Below you’ll find answers to questions commonly asked by First-Generation applicants. We provide them for your quick reference but we’d love to hear from you if something is unclear or you have a special circumstance. Send your comments or questions to our First-Generation Student inbox.
Admission & Evaluation
Defined differently at many colleges, to Carnegie Mellon, you are a First-Generation student if neither of your parents completed a Bachelor’s (4-year college) degree or higher. You’re still considered the first in your family to go to college if your parents received an Associate’s degree, attended a 4-year college but did not graduate, or if your siblings attended and graduated from college.
Carnegie Mellon’s vision is to have a transformative impact on society through education. One way we aim to do that is to expand the impact of a Carnegie Mellon experience to families that traditionally have not had access to a college education. Still, students must demonstrate an ability to meet the demands of the rigorous academic curriculum and contribute to and enrich the thriving, diverse campus community.
Generally speaking, applying Early Decision is worth considering if you've done plenty of research (online and in-person), have a strong application compared to the traditional applicant pool, you want to know your college destination as soon as possible, and you are absolutely certain of your fit within the campus culture. If your college decision is going to rely heavily on your financial aid package, it may not be recommended to apply Early Decision. We offer a Financial Aid Estimator (we recommend that you complete our Estimator, which is below the Net Price Calculator) that you could complete to get a sense of your potential Carnegie Mellon financial aid package. If these conditions don't apply to you, or your enrollment is dependent upon financial aid, applying Regular Decision could be a great option.
An admission interview allows a student to speak with an admission staff member about his or her background and interests, get a personalized introduction to campus and determine if Carnegie Mellon and our majors or programs are a good fit. We're interested in discussing your senior year courses, extracurricular activities and potential major interests at Carnegie Mellon. Interviews last about 20-30 minutes and also allow time for family members visiting with the student to ask questions.
Interviews are not required. However, they do help the admission committee make better, more informed decisions when selecting the freshman class. Thus, an interview could prove to be valuable to both the student and Carnegie Mellon.
Carnegie Mellon evaluates applicants holistically, meaning everything an applicant submits is taken into consideration. We recognize that there are many factors that might indicate an applicant’s strength. Test score are important but are just one piece of a complicated evaluation puzzle.
We’re here to help you make an educated decision. Feel free to reach out to our First Generation Student inbox.
When considering the cost of any college, you’ll want to consider the overall cost of attendance, not only the cost of tuition. The cost of attendance is comprehensive and gives families a more realistic cost (including tuition, fees, room and board, books and a transportation estimate).
Carnegie Mellon values diversity and we seek to build a community of people of varied gender, race, academic interest, talent and background to accurately reflect the global community and to provide an enlightening experience for our student body. Carnegie Mellon’s financial aid program is designed to meet our dual goal of helping prospective students who have demonstrated financial need and rewarding those students who have outstanding talents and abilities. Thus, each student and family situation is different.
Because of those goals, it's difficult to determine whether or Carnegie Mellon is affordable based solely on the average financial aid package, which is $36,435.
Carnegie Mellon practices a need-blind admission evaluation. We don’t offer admission based on a student’s ability to pay for their education. Thus, applying for financial aid will have no effect on your chances for admission. The decision whether or not to offer admission to Carnegie Mellon is based solely on an applicant’s ability to meet the demands of the rigorous academic curriculum and contribute to the campus community.
To determine the amount of need-based aid you would receive and your family contribution, we take into account a student’s intended major, academic and artistic talents, non-academic talents and abilities, as well as financial need using the information that you and your parent(s) provide on the FAFSA, the CSS PROFILE, and 1040 and W-2 forms to determine the amount you and your parent(s) should contribute to your education at Carnegie Mellon. This amount might include money from income and borrowing (such as student loans). This value is called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Carnegie Mellon provides a Financial Aid Estimator for high school juniors or seniors and their families, in order to provide an estimate of a student’s financial aid package prior to even applying.
Carnegie Mellon does not award any scholarships based solely on high school academic performance/merit. We started offering Presidential Scholarships in 2014. We also offer Carnegie Scholarships to academically- and artistically-talented middle-income students who qualify for little to no need-based financial aid. You must apply for need-based financial aid to be considered for both of these scholarships.
Yes. The U.S. Department of Education requires recipients of federal funds at all colleges (including grants, loans, and work study) to meet academic progress standards each year. At Carnegie Mellon, first-year freshman students must pass 80% of all cumulative units attempted at Carnegie Mellon and have a 1.75 cumulative QPA after the first year. All other students must pass 80% of all cumulative units attempted and have a 2.0 cumulative QPA.
If a student receives a scholarship awarded by an organization outside of Carnegie Mellon (such as a community organization, parent’s employer, etc.), they will be used to meet unmet financial need and offset or reduce loans and work-study. Carnegie Mellon awarded grants and scholarships will not be reduced due to the receipt of outside scholarships unless a student’s award package exceeds the student's financial need or all outside scholarships (in combination with all aid received) exceeds the student's cost of attendance.
There is a possibility your aid package could change. The most common reasons why your financial aid package could change include, but are not limited to:
- Increases or decreases in family income
- Changes in the number of family members in college
- Changes in household size
- Increases in cost of attendance
- Receipt of an outside scholarship
- Unsatisfactory academic progress
Official financial aid award letters for all applicants who have at least filed the CSS PROFILE or FAFSA are mailed in March. As part of the Early Decision Agreement, Carnegie Mellon is expected to provide U.S. citizens or permanent residents applying for financial aid with information regarding their financial aid eligibility. In order for us to provide Early Decision applicants with an estimate of your financial aid eligibility, you must complete the CSS PROFILE by January 6.
At this time, only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for financial aid and installment payment plans.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival students (DACA) students may be eligible for institutional financial aid and must apply for financial aid in order to be considered. DACA students must complete the CSS PROFILE but are not required to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). At the time of admission, Carnegie Mellon may request DACA documentation to confirm your status in order to process financial aid accordingly but no DACA documentation is required when you submit an application. At this time, undocumented students without DACA status are not eligible to apply for financial aid and payment plans.
Yes. Both fall and spring transfer applicants can apply for and receive financial aid.
We request the documents outlined on our Applying for Aid page.
All documents have a preferential submission date of February 15. However, documents will be accepted after that date.