Financial Aid: Where to Start

A calculator and pen on a table.

By: Jennifer Wickham, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

Now that your students have decided where to apply to college, it is time to look into funding streams. The worst thing that can happen is that a student is admitted to the school of their dreams, only to find out they have no way to pay for it.

When developing a list of schools to apply to, the next important stop after the admissions website is the financial aid website. When reviewing the website, some keys things to make note of are:

  • Does the school offer need-based or merit-based financial aid?
  • Deadlines! Many schools require financial aid applications to be submitted before admissions decisions are sent out.
  • What documents are needed for the application? In addition to the FAFSA, schools often require the CSS Profile and tax returns.
  • If it applies, does the college or school require information from the non-custodial parent? If they require non-custodial information, can it be waived and what does that process require?

In addition to institutional financial aid, there are many scholarships that students can apply for. The following can help start the search for outside scholarships:

Financial Aid doesn’t need to be an overwhelming process; we’re here to help you. If any of your students have questions about the financial aid process at Cornell, we encourage them to reach out to our office with their questions and concerns. Cornell’s financial aid office takes calls from 10 AM – 4 PM and our email address is We have many knowledgeable individuals ready to help out.