Payment Policies

Obligation for Payment

Enrollment constitutes a financial contract between a student and the San Francisco Art Institute. The student’s rights to services and benefits are contingent upon making all payments as agreed upon. If payments of amounts owed to SFAI are not made when they become due, SFAI will administratively withdraw the student for the current term by the add & drop deadline, and withhold their diplomas and scholastic certificates. Failure to maintain good financial standing with SFAI will result in denied participation in any deferred payment plans and/or some forms of financial aid. In addition, balances due to SFAI are reported by our collection agencies, which may impact the student’s credit ratings.

CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)

Administered by the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (or CARES Act) HEERF funding is government aid to help ensure learning continues for students who have been affected by the COVID-19 global outbreak. Universities received a designated amount, decided by the government, with a specific amount to allocate for student use and a specific amount for institutional use in support of student learning. For more information on CARES Act Relief, visit:

SFAI CARES Act Reporting

The law requires institutions to report certain information related to the use of these funds. The following information is reported for the period up to December 31, 2020.

  1. SFAI has signed and returned to the DOE the required Certification and Agreement for the CARES Act funding. Additionally, fifty percent of the funds received from the CARES Act are being awarded to students as Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. 
  2. As of December 31, 2020, SFAI received $500,000 from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund for Student Aid, the Institutional Portion, and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) under the CARES Act. 
  3. As of December 31, 2020, SFAI has distributed to students, in the form of Emergency Financial Aid Grants, $141,583.
  4. The estimated total number of students at SFAI eligible to participate in the programs under Section 484 in the Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants during the Spring and Summer 2020 semesters was 221 students.
  5. As of December 31, 2020, 58 students had received Emergency Financial Aid Grants.
  6. SFAI considered eligible students to be students who met the following qualifications:
    1. Have completed a valid FAFSA for current year;
    2. Were enrolled at least half time for Spring 2020 or Summer 2020 semester in a residential program;
    3. Submitted a Financial Aid Appeal with current mailing address explaining how COVID-19 has financially affected them and provide an itemized budget for immediate basic needs (housing, food, technology, medical expenses, supplies.) 
    4. Submitted the Financial Aid Appeal by deadline of June 1, 2020.
    5. Incomplete FA Appeals are not eligible for awards.
  7. Students were notified of the above qualifications and application instructions through email and Zoom meetings scheduled by the SFAI Student Alliance.

Initially, Spring 2020 students were approved for up to $1,500 of CARES Act Emergency Relief funds. After June 15, 2020 all previously eligible recipients during the Spring 2020 semester were given a 2nd distribution of CARES Act Emergency Relief funds for a total of $2,442 per student.  All remaining CARES Act Emergency Relief funds were distributed equally to students who filed Financial Appeals for the Summer 2020 semester of $2,415.50 per student.

As of June 30, 2020, all funds for student Emergency Financial Aid grants had been fully spent.

As of September 30, 2020, SFAI had used the full $141,583 of the Institutional portion to transition to online learning by providing training to faculty, staff and students and purchasing software and equipment to facilitate the transition to online learning. SFAI also used $54,209 of the FIPSE portion for faculty and staff costs associated with teaching and serving students in an online learning environment.

As of December 31, 2020, SFAI had used another $162,625 of the FIPSE portion for faculty and staff costs associated with teaching and serving students in an online learning environment, for a total of $216,834 FIPSE funds.

Updated: December 31, 2020

Click here for SFAI’s Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Report the quarter ending 09/30/20.

Click here for SFAI’s Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Report the quarter ending 12/31/20.

Holds on Student Accounts

Prior to registering for a new term, a student must pay any outstanding balances from any preceding terms. If the student does not pay their outstanding balances or make payment arrangements satisfactory to SFAI, they will not be permitted to register.

Tuition and Fees

For more information on current tuition and fees, please visit the Tuition + Fees page.


New and Continuing Degree-Seeking Students

  • Tuition and fees for the Summer semester are due May 31.
  • Tuition and fees for the Fall semester are due August 1.
  • Tuition and fees for the Spring semester are due December 15.

Your semester balance must be paid in full by this date unless covered by financial aid, or unless you have set up a payment plan with the Student Accounts Office.

Students who enroll in classes after these deadlines must satisfy their balance by the last day of Add/Drop. Failure to do so may result in being administratively withdrawn.

Non-Degree Students

Tuition and fees are due in full at the time of registration. Payment may be made in the Student Accounts Office by cash, check, or credit card.

Tuition and fees for any class that is scheduled outside the first day of the regular semester session (i.e., travel classes such as Faculty-Led Programs) will be due according to specified due dates.

Faculty-Led Programs

The cost of off-campus Faculty-Led Programs is three units (more where applicable) of per-unit tuition costs, along with program course fees that vary by program.

Program course fees are charged to a student’s account at the time of registration and are due in full by the date noted on the individual program’s literature. All fees must be paid before departure. All deposits and fees for Faculty-Led Programs are nonrefundable.

Payment Plans

We offer alternative options for payment that must be chosen prior to the tuition due date. Tuition payment plans are only in effect for the current term, and must be renewed each semester.

Full Payment Option
This payment option requires one payment after deducting financial aid.

Monthly Payment Option
This payment option divides tuition, after deducting financial aid, into four monthly installments due on the first day of each month. Monthly payment plans are only available to students enrolled in six units or more per semester that are in good financial standing. Students who enroll in less than six units must pay in full at registration.

Methods of Payment

  • Tuition payments may be made by cash, check, credit card (VISA, MasterCard, or American Express), debit card, ACH, wire transfer, or bank draft payable to “San Francisco Art Institute.” Please include the student name on any payment.
  • Monthly payments may also be charged to a debit card, VISA, MasterCard, or American Express by installment plan and will be automatically charged on the first of each month.
  • Students may pay online via WebAdvisor; by phone by calling the Student Accounts/Cashier’s Office; or by mail.


  • An administrative fee of $25 per semester will be charged for students selecting the monthly payment plan.
  • A $50 fee will be charged for returned checks.
  • Late fees of $25 per month will be charged for all delinquent payments received after the 15th of the month.


  • Interest will be charged at the rate of 0.83% per month on the outstanding balance after the published tuition payment due date.

Financial Aid Appeal

Financial Appeals Committee Process + Guidelines

When students enroll at SFAI, they are aware of the costs they will incur and the institutional and other aid (Pell, SEOG, federal loans) available to them. Before enrolling, students should understand their financial obligations for the duration of their degree program.

A student who can document that extenuating life circumstances or changes adversely affected the ability to pay tuition for a specific academic year can file a financial appeal with the Financial Appeals Committee.

Students may only submit one appeal per academic year. No appeals will be reviewed from students who have submitted appeals within the current academic year.

Appeals are based on the following extenuating / unforeseen circumstances:

  • Death of an immediate family member which demonstrably impacts a student’s ability to pay tuition
  • Student required to take care of ill or disabled family member (student must provide documentation of illness or disability and need for continuing care)
  • Medical conditions that prevent the student from meeting financial obligation to the school
  • Involuntary change in employment or income beyond the student’s control (including changes in parent’s employment or financial status if parent is supporting student)

Tuition appeals will NOT be approved in the following instances:

  • Lack of knowledge or misinterpretation of SFAI policies and procedures as published in the Course Schedule, Student Handbook, and on the SFAI website
  • Student’s errors in judgment or irresponsibility involving availability of finances, academic ability, or time management
  • Dissatisfaction with course content or delivery of instruction
  • Dissatisfaction with academic progress in course
  • Appeals of non-refundable fees
  • Loss of financial aid, grants or scholarships due to lack of satisfactory academic progress (SAP). Please refer to the SAP guidelines for appeal.
  • Non-receipt of mail or email due to obsolete address on file with the registrar or financial aid
  • Student errors resulting in the delay of administrative processes relative to registration or delivery of financial aid funds
  • Voluntary acceptance of employment or other activity impacting ability to attend class
  • If you are awarded up to Financial Aid cost of attendance (please check with the financial aid office if you are unsure)

Process to Submit an Appeal

Students must submit the following information via email to

  1. Appeal letter outlining your circumstances
  2. Appeal Form
  3. Appropriate additional documentation

If no supporting documentation is provided or the form is incomplete, an appeal will not be reviewed.

Upon receiving an appeal, the Financial Appeals Committee conducts a review. A response will be provided to the student within 15 business days of receipt of the appeal. The decision of the Financial Appeals Committee is final in all cases.


Dropped Classes by Degree and Non-degree Students

Full tuition refunds for dropped classes are given only during the add/drop period in the first two weeks of the fall and spring semester, or during the stated add/drop period for courses that occur outside of the regular semester schedule. (View the academic calendar.) The add/drop date for intensive courses is the first day of class.

No refund is given for withdrawals after the add/drop period. No refund is given for withdrawals after the add/drop period. If a student decides to withdraw from classes, it is the student’s responsibility to notify all of the required offices and to complete a withdrawal form.


Complete Withdrawals by Degree and Non-degree Students

If a student takes a hiatus or withdraws from SFAI prior to the beginning of the term through the end of the add/drop period, 100 percent of tuition can be refunded, provided a student submits official notification to SFAI. Withdrawals must be filed in writing with the Office of Registration and Records by obtaining a withdrawal form and following SFAI’s withdrawal procedures as outlined in the Student Handbook. It is the student’s responsibility to complete and submit the withdrawal form as soon as they decide they will withdraw from SFAI. Students who fail to do so, will be responsible for the tuition and fees associated with their course registration.

Non-refundable items such as the application fee, tuition deposit, or housing deposit will not be refunded.

After the end of the add/drop period, no refunds are offered. Note that no credit is made for temporary absence, nor for students who are suspended, dismissed, or leave SFAI without formally withdrawing.

Appeals - Tuition Credits / Extraordinary Circumstances

If a student withdraws due to extraordinary, unforeseen circumstances, that student may petition the Financial Appeals Committee for partial tuition credit towards a future semester’s tuition. Such requests are granted at the committee’s discretion, which is based on the student's provided documentation.

Should a credit be granted, it remains on a student’s account for one calendar year and is calculated according to the following general guidelines:

  • Approved requests after the add/drop period through week 7 of the semester: 40 percent tuition credit*
  • Approved requests at weeks 8–10 of the semester: 25 percent tuition credit*
  • After week 10: No tuition credit is issued

*Tuition Credit based on actual tuition paid by student after applicable SFAI Scholarships/Grants

Tuition Credit granted will first be applied to any remaining balance on a student’s account. Recipients of Federal financial aid are subject to the Title IV Return of Funds Policy; students should consult the Financial Aid Office to understand the individual implications of withdrawing from SFAI.


Title IV Return of Funds Policy

Dispersed Federal Funds Owed by Student to Lenders: The Institute is required, per the Title IV Return of Funds Policy, to return any unused portion of federal financial aid for students who withdraw from the college before 60 percent of the semester is completed.

Students are required to repay these funds to the Institute and will be billed accordingly.

Students should consult with SFAI’s Financial Aid Office on these matters.


Repayment Policy for Financial Aid Recipients

The Higher Education Act Amendments of 2008 require SFAI and a withdrawing student to return any unearned federal aid funds (grants or loans). The Financial Aid Office will calculate earned financial aid upon receipt of a completed Withdrawal Form. Students may be required to repay some or all of aid refunds received prior to withdrawal. The Financial Aid Office will answer questions about the impact of withdrawing on financial aid eligibility.

Students who are awarded financial aid and receive a refund because their aid exceeds their tuition charges, and who then subsequently drop classes, may be required to repay some or all of the refund back to SFAI. It is strongly advised that financial aid recipients considering a reduction in course load consult with the Financial Aid Office before dropping classes.


Canceled Classes

SFAI will provide full tuition refunds and refunds of any related fees, if applicable, for classes that are canceled.

International Payments

Appeals Process for Student Accounts

Any alleged discrepancy or error on a student’s account must be reported in writing to the Student Accounts Office, prior to the end of the semester in question.

Within 20 calendar days of receiving such a report, the Student Accounts Office will submit a written recommendation for resolution of the discrepancy or error to the Finance Director and to the student. If there is a continued dispute, within 10 calendar days the student may submit additional information or comment to the Finance Director. The written decision of the Finance Director will be communicated to the student and will be final.