All qualified students pursuing a master’s degree at the Humphrey School are eligible for financial aid in the form of federal loans up to the total estimated cost of attendance (COA) minus any other scholarships, grants, or other funding. Eligibility for need based aid is determined through the submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the University’s OneStop Student Services Office. Generally, graduate students are considered financially independent by the federal government, which means financial need will be assessed by the student’s personal financial information (and spouse if married) and will not include parental financial information. Please note: US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for federal loan programs in most cases; non-US citizens do not qualify.
Most students pursuing an advanced degree will likely utilize loans for part (if not all) of the financing for his/her degree program. The majority of loan types available for graduate students are offered by the federal government. Admitted students who have submitted the FAFSA will be awarded the best possible combination of federal and University loans at the maximum amounts. Students are NOT required to accept the entire amount awarded. Students are encouraged to review their personal budgets and only accept the amount of loans that are absolutely necessary.
Direct Loan Program
The largest federal student loan program offered by the U.S. Department of Education, there are two types of Direct Loans graduate students may be eligible for:
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans – Eligible students may borrow up to $20,500 per school year. No credit check is necessary for eligibility.
- Direct PLUS Loans – Eligible graduate students who need to borrow more than the maximum unsubsidized loan amounts to meet their education costs may apply for a PLUS loan. Essentially, it covers the difference between the Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the estimated cost of attendance, if there is a gap. A credit check will be performed during the application process1.
1 Adverse credit is when at least one of the following is on the Grad PLUS Loan applicant’s credit report: Currently 90 days or more delinquent on repayment of any debt; debt has been discharged in bankruptcy during the past 5 years; Evidence of a default, foreclosure, tax lien, repossession, wage garnishment, or write-off of a Title IV debt during the past 5-years.
Some students, especially those who are not eligible for federal loans, may utilize private loans as a way to supplement their financial support. The most notable differences between federal and private loan options are in the costs/fees, interest rates, and repayment options. We encourage students to explore loan offerings from different sources to determine the best options. Please note: Students who seek out private loan options for educational expenses may not take out more than the maximum estimated COA as determined by their program.
Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program is designed to help students meet educational costs through part-time employment with a work-study eligible employer with the University. There are two primary benefits to students: 1) up to 70% of their work-study salary is subsidized, an incentive for employers to hire work-study applicants, and; 2) work-study earnings are not included as income in the following year’s financial aid need calculation, protecting the student’s future grant eligibility. Please note: Graduate students are only considered and awarded work-study upon request if they have need-based eligibility and will be enrolled at least half time
Basic Steps to Receiving Federal Financial Aid
- Apply for financial aid – Every student, regardless of the family’s financial status, should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at https://fafsa.ed.gov/ after January 1 each year. Please use University of Minnesota FAFSA code: 003969. Students are encouraged to submit their FAFSA as early as possible, but must be formally admitted to their degree program to complete steps 2-6.
- Complete additional requirements – If your record is missing information, or if you are selected for detailed file review (called “verification”), all requested documents must be submitted before your financial aid will be awarded.
- Financial aid under review – Your FAFSA results will remain at step 3 until tuition and fees are approved and cost of attendance for the new year is finalized in mid-July. Once the review process is completed, you will be offered financial aid awards that are as favorable as possible for your eligibility.
- Complete the FAAN (Financial Aid Award Notice) – Review, accept, reduce, or decline the awards offered via Financial Aid Status website.
- Complete loan documents – Complete any necessary promissory notes, any required entrance counseling, or truth-in-lending documents in a timely manner.
- Disbursement of funds – This is the process by which financial aid funds are transferred into your account after all required documents have been processed, necessary action taken, and you have registered for classes.