General Questions

What is it like being a student on student aid at Bowdoin?

More than 50% of the Class of 2021 received a Bowdoin Grant.  Students who receive student financial aid enjoy all the same privileges and responsibilities as other students at Bowdoin. No special rules or limitations apply. Nearly 75% of all students take advantage of some kind of student aid program, such as borrowing loans, working on campus, or receiving outside scholarships, to pay college costs.

Must I maintain a minimum grade point average to keep my Bowdoin Grant?

No, your family’s calculated "need" determines the amount of aid you will receive, not grade point average.

How do I maintain satisfactory academic progress for my federal and state aid?

You must meet the College’s academic standards. Carefully review the Deficiency in Scholarship and Other Academic Regulations sections in the Academic Handbook to be sure that you understand your academic responsibilities.

How do I access the MyAid portal?

If you would like to access your MyAid portal, visit the Student Aid Office website and click on the "MyAid" button in the upper right-hand corner. 

Regardless of student aid status, all enrolled students will have access to the MyAid portal to keep track of grants, loans, and other important student aid documents.

If you are having trouble accessing your account, please feel free to email us or call us at (207) 725-3144.

Can I have a car on campus?

Students can have a car on campus after their first year of college.  For more information on policies governing student parking and transportation, see the Student Affairs section of the Bowdoin web site. 

Are there ATM machines on campus?

There are two ATMs on Bowdoin’s campus: a Bank of America ATM is located on the ground level of David Saul Smith Union to the right of the Bowdoin Express Convenience Store, and a Midcoast Federal Credit Union ATM is located in the Coles Tower lobby. There are also several local banks within walking distance of campus. Many students open personal checking accounts in Brunswick.

How is student aid affected by living off campus?

Bowdoin provides the same allowance for “room” in your cost of attendance budget as if you were living on campus.  By living off campus, “room” is no longer billed by the Bursar’s Office, but instead becomes an unbilled expense that you incur.  Your student aid will first cover the expenses billed through the Bursar’s Office (i.e., tuition, fees, meals), and you may request a refund from their office if you still have student aid left over to help pay rent. Review our Off-Campus Living and Reduced Meal Plan Tip Sheet for more information.

How is financial aid affected if I reduce my meal plan?

Your student aid budget will include the full 19-meal plan unless we are notified that you have changed your meal plan.  If you choose another dining option, your student aid budget will include the 14-meal plan, regardless of which alternate option you choose.  This results in a reduction in Bowdoin Grant that reflects the difference between the 19-meal plan and the 14-meal plan. Review our Off-Campus Living and Reduced Meal Plan Tip Sheet for more information about meal plans.

What happens to my student financial aid if I leave Bowdoin?

Leaving Bowdoin includes leave of absence, suspension, or resignation. The process is as follows:

  • If you leave at the end of the fall semester and have been enrolled throughout that period, we will cancel your spring semester aid.
  • If you leave during a semester, your eligibility for aid will be recalculated for the length of time you were enrolled and in accordance with specific aid program rules.
  • The Bursar recalculates your Bowdoin bill based on the College’s refund schedule.

Federal Funds: Your eligibility for federal aid will be recalculated using federal rules. If you received or could still receive funds from federal programs, including Pell Grant, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, Supplemental Grant, Perkins Loan, Direct Student Loan, or Direct Parent Loan, we determine the amount you have earned while enrolled based on the number of days you have been enrolled relative to the length of the semester. If you leave Bowdoin after completing 60% or more of the semester you have fully earned your federal funds for that period of time.

If we are required to return federal funds to their original sources, we do this using the following order:

  • Unsubsidized Direct Loan
  • Subsidized Direct Loan
  • Perkins Loan
  • Direct Parent PLUS Loan
  • Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Grant
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

Bowdoin and Other Funds: We will recalculate your eligibility of Bowdoin funds based on the length of time you were enrolled for that semester as well as your recalculated federal aid and recalculated charges. No change is generally made to your calculated student contribution for the semester, but the parent contribution may be adjusted. We will make any required changes to your aid package, parent contribution, and budget (cost of attendance) for the semester during which you withdrew or stopped attending and notify the Bursar’s Office of any changes to your aid.

Other funds are returned in accordance with the written policy provided to Bowdoin from the issuing organization. 

You will find your revised aid package at MyAid under Aid Award.

Students who have borrowed loans, either during the year of the enrollment change or in the past, will be asked to complete loan exit counseling and will receive, either in person or via mail, a summary of loans borrowed and the servicer of the loan with whom the borrower will work during repayment.

The College has created a Withdrawal Information Checklist to help you consider the implications of leaving Bowdoin and guide you through the process. We recommend that you meet with a student aid counselor to discuss your particular situation before you leave, if possible.

Admission and Student Aid

Will applying for student financial aid hurt my chances for admission?

No. Our admissions process is "need-blind," which means that Bowdoin Admissions does not use “ability to pay” in their selection criteria.  The Admissions Office makes their decision solely on your merits as a student.

International, waitlist, and transfer students need to review specific information related to their admission and student aid eligibility – see Need Blind and Full Need.


What is FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid, including Pell Grants and Federal Direct Loans. The FAFSA does not determine a family’s eligibility for Bowdoin Grant. Instead, information from the CSS Profile determines eligibility for Bowdoin Grant.

What is the CSS Profile?

The CSS Profile is an online application that collects information used by certain colleges, including Bowdoin, and scholarships programs to award institutional aid funds. (All federal funds are awarded based on the FAFSA, available after Oct. 1.)

We also require that you submit tax documents by using IDOC. If your parents are divorced or separated, we require all parents, including your noncustodial parent, to complete the CSS Profile.

When do I complete my student aid application?

You may begin completing your student aid application materials as early as October 1, 2017. Please see the deadlines page to find out when materials are due.

How do I complete my student aid application?

You should complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile online, and you should submit your tax documents through IDOC. IDOC will be on your College Board student dashboard under the "Next Steps" heading when you complete your CSS Profile.

My parents are divorced/separated/never married, living separately. Do they complete the same CSS Profile?

Each of your parents will complete their own CSS Profile.

You and your custodial parent will complete your CSS Profile using your College Board login credentials. If both of your parents have access to your College Board account, you should change your password so your parent's financial information will remain private.

Your noncustodial parent will need a separate College Board account.

To keep their financial information private, each household should not share their College Board login credentials with one another.

What does the CSS Profile cost?

The student and the custodial parent pay a $25 fee, which covers the CSS Profile application and one college or program report. Additional reports are $16 each. Payment may be made via credit or debit card. Fee waivers are granted - based on use of an SAT fee waiver or on the information entered on the CSS Profile application - to students who are first-time undergraduate applicants are are from families with low incomes. This waiver covers the application fee and the reporting fees for up to eight college. If you need a fee waiver and do not automatically qualify for one, please email the SAO. International students are not eligible for fee waivers and should email the SAO to request the ISFAA instead.

The student's noncustodial parent pays a $25 fee for the CSS Profile application. A fee waiver may be granted based on the information entered on the noncustodial parent's application for low-income parents. International noncustodial parents are not eligible for a fee waiver.

How are trusts factored into student aid?

Trusts can be set up in a multitude of different ways, and some can be incredibly complex.  If the student or parent is a beneficiary of a trust, you must report the value of their share of the trust as an asset on the FAFSA and the CSS Profile, regardless of when or whether you have access to its principal.  The only circumstance in which you should not report the value of a trust is if there is a court-ordered restriction of access.  The value is not always immediately clear, and we recommend reviewing this information to value your share of a trust for the purpose of applying for student aid.

Will I receive the same amount of aid each year?

Probably not. Student aid can vary based on many factors in your family. We re-calculate "need" each year based on changes in Bowdoin's costs and changes in parents' income and net worth. 

If a sibling goes to college, student aid will probably increase.  Conversely, if a sibling leaves college, aid will likely decrease. If parents receive a bonus or an inheritance, or a parent's employment status changes, student aid is also likely to change.

If I need to report a change in my family's financial circumstances, or I feel the calculated family share is unmanageable, is there a process to discuss the financial aid offer?

We work hard to understand each family’s circumstances and offer aid that will supplement the family's share for a full academic year. If, however, circumstances have changed significantly or you would like to have the aid offer explained or reconsidered, there is a process to initiate an aid review. Please refer to the “Forms & Information” tab of your MyAid portal.

Affording Bowdoin

How do I pay for books and supplies?

We advise students to use summer savings to pay for books and supplies in the fall. Parents, of course, may help you with this expense. Regardless of how you decide to pay for books, you should have a plan when you arrive on campus. Depending on your course of study, textbooks can be very expensive. You should expect to spend about $420 for first-semester books and supplies, which include educational materials related to your course of study. Supplies do not include dorm furnishings, and these expenses are not considered when determining your eligibility for aid. Bowdoin has a partnership with Chegg, which will offer the books that students need. All of the books for a given class will be listed on the Chegg website. Students may opt to use Amazon or other sites to purchase their books as well. You may defray costs by renting or purchasing used textbooks.

What are personal expenses?

Personal expenses include other costs associated with attending college that are not captured within any of the other budget items. Everyone has the same standard allowance built into their financial aid budget, regardless of whether they are studying on- or off-campus. Examples of personal expenses include clothing, laundry, hygiene, and recreation. Examples would also include visas, passport, immunizations, local transportation, expenses related to breaks in enrollment, and optional expenses associated with a study away program. Any spending beyond your budgeted amount increases your family’s share of expenses.

Will Bowdoin buy me a computer?

No, you and your parents will have to pay for this expense, but Bowdoin's IT department offers academic discounts when you purchase directly from Dell or Apple. 

However, if financing a computer proves problematic for your family, please contact the Student Aid Office for student loan options.

Will I have to take out student loans?

The Bowdoin trustees increased grant offers and eliminated student loans from student financial aid packages for all Bowdoin students beginning in September 2008. This means that many Bowdoin students will graduate loan free or with reduced debt. Students may now attend graduate school or work in lower paying job sectors without the financial pressure of monthly loan payments. 

Students may still borrow money if they wish to help their parents pay the bill.  If you would like to learn more about loans available for parents and students, information can be found on our Types of Aid page and on our Financing Tip Sheet. If you are an enrolled student, more information can be found on the MyAid portal.

Due to federal requirements, loans are not disbursed until 10 days before classes start. Since tuition payments are generally due before loans are disbursed, you can fill out a Student Account Payment Survey for the Bursar's Office. This worksheet will notify the Bursar's Office of the expected loan disbursement, as well as tuition payment plans and outside scholarships. It stands in place of the expected funds and prevents the student's semester enrollment from being blocked for non-payment.

If I plan to study abroad, will student aid assist in paying the bill?

Yes, you can use Bowdoin student aid to pay for costs associated with studying abroad at an approved program. Costs of the specific program and your financial need determine the amount of aid received. Here is an overview of how student aid works while you are studying away.

As a student aid recipient, will I have any special obligations?

You may feel some pressure to work and earn, and like most students, you will have to spend wisely within a monthly budget. You will also need to monitor your email carefully and keep up with financial aid paperwork and deadlines. In addition, we will ask you to attend a luncheon in the spring with Bowdoin alumni and scholarship donors, whose generosity is supporting your Bowdoin education.

How can I pay my tuition bill?

Students may pay their bills by the semester due date, by installment payment plan over the course of the semester, with student/parent loans, or by combining these options. If you want more information about billing or payment plans, please visit the Bursar's Office website.

IDOC Information

Why am I sending our financial information to the College Board instead of Bowdoin?

IDOC a service provided by the College Board to help students and institutions efficiently, confidentially, and securely process sensitive application materials. Bowdoin has contracted with the College Board to collect and process your financial aid application material. Sending the requested information to the College Board will help us process your student aid application more quickly and efficiently.

How do I find out what documents I need to send to the College Board?

To find out what documents you need to send to the College Board:

  1. Use your CSS Profile credentials to log in to your College Board student dashboard.
  2. Check the "Next Steps" section of the dashboard.

When does IDOC start collecting information?

IDOC processing starts October 1. It is available on the College Board student dashboard under the "Next Steps" heading after you complete the CSS Profile. All applicants applying for student aid are asked to submit their tax documents (and other related materials) to Bowdoin through the IDOC service. 

How will the College Board keep our information confidential?

The confidentiality of your information is very important to the College Board and to Bowdoin. To ensure the highest level of data integrity, privacy, and security, the College Board has implemented systems that include multiple firewalls with unique security zones, data encryption, intrusion detection systems, data and system backups, and data integrity checks.

Once the processing cycle is complete, the College Board destroys your original documents.

I have further questions or concerns about IDOC. Who should I call?

The College Board offers an IDOC Customer Service phone line between 9:00am and 6:00pm EST.  Please visit the IDOC website to find the IDOC Customer Service phone number and email address. 

Working at Bowdoin

How does campus employment work at Bowdoin?

You can obtain a job on-campus in a variety of ways. You can search online for on-campus employment opportunities through the Student Employment Office website. First years can apply for the First Year Job Placement Program, allowing them to have a job on campus when they arrive.

There are more than 1,000 on-campus jobs, which are available in most departments and offices. You can work up to 20 hours per week on campus during the academic year and up to 40 hours per week on campus during the summer. All students are eligible to work on campus, regardless of student aid status.

Can I play a varsity sport and work?

Varsity sports take a lot of time. It is really up to you, your organizational skills, and your class schedule. Many athletes decide to work during the off-season and earn more during the summer. Others work fewer hours during the season. Campus employers often adjust their hours to meet students' athletic schedules.

Do I have to work in the summer?

No, but you will need money to pay for books and personal expenses. Most Bowdoin students work and save during the summer.  Every student financial aid package includes a standard student contribution of $2,300, which is meant to be earned during the summer. This expectation can be covered by student earnings, outside scholarships, loans, or additional family contributions. You should have a plan to pay for indirect costs before you arrive on campus.

Outside Scholarships

How will an outside scholarship affect my student financial aid package from Bowdoin?

Our policy is to allow students to benefit from their outside scholarships as much as possible.  We will first replace your summer work and campus job expectations, which are $2,300 and $1,900, respectively.  If your outside scholarships exceed $4,200, we then aim to let them benefit the family. We only reduce your Bowdoin Grant when the outside scholarships, in addition to other resources, exceed the total cost of attendance or would otherwise violate federal rules. Our office will often incorporate your outside scholarships into your student financial aid package when the Bursar’s Office receives the check. Note: Tuition benefits are a dollar-for-dollar replacement of the student’s Bowdoin Grant.

Please refer to our outside scholarship information sheet for more details.

If you have questions about your specific situation, please call or email the Student Aid office at (207) 725-3144 or

How do I find outside scholarships?

Outside scholarships exist on local, state, regional, and national levels, and we encourage you to seek out a wide variety. Your high school guidance counselor will likely be your best resource for finding out about local and state scholarships. Your parents’ employers, religious organizations, or other community organizations may offer scholarships, as well. We also recommend using free scholarship search engines such as FastWeb or Big Future by the College Board.

Should I pay any fees to apply for outside scholarships?

No. Check out the Better Business Bureau, College Board, and Federal Student Aid websites to learn more about how to avoid scholarship scams.

National Merit at Bowdoin

I am a National Merit Scholarship Finalist enrolling at Bowdoin. What’s next?

To receive National Merit Scholarship support from Bowdoin, finalists must name Bowdoin College as their first choice institution. Finalists can report their college choice using the Online Scholarship Application.

Will my National Merit Scholarship affect my need-based grants?

No. Any National Merit Scholarship you receive is offered in addition to need-based grants already awarded by the College.

What if I receive a National Merit Foundation or Corporate-Sponsored National Merit Scholarship?

All National Merit Foundation Scholars are offered a one-time $2,500 award. If they are eligible for Bowdoin Grant aid, they will also receive a $2,000 merit scholarship from the College in their remaining three years if demonstrated financial need persists. National Merit Foundation Scholars who do not qualify for Bowdoin Grant aid will receive a $1,000 merit scholarship in their remaining three years.

Corporate-sponsored awards are of varying amounts and may or may not be renewable. The renewal of these awards and award amounts are determined annually by the corporation sponsoring the award and may vary from year to year.

How do I renew my National Merit scholarship?

All official notification regarding any of the National Merit Scholarship programs will be sent to you directly from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Scholars will receive detailed instructions for scholarship renewal from NMSC in the spring.

Taxable Scholarships

Are my grant and scholarships taxable?

While individual or family tax liability vary according to circumstances, you should be aware the IRS considers grant awards in excess of qualified educational expenses to be taxable income. Room and board, for example, are not qualified educational expenses.  We recommend contacting a personal tax advisor for specific guidance and using IRS publication 970 as a reference. Please visit the Taxability of Grants and Scholarships tab on our website for publications that offer more guidance.

Where can I receive more information on educational tax credit benefits?

To receive more information about educational tax credit benefits, including the 1098-T form, please visit the Bursar's Office website.

After Bowdoin

How can I get a fee reduction for the GRE?

Until July 1, 2018, you may contact the Student Aid Office to inquire about the GRE Fee Reduction voucher. After that date, you should visit the GRE website for more information about the program and the new process to request a fee reduction.

Who should I contact if I have questions once my loans enter repayment?

If you have a Federal Direct Loan or a Federal PLUS Loan, log in to the Federal Student Aid website to find out who your servicer is and retrieve their contact information. If you have a Federal Perkins Loan or a Bowdoin Student Loan, you may learn more from the Bursar's Office. You should contact the lender if you borrowed a private loan.