Need-Based Endowment Scholarships

General Information

On July 28, 2020, the CalArts Board of Trustees approved a resolution to increase endowment spending due to the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the additional funds to be allocated toward need-based scholarships, and with a specific focus on expanding the Institute’s commitment to representational diversity among our students. The resolution states, “The funds shall be used to support students in need, with a preference for students with a diverse background who are underrepresented within the Institute.”

This decision by the Board has resulted in an additional $3.3 million of need-based scholarship funding to be awarded immediately for the 2020-2021 academic year, with ongoing commitment to funding in future years. The new scholarships will be allocated according to the following priorities:

  1. Provide supplemental need-based grants to underrepresented minority students with moderate to high unmet need.
  2. Provide supplemental need-based grants to all other domestic students in the highest range of unmet need.
  3. Provide additional funding for need-based tuition grant appeals, a process that is open to all enrolled students, including international students.
  4. Provide limited retention funds for each school, to be allocated in direct proportion to the percent of underrepresented minority students enrolled in their programs.


For the purposes of awarding these scholarship funds, CalArts is using the following definitions:

Cost of Attendance (COA) is determined based on each student’s tuition and fees, plus the estimated costs of room and board, transportation, supplies, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated according to a formula defined by federal law, based on information submitted in the FAFSA (income, assets, benefits, family size, other family members in college, etc). 

Need Based Grant (NBG) is institutional scholarship aid awarded as a one time or annual grant based on each student’s demonstrated financial need.

Underrepresented Minority (URM) is the term used to identify students whose racial or ethnic makeup is from one of the following:  African American/Black; American Indian or Alaska Native; Latino/Hispanic; Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.

Unmet Need is determined by subtracting the following known resources from the student’s COA:  federal, state, and institutional grant aid; federal subsidized loans; federal unsubsidized loans; and EFC.

Awarding Criteria

Under priorities #1 and #2, CalArts will meet the cost of tuition, after the EFC and all other federal, state, and institutional aid is applied, for domestic students who have completed a FAFSA, and who meet the following criteria:

  • Underrepresented minority students who are on track to graduate this year, and who have unmet need of $25,000 or greater
  • New and continuing students who identify as Black/African American or as Native American/Native Alaskan, and who have unmet need of $25,000 or greater
  • All other underrepresented minority students who have unmet need of $35,000 or greater
  • Students not identifying as underrepresented minority, who are on track to graduate this year, and who have unmet need of $40,000 or greater
  • All other students with unmet need of $50,000 or greater

Students who do not fall into the criteria detailed above may pursue additional need-based funding through priorities #3 and #4:

  • All enrolled students with financial need may submit an appeal for a Need-Based Tuition Grant by filling out this form. International students must also complete the CSS profile in order to be considered. These awards are allocated anonymously according to a rubric that takes into account each student’s demonstrated financial need and current institutional scholarship, with priority given to students closer to degree completion.
  • Students may also discuss their scholarship requests with their school’s Financial Aid Liaison, who will then recommend students for increased awards out of their school retention funds. These funds are limited, and are intended to support students who may fall outside of the criteria listed above, or who may need support above and beyond other awards they are eligible to receive.

All students who enroll for the Fall 2020 semester will be considered for these additional grant funds, including newly entering students, and students returning from leave of absence, as long as funds are available. Priority will be given to students who are enrolled in an active degree program by Monday, Aug. 10.

Frequently Asked Questions

We define enrolled as being active in a degree program, regardless of whether or not you have cleared tuition. An easy way to see if you are enrolled is by checking your Self-Service page to see if you have a tuition bill and a financial aid award, or by checking your schedule to see if you have been pre-enrolled into any classes. 

If you were planning to be on leave of absence for fall but would like to enroll in order to qualify for these funds, contact the Registrar’s Office at to request to be reinstated.

If you are an admitted student, you become enrolled by paying your tuition deposit. 

Students with less than $25,000 in unmet need, as calculated against the total cost of attendance, already have sufficient funds in place to cover the full cost of tuition. Any additional aid would be directed toward total cost of attendance, which is variable depending on each student’s circumstances. Our analysis shows that we can have the most impact for the most students by using this as a minimum indicator of need in our distribution of these need-based funds.

Need-based grants awarded under priorities #1 and #2, which are meant to meet the cost of tuition after the EFC and all other aid is factored in, will be reviewed and adjusted annually based on need and the current tuition rate. This means the award may increase or decrease depending on your need in any given year.

Need-based grants awarded under priorities #3 and #4 are awarded as flat awards and will remain flat year over year, despite tuition increases or changes in student need.

The Board resolution was very specific in its goal that the increased endowment spending will support representational diversity among CalArts students. We are hopeful that these need-based grants will help to address inequities in representation throughout our student body. As our representational diversity shifts, CalArts will reconsider other factors that contribute to diversity on our campus and allocate funds accordingly.

The Financial Aid Liaison is a faculty member designated within each school to coordinate financial aid awarding, in particular new student scholarships, and also retention awards for continuing students. The Financial Aid Liaisons are:

Additional Financial Support

Please use the forms below to apply for emergency funds, apply for credit for room and board, and ask for an exemption to upcoming dormitory changes. 

  • Emergency Funds Form: Students can apply for these funds that are intended to provide relief for urgent travel needs, food insecurity, and other extreme situations stemming from the COVID-19 disruption. 
  • Extenuating Circumstances Form: For residents of CalArts housing, who are unable to take their belongings and leave campus because of a travel ban or other extreme extenuation issue.  
  • Room & Board Credit/Refund: Returning students may receive a credit on room and board that can be applied to the Fall 2020 tuition, room, and board bill. If you are graduating or not returning to CalArts, you may be eligible for a refund after your account is settled.

To learn more, please visit the Financial Appeals page on the Hub:

Go to Financial Appeals Page

COVID-19 Grants and Resources List

To find the most up-to-date Grants and Resources related to COVID-19 visit this comprehensive list with information around news, health, safety, food, professional development, digital arts, culture and educational engagement. You can view all available information or chose to filter the grants and resources per art discipline.

COVID-19 Grants and Resources List

Tuition Refund Policies

Students who are admitted and register for classes at California Institute of the Arts are financially responsible for fees and charges associated with those classes. Students who officially withdraw from ALL courses during the first four weeks of a semester will receive a tuition refund in accordance with the  posted policy. 

Click the link below to view CalArts' 2020-21 tuition dates and academic calendar.

Tuition and Academic Calendar

CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27, 2020.  One section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund-IHE/Student Aid, which allocates funding to institutions to provide emergency financial aid grants to students with immediate needs related to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. 

The amount of funding allocated to schools throughout the country was determined using a formula taking into account the number of Pell-eligible and non-Pell eligible students enrolled full-time at each campus. Specific details about the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund can be found on the U.S. Department of Education website.  

As a result of this legislation, CalArts has been allocated approximately $500,000 to be distributed as one-time grants to Title IV eligible students. These grants will be automatically disbursed to students enrolled for the spring 2020 semester.

Student Eligibility

Who is eligible?
In order to qualify for a CARES Act Grant, students must meet existing Title IV eligibility requirements, which includes completion of a valid 2019-20 FAFSA, as well as the FAFSA verification process, if applicable. CalArts will determine eligibility for these grants using the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by the 2019-20 FAFSA.

How much will eligible students receive?
Eligible students will be disbursed grants in three tiers, based on academic level and EFC.

  • $1,200 CARES Act Grant
    • Undergraduate students with an EFC less than or equal to $5,576 (the Pell Grant maximum EFC threshold)
  • $750 CARES Act Grant
    • Graduate students with an EFC less than or equal to $5,576
  • $600 CARES Act Grant
    • Undergraduate students with an EFC between $5,577 and $11,152 (twice the Pell Grant maximum EFC threshold)

The CARES Act Emergency Grant does not affect any other state, federal, or institutional financial aid. It is a one-time, nontaxable grant that does not need to be repaid.

Based on spring 2020 enrollment, approximately 460 CalArts students (80% of all Title IV eligible students) will qualify to receive a grant from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The CARES Act Emergency Grant program has limited funding. Students will be awarded grants as long as funds remain available. To learn more, please visit the Financial Appeals page on the Hub:

Learn more