Five Financial Aid Mistakes You Definitely Want to Avoid

(And the tips you need to get financial aid for the CIA)

We know you have big dreams for your future in food and hospitality…and that those dreams include earning your degree from The Culinary Institute of America. So of course you want to make sure you get all the scholarships and financial aid you’re eligible for.

That’s why we’re sharing a few financial aid mistakes that students sometimes make. Whether you’re just starting to think about applying for admission to the CIA or you’ve been accepted (yay!) and are making the big college decision, here are some tips for getting financial aid for the CIA.

Mistake #1: Assuming you won’t qualify for aid

Please don’t make this assumption! If you’re a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, you should definitely file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The information you provide is used to calculate your eligibility for federal financial aid awards that can help you pay for your CIA education.

What to do now:

File your FAFSA! Go to or use the myStudentAid app. The CIA’s Federal Student Code is 007304. You can do this before or after you apply for admission to the CIA.

Mistake #2: Not including your SSN on your CIA application

Even though your Social Security Number (SSN) is not a required field in our online application for admission, if you’re accepted to the CIA, we need it to be able to pair your FAFSA with your student account. We can then create a complete financial aid award package for you.

What to do now:

If you didn’t include your SSN in your online application (or if you submitted a paper application), no worries. Just call us at 1-800-CULINARY or complete the secure form on your accepted student portal to provide us with your SSN (please don’t e-mail or text it) and we’ll take it from there.

Mistake #3: Assuming that what’s in your merit award letter is the only aid you’re getting

If you’ve been accepted to the CIA, you’ll get an award letter from us. But if you haven’t filed your FAFSA yet, that letter will only list CIA merit aid. Your financial aid package isn’t complete until you file your FAFSA. (If you did already file your FAFSA, the letter will list all of your awarded financial aid).

What to do now:

Don’t miss out on money! File your FAFSA, provide us with your SSN if you haven’t already, and wait for an updated letter from the CIA with the full amount of financial aid you have been awarded.

Mistake #4: Not sending us your SAT/ACT scores

While these scores are not a requirement for admission to the CIA, they can potentially increase your eligibility for additional CIA scholarships and maximize your total financial aid award.

What to do now:

Send us your SAT scores through your College Board account and/or your ACT scores through your ACT account.

Mistake #5: Trying to compare financial apples to oranges on your own

We sympathize. Every college presents its financial aid award packages a little differently, and that can make it difficult to compare costs and affordability when you’re trying to decide which school to attend. (Of course, we hope you’ll choose the CIA!)

What to do now:

Don’t go it alone! Our Student Financial Planners and Enrollment Managers are here to help. Contact us at 1-800-CULINARY today or e-mail

Find out more about financial aid at the CIA! Follow us on Facebook (@CIAFinancialServices) and Twitter (@CIA_SFRS) for scholarship information, helpful resources, and more.