General Questions

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

More than 48% of last year’s entering class received Bowdoin Grant.  Financial aid students enjoy all the same privileges and responsibilities as other students at Bowdoin. No special rules or limitations apply. No one pays much attention to who receives financial aid at Bowdoin. Nearly 75% of all students take advantage of some kind of financial aid program to pay college costs. 

Must I maintain a minimum grade point average to keep my Bowdoin grant/scholarship?

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

How do I access my Student Aid Web Portal?

If you would like to access your Student Aid Web 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 Student Aid Web 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?

ATM machines are located in the dining halls and Smith Union. There are also several local banks within walking distance of campus. Many students open personal checking accounts in Brunswick. If you work on campus, you may choose to have your paycheck electronically deposited to your savings or checking account.

Admission and Financial Aid

Will filing 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 Admission Office makes their decision solely on your merits as a student while financial aid eligibility relies on financial circumstances to determine aid eligibility.

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 Stafford loans. The FAFSA does not determine a family’s eligibility for Bowdoin Grant; rather information from the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE determines eligibility for institutional grant resources.

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 go up or down 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 brother or sister goes to college, financial aid will probably increase.  Conversely, if a brother or sister graduates from college, aid will go down. If parents receive a bonus, an inheritance, or a parent decides to work full-time, financial aid is likely to change.

If I need to report a change in my family 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 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” tab of your personal portal “MyAid” site.

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. Paying with check or credit card is fine. 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 parents pay the bill.  If you would like to learn more about loans available for parents and students, more information can be found on our "Types of Aid" page found here. If you are an enrolled student, more information can be found on the Student Aid Web 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 worksheet will credit your account with the requested loan amount. More information can be found here.

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.

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 paper work. In addition, we will ask you to attend a group luncheon in the spring with Bowdoin alumni or 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. The Bursar's Office handles billing and a link to their online billing systems and payment methods can be found here.

IDOC Information

Why am I sending our financial information to the College Board and not Bowdoin?

IDOC is one of the many programs sponsored by the College Board to help students, and institutions like Bowdoin, efficiently, confidentially, and securely process sensitive application material. 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 in February after you completed your CSS/Financial Aid 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 material) 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 While at Bowdoin

How does campus employment work at Bowdoin?

The Student Employment Office (SEO) at Bowdoin is part of the Student Aid Office. Through the First-Year Job Placement Program, you have the opportunity to apply for job placement before you arrive on campus. You can also search online for on-campus employment opportunities through the SEO website found here.

There are more than 1,000 on-campus jobs 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 and earn as much as you need, regardless of your 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. Your calculated family contribution for aid purposes will include about $2,300 in expected contribution whether from summer savings or other sources. 

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 reduce your summer work and campus job expectations, which are $2,300 and $1,900, respectively.  If your award exceeds $4,200, we then aim to let it benefit the family. We only reduce your Bowdoin Grant when the outside scholarship exceeds the total cost of attendance or would otherwise violate federal rules. Our office will often incorporate your outside award 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.

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 organizations with which you’re involved 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 web page.