Disbursement Procedures

Once you’ve finished the application and award process for financial aid at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), you will need to know how to receive your awards and apply them to your tuition at the school. Below you will find helpful information on how that process works.

Financial aid is disbursed in two ways, depending on the type of aid you receive. It can either be credited to your student account, or sent directly to you. See the table below to find out which programs fall into each category.

Applied to your student account

Made directly to you

  • Federal Title IV Financial Aid, excluding work-study earnings
  • SAIC need-based grants and merit scholarships
  • Outside scholarships
  • State assistance
  • Loans disbursed electronically
  • Loan checks made co-payable to the student and SAIC
  • Work-Study paychecks
  • Excess aid in your student account—if aid exceeds your amount due, you may receive a refund
  • Excess aid from anticipated aid—if your student account indicates aid has been processed but not disbursed, you may be eligible for an advance

Federal Title IV Financial Aid Payments

Federal Title IV financial aid, excluding federal Work Study, is applied directly to your tuition and fees account. Your student account contains charges for tuition, allowable fees, health insurance, and room and board. It may also include charges such as library fines, room damage charges, and health service fees. 

Federal Work-Study Payments

Federal Work-Study funds are not automatically credited towards a student's account. They are issued directly to the student employee. We encourage students to have their payroll checks direct-deposited into their bank account. Funds are often available to the student a day earlier when paid through the Direct Deposit option instead of being issued a paper check. Direct deposit information and forms are available on the SAIC Student Payroll webpage.

Scholarship and Qualified Education/529 College Savings Plans Checks and Correspondence

You are required to forward scholarship and qualified education/529 college saving plan checks and correspondence to the Student Financial Services office so that funds can be properly applied to your student account. Do not send checks or correspondence to the Bursar's Office as this will cause a delay in processing.

Student Loans

Loans are disbursed directly to your student account. Often students plan to use loan funds for living expenses. If you have a credit balance of actual funds in your student account (not a credit balance due to anticipated aid), you may receive a refund.

Refunds of credit balances are processed on a regular basis each week and do not need to be requested. Students should sign up for eRefunds by accessing CASHNet through Self-Service. All students are notified of the availability of their funds by email notification to their SAIC email account.

Annual Financial Aid Disbursement Calendars

Federal Direct Stafford, PLUS and Private Education Loans

These funds begin disbursing approximately 10 days before each semester begins.


Estimated Date that Disbursing Begins *


Third to Fourth week of May


Third to Fourth week of August


Fourth week of December


Third week of January

Grants and Scholarships


Estimated Date that Disbursing Begins *


Second week of August


Fourth week of September


Second week of January


Fourth week of February

*Grants and scholarships are only disbursed each semester after all requirements are met including but not limited to:

  • The student's actual enrollment matches the aid for which they are packaged. For more information, view Adjusting Your Aid for Enrollment.
  • Attendance records are collected during week 3 from faculty, and then holds are put on each student's financial aid disbursements for those whose attendance has not been confirmed.
  • All documents requested have been submitted to the Student Financial Services office by the student and/or parent.
  • Students should check their Task (To Do List) in SAIC Self-Service for outstanding items,] regularly.
  • The student's financial aid file is reviewed and found to be complete.
  • In the case of student federal loans, all entrance counseling sessions and MPNs (master promissory notes) have been successfully completed and the loan has been approved. For more information, view Loan Steps/Instructions.