Aid Eligibility

Your first step to financial aid is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)) online and to include Clemson University’s school code (003425) so that our office receives your information. To be considered for need-based scholarships, we must receive your FAFSA before January 2 for freshmen and April 1 for upperclassmen. New students do not need acceptance from admissions before applying for financial aid.

You should complete a FAFSA as early as possible every year after it opens on October 1 to ensure the maximum award. Please review FAFSA Tips & Common Mistakes to Avoid provided by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).

In addition, your eligibility will be determined based on:

  • Financial Need

    How financial need is determined

    Cost of Attendance
    - Expected Family Contribution
    - Outside Scholarships and Other Resources
    = Need for Financial Aid

    The cost of attendance is determined each year by the University and includes not only tuition and fees, but also your room and board, books and supplies, travel expenses, and cost of living — in other words, the cost of being a student. This number is only for planning purposes and for determining your financial need, which will differ from your actual Clemson bill and will vary with each student. It is important to note, however, that the total amount of financial aid a student receives cannot exceed the cost of attendance.

    The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is determined by the Department of Education using your FAFSA information. This is based on both your income and assets as well as your parents’ unless you are considered independent.

    When EFC is more than the cost of attendance

    If your EFC is more than the cost of attendance then you don’t qualify for need-based aid. However, there are other financial aid programs available regardless of your financial need such as the unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan, the Federal Parent PLUS loan and private loans.

  • Verification

    Verification is the process mandated by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the accuracy of the data submitted by applicants for federal financial aid. The Office of Student Financial Aid is charged with the responsibility of requesting various documents needed to verify the applicant's financial information.

    If you are selected for verification for the current academic year, the documents you need to complete will be available on your account under Financial Aid in the iROAR portal. The documents will appear as Unsatisfied Requirements under the Eligibility tab. Please be sure to check your email and iROAR account regularly until verification is complete because additional information may be required.

    Our office prefers the use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on FAFSA to provide your tax return information. Alternatively, you may submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript. To request the IRS Tax Return Transcript, you may go to and click “Get Transcript ONLINE” or "Get Transcript by MAIL." Mailed transcripts will arrive seven to ten days after the request has been made. Please note an IRS Account Transcript is not the same as the IRS Return Transcript and will not be accepted.

    Verification documentation must be submitted through the secure uploads located within the iROAR portal. Please ensure the student’s name and Clemson University ID number are on all documentation submitted to our office. Please keep in mind that communications via email over the internet are not secure.


  • Degree-Seeking Status

    To qualify for federal financial aid you must apply and be accepted into a degree-seeking program at Clemson University. Most types of financial aid require a student to enroll in at least half-time credits each semester. Half-time status for undergraduate students is defined as 6 credit hours. Half-time status for graduate students is defined as 5 credit hours. Enrollment in courses that do not apply to your program of study may not count toward your enrollment status for financial aid purposes.

  • Dependency Review

    To be considered independent

    For financial aid purposes, you must meet one of the following requirements:

    • you are 24 years or older
    • you are legally married
    • you are an orphan or ward of the court
    • you were in foster care or legal guardianship as determined by the court
    • you were determined to be an unaccompanied youth or homeless
    • you are working on a graduate or professional degree
    • you are serving active duty or are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
    • you have a child for whom you provide more than half the support or
    • you have a dependent (other than a child or spouse) for whom you provide more than half the support.

    Additional details and information on these requirements can be found on the FAFSA. If you do not meet one of the above requirements, then your parents’ financial information will be considered when determining your EFC, regardless of living arrangements, family disagreements or your parents’ unwillingness to contribute to your education costs.

Withdrawal and Return of Funds

  • Federal Aid

    Federal law specifies how Clemson University must determine the amount of federal (Title IV) financial aid that you earn if you withdraw from school. The federal programs that are covered by this law are Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loans, Federal Subsidized Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Graduate PLUS Loans, Federal Parent PLUS Loans, Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Iraq/Afghanistan Service Grants.

    When you withdraw during your payment period, the amount of federal financial aid that you have earned up to that point is determined by a specific formula. If you received (or Clemson University or your parent received on your behalf) less assistance than the amount that you earned, you may be able to receive those additional funds as a Post-Withdrawal Disbursement. If you received more assistance than you earned, the excess funds must be re­turned to the government by Clemson University and/or you. This is called a Return to Title IV (or R2T4).

    The amount of assistance that you have earned is determined on a pro-rata basis. For example, if you completed 30 percent of your payment period, you earn 30 percent of the assistance you were originally scheduled to receive. Once you have completed more than 60 percent of the payment period, you earn all the assistance that you were scheduled to receive for that period.

    If you received (or Clemson University or your parent received on your behalf) excess federal financial aid that must be returned, Clemson University must return a portion of the excess equal to the lesser of:

    1. Your institutional charges multiplied by the unearned percentage of your funds, or
    2. The entire amount of excess funds.

    Clemson University must return this amount even if we did not keep this amount of your federal financial aid. This may create a significant indebtedness for you if this aid was used to pay for charges for which you are still responsible or if you received these funds as a refund.

    If Clemson University is not required to return all of the excess funds, you must return the remaining amount. Any loan funds that you must return, you (or your parent for a PLUS Loan) repay in accordance with the terms of the promissory note. That is, you make scheduled payments to the holder of the loan over a period of time.

    Any amount of unearned grant funds that you must return is called an overpayment. The maximum amount of a grant overpayment that you must repay is half of the grant funds you received or were scheduled to receive. You do not have to repay a grant overpayment if the original amount of the over­payment is $50 or less. You must make arrangements with Clemson University to return the unearned grant funds.

    The requirements for federal financial aid funds when you withdraw are separate from Clemson’s adjustment policy for institutional charges. Therefore, you may still owe funds to cover unpaid institutional charges. Clemson University will also charge you for any federal financial aid that we were required to return. Be sure you are aware of the adjustment policy, academic consequences, and withdrawal procedures before making your final decision.

    If you have questions about your federal financial aid, you can call the Office of Student Financial Aid at 864-656-2280 or email Also, you can call the Federal Student Aid Infor­mation Center at 1-800-4-FEDAID (1-800-433-3243). TTY users may call 1-800-730-8913. Information is also available at

  • Non-Federal Aid

    Financial aid is expected to help meet educational costs, so any academic, housing or meal plan refunds resulting from your withdrawal from the University will be returned to the financial aid programs from which you received assistance. University, state and outside scholarships may be adjusted based on the tuition adjustment schedule. You may be required to return funds from previously issued financial aid refund checks.

  • General

    Indebtedness to the University created by the return of aid must be resolved before you can re-enroll or be issued an academic transcript. Federal regulations prohibit the use of federal financial aid to pay prior-year balances. Therefore, you need to consider the payment of any outstanding balances as you make plans to return to school.