How to Get Your CFA Exam Fees Refunded, and Your Options If You Don’t Qualify For One

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How to get your CFA exam fees refunded

By Zee Tan

‘How to get a CFA exam fee refund’ has never really been a frequently asked question, but this is 2020.

As a result of the pandemic this year, CFA Institute has postponed the June 2020 CFA exams to December 2020 – and even that has a lot of uncertainty around it right now.

Among all this uncertainty, some candidates may be thinking about getting a refund

The refund policies around the CFA exams have not really been a big focus historically, and in the face of the pandemic they have undergone quite a few changes. In this article, we’ll go through the refund options available to candidates – which can be different depending on individual circumstances.

How to get a CFA exam fee refund immediately after registering

Full refund available up to 14 days after CFA exam registration

If you get buyers remorse immediately after registering for the CFA exams, don’t worry – CFA Institute does allow refunds. But we do mean ‘immediately’ – refunds will only be available within 14 days of payment of your exam registration fees (through 11:59 PM Eastern Time on the 14th day).

If you wish to request a cancellation and refund, you should be able to do this by logging into your CFA Institute candidate account and search for the option under ‘Manage Your Exam’.

Some additional terms apply to all refund requests:

  • FX differences apply. Due to fluctuating exchange rates, CFA Institute cannot guarantee the exact amount paid to CFA Institute will be the amount returned in currency other than US currency.
  • After 14 days, no refunds in any circumstances. After the refund 14-day period has ended, enrolment and registration fees are nonrefundable, even in the event of a medical condition or other extreme circumstance. Oof.
  • Print curriculum refunds not included. Payments for print curriculum orders are nonrefundable once the order has been placed. This one I get – CFA Institute ain’t Amazon, they are unlikely to have the logistical capacity to process print curriculum returns.

CFA exam postponed? Here’s how to get your refund

CFA exam postponed? Here's how to get your refund

CFA Institute initially refused to hand out refunds when they first announced the postponement of the Jun20 exams. This was eventually changed so that a refund would be offered, under specific circumstances.

Here are the key terms and requirements about this ‘postponement refund’:

  • You need two cancellations or postponements by CFA Institute. Your CFA exams have to have been postponed or cancelled twice already.
  • No refunds from any materials you’ve bought. This includes CFA Institute print curriculum.
  • Do you get your enrollment fee refunded? Maybe. Originally, CFA Institute explicitly stated that enrollment fees will not be refunded, but their official statement has now changed to ‘all fees paid with your original registration…will be refunded’. We would interpret that to mean that if you paid your enrollment fee with your original registration, it will be refunded.

How to request a postponement refund from CFA Institute

  • Request your refund soon after the Dec20 exam. For candidates that have already been postponed from Jun20 and subsequently Dec20, refund requests will be accepted between 7 December and 21 December 2020.
  • Refunds can take up to 120 days. CFA Institute has stated that it expects refunds to potentially take up to 120 days from date of request.
  • CFA Institute will follow up with specific instructions on refunds. Refund instructions will be provided at the time your scheduled exam is again postponed.

Are there any other options other than a refund?

Can't get refund? Here are some other options

If for any reason you’re not going to be attending the CFA exam you registered for, and if you don’t want or don’t qualify for a refund, there are two other options:

Deferral to the next available exam

Deferrals to the next available exam are considered by CFA Institute on a case-by-case basis, and only in the event of one of the following, impacting the candidate or a member of his/her immediate family:

  • life-threatening illness (candidate or immediate family member) in the exam window
  • death of a candidate’s immediate family member
  • mandatory military service (candidate only) in the exam window
  • pregnancy (candidate only)
  • natural disaster or government travel restriction (candidate’s local area) that prevents the candidate from attending the exam

The candidate’s ‘immediate family’ is defined as the candidate’s parent, grandparent, sibling, spouse/domestic partner, or child. Deferral requests must be received by CFA Institute prior to or within 10 US business days after the exam window. Decisions on deferrals are final and are at the sole discretion of CFA Institute.

​Candidates awarded a deferral are responsible for all applicable new curriculum charges – so while you do ‘save’ on your exam fee, you’ll have to cough up again if you need new curriculum or materials.

Withdrawal from the CFA exam

CFA Institute also offers a withdrawal option. A refund or a deferral would be preferable in every scenario, since with a withdrawal you don’t get your money back, nor do you get to postpone your exam.

A withdrawal option is available until 5 days before the exam date or the start of your exam window. You can withdraw if you wish to re-register for the next exam without waiting for the results of the current exam to be released – but then, it would make more sense to apply for a deferral.

A withdrawal would therefore only make sense, in our opinion, if you wanted to defer your exam to the next exam cycle, but for some reason do not qualify for a deferral.


What are other candidates thinking?

To help make your decision, it can sometimes help to see what everyone else is thinking. Just drop your answers in the polls below and view our poll results:
What are other CFA candidates thinking?

Are you considering a refund, deferral or withdrawal from the CFA exams?

Considering refund, I think I qualify
Considering refund, but don’t think I qualify
Considering deferral, I think I qualify
Considering deferral, but I don’t think I qualify
Considering withdrawal
Nope, bring it on!
Other
Please Specify:

Why are you considering a refund, deferral or withdrawal from the CFA exams?

COVID-19 related exam schedule uncertainty
COVID-19 related health concerns – i.e. I don’t feel safe attending
Other personal circumstances
Other
Please Specify:

Hope this guide helps outline the options available to you if your current CFA exam schedule is not working out for you.

​If you have any specific questions, just drop them in the comments below and we’ll answer!

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44 thoughts on “How to Get Your CFA Exam Fees Refunded, and Your Options If You Don’t Qualify For One”

  1. Hey, I am a twice impacted candidate and have applied for the refund. However, so far, I have just received an acknowledgement email from the institute about my request and I cannot find any forms to fill regarding my bank details. Do they automatically refund to the accoutn with which I paid originally? Because that bank account has been closed now. Also what happens incase they don’t accept my refund request, do I still get an option to defer the exam at no cost?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure about the case of your closed bank account. If I had to guess, I would say the transfer would be rejected and CFA Institute would be in touch when that happens, but best to check with them at info@cfainstitute.org. If they don’t accept your refund request they should allow you to defer the exam.

      Reply
  2. Hi, I’m trying to reschedule my exam from August to November. But unfortunately there is no possible way i could make this change.
    Due to covid positive i’m not well prepared for it as lost that pace. I even mailed cfa but no response. Can you help me Please?

    Reply
    • There won’t be a way to reschedule your exam to November unless you test positive within 60 days of your exam. I would suggest testing yourself for Covid again within 60 days and if you test positive, you can request that your exam be postponed by contacting CFA Institute via email and/or phone. I’m not sure if you would get Nov’21 as a choice though, it might have to be Feb’22.

      Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!

      Reply
      • Hi
        I have recently tested positive for covid 19. And my exam is scheduled on July 22. I have written mails to CFA but haven’t received any reply from them yet. I don’t know what to do. I might test negative before the exam, but I don’t think I would be in a condition to travel and give my exam, hence I have requested for deferral. If they don’t reply before the exam, should I go and attempt it anyway. I don’t want to loose the entire fee and not even attempt the exam.

        Reply
  3. I just want to share my experience of getting refund from CFA Institute. I enrolled in November 2021 level 1 CFA exam in April and after 5 days I wanted to cancel my admission and get my money back so I wrote a mail to them about refund because they have a policy to give full refund if you request within 14 days of payment so they took around 25 days to reply my mail due to high traffic of enquiries and after 2 – 3 days of that they initiated the refund and it took 15 days to credit into my account.
    So the bottom line is if you are in 14 days refund policy just write a mail to them and give proper bank details to them they are very reputed so they cooperate well and reply you within a month and after that it may take 20 days to reflect into your bank account.

    Reply
  4. Does the twice-impacted period need to be consecutive attempts?
    My June 20 exam got cancelled, however in August I deferred my Dec 20 exam to the May 21 exam. Now my May 21 exam is cancelled by CFA Institute.

    Reply
    • It’s not clear. On one hand, you have been postponed for the same exam by CFA Institute twice. On the other hand, their terms state that after you defer “you will forfeit your right to request a refund” so that might mean the ‘twice-impacted’ counter resets again.

      I’d wait for a bit and see what refunds policy CFA Institute announces (if at all). So far they’ve not officially mentioned refunds for the May 2021 exam postponements and cancellations.

      Reply
    • Hi Miranda, based on our understanding of CFA Institute’s refund policy, if you’re registering for a new exam in 2021 (whether it is L1, L2 or L3), you can request for a full refund of your enrollment fees (if applicable) and registration fees within 14 days of payment.

      So assuming you’re talking about a new L2 registration, you should be able to request for a full refund within 14 days of payment of the registration fees. Do contact CFA Institute right away if this is the case.

      Reply
  5. Hi,
    I was originally enrolled for June 2020 exam, then postponed to December 2020 due to Covid, that in turn postponed to May 2021 also due to Covid. Being twice impacted by Covid, can i have access to refund or it is need that also May 2021 exam will be postponed?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Laura, when you were twice postponed in Dec20, you should have received an email that directed you to request for a refund after the Dec20 exams. Now that that window to apply for Dec20 refund has passed, you will have to experience another postponement of May21 before you’re eligible again.

      Reply
      • Hi Sophie,

        I was postponed in June 20 and my new date on May 21 has been postponed again.. but within the same month on May 21. Would such type of postponement allow me to be eligible for a refund?

        Best
        CW

        Reply
  6. My exam was postponed in June 2020 and again in December 2020. I never intended to request a refund (I know window was December 7 to 21). Now when I am registering for August 2021 exam I don’t see any credit in my account and it requires to pay fee of USD 1000 up until final payment window.
    Any idea?

    Reply
  7. Hi, I’m trying to withdraw from CFA level 1 exam in July and register again for August
    I have been trying to figure out how to withdraw but I didn’t manage to find anything on this at CFAI website.
    Pls help

    Reply
    • Hi Ghaida, fret not. We have just covered CFA Institute’s rescheduling policy this week.

      Basically, the deadline to withdraw is latest 5 days before the beginning of your July exam window. If you withdraw past the deadline, you cannot re-register in time for August. Note that withdrawing means forfeiting your fees and repaying them again for August registration. Hope this helps!

      Reply
        • Hi Will, it depends on your circumstances. The policy is that all fees paid with your original registration will be refunded.

          So if you are a first time L1 candidate, this includes enrollment fees too. Otherwise (i.e. if you’re a second time L1, or L2 or L3 candidate), the refund will be just registration fee if you’re twice postponed.

          Reply
    • Hi Nhan Dinh, which exam are you requesting a refund for? Dec20’s deadline has passed, and if it is Feb21 exams, you need to wait until they announced the exact procedure in about 2 weeks time.

      Reply
      • oh, thank you so much. I applied for Aug21 exams.
        CFA Institute stipulates that “a full refund of your enrollment and registration fees is available within fourteen (14) days of payment”. I made the payment on Feb.7th. I sent email to info@cfainstitute.org to request a refund on Feb. 16th. From the 16th to now, every day I sent email to this email address but no reply 🙁

        Reply
        • You should be fine then, since you’re within the rules. Do keep records of your email requests to cancel and may be worth informing your bank/credit card company of this as well. May need to wait for a week or so to see if CFAI customer service team can get back to you since they are swamped.

          Reply
          • Thank you very much for your information, it’s really helpful.
            Have you a nice week ahead! 🙂

        • Did you got your refund if yes, then how long time it has taken to get your full amount refunded.

          Reply
  8. Hi,
    I deferred my February exam to August. But after completing registration process, I cancelled the exam instead of scheduling a date. It also said that 14 day window period is there for refund after opting to cancel the exam. Can anyone please help with this? Do I qualify for a refund or I’ll be completely withdraw from the exam?

    Reply
  9. What if my initial enrolment was for Dec20 exams and now i have opted for a deferment to feb exam? Will I be eligible for a refund if Feb exam gets cancelled?

    Reply
    • Hi Mukul, it’s a good question as the current refund policy is not clear on that.

      We have reached out directly to CFA Institute and they said: “As of today, nothing has changed for February and therefore we cannot answer your question.”

      So, we interpret this to mean that they have yet to make a decision on this front, and will probably announce something soon in a few weeks. Hope this helps, for now!

      Reply
    • Hi Mukul, CFA Institute just announced a new policy in your favor:

      TWICE IMPACTED CANDIDATES: Any February 2021 candidate whose exam appointment is cancelled due to COVID will be entitled to a refund if this is the second time their exam was postponed. You will be contacted with more information after the February testing window is completed

      Reply
  10. CFA Institute Vivek Varyani, Thank you for your CFA® Program Access Scholarship application submission. Unfortunately, your scholarship application was not selected for award. We encourage you to continue to pursue your CFA® Program goals and to support you in your efforts, we would like to offer you the early exam registration fee for your next exam registration. Your pricing discount will be available to redeem approximately three weeks from the date of receipt of this email and will expire on 30 June 2021. To receive this pricing, you must register during this time period. Please refer to the exam fees and important dates webpages for detailed information. Good luck in your pursuit of the CFA designation. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Best regards, CFA Institute Global Scholarships Administration

    Reply

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