Cash Advance & Refund Process

This page is designed to help you understand the refund and cash advance processes which includes directions for the quick, easy and safe way to receive your money: Direct Deposit!

What's the fastest way to get money?

GO GREEN and GET GREEN!! Direct deposit is the fastest way to get the excess credits from your ebill to your U.S. bank account. It's easy to sign up and the most secure way to receive your credits. The enrollment process for direct deposit is available by logging into your student bill and choosing Direct Deposit from the left menu.  While you do not need to have a local or Cambridge-based bank account, you do need to have a U.S. bank account.   You'll likely want to set up direct deposit to your current U.S. bank account.  If you choose to use a different bank once you have settled on campus, you can simply change your enrollment online.  This will ensure that we will be able to get you money as quickly as possible in the most secure way. 

Returning students, please note that this direct deposit process is different and separate from PeopleSoft payments for stipends and SPIF funding.  Whether or not you have already set up direct deposit with PeopleSoft, you must separately set up direct deposit through the student billing system if you wish to receive a Fall Cash Advance.

What's a refund?

A refund is a cash disbursement of funds from your ebill that exceed your ebill charges. It is an actual credit on your ebill. It is not an “advance” on anticipated financial aid credits to your account; rather, it is a refund of monies already disbursed to your ebill. 

What's a cash advance?

A cash advance is also a cash disbursement, however, the credit comes from anticipated funds.  For example, your loan and grant funding may not be finalized and disbursed to your ebill until November of any given year.  Until the funds actually disburse to your account we use anticipated credits and advance you money on any pending disbursements.  Until the funds are disbursed in full, we call them cash advances.  There is no fee associated with the cash advance process. 

How do I apply for a cash advance or refund?

You do NOT need to apply for a cash advance or a refund.

Student Financial Services reviews all student accounts on a weekly basis and automatically issues refunds and cash advances for students whose credits (grants, loans, payments, etc.) exceed the charges on their ebill  (tuition, health fees, etc.). These funds will automatically be deposited through the direct deposit process, to your U.S. bank account.  If you do not have direct deposit set up with the Student Receivables office, a paper check will be mailed to whatever address is currently on file with the Registrar's Office. The Unisveristy does not cut paper checks and therefore no paper checks will be available for pick up. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be eligible for a cash advance or refund, you must be a registered HLS student for the 2014-2015 academic year and have a financial aid award. We can then notify the Student Receivables Office of your anticipated financial aid credits and use these credits to determine if you will have a projected surplus once all of your charges have been satisfied. Additionally, you cannot have a back balance from a prior academic year. All back balances must be paid in full before a cash advance or refund is issued.

Once we are ready for you to begin e-signing any loan promissory notes for awards offered to you in your financial aid award package (Direct, Perkins, Harvard Loans, etc.), you will be required to have e-signed all of your notes before a cash advance or refund is processed and released to you. Note: During the months of August and September, this requirement is waived since we give you the month of September to complete your loan notes.

Finally, if you will be applying for supplemental education loan funding to cover an expected contribution and you wish us to include the amount of this funding in the determination of your cash advance/refund echeck, all of the following must be true:

  • You must have applied for any supplemental loan that you wish to be considered in the calculation of your cash advance check.
  • You must have already received approval from the lender of the supplemental loan you wish to include in your cash advance check.
  • You must have e-signed your supplemental loan promissory note.
  • You must have already had any approved supplemental loan certified by Student Financial Service

How can I calculate the amount of my cash advance or refund?

You do NOT NEED TO calculate the amount of your cash advance or refund; the calculation is done by our office. However, for personal planning purposes, calculating your cash advance or refund is an extremely valuable budgeting tool and we encourage you to undertake this exercise.

To calculate the amount of your cash advance check for either semester, subtract all of your charges for the year (tuition, health fees, dormitory and loan fees) from all of your financial aid credits (grants, loans, or outside scholarships). Do not include any payments at this time. Divide the resulting number by two, and then add in any payments you have made. This calculation will result in either a positive or negative number. If you calculate a positive number, assuming you have accounted for everything properly, the result will be the amount of your cash advance echeck for the semester. If you calculate a negative number, you do not have enough financial aid credits to make you eligible for a cash advance echeck. Instead, this negative number is what you need to pay to your ebill.

Please note that your first and second semester cash advance echecks could be different, depending on other credits and charges that you incur during the academic year.

You can download our Cash Advance Calculation Worksheet to help you calculate the amount of your personal cash advance check. This worksheet is intended to be used as a guide in determining a reasonably good estimate of the amount of your cash advance check. However, there are many variables that could potentially affect the final amount of your advance check. We cannot guarantee that the echeck you actually receive will always exactly match your calculation. While we have tried to take as many variables into account as possible when designing the worksheet, it will not be exact in every individual case. In addition to helping you calculate your own cash advance, we have prepared a few Sample Cash Advance Calculations to illustrate this calculation process.

How do I budget my cash advance check?

When you receive your cash advance echeck, you will need to budget this money for the semester. One semester, for financial aid purposes, is equal to four and one-half months (Sept. - Jan. 15 = Sem. I and Jan 16 to May 30 = Sem. II ). To budget your cash advance, you will first need to subtract any rent payments that need to be paid on a monthly basis from the echeck amount, unless you live in a dorm (since in most cases dormitory charges have already been listed on the ebill). The remaining money should be divided by 4.5, giving you the amount you have to live on per month for the next 4.5 months. If you are eligible for a cash advance or refund, you will receive one direct deposit each semester; in September (for fall semester) and in late December (for spring semester). We have prepared some Sample Cash Advance Calculations that illustrate a variety of different scenarios and their respective budgeting implications.

Is there anything else I need to know about this process?

Please keep in mind the following:

  • Cash advances and refunds appear as a charge on your ebilling account. The charge will be repaid once the loans and/or grant assistance are actually disbursed to your account.
  • Any cash release MUST be used for education-related expenses only.
  • You have 10 business days from the date of the echeck to contact Student Financial Services if you feel that there has been an error in our calculated amount. After 10 business days we will assume that you agree with the amount given to you and any unreported errors or errors identified at a later date will be the responsibility of you, the student, to repay.
Last modified: October 29, 2014

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