Except for the very wealthy and religious with a vow of poverty, most graduate students qualify for a Stafford Loan. The Federal Stafford Loan Program (formerly: Guaranteed Student Loan Program) provides low-cost loans to help students finance their post-secondary education. The loan is made with an eligible lending institution.
To receive a loan, you must submit a “needs analysis,” be enrolled in a degree program at least half-time, and be making satisfactory academic progress. These loans can be used to pay living expenses as well as tuition and books.
You must reapply for the loan each year. Renewal is dependent upon continued need for aid and maintenance of satisfactory academic progress. Contact Aquinas’s Director of Financial Aid to receive the Department of Education’s free guide to financial assistance programs for students, application forms and information regarding the federal loan program.
A graduate student may borrow up to $18,500 annually (of which $10,000 must be in unsubsidized loans), at a not-to-exceed interest rate of 9 percent, with a maximum cumulative loan of $165,500. There is a fee by the government of up to 4 percent, deducted proportionately from each disbursement of the loan. After a student ceases study or drops below half-time there is a six-month grace period after which you must make minimum monthly repayments of $50, extending over a ten-year repayment period.
If you qualify for a subsidized loan, the federal government pays the commercial lender the interest on the loan while you are in school. If you qualify for an unsubsidized loan, interest will be charged from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. Members of a religious order may not receive a subsidized loan; they may qualify for an unsubsidized loan.
Procedures for Application for Stafford Loans
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which provides financial information regarding the applicant’s resources and is used to determine the student’s financial need. This is sent to the government processors who in turn will send a Student Aid Report (SAR). A copy of the student’s federal income tax return and a completed Budget Plan form will be required for verification. Aquinas Institute’s FAFSA code is G01632.
- Submit the Financial Aid Transcript (FAT) form to the financial aid office of every post-secondary institution attended. This required transcript, completed by each of the attended institutions of higher education, certifies if financial aid was received from that institution, the type and amount of financial aid, and knowledge of other institutions attended.
- The FAFSA application now includes the student’s statement that the funds received under the federal student loan programs will be used only for expenses incurred while attending school. The Department of Education’s processing of the FAFSA now checks to see that a student has complied with Selective Service Requirements.
- Complete and submit the Promissory Note to the Director of Financial Aid.
- Deadlines: For federal aid for a school year, the FAFSA may be submitted to the government after January 1 preceding the school year for which Federal Aid is needed. It is best to submit it by March 1 so that Aquinas’s Director of Financial Aid receives its report from the government, and so the student has the copy of the Student Aid Report (SAR) to submit to Aquinas Institute. Aquinas must receive the signed SAR before federal loans can be processed. The student must submit the SAR to Aquinas by the last day of current enrollment for which aid is needed, or by June 30, whichever is earlier. Loan applications can be processed after registration or pre-registration for a school year.
- Borrowers will need to meet with the Director of Financial Aid to determine eligible loan amounts after other financial aid has been determined, and after the student has determined course load and preliminary registration.
- Before receiving funds, completion of an Entrance Interview with Aquinas’ Director of Financial Aid is required, in which student rights and obligations regarding repayment of the loans are discussed, as well as any changes in requirements. The Federal Stafford program is subject to federal government legislation that requires this Entrance Interview, as well as the Exit Interview, upon the completion of studies at Aquinas Institute.