Graduate Financial Aid
Financial aid for graduate school consists almost entirely of long-term unsubsidized Stafford loans which are payable over ten or more years. Unlike undergraduate financial aid, no institutional need-based grants are available for graduate study. Graduate students are automatically considered “independent” by federal guidelines which means that parental information is not required when the student applies for financial aid (although parents can certainly assist graduate students if they desire). Because need-based grants are not available and because parents are not expected to contribute, the calculated “need” of graduate students is often quite high. As a result, the Stafford loan borrowing limits are higher than for undergraduates: up to $20,500 per academic year.
If you are working while attending graduate school, employers will often help offset educational costs if the courses or program is relevant to the work. You should consult your employer to see if tuition benefits are available. (However, be aware that such benefits are taxable.)
Filling out the FAFSA Form
The primary responsibility for financing a university education lies with the student. All students must annually file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive consideration for financial aid. The purpose of the FAFSA is to determine the financial need of a student and to confirm their eligibility to participate in student aid programs. The information provided in the FAFSA is calculated using uniformed federal needs analysis formula approved by the U.S. Congress. The results, including a student’s expected family contribution (EFC), are released to Rivier University and used by the Financial Aid Office to determine the award. Financial aid is awarded for one academic year at a time; students must reapply annually to receive consideration in subsequent years.
The FAFSA can be completed and submitted to the federal processor electronically via the Internet at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Financial aid filers are urged to complete the FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible. The FAFSA may be filed at the same time that a student applies for admission; however, financial aid is not offered until the student has matriculated into a degree or certificate program.
Federal regulations specify that federal financial aid recipients must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or eligible non-citizens (U.S. permanent residents who have an alien registration card).
Financial aid recipients must:
- Be deemed eligible to participate in financial aid programs, which also means the student must not be in default on any prior Federal Stafford Loans.
- Be accepted and matriculated into a degree or certificate program.
- Be enrolled at least half-time. At the graduate level 9 or more credits is considered full-time, and 5-8 credits is considered half-time. If a student is enrolled for less than 5 credits he/she is not eligible to receive financial aid at the graduate level. Students who maintain a minimum of a half-time enrollment status may only receive financial aid for classes which are required for the degree/ certificate the student is working toward. Students enrolled in a graduate program of study are not eligible to receive financial aid for classes outside of their program; one example would be an undergraduate course.
- Be making satisfactory academic progress, as outlined in the University catalog.
A student’s financial need is the cost of attendance minus the expected family contribution (EFC). Students may not receive financial aid in excess of their cost of attendance. The Financial Aid Office fully acknowledges that due to limited resources, it may not be able to meet a student’s need, but will provide assistance with alternative financing programs.
A student’s financial aid application may be selected for review in a process called verification. Students chosen for verification will be asked to submit additional documentation to the Financial Aid Office. These documents will be used to either confirm or correct information submitted by the student on the FAFSA. Since a student’s financial aid eligibility is based on information provided on the FAFSA, any changes in that data may affect a student’s financial aid award. For this reason, awards will not be finalized until verification has been completed.
Financial Aid Award Revisions
Revisions to a student’s financial aid award are sometimes required. If a student’s financial aid award is adjusted, he or she will receive a revised award letter. The most common reasons for an award change are listed below:
- Enrollment change (student has modified originally planned enrollment pattern; for instance, a student drops a class or classes).
- Updated information provided by the student that results in an EFC change.
- Student is receiving assistance from a source other than Rivier University.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Satisfactory academic progress is required of all students receiving financial aid. Each student is required to make reasonable progress towards completing degree or certificate requirements while maintaining the minimum grade point average required for graduation by the School of Graduate Studies.
Payment of Awards
The Business Office bills all students. Financial aid will appear on the student’s bill. Surplus balances will be refunded per student’s request or the Business Office can hold the money on the student’s account once funds have been received, all financial aid paperwork is complete, and enrollment has been confirmed. (Enrollment verification is performed after the add/drop period for each semester.)
Tuition Payment Plan
Rivier University offers a ten-month, no interest payment plan through Tuition Pay. Further information on this payment plan may be obtained from the University’s Business Office at 897-8214 or by calling Tuition Pay at 1-800-635-0120.
Students may also arrange a payment plan with the University’s Business Office each semester. Under this plan, a student is required to pay one-third immediately and make two more monthly payments of one-third of their total balance. There is a $50 deferral fee per semester.
Students who withdraw from Rivier will have their financial aid adjusted according to the refund policy of the University published in the Rivier University Student Handbook and University Catalog and according to federal regulatory guidelines.
Students wishing to receive financial aid for the summer sessions should contact the Financial Aid Office for instructions and eligibility conditions in April. Please note that if a student has accepted the full $20,500 for the fall and spring semesters, the Financial Aid Office is not able to award any additional funding.
Types of Financial Aid
Students are expected to keep track of their load debt with SALT at www.saltmoney.org. Students can create their own account to keep track of their student load information. Students can find federal loan information at www.nslds.ed.gov.
Direct Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
Unsubsidized Stafford Loans have interest accruing immediately. Students can create their are not required to make interest or principal payments until they cease half-time enrollment or graduate; the interest on an unsubsidized Stafford Loan is a fixed rate capped at 8.25 percent. Graduate students may borrow up to $20,500 per year, if they qualify.
Student Loan and Debt Consolidation
The Financial Aid Office advises caution to students relying on loans for financing graduate education-students should not borrow more than they absolutely need during their studies. If a student currently owes Perkins or Stafford loans for undergraduate studies, repayment can be deferred while the student is in graduate school. (The student must be studying at least half-time). The following are some examples of the monthly amount that must be paid over ten years for certain amounts borrowed (at 8.5%).
Student loans made while a graduate student added to loans made while an undergraduate add up to the student’s total loan debt. To assist in repayment, consolidation is available which will combine all federal loans-graduate and undergraduate Stafford and Perkins loans-into one consolidated loan payment at one combined interest rate. Students can inquire about federal loan consolidation with a member services representative at SALT 1-855-469-2724. Also, the student should check loan provisions at the time of graduation since certain types of professional activity, for example nursing or teaching, may allow for a reduction in the amount of the loan that must be paid back.
Graduate PLUS Loans
The Financial Aid office advises against excessive student borrowing. However, if necessary, graduate PLUS loans are available. Inquire at www.studentloans.gov for details and application procedures.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant) Program provides funds to students who are completing or who plan to complete coursework that is required to begin a career in teaching, and who agree to teach full-time for at least four years:
- As a highly qualified teacher;
- At a school or educational service agency (ESA) servicing low-income students;
- In a high-need field.
Four years of teaching must be completed within eight years after you complete or otherwise cease to be enrolled in the program for which you received a TEACH Grant. This teaching requirement is known as your TEACH Grant service obligation.
To qualify for the TEACH Grant your must have and maintain a 3.25 GPA.