Financial aid

By providing many types of graduate aid through various programs, RISD helps qualified students seek, obtain and make the best use of all resources available to meet the cost of the extraordinary education offered here, and many also gain valuable experience through research and teaching opportunities.

Plan in advance

Students needing assistance to finance graduate education should prepare in advance and always consider the following:

  • Have you paid off all the consumer debt you have?
  • Do you have sufficient savings to cover expenses not included in the cost of attendance?
  • Are your current student loans in good standing?

In addition, one of the biggest financial challenges for graduate students comes at the beginning of each semester. Financial aid refunds and assistantship checks are typically not available until after the start of classes. Incoming students should plan to arrive on campus with sufficient funding to cover initial expenses.

We can help

RISD’s Student Financial Services office (SFS) is committed to working with students to reach the shared goal of preparing and educating creative individuals who aspire to make a meaningful contribution to our world. SFS staff assists students and their families in seeking, obtaining and making the best use of all resources available to help finance the costs of attending RISD.

Total costs

RISD’s 2018–19 tuition is $49,900 for both undergrads and graduate students, with a student activities fee of $260 and an academic and technology fee of $800. The cost of attendance (COA) for any college is based on tuition and required fees (costs that are billed to you directly) plus estimated costs for room and/or rent, board and/or food, supplies, personal expenses and transportation (indirect, variable costs). RISD’s 2018–19 COA for graduate students is $76,280.

Financing options for US citizens and permanent residents

RISD fellowships

Fellowships offset the cost of attendance for graduate students. They are awarded by the academic department in conjunction with Student Financial Services, and may be determined based on need, merit or a combination of both. Typically, fellowships are awarded in equal disbursements for fall and spring semesters and paid directly to a student’s tuition account.

RISD assistantships

Students may also receive a graduate assistantship that provides financial support as well as research and/or teaching opportunities in their area of study. Graduate program coordinators work with Academic Affairs to secure assistantship contracts after discussing job options with awardees.

Assistantships are awarded during the admissions process, but specific positions may not be assigned until the beginning of each semester. International students or any student who does not have a social security number cannot be assigned an assistantship during the first semester. Learn more here about specific assistantships and other funded research/practice opportunities.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Taken in the student’s name, Federal Direct Loans are likely to be part of a student's financial aid award package. Interest does accrue while student is enrolled in school. Repayment begins six months after student graduates or ceases attending school at least half-time. For additional information, including rates, please go to this page on the US Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid site.

Federal Direct GradPLUS Loans

GradPLUS loans are intended for graduate students in need of additional resources in order to finance their education. Approval of GradPLUS loans is based in part on the determination that the applicant does not have any adverse credit. Visit the US Department of Education's Federal Student Aid site for rates and additional information.

Alternative (private) loans

Private student loans are consumer loans that should only be considered after first exhausting your federal loan eligibility. Typically, federal loans provide students with more beneficial terms and conditions. Some of these federal loan benefits may include a lower annual percentage rate, fewer and lower fees, and more favorable repayment options. A number of private educational loans are available to students who need extra funding to assist in managing the expected family contribution.

For more information on private education loans please go to elmselect.com.

External scholarships

External/outside scholarships are an excellent way to help reduce your need to work and/or borrow student loans while at RISD. Keep in mind that federal regulations stipulate that an outside scholarship cannot be used to reduce your family's expected contribution. When you receive an outside scholarship, our office is required to reevaluate your financial aid package and account for the additional resource.

Outside scholarships can be used to reduce the following:

  • Student Loans
  • Federal Work Study

Listed below are several links to search engines where you can investigate and apply for various outside scholarship opportunities:

Download outside scholarship listings

Loan calculators

It is important to understand what the true cost of graduate education will be. To explore estimated monthly payments and options for repaying federal student loans, find out more about loan calculators at studentloans.gov.

Repayment programs and loan forgiveness programs

The federal government offers a number of loan repayment programs and options. Explore them at studentloans.gov. In addition, for students who are committed to working in public service after graduation can learn more about the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program at ibrinfo.org.

Alternate payment plan

RISD offers a Tuition Management Systems (TMS) Payment Plan, which allows students to spread payments for tuition, housing and dining over an extended period of time. The TMS Payment Plan spreads out each semester’s tuition and fees over five equal installments.

Federal Work Study

Federal and RISD Work Study programs are for students with financial need who must earn an income to offset educational expenses. Over 1,300 RISD students, more than half the student body, participate in the Work Study Program, which consists of both Federal Work Study (FWS) or RISD Work Study (RWS) and is part of a student’s financial aid package. While priority is given to financial aid recipients for on-campus jobs, RISD also allows non-financial aid students to work, if there are jobs left unfilled by work study students.

Work study jobs are available to undergraduate and graduate students through Student Financial Services. Work study offers five levels of hourly pay rates and students are paid bi-weekly.

Financing options for international students

RISD fellowships

Fellowships offset the cost of attendance for graduate students. They are awarded by the academic department in conjunction with Student Financial Services, and may be determined based on need, merit or a combination of both. Typically, fellowships are awarded in equal disbursements for fall and spring semesters and paid directly to a student’s tuition account.

RISD assistantships

Students may also receive a graduate assistantship that provides financial support as well as research and/or teaching opportunities in their area of study. Graduate program coordinators work with Academic Affairs to secure assistantship contracts after discussing job options with awardees.

Assistantships are awarded during the admissions process, but specific positions may not be assigned until the beginning of each semester. International students or any student who does not have a social security number cannot be assigned an assistantship during the first semester. Learn more here about specific assistantships and other funded research/practice opportunities.

Alternate payment plan

RISD offers a Tuition Management Systems (TMS) Payment Plan, which allows students to spread payments for tuition, housing and dining over an extended period of time. The TMS Payment Plan spreads out each semester’s tuition and fees over five equal installments.

International Education Financial Aid opportunities

For international students applying to RISD, the International Education Financial Aid website provides information about aid programs, scholarships and grant opportunities to help finance their education.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) also manages several scholarship programs throughout the world. Visit the IIE website to learn more.