

Will I be eligible for The Rice Investment all four years?

Students must complete the Rice financial aid application each year to be considered for need-based aid. Families demonstrating need within the outlined income ranges will continue to qualify for The Rice Investment.

Can I qualify for more aid beyond The Rice Investment?

Yes. Families may qualify for additional aid beyond The Rice Investment if they have further demonstrated need.

I noticed the "Typical Assets" notation the on the Rice Investment website. What exactly does that mean?

A family’s assets might include cash and savings, investments, home equity, business net worth, or other real estate (we exclude qualifying retirement accounts). Families with significant assets above what is typical for their income level may not qualify for The Rice Investment.

Are international students eligible for The Rice Investment?

While prospective international students are not eligible for The Rice Investment, they can apply for need-based financial aid by following the instructions in the Applying for Aid section.

Are federal and state grants included in The Rice Investment?

Yes. The Rice Investment may be met through a combination of federal, state and institutional grant aid.

Are graduate students eligible for the Rice Investment?

No. Graduate students are eligible for certain stipends, fellowships or other gift aid by their school. For additional information, visit the graduate student financial aid page.

If I do not meet the qualifications for The Rice Investment, will I still be considered for any need-based aid?

Yes. We remain dedicated to meeting 100% of demonstrated need. Families with significant assets or income above the outlined thresholds of The Rice Investment may still qualify for need-based aid. To be considered, follow the instructions in the Applying for Aid section.

Supervisor Resources

How do I post a job and view applicant profiles?

Supervisors are strongly encouraged to use the Handshake Job Board to post student jobs and view applicant profiles. as of Jan. 1, 2020, the Rice Job Board will no longer be available. To use the Handshake Job Board, please visit Handshake Job Board.

To use the Rice Job Board, please visit the Rice Job Board. Click on “Supervisors” on the left side of the page, and follow the instructions.

Supervisors may advertise jobs through traditional ways including word of mouth, bulletin boards or campus listservs.

How do I determine our student worker’s rate of pay?

For student employment pay ranges, visit Student Employment Pay Ranges. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping and child labor standards affecting full and part time workers in the private sector and in federal, state and local governments.

  • All student workers MUST be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
  • Wage rates should be based on the student’s skill level and work performed.
  • If a student’s skill level depends on his or her academic advancement, you may pay a student on that basis.
  • For example, a junior or third-year lab student may be paid a higher rate than a sophomore or second-year lab student.
  • In most cases, students should be paid a comparable wage to non-student employees performing comparable work.
  • It is not acceptable to base the wage rate on financial need, federal work-study award amount or on any other factor not related to the student’s skills or job description.
  • Student workers may be offered a pay increase or a raise based on exceptional performance, seniority or any other lawful reason as determined by the supervisor.

How do I hire a student?

Registered supervisors may view and hire applicants for posted positions. Departments submit the Electronic Personnel Action Form (EPAF) though ESTHER. Students will be able to access their electronic timesheets immediately after the hiring form completes the EPAF routing queue (unless the job effective date is in the future).

NOTE: Students should only start employment after the hiring department submits the Student Job Assignment EPAF to the routing queue. This will ensure I-9 compliance and reduce the risk for fines.

NOTE: Students should self-report to you that they are recipients of Federal Work Study. Please ask the student to show you the printed financial aid award page from ESTHER that verifies the Federal Work Study award. Rice does not award any FWS during the summer semester.

What forms do I need to fill out?

The Rice Job Board allows you to post your job positions and view applicants; however, you must complete and send the following forms to the Office of Financial Aid to complete the hiring process.

Take great care when hiring International Students. F-1 and J-1 students can jeopardize their authorization to attend school in the United States if they work even one day without proper authorization. Please refer to the Employment Resources webpage of the Office of International Students and Scholars for additional information.

How does Federal Work Study work?

Federal Work Study is a part-time employment program for students who have demonstrated financial need according to eligibility criteria set forth by the federal government. Students are limited to earning the dollar amount shown on their award letter.

Through Federal Work Study, 75% of the students' wages are paid with a federal grant and 25% are paid by the department that employs them. The Office of Financial Aid pays any fringe.

  • Work-study awards are awarded to students, not departments, based on financial eligibility. Each year, Rice University receives a fixed amount of work-study funds for its students.
  • 75% of the students’ wages are paid for with a federal grant, and 25% are paid by the department that employs them. The Office of Financial Aid pays any fringe.
  • Work-study awards are need-based awards. If a student has no unmet financial need (as defined by Rice), the student will not qualify for a work-study award. Students must have a work-study award offer from the Office of Financial Aid in order to be employed using work-study funds.
  • There is a limit to the amount of work-study funds students can earn. This amount is listed on their financial aid award letters.
  • The Electronic Student Personnel Action Form (EPAF) also indicates a student’s total award offer. If the student has been previously employed during the same academic year, the student will have less funding available. When hiring students, please inquire about their prior or current work history at Rice during that academic year.
  • The Office of Financial Aid will receive a monthly update from the accounting office listing the amount of work-study funds earned by students. If the report shows that a student has less than $300 in work-study eligibility left, our office will notify the sponsoring department.
  • If a student earns more than his or her work-study award, the sponsoring department will be charged the overage.
  • Work-study award offers are cancelled by Nov. 1 if students have not become employed. If a student wishes to seek employment after Nov. 1 and a department desires to pay him or her using work-study funds, the student should contact the Office of Financial to discuss whether funds are still available.

What is the Rice Work Program and how does it work?

The Rice Work Program is an institutional employment program sponsored by various departments to provide on-campus employment opportunities to Rice students. Students need not be financial aid recipients to be employed through this program.

In order to be eligible for employment through the Rice Work Program during the fall and spring terms, students must be enrolled at least half time in for-credit courses at Rice University. (Half time is defined as six credit hours for undergraduates and five hours for graduate students.)

During the summer, students must meet one of the following criteria to qualify for employment:

  • Be a current student who is registered for the upcoming fall term.
  • Be an entering student in the upcoming fall term who has accepted an offer of admission in writing.
  • Be a student who is enrolled in for-credit coursework at Rice during the June/July summer session.

To hire a student, the sponsoring department should ask the student to complete a Student Personnel Action Form and submit the form to the Office of Financial Aid for initial processing. PA forms are available to students online through ESTHER. Students who have difficulty logging into ESTHER should contact the Office of the Registrar.

The payroll office may request additional employment forms from a student. All students in the Rice Work Program are subject to federal employment rules and regulations. Furthermore, students employed through Rice Work are not eligible for benefits. For questions related to the payroll process, including time sheet deadlines and pay dates, please contact the Payroll Office.

Can I hire students to work during the summer?

Students may work through Rice Work during the summer. During the summer, students must be registered for the upcoming fall term, OR be an entering student who has accepted an offer of admission for the upcoming fall term OR be enrolled in credit coursework at Rice during the June/July summer session.

What about department prizes and end-of-year awards?

The Office of Financial Aid must process any student awards and prizes through our office. All scholarships, awards and prizes will be applied toward students’ accounts. In order to provide a student with a prize or end-of-year award during graduation or an award ceremony, please provide our office with individual check requests including the student’s name and ID number and allow a maximum of 10 days for processing. Once we process the request, we will forward it to the cashier’s office, which will generate the check. In the event that a student is not actively registered during that term, the Office of Financial Aid will approve the check request to be processed by Payment Solutions. For more information, please visit the controller’s office.

May International Students apply for my jobs?

F-1 or J-1 students may work on campus, but they must obtain the appropriate work authorization before starting to work. If a student works even one day before or after the authorization, he or she must leave the U.S. or face deportation. For more information, please visit the Office of International Students and Scholars. The Office of Financial Aid does not advise supervisors on this topic. Please contact the OISS at 713-348-6095.

Student Employment

All campus employment is coordinated through the Office of Financial Aid. The following FAQs may be of help if you are considering an on-campus job.

How do I access the Rice Handshake Job Board?

Students may access the Rice Handshake job board here.

What is the difference between Federal Work Study and Rice Work?

Federal Work Study is a part-time employment program for students who have demonstrated financial need according to eligibility criteria set forth by the federal government. Students are limited to earning the dollar amount shown on their award letter.

In order to be considered for a work-study award, students must complete the FAFSA each year, demonstrate financial need and maintain satisfactory academic progress.

Rice Work is an institutional student employment program sponsored by various academic and administrative departments. Rice Work does not require a student to demonstrate financial need or to complete the financial aid process.

Who can be employed?

In order to be eligible for employment through the Rice Work Program during the fall and spring terms, students must be enrolled at least half time in for-credit courses at Rice University. (Half time is defined as six credit hours for undergraduates and four and one-half hours for graduate students.)

During the summer, students must be registered for the upcoming fall term, OR be an entering student who has accepted an offer of admission for the upcoming fall term OR be enrolled in credit coursework at Rice during the June/July summer session.

Why should a student work?

Working is not a requirement; it is simply a good way to gain practical work experience and help cover educational or personal expenses. The benefits of employment include:

  • Working in an environment suited to the student's skills, preferences and possible career goals.
  • A work schedule arranged by the student and employer around the student's class schedule. The student will not be asked to work during class periods, and employers are flexible in allowing time off for studying for exams.
  • Professional experience and contacts developed. These can be valuable when beginning a career or applying to graduate school.
  • Federal Work Study wages are not counted by the Office of Financial Aid toward the following year's student contribution.

How many hours each week do students work on campus?

On average, students work 10–15 hours per week. We recommend that students work no more than 20 hours per week in order to remain focused on their challenging academic studies. Students may not work during their scheduled class periods.

Are there any off-campus jobs available?

As recipients of a Federal Work Study award, students are eligible to apply to the America Reads Tutoring Program, organized by the Center for Civic Leadership at Rice University. The America Reads program supports educational efforts in the Houston community by paying Rice University students to serve as reading and math tutors to elementary-age children.

Can I hold more than one job?

A student may only have one position through Federal Work Study, but you may have multiple positions through Rice Work. Thus, if you have a Federal Work Study position, then your second position must be processed through Rice Work. Please remember, your combined hours should not exceed 20 hours per week.

Can an international student or non-citizen apply for jobs?

As an F-1 or J-1 student, you have the opportunity to engage in on-campus work or practical training opportunities off campus. However, you must obtain the appropriate work authorization before starting to work. If you work even one day before or after your authorization, you must leave the U.S. or face deportation. For more information, please visit the Office of International Students and Scholars website. The Office of Financial Aid does not advise students on this topic. Please contact the OISS at 713-348-6095.

What forms do I need to submit when I am hired?

Once you have been hired, you must submit the following completed forms to your department supervisor.

May I work in the summer?

Students may work through Rice Work during the summer. During the summer, students must be registered for the upcoming fall term, OR be an entering student who has accepted an offer of admission for the upcoming fall term OR be enrolled in credit coursework at Rice during the June/July summer session.

How do I receive Federal Work Study payments?

Federal Work Study payments are earned as wages through working in a Federal Work Study position at Rice. Earned wages are processed by payroll and paid by direct deposit or check to the student worker. Wages are not applied to your account balance. Available work study positions may be browsed and applied for using the Handshake Job Board.

If I do not use my Federal Work Study award this year, will my eligibility for next year be affected?

No. Your eligibility for Federal Work Study is not affected by your use or non-use of the prior year's award. If you are not eligible for Federal Work Study however, keep in mind as a Rice student, you may be eligible to work on campus through Rice Work.

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