General Questions

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

More than 48% of last year’s entering class received a Bowdoin Grant.  Students who receive 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 financial 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 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 financial aid status, all enrolled students will have access to the MyAid portal to keep track of grants, loans, and other important financial aid documents.

If you are having trouble accessing your account, please feel free to email us at 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 financial 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 financial 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 financial aid left over to help pay rent.

How is financial aid affected by reducing my meal plan?

Your financial 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 financial aid budget will include the 14-meal plan, regardless of which alternate option you choose.  This generally results in a reduction in Bowdoin Grant that reflects the difference between the 19-meal plan and the 14-meal plan.

Admission and Financial Aid

Will applying for 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 financial 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.

How are trusts factored into financial 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 financial aid.

Will I receive the same amount of aid each year?

Probably not. Financial 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, financial 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, financial 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?

We advise students to use summer savings to pay for books in the fall. Parents, of course, can help you with this expense. Depending on your course of study, textbooks can be very expensive. You should expect to spend about $500 for first-semester books and supplies. Many upper-class students advertise and sell books at discounted prices.  You may also defray costs by renting or purchasing used textbooks.

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 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 Worksheet for the Bursar's Office. This worksheeet 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 financial aid assist in paying the bill?

Yes, you can use Bowdoin financial 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 financial aid works while you are studying away.

As a financial 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 financial 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. Go to the IDOC Sign In page.
  2. Enter two of the following: IDOC ID, your SSN, or your Date of Birth.
  3. Click Sign-In.
  4. On the Welcome Page, click the IDOC Requirements link.

When does IDOC start collecting information?

IDOC processing starts November 1st after you complete your CSS PROFILE.  You will receive an email that comes directly from the College Board's IDOC service with instructions after you complete the CSS PROFILE. All applicants applying for financial aid are asked to send 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 SEO website found here. 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 financial 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 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.

Outside Scholarships

How will an outside scholarship affect my 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 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.  The website offers additional advice and a more exhaustive list of free scholarship search engines.

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.