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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

General Questions

Do you have any merit scholarships?

No.  Caltech does not have a merit scholarship program at this time.  Our financial aid is strictly need-based.

How do I apply for financial aid?

The process of applying for financial aid will differ depending on your specific circumstances.  Instructions for applying and links to the appropriate forms are all available under the Applying tab of this website.  Please contact us if you need any assistance in completing your financial aid application.

I missed one of the deadlines; can I still apply for financial aid?

Yes.  Our application deadlines are considered "priority deadlines."  Meeting these deadlines ensures that your financial aid application is reviewed as early as possible.  If you miss one of our deadlines, you may still submit your remaining materials, and your financial aid eligibility will not be affected negatively.  We understand that receiving a timely financial aid offer is important to you, but we cannot rush to process your application if you turned in some of your materials late. 

Please note that the above advice only applies to our general application deadlines.  Other financial aid deadlines, such as the deadline to apply for Summer Work-Study, are more strict, so we cannot accept late application materials in these cases. 

I can't get my noncustodial parent to submit an NCP PROFILE.

We will need to evaluate your situation personally before we can decide how to proceed.  If you are having trouble acquiring your noncustodial parent's information, please contact us for assistance.

How do I correct my PROFILE?

Domestic Students
If you are simply trying to update your PROFILE with the information from your most recent tax return, there's no reason to make a correction to your PROFILE.  You should update your FAFSA instead, as you can make corrections online.  We'll be able to transfer the data from your FAFSA to your PROFILE on our end. 

If you need to make changes to anything other than your tax information, you can print a copy of your PROFILE and write the changes in manually.  Send us a copy of your corrections by e-mail. 

International Students
You can correct your PROFILE by printing out a copy and writing the changes in on paper.  When you have made all the necessary changes, send it to us by e-mail. 

Are international students eligible for financial aid?

You can receive financial aid as a new international undergraduate applicant if you complete the financial aid application and you have some financial need.  If you do not apply or are not accepted for financial aid during your first year, you will not be eligible for financial aid during any other academic year, unless you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or Mexico.

When will I be notified about my financial aid package?

Prospective Students

If you were admitted Early Action and submitted your financial aid application by the Early Action priority deadlines, you’ll most likely receive a financial aid offer in February.  If you submit your documents late and we do not have enough time to process your financial aid application by the end of February, your financial aid application will be reviewed later, along with the Regular Decision applicants.

If you were admitted Regular Decision, you should expect to receive your financial aid offer in April, provided you have completed your financial aid application by then.

Continuing Students

You will most likely receive your financial aid offer in late May, as long as you have completed your financial aid application by then.  Our office will continue to release offers throughout the summer in case you need extra time to complete your application.

Can you match my offer from another school?

No.  Caltech's financial aid is need-based, which means the amount of aid you receive is linked to your family's financial circumstances.  To qualify for more aid, you would need to provide new information about your family's financial situation that we did not originally take into account when reviewing your application.  (See how to appeal your financial aid decision.)

How do I appeal my financial aid decision?

If you have new information about your family's financial or household circumstances, we may be able to revise your financial aid package.  To be considered for an appeal, please send us a signed statement detailing your situation.  You should include all relevant documentation, if applicable.  You may send your signed statement to us as an attachment to an e-mail.

Can I have a CSS PROFILE fee waiver?

We cannot waive the CSS PROFILE fee.  The PROFILE automatically screens first-time domestic applicants for a need-based fee waiver.  If it is asking you to pay to file your PROFILE, then you did not qualify for the fee waiver. 

I'm having trouble accessing the My Financial Aid module on access.caltech.

The My Financial Aid site only fully supports Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.  If you are attempting to use Google Chrome, Safari, Opera, or any other browser, you will need to switch browsers in order to access My Financial Aid.

If you are using a supported browser and are still encountering technical errors, please let us know.

I can't get a tax transcript/use the Data Retrieval Tool.

There are several different factors that may prevent you from obtaining a tax transcript or using the Data Retrieval Tool.  First, you will not be eligible to use either of these tools if you:

In addition, you will not be able to use the Data Retrieval Tool, but can still request a tax transcript if you:

  • Filed an amended tax return (only your original return will be available)
  • Filed "Married Filing Separately" on your latest tax return

Once you know that you are eligible to use one of these tools, you must ensure that enough time has passed since your tax return was processed by the IRS.  The amount of time it will take for these tools to become available depends on some of the circumstances of your tax return.  Use the table below to help determine when your tax information will become available. 

If you feel that your tax information should be available but you are still unable to request this information, the automated systems may be having trouble verifying your identity.  When you are filling in your personal information into one of the IRS systems, be sure that your information exactly matches the information from your most recent tax return.  This includes your name, SSN, date of birth, address and tax filing status.  The address is particularly finicky on both systems: the entire address, including all abbreviations, must match your tax return.  For example, 100 Sharp Street Apt 14 is not the same as 100 Sharp Street #14 or 100 Sharp St Apt 14.

If you are attempting to request a tax transcript, you will be asked a few questions about previous demographic information and your credit history.  These questions can be difficult to answer, but are necessary in order to acquire a tax transcript.  It is useful to have a copy of your credit report on hand when attempting to answer these questions. 

If you are still unable to use both of the IRS tools, please let us know, and we will be happy to assist you personally. 

How does underloading affect my financial aid?

When you take less than a full-time courseload, your tuition charge will be reduced based on how many credits you are taking.  Because your cost of attendance is reduced, your financial aid must be reduced as well.  The financial aid reduction will generally come out of your Caltech Scholarship.

Due to a recent policy change, if you first entered the Institute in fall 2012 or later, your tuition will not be reduced based on your courseload.  Your financial aid, however,  will be reduced.  This means that you will be charged the same amount of tuition, but receive less financial aid to cover it. 

More specific information, including what you can expect based on your enrollment status, is available in the full underloading policy.


Do I need to send my documents to IDOC?
All undergraduates who are applying for financial aid, except for prospective international students, need to submit their required financial aid documents to IDOC

Caltech is not listed as one of my IDOC schools.
Caltech works with IDOC differently than most other schools.  Caltech will not request your information from IDOC until after you have been accepted for admission.  This means that Caltech will not be present on your list of schools on the IDOC website, and you will not see any Caltech-specific forms in your required document list.  Please review our list of required documents carefully and be prepared to submit them all to IDOC, even if IDOC does not appear to be requesting some of them.  IDOC will process them and keep them on file; once you are admitted, your Caltech-specific documents will be delivered to us.

When will I hear from IDOC?
Caltech will request your information from IDOC only after you have been admitted and submitted either your CSS PROFILE or FAFSA.  Early Action admits who have submitted their PROFILE and/or FAFSA will not have their information requested until mid-December due to Caltech's processing schedule.

Can my noncustodial parent submit his/her documents through IDOC, too?
Noncustodial parents will be able to upload their tax returns and any other necessary information through the IDOC website.  Information submitted by the custodial parent will not be shared with the noncustodial parent and vice versa.  Other personal information, such as contact information and Social Security numbers, will also not be shared with the other parent.

When will IDOC finish processing my documents?
Once IDOC has received your documents, all of your data will be processed in 3-5 days and delivered to your IDOC schools shortly thereafter.  We encourage all students to use the electronic upload option to avoid shipping delays, which will slow down your application.  Remember, if you turn in parts of your financial aid application in late, we cannot rush to process your application. 

IDOC is asking me to send a W-2, but I didn't receive one for 2016.
If you filed a 2016 tax return but did not receive a W-2, you will need to file a W-2 Substitute with IDOC.  This form will be available directly on the IDOC website's document list.  You can access it by clicking "Click here if you did not receive a W-2 for this year" next to the W-2 requirement.

Can I submit my documents to IDOC as they become available?
Yes; you may return to IDOC and upload additional documents as needed.

When should I submit my documents to IDOC?
The IDOC website will keep track of each of your school's IDOC deadlines.  Since you should submit all of your forms at once, be prepared to submit all of your required documents by your earliest deadline.  Keep in mind that if you have not yet been admitted to Caltech, our deadline will not appear on the IDOC website.  We have listed our deadlines below for your reference:

Applicant Type IDOC Deadline
Prospective, Early Action January 6th, 2018
Prospective, Regular Decision March 16th, 2018
Continuing Student April 20th, 2018

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