Lehigh building in Fall

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? We have an answer. And if you don’t find it here, reach out to one of our financial aid counselors for a personal conversation.

Undergraduate Student Questions

Students must reapply for institutional need-based and Federal financial aid each year. Eligibility is evaluated each year based on a family’s financial and household information as well as any changes in the costs of attendance. Factors that impact need-based eligibility can be viewed on the Undergraduate Financial Aid page. Additionally,Satisfactory Academic Performance must also be maintained for aid renewal. Complete financial aid applications for institutional aid are due by March 15 for currently enrolled undergraduate students. Students who submit a complete financial aid application after our deadlines may not receive any institutional need-based financial aid.

Your need-based financial aid award is specific to an academic year. If a student’s family’s income, assets and household information (such as number of family members enrolled in college) remain the same, then the need-based financial aid eligibility will remain similar each year. If factors such as family income or the number of siblings enrolled in undergraduate college change, these will result in changes to our calculated Expected Family Contribution and, in turn, a student’s financial aid award.

Work-study earnings are paid directly to the student based on the number of hours worked. These funds are used to assist with your unbilled expenses. A deduction for your work-study award may not be taken off the bill you receive from the Bursar’s office.

Yes, Lehigh offers a limited amount of funds for eligible, first-year international students with demonstrated need. For additional information about financial aid for incoming international students, please visit our International Students page. Unfortunately, due to limited funding, we are unable to offer financial aid to matriculated international students who did not receive financial aid when they entered Lehigh.

If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you will be considered independent for federal purposes ONLY:

  • Will you be 24 years of age as of January 1?
  • At the beginning of the school year, will you be working in a program of graduate study?
  • As of today, are you married or do you have children or dependents (other than children or spouse) who receive more than half of their support from you now and through the end of the academic year?
  • Are both of your parents deceased, or are you or were you (until age 18) a ward/dependent of the court?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?

Answering "yes" to the above questions does not automatically make you independent for institutional funds. You should speak to your financial aid counselor if you feel that you should be considered an independent student and do not meet the criteria listed above.

Particulars on the Federal Direct Loan Program are available through the Department of Education's website under the Student section.

Students who receive financial aid from Lehigh must notify our office immediately if they receive notification of any outside scholarships or tuition benefits that they plan to receive throughout their enrollment.

Receipt of outside scholarships or awards may require us to adjust the loans and/or work study portion of a financial aid offer if the total need-based aid exceeds the financial need as determined by the FAFSA.  If at any point the total aid that a student receives from all sources exceeds the total cost of attendance, we will reduce the institutional aid given by Lehigh.   

Employer tuition benefits are not considered an outside scholarship and are treated differently. If a student receives tuition benefits from their parents’ employer, institutional grants will be reduced if the total gift-aid exceeds the total financial need that is calculated using the FAFSA application. We may also be required to adjust or reduce loans and/or work study portions of the financial aid offer.

Applicants who apply for admission through the early decision application process, and have applied for financial aid by the established deadline, will receive a financial aid award with their offer of admission, or shortly thereafter. The financial aid award will be preliminary based on the prior academic year costs. This preliminary award will be updated when the Board of Trustees announces the approved costs for the new award year.

All early decision offers are considered binding. However, if you have applied for financial aid and have received your preliminary financial aid package, you will have two weeks to make a decision about whether you are able to afford the cost of attendance at Lehigh. It is within these two weeks that an early decision student may decline their offer of admission based on insufficient financial resources. We strongly encourage you to speak to your financial aid counselor if this is the case. Once you have paid the enrollment deposit and accepted the offer of early decision admission, the decision is final and the offer is fully binding.

Your financial aid application is reviewed and processed and your aid is disbursed in exactly the same manner regardless of whether you choose on- or off-campus housing (unless you commute from the home of a parent or relative). We will use a housing and food allowance when determining your financial need; however, you would not be billed for housing. Because of this, you may be eligible to receive a refund check to help pay for your off-campus housing. Please note that you will only receive a refund check if your financial aid package exceeds your billable costs for tuition, fees and/or a meal plan.

Undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits (full-time status) in order to receive institutional financial aid.

If you are participating in a university-approved program to study abroad, your financial aid award would remain the same as if you were still on campus. Since you would be unable to participate in work-study while you are abroad, your work-study award for that semester/year could be converted to a university tuition loan.

An undergraduate student in good standing who formally withdraws or reduces his or her course enrollment below 12 credit hours before 60% of the semester has been completed during the fall and spring semesters will be eligible for a tuition refund. The tuition refund for a student who withdraws or drops a course(s) is calculated on a daily basis. The date used to calculate refunds is based on when a properly authorized withdrawal or drop/add is received by the Registrar's Office. Students receiving financial aid who drop below full-time status must have their financial aid package re-evaluated by the Office of Financial Aid prior to the issuance of any refund check. The Office of Financial Aid is responsible for determining the appropriate redistribution of charges and refunds when students receive any financial assistance. These decisions are made on the basis of federal, state and institutional policies. Any refunds due to the Title IV programs will be refunded in the following order: Direct Unsubsidized Loan; Direct Subsidized Loan; Federal PLUS Loan; Federal Pell Grant; Federal SEOG; any other Title IV program.

Yes, you may apply for financial aid after your first year even if you were not awarded any in your first year. As long as you have financial need as determined by the Office of Financial Aid, file all required application materials on time, and meet satisfactory academic progress requirements, you may receive need-based aid. Aid is limited to eight consecutive semesters from the time that you start at Lehigh University.

Please contact our office and speak with your financial aid counselor if you feel there are extenuating financial circumstances. Your counselor may have you submit in writing the new information that was not available at the time you first applied for aid. Additional funding will depend on the availability of fund

Lehigh University merit aid is awarded through the Office of Admissions to entering first-year students based on the merit of their admission application. No separate application is needed for most merit aid through the Office of Admissions. Unfortunately at this time, there are no merit awards available to returning or transfer students. View more information on Lehigh merit scholarships.

If you are awarded a State Grant, it will be a direct reduction from your Lehigh University Grant.

If you withdraw from a class and you are no longer enrolled in 12 credits, you should contact your financial aid counselor to see how this will affect your aid eligibility.

The self-help portion of your financial aid package (loan and work-study) would be replaced by the amount of your Gryphon compensation. If your financial aid package does not include a loan or work-study duties, or it does, but in an amount less than the Gryphon compensation, a reduction would be made to your Lehigh grant.

Students not able to demonstrate “need” may borrow from the unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan Program.

If the calculated expected family contribution, or EFC, is less than the COA, then the student is eligible to receive a need-based financial aid package.  At Lehigh, a financial aid package can consist of need-based grants, loans, and/or work-study. Knowing how need is calculated, there are some additional to be aware of:

  • There are two methodologies that can be used to determine a family’s EFC.  The FAFSA application uses Federal methodology, or FM, to determine an EFC, and the CSS Profile uses Institutional methodology, or IM, to determine a different EFC.  It is important to note that these EFCs can be very different from one another. A family will be notified of their federal EFC when the FAFSA is completed, but it is the EFC from the CSS Profile that will be used to calculate eligibility for Lehigh aid resources. 

It is important to understand that the parent contribution is not what we think a family has “left over” after other expenses have been covered, and we do not necessarily expect that the parent contribution will be paid from current income. Rather, the level of contribution reflects our analysis of what parents can afford to absorb in educational costs over time. Parents may choose to provide their contribution from savings, current income, future income (through borrowing), or some combination. 

We do not want the determination of your EFC or the resulting financial aid eligibility to be confusing and are happy to help you understand how your need-based eligibility was determined.  You can speak with your financial aid counselor at any time, and we welcome your inquiries.

Need-based financial aid is determined by utilizing the calculated Expected Family Contribution, or EFC.

Using the application forms provided by a family, we review a family’s income, assets, household size, number of children in the family attending undergraduate college, and many other factors to calculate the annual EFC. Once the EFC is calculated, we determine financial need by subtracting the EFC from the Cost of Attendance.

Both the subsidized and unsubsidized loan are part of the Federal Direct Loan Program. The basic difference between the two components is that the federal government pays the interest on the subsidized loan while the student is in school, making it the better of the two. More information can be found here.

There are many private (external) scholarships you may apply for that may or may not be need-based, which are determined on various factors, such as academics, career goals, etc. To look for a scholarship that matches your interests and qualifications, you can access free scholarship information online at, or The Office of Financial Aid maintains a list of current external scholarships.

Your financial aid counselor is assigned based on your last name. You can view your counselor, our office contact information, and even schedule an appointment on the Contact Us & Find Your Financial Aid Counselor page.

In order to determine eligibility for institutional aid, Lehigh University requires the CSS Profile, FAFSA, and the federal tax returns of the parents and student. 

Lehigh University confirms 100% of the information supplied on the FAFSA and CSS Profile and uses federal tax returns to complete this process. Providing our office with your federal tax returns, allows us to more accurately evaluate income and assets information that may not be clearly identified and/or reported on the FAFSA and CSS Profile.

The FAFSA is required by the federal government in order to determine your Federal Aid eligibility.  If you wish to be considered only for federal need-based financial aid resources, you need to submit only the FAFSA.  Please note, some FAFSA records are selected for a process called Federal Verification which may require submission of additional information to finalize and confirm eligibility of need-based federal aid.

Some of the grants and scholarships that you receive may be subject to federal income tax. Usually gift aid (grants and scholarships) that exceeds tuition, fees and actual book expenses is taxable. Consult IRS publications or your tax adviser for specific information. You should maintain a file that contains all financial aid correspondence, including bills from the Bursar and Bookstore, and promissory notes for loans you accept. Keeping accurate files will save you time later.

For the vast majority of applicants we do not consider whether they are applying for financial aid or how much FA they might need to attend Lehigh. For a very small portion those financial considerations may become one factor among many in an admission decision. In all cases our review will remain holistic and in no cases will the ability or inability to pay become the only or primary factor.

Graduate Student Questions

If you are classified as an associate graduate student, which is non-degree classification, you will not be entitled to borrow at the graduate student loan level. You may, however, be eligible to borrow as a fifth-year undergraduate on a prorated basis or through a private loan program. If you have associate graduate student status, an Office of Financial Aid Loan Coordinator will advise you on your borrowing limits.

Graduate students may apply for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loans through the Office of Financial Aid. View more details >

View the Graduate Application for Financial Aid page to determine the correct form to complete, based on your semester of enrollment.

Continuing students who request fellowships, scholarships, RAs, TAs, and GAs that will begin in the fall semester must file a request with their academic department no later than February 1. Generally, a special committee formed by departmental faculty makes recommendations for the recipients of these awards based on merit.

Stafford loans and Graduate PLUS loans are now processed through the Federal Direct Loan Program. If you have not yet borrowed through the Direct Loan Program, you will be required to complete a new Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete the Entrance Counseling Session. If you have previously borrowed through the Direct Loan Program and you signed the Master Promissory Note less than 10 years ago, you will only be required to complete the Entrance Counseling Session for the first year in which you borrow at the graduate level.

Teaching assistantships (TAs), research assistantships (RAs), graduate assistantships (GAs), fellowships, and scholarships are academic awards made by the University, by individual academic departments, and by the Dean’s Office. Several graduate assistantships unrelated to a particular area of study can be obtained by applying to administrative offices. Loans are distributed by the Office of Financial Aid.

Financial aid is available for regular, full-time or part-time graduate students. Associate and non-degree graduate students are not eligible for Direct Stafford loans but may be eligible for alternative loans, which are listed on the financial aid website.