March 20: Deadline Extension for Partial Tuition Refund

Dear CalArts Students, 

Over the past few days, we have received many questions about refunds, withdrawals, and leaves. We understand that during these unprecedented times, where the world around us is changing every day, you are weighing your options and wondering what to do. You might be wondering how the remote instruction might work or you might be thinking about your financial situation and how you will manage. Without question, something bothering many of you is CalArts’ deadline to get a partial refund, which is on Saturday, March 21. With such little time, how can you make an informed decision?

This deadline was set in-line with the timelines and guidelines we receive from the federal government related to federal financial aid. Our practice for many, many years has been to align these timelines to match. This year, the deadline falls on Saturday, March 21.

We realize this gives students little time to think through the myriad decisions upon them at this moment. While we have never changed this deadline in recent memory, we don’t in fact know the full consequences of doing so. These extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.

We have moved this deadline forward to Friday, March 27 at 5 pm. There cannot be exceptions made to this deadline, as may have happened in the past.

We hope this gives you an opportunity to carefully think through your options, and while it is hard to do right now, we urge you to think as long-term as you can during this, hopefully, short-term crisis. We have seen that there are significant long-term negative financial ramifications to withdrawals and leaves of absence. Not only will you not receive credit for your classes this semester—and in the case of a withdrawal you will need to reapply to CalArts—the amount of refund, and whether you receive one at all, depends on many factors including your scholarship, financial aid package, and payment balance. Some students may end up paying money when withdrawing rather than getting credit. We also know that fewer students who take leaves or withdrawals complete their programs than students that do. And most students that complete their programs after a leave end up paying more for that program than if they had stayed and completed without interruption.

We strongly encourage you to carefully weigh your options, talk to the academic advisors, and the Accounting Office before making a decision. With the deadline extension, now you have time to do that. Student success is of the utmost importance to us and we want you to continue your education and graduate.

There are other options for those who are experiencing financial hardship. We understand that families may be facing financial hardship and we are working right now to harness all the resources possible to assist this. You will receive a separate email detailing this later today. We are also soliciting additional new resources for this purpose. Our resources currently include emergency funds, financial aid appeals, and providing an extension on the deadline for tuition payments for this semester.   

As previously communicated, classes will move to remote forms of instruction beginning March 23rd and continue through the end of the semester. Please know CalArts’ faculty and academic leadership will make every effort to ensure the continuity of your education and progress toward earning your degree. We will continue to post updates to our website as more information becomes available, the situation evolves, or if there are changes in policies affecting students, faculty, or staff.  

In summary, we will be changing our deadline for partial tuition refund upon withdrawal or leave to Friday, March 27 at 5 pm. Please reach out to your Dean, academic advisors, and staff in the Provost, Student Success, and Accounting Offices before making a decision. We are here to answer your questions, and to help you through these times.

Academic advisors can be contacted at

Deans can be contacted through their respective email addresses.

Provost staff can be contacted at

Questions about your bill and refunds, please contact

Thank you for your patience, continued cooperation, and support as we navigate this complex situation together as a community.


Maeesha Merchant
SVP, Finance and Operations