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!
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
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!

Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan


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

    • 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.

      • 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 to request a refund on Feb. 16th. From the 16th to now, every day I sent email to this email address but no 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.

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

  1. 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?

  2. 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?

    • 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!

    • 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

  3. 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


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