When your awards are disbursed to your CUNYfirst account, they will be applied to any unpaid tuition and fee charges. If you have a financial aid credit balance after the payment of your tuition and fees, you will receive a refund that will be electronically deposited to your personal bank account or sent to your home address in the form of a paper check.
Difference between Disbursement and Refund
Your financial aid is disbursed to your CUNYfirst account, not to you personally. Only after all charges on your account are satisfied will you see your refund. Refunds are processed 3-5 days after a financial aid payment appears on your CUNYfirst account. Keep this timeframe in mind when doing your financial planning. Learn more at CUNY’s Financial Aid and Tuition Refunds page.
- Before your financial aid can be disbursed, all financial aid related items on your CUNYfirst “To Do List” must be resolved and you must be enrolled in your classes. Awards that have been authorized for payment will appear as “Anticipated Aid” on your CUNYfirst Student Center page and will have a scheduled disbursement date.
- Financial aid is not disbursed all at once, but in stages. Your tuition account will continue to show a balance until enough financial aid has been released to satisfy the charges. The college will know if you have anticipated aid and will not require that you pay your tuition before all the pending aid is disbursed.
Scheduled vs. Actual Disbursement Date
- There is a difference between the “scheduled” disbursement date and the actual date an award is released. The “scheduled” disbursement date is the earliest date in the term CUNY may release the indicated award. The “actual” disbursement date may be different.
- View the “scheduled” disbursement dates for your financial aid awards on your CUNYfirst account by logging on to your Student Center, clicking on “View Financial Aid” and selecting “View Scheduled Disbursement Dates.”
- View the “actual” disbursement date by clicking on “Account Inquiry” in your Student Center. An actual disbursement date will not appear until the disbursement has occurred. Keep in mind that the disbursement date is the date the funds post to your CUNYfirst account, not the date you can expect to receive your refund.
CUNY offers two different ways you may receive your financial aid payments. Choose the payment method most convenient to you.
Option #1: Direct Deposit
Your refunds are paid to your personal bank account. Enroll in direct deposit by following the instructions in the CUNYfirst Student Financial Aid Guide. Contact the Bursar’s Office for more information on this payment option.
Note: after you have set up direct deposit in CUNYfirst, remember to keep your account information updated. Changes, such as opening or closing bank accounts, or changing banks, do not get updated automatically in CUNYfirst. You are responsible for updating your personal bank account information in CUNYfirst. Failure to keep your account information up to date may cause refunds to be transferred to an inactive account and delay your receipt of the funds.
Option #2: Check
If you do not choose option #1, your refunds will be made in the form of a check mailed to your home address. If at all possible, we recommend direct deposit over checks for receiving your financial aid payments for both greater convenience and security.
Protecting Your Check
- Be sure to keep your mailing address current in your CUNYfirst account.
- If you don’t receive an expected check within 10 days of the scheduled disbursement date, or if your check is lost or stolen, contact the Bursar’s Office immediately.
- Deposit or cash your check as soon as possible after you receive it. Stale checks may not be able to be replaced and you risk losing those funds.
- Do not endorse your check until you are ready to cash or deposit it. If an endorsed check is lost and then cashed, CUNY will not cover the loss.
- Report any lost or stolen check to the Bursar’ Office immediately.