CFA Refund and Withdrawal Policy, Clearly Explained

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‘How to get a CFA exam refund’ has never really been a frequently asked question, but then the pandemic happened.

With so many uncertainty and exam postponements, CFA Institute had to adapt and the CFA exams had gone through a huge variety of changes just in 2020 alone.

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

The CFA refund policy 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 refund immediately after registering

Full refund available up to 14 days after CFA exam registration

If you get buyers remorse immediately after initially 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).
  • To clarify, an initial registration here excludes a registration made to reschedule an exam sitting that was either deferred by the candidate or postponed by CFA Institute.

So, if you wish to cancel CFA exam and request for a 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’.

If you fulfil these conditions, you’re entitled a full refund of your enrollment fee, registration fee, and any other sales tax payable. 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, enrollment and registration fees are non-refundable, even in the event of a medical condition or other extreme circumstance. Ouch.
  • 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 June 2020 exams. This was eventually changed so that a refund would be offered, under specific circumstances.

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

  • You need 2 cancellations or postponements by CFA Institute due to COVID-19. 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? Yes. Originally, CFA Institute explicitly stated that enrollment fees will not be refunded, but now their official statement has changed to ‘all fees paid with your original registration will be refunded’.
  • However, if your registration was twice cancelled due to COVID-19, and you exercise the complimentary deferral in your account for a 2022 exam, that means you will forfeit your right to request a refund.

How to request a postponement refund from CFA Institute

  • CFA Institute will contact you on your options (including refund). Fret not, CFA Institute has since polished its process for exam cancellations and will contact you directly on your options after an exam cancellation/postponement announcement.
  • 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, depending on your circumstances.

There are ‘standard’ and ‘non standard’ reasons for a deferral, some of which require documentation to proof it. There is no CFA sick policy per se (except COVID-19), please check out the latest CFA deferral policy for full details.

But in short, you may be able to – if applicable to you – use the 3 ‘non standard’ reasons (COVID-19 exposure, flu-like symptoms, travel restrictions) for deferral, which does not require documentation to proof it.

But this route has some risks to it.

As you can imagine, this route may be abused and there are risks to it that CFA Institute is aware of and actively discouraging:

  • If someone reports to CFA Institute that you are using this non-standard deferral route fraudulently, it may be reviewed by the Professional Conduct Program (PCP).
  • ‘Non standard’ deferrals can only defer to a future exam window that is at least 9 months from your current one. Those who defer under ‘standard’ deferral
  • Most importantly, starting from Feb 2022, there is a limit to 1 deferral request every 12 months due to these 3 reasons (COVID-19 exposure, flu-like symptoms or travel restrictions). All subsequent requests linked to the initial paid registration will be declined.

Withdrawal from the CFA exam

CFA Institute also offers a withdrawal option for all 3 levels of the CFA exam.

A CFA Institute 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 start of your exam window (not exam date itself!).

You can withdraw if you wish to re-register for the next exam without waiting for the current exam results to be released – but then, it would make more sense to apply for a deferral, if possible.

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.


Phew, hope the above clarifies the issue and lay out your options if you are exploring CFA refund options.

Meanwhile, here are some related articles which may be of interest:

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59 thoughts on “CFA Refund and Withdrawal Policy, Clearly Explained”

  1. I have enrolled for the Feb 2022 exam on 26 October 2021 but now don’t want to give the exam and cancel it. Will I would be eligible for the refund for whole amount if I write a mail within 14 days of registration ?

    Reply
  2. Hello, my name is Michele. I was impacte twice my exam on Jun and dec 20. At the time I chose to postponed (I thought in august it would be so much better) , but as you know pandemic is still going on in Perú and vacciantion is running too slow. I am trying to ask cfa to refund for many times. I do not feel safe to take the exam. My exam is next week. Please see all my e-mails. I think CFA should respect the candidate’s will. It is a meter of mental anf phisical health. We are facing an extemilly situation so being flexible is demande. I am not vaccinated and do not want to pay the risk in assisting for the exam.

    Reply
    • Unfortunately from what we hear from candidates CFA Institute have not been terribly sympathetic towards situations like yourself. You could try calling them up and speaking to them directly – some candidates have had some luck over the phone. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

      Reply
  3. Hey i am twice impacted candidate due to this COVID and i have rescheduled my exam for 31st aug but now because of some covid symptoms i might not be able to attend the exam on 31st aug. what shall i do? Will i be able to get refund? Please help me out

    Reply
  4. HI Zee, I am CFA level 2 candidate, my exam was postponed multiple time from June 2020 to Dec 2020 to May 2021 and now it is in Nov 2021, It is not convenient for me to appear for the exam in Nov 2021. I had to register for the exam in order comply with the registration deadline date. I can see the option which says you may cancel the registration by 3rd August and get a full refund. My question is since I am a postponed candidate I had paid Zero fees while registering for Nov 2021 exam but I had paid full amount for the exam in 2020 so will I get a zero refund or will I get my full amount. Please revert, None of the CFA help line numbers or email are working, I have tried multiple times but with no luck, YOur earliest reply would help, thank you very much, best wishes, S Agarwal

    Reply
    • Hi Sunita

      If you’ve always been postponed by CFA Institute, you should be fully entitled to your refund. However I understand your concern. If you’re not getting any confirmation from CFA Institute by the 3rd Aug deadline and you’re sure you won’t be attending Nov’21, I would proceed with the cancellation and screenshot everything and keep as much evidence of your entitlement to a refund as you can.

      It’ll take a while to process your refund in any case, so it’ll be a long road to getting your money back. ☹️

      Reply
      • Hi Zee Tan. What is the procedure for exam deferral if there is a death in the family? Who do I email and what docs do they need? How soon should I expect a reply?

        Reply
        • My condolences. Write to info@cfainstitute.org explaining your situation. I am not certain what documentation they will need (if any) but I’m assuming a death certificate. If you’re pressed for time, you can then chase up via phone, but always make sure you get the email sent so that you can prove that you’ve already notified them.

          Time to get a reply really varies – we’ve heard of candidates getting their issue resolved in a few days, but others having to wait for more than a month. Hope yours gets resolved fast!

          Reply
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
      • I registered for June 20 which was cancelled due to Covid. Later registered for Dec 20 which was again cancelled. Later I decided to register for Nov-21. However, due to extreme Covid inpact in April May 21 wave, I could not actually think about the studies and focussed on my health.
        Now when I am trying to register for May22 exam, they are asking me to pay the fee again. Is this not unethical? Any options that I can explore? Please suggest

        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
  14. 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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