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– FAFSA for Grad School –
The FAFSA for grad school is the most critical instrument for funding your education, and while the phrase may be recognizable, many people are unfamiliar with its meaning. What does the acronym FAFSA stand for? FAFSA is an acronym that stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
What is FAFSA?
The FAFSA is a document that the federal government uses to collect financial information in order to determine which loans and grants you are eligible for. Despite the fact that you are applying for federal help, the procedure is managed by the institution or schools to which you intend to apply.
“It’s the government’s instrument for determining a family’s financial strength,” Sedita explained. “You will only be able to obtain federal funds if you complete the FAFSA.”
For various reasons, federal student aid is the best method to pay for education. To begin, you may be eligible for grants, which are funds provided by the government that you do not have to repay. You must repay any loans you qualify for, although they have reduced interest rates and repayment is not required.
“We try to promote FAFSA first, said Roisin Bettencourt, a team lead on SNHU’s Student Financial Services team. “We would always tell a student to get the better aid through the government first.” FAFSA for grad school.
Who’s Considered a Graduate School Student?
“Someone who is pursuing a degree beyond a bachelor’s is considered a graduate student,” Kantrowitz said.
For example: “Once you receive a bachelor’s degree, you are no longer eligible for Pell Grant, which is available to undergraduate students.” The only time a Pell Grant would be available is if a student enrolls in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program.
Everything from a master’s or doctorate/Ph.D. to professional programs, such as law and medical school, are considered graduate studies.
It can get a bit tricky if someone is doing a joint undergraduate/graduate program. Some schools consider you a graduate student as soon as you start taking graduate-level classes, according to Kantrowitz.
Also, if you go on to get a second bachelor’s degree, you could be considered a graduate student when it comes to receiving financial aid. This is determined on an individual basis, so it’s best to talk to your school about these unique scenarios.
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Types of Grants and Loans
Now that you have a financial aid package offer, it’s important to understand what exactly you’re being offered.
A federal grant, such as the Pell Grant, is money that you can spend to further your education without having to repay the government. The maximum Pell Grant for the 2023-21 grant year is $6,345, but your actual award will be determined by your EFC, the cost of your school, and other variables.
The government of the United States offers two types of direct loans. Subsidized loans are available depending on financial need, and loan interest does not accrue until you are enrolled in school at least part-time for at least 6 months after you graduate.
Unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need, and interest accrues while you are enrolled.
According to the DOE Federal Student Aid Office, the amount of money you can borrow in subsidized or unsubsidized loans changes depending on what year you are in school and ranges from $5,500 to $12,500 per year.
There are also Direct PLUS Loans, which are available to parents of undergraduate students, or students pursuing a graduate degree.
How the FAFSA Differs for Grad School
Returning to school for a graduate or professional degree is a major decision that an increasing number of people are making. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, around three million students were enrolled in graduate programs in 2023.
Graduate education is costly, yet many students are unaware that financial aid is available. You can fund your degree using grants, assistantships, and work-study programs in addition to loans.
To apply for various types of financial aid, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the same form you used in college. For graduate students, however, the FAFSA works differently. Here’s all you need to know about the FAFSA for graduate school.
Planning for Graduate School
Filling out the FAFSA is an important first step in financing for graduate school if you plan to pursue a master’s or another professional degree.
While the FAFSA for graduate school has slightly different requirements than the FAFSA for undergraduates, it can still help you get grants, work-study programs, and federal student loans.
Apply as soon as possible to ensure that you receive the highest amount of financial aid available. FAFSA for grad school.
Do I Need to File a FAFSA for Grad School?
A master’s degree can help you advance your profession, but you’re probably concerned about the exorbitant cost of graduate school—and rightly so. For full-time graduate students, the average annual cost of tuition and fees is over $20,000.
You may not, however, be required to fund the entire amount on your own. Many folks are unaware of the numerous financial aid options available. However, you must first complete the FAFSA in order to gain access to them.
Taking the time to fill out the form, which takes most people around an hour, might result in significant savings. Take a look at the following statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics:
1. 58% of graduate students receive some form of financial aid
2. 26% of graduate students get grants, averaging $10,400 per student
3. 3% of graduate students get assistantships
4. 41% of graduate students loans qualify for federal student loans
If you skip the FAFSA as a graduate student, you could miss out on valuable financial aid, including gift aid that doesn’t have to be repaid.
How to File a FAFSA for Graduate School
Because the FAFSA for graduate school is an electronic application, you’ll need a computer and internet access to complete it. You may also fill it out on your phone using a mobile app. To file your application, follow these seven steps.
1. Go to www.fsaid.ed.gov to obtain an FSA ID. An FSA ID is your digital signature for the FAFSA.
2. Then go to StudentAid.gov. Be ready with your personal information, driver’s license number, Social Security number and prior year’s tax returns.
3. Choose which FAFSA form you’d like to complete. For example, fill out the 2022-22 FAFSA for grad school if you will be attending school between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023.
4. Next, fill out the demographics section. Information will include your name and date of birth.
5. Fill out the School Selection section. Add every school you’re considering, even if you haven’t applied or received an acceptance letter yet.
6. Fill in your dependency and marital status. If you indicate that you’re an independent student, the application will automatically skip over the “parent demographics” and “parent financials” sections.
Supply your financial information. You can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), which allows you to import your IRS tax information into the FAFSA form with just a few clicks. FAFSA for grad school.
To access the tool, indicate that you’ve “already completed” taxes on the student finances page. If you’re eligible, you’ll see a “LINK TO IRS” button.
If you haven’t completed your taxes, you have two options. One is to answer “not going to file.” You can skip the questions about income tax, exemptions and adjusted gross income. You can also respond, “will file.”
7. Finally, sign and submit your FAFSA form. And with that, you’re done.
How the FAFSA for Grad School Works
The FAFSA for grad school is pretty similar to the FAFSA for undergraduate students. You’ll be required to submit the following information:
1. Your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID
2. Social Security number or Alien Registration Number
3. Account balances for your checking and savings accounts
4. Information about investment accounts
5. Federal income tax returns
6. Records of untaxed income
FAFSA for Graduate School Differs in Key Ways
The FAFSA for graduate school differs in several key ways:
1. Dependency Status
All graduate students are considered independent for financial aid purposes. That means you only have to enter information about your own income and assets, rather than your parents’ information.
2. Aid Options
Graduate students have different loan and aid options than undergraduate students. As a graduate student, you are ineligible for direct subsidized loans.
The only loans you can qualify for are direct unsubsidized and grad PLUS, so you’re responsible for all interest that accrues on your loan. Most grad students are also ineligible for Pell grants, though you may qualify for other types of grant aid.
3. Borrowing Limits
Undergraduate student loans have annual and aggregate borrowing limits. Graduate unsubsidized loans have borrower caps, but grad PLUS Loans have no borrower maximum. You can borrow up to the total school-certified cost of attendance.
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FAFSA Eligibility Requirements for Graduate School Students
As with undergraduate federal financial aid, you must have financial need for most programs, though there is no maximum income cutoff that would make you automatically ineligible.
You must also be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, and be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program.
“The main difference is that when graduate students fill out the FAFSA, they are considered independent,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Savingforcollege.com.
“That means that what they’re awarded will be based on their income and assets, and possibly their spouse’s. For undergraduates, their parents’ income and assets are what are taken into consideration.”
Kantrowitz added that certain intense professional programs — such as medical or law school — can sometimes take parents’ incomes into consideration. It varies by program and school.
There is no age limit when it comes to filing for the FAFSA for graduate school, but there are some eligibility limitations.
“Everyone can apply other than those who have drug-related offenses while receiving previous financial aid,” said Charlie Javice, founder and CEO of Frank, a website helping those seeking educational aid.
Abril Hunt, director of financial aid at Pacific Northwest College of Art, added that those applying cannot be in default on a prior student loan or owe a Pell Grant overpayment to the Department of Education
Financial Aid Options for Grad School
There are several forms of federal financial aid you can receive as a graduate student, based on the information you include on your FAFSA:
‣ Student loans
The government uses the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal student loans, which tend to have lower rates and more repayment options than private student loans for graduate school. FAFSA for grad school.
You may be eligible for federal, state or local grants based on your FAFSA information. Grants are a form of gift aid and don’t need to be repaid.
For federal grants, graduate students pursuing an education degree may be eligible for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant.
Another federal program available to graduate students, the work-study program helps you get a part-time job related to your field to offset your education expenses.
Grad School Loan Limits and Fees
If you’re like most graduate students, you’ll borrow some money to pay for your degree. On average, borrowers took out about $25,000 to pay for grad school. For federal loans, there are two borrowing options:
Direct unsubsidized loans: Direct unsubsidized loans for graduate students have an interest rate of 5.28% for the 2022-22 school year.
The annual debt limit is $20,500 and lifetime limit is $138,500; any federal loans you took out for your undergraduate degree also count towards the lifetime maximum.
Grad PLUS loans: Unlike direct unsubsidized loans, PLUS loans don’t have an annual or aggregate limit. You can borrow up to the total cost of attendance in your program.
However, PLUS loans have the highest interest rate of all federal loan options, at 6.28% for the 2022-22 school year. They also have an origination fee of 4.23%.
What to Expect After You Submit Your Graduate FAFSA
Each year on October 1, when the FAFSA application opens, submit it as quickly as possible. Your federal Student Aid Report will be sent to you once you submit it (SAR).
The SAR summarizes and explains your financial assistance eligibility based on the information on your FAFSA. To see whether there are any more steps you need to do, contact the financial assistance office at your chosen school.
Some colleges need you to complete their own financial aid applications, or you may be required to provide additional information in order to be evaluated for scholarships or other institutional aid.
To determine your financial aid awards, the institution will look over your FAFSA information and other papers. They’ll give you a letter outlining your financial aid package, including grants, scholarships, and student loans.
The university will review your FAFSA information and other documents to determine your financial aid awards.
They will send you a financial aid award letter detailing what grants, scholarships and student loans you’re eligible for and what steps you must complete to accept.
Once you’ve received your financial aid offer from the university and are enrolled at least half-time, any federal student loans you have from your undergraduate studies should be automatically deferred. If they’re not, you can request an in-school deferment for those debts by contacting your loan servicer.
What are the Important FAFSA Deadlines?
Determine the school year for which you are applying for financial aid. For example, if you plan to attend college between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, then you’ll want to apply for the 2023-22 school year.
You should file your FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1 of the year prior to each enrollment period, notes Hunt. This is because there are a few federal student aid programs that have limited funds, and they’re awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
‣ Oct. 1: The new FAFSA season opens.
‣ June 30: Previous FAFSA year closes.
Deadlines for aid from individual states and schools vary. Check with your state and the schools you’re interested in to find out about applicable deadlines for your situation.
Additionally, if you are applying for a summer session, check with your college to verify which application you should complete.
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When Will You Hear Back Regarding Your FAFSA Application?
In three to five business days after submitting your FAFSA for graduate school, you will receive aStudent Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the FAFSA information you supplied. The SAR will be reviewed by all of the colleges to whom you applied.
The institutions that have opted to accept you will next give you an official acceptance letter along with a financial aid package. Depending on the time of year you applied, this could take anything from a few weeks to a few months.
What are the Average Award Amounts for Graduate School?
“The average grant size is about $10,000, and average loan size is about $20,000, assuming you are a full-timegrad student,” said Frank founder Javice.
But this varies depending on school and program, according to Kantrowitz.
“There are different costs for different programs,” he said. “So, for example, the professors in computer science are likely to get more research grants to support students, as opposed to someone in the English literature department.”
The financial aid package will typically include a mix of grants or scholarships, loans and work-study jobs.
How does Disbursement of Your Financial Aid Work?
“Disbursements are sent directly to the school and first applied to the student’s outstanding balance of tuition and fees, and other institution-based charges,” said Hunt. “Any remaining balance is refunded to the student for living expenses.”
What Important FAFSA Support Resources do You Need?
If you still have questions, there is some important contact information you should have on hand. FAFSA for grad school.
For general information about federal student financial assistance programs, help with completing the FAFSA for graduate school, or to obtain federal student aid publications, visit studentaid.gov or call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
The hours of operation are as follows:
‣ Monday–Friday: 8 a.m. to midnight EST
‣ Saturday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST
‣ Sunday: noon to 6 p.m. EST
You can also live chat them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ques: Will it Hurt my Credit if I Apply for the FAFSA?
Were you and your parents in the middle of filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) when you wondered if filling out the FAFSA would affect your credit score?
If that’s the case, there are a lot of things to think about while applying for financial aid, especially when FAFSA will have an influence on your life. Your credit score will not be affected by filing your FAFSA.
In fact, the grants and scholarships you get through FAFSA are non-repayable funds. FAFSA does not verify your credit report or rating because the majority of the government help you will get is based on need.
FAFSA® only asks for information about your income, not whether you paid your bills on time.
Ques: Does FAFSA Give Money for Graduate School?
You may be familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Help if you applied for financial aid as an undergraduate student.
The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Help, is used to determine your eligibility for financial aid, such as grants, work-study, and loans. The FAFSA is used to apply for financial aid for both undergraduate and graduate school.
As a graduate student, filling out the FAFSA is comparable to filling out the FAFSA as an undergraduate. You’ll need your tax returns, bank account information, and investment information.
It will take you around 30 minutes to complete, and you can send your FAFSA to up to ten colleges.
Ques: How do I Fill Out a FAFSA Form if I’m a US Citizen Living Abroad?
As a US citizen living abroad, you must ask your parents to gather Tax Filed forms for the relevant year and convert earnings, taxes paid, and other items to USD using the currency conversion rate in effect on the date of your filing.
If they have SSN, you can mention that, as well. Rest of the process is same for every one else.
Ques: Can You Get Federal Financial Aid if You Owe Taxes?
The fact that you owe the IRS money does not have to prevent you from receiving financial aid for education. You may still be eligible for help if you are proactive in paying down your tax burden.
There are several methods available to guarantee that you receive the financial assistance you require to continue your study.
Although those who owe back taxes to the IRS are eligible for financial help, it is in your best interest to assure full eligibility by paying off any taxes that have resulted in liens.
Ques: How do I Qualify for a Work-Study in FAFSA?
Besides demonstrated financial need, other requirements to be eligible for financial aid and work-study, include:
‣ You must be either a U.S. Citizen, a permanent resident, or an eligible non-citizen.
‣ You must have a Social Security Number (SSN) unless you are a citizen of the Freely Associated States.
‣ You must have either a high school diploma, a high school diploma equivalent (such as a General Education Development (GED) certificate), or have completed a homeschooled high school curriculum that meets your state’s requirements for homeschooling.
‣ You must be enrolled as a regular student in an eligible program at a college that is eligible for and participates in the Federal Student Aid Program.
Ques: Should I File My FAFSA if I’m Graduating This Year?
I’m guessing you’re referring about your COLLEGE graduation. If that’s the case, and you don’t intend to attend graduate or professional school in the autumn, the answer is no.
Consider the scenario. The FAFSA is a document that you fill out so that your college can assess if you are eligible for financial aid for the next year.
Why would you fill for and submit the FAFSA for the upcoming academic year if you are graduating from college and have no intention of immediately enrolling in graduate or professional school? Because you will not be attending school, you will not require (or be eligible for) financial assistance.
However, if you plan to start a graduate or professional school in the fall and don’t have the necessary funds.
But if you will be matriculating in a graduate or professional program in the fall, and you don’t have the money to pay for it yourself, then yes, you will need to fill out and submit the FAFSA, but submit it to your new school (assuming that you will be attending a different university for your graduate/professional program than your undergraduate school).
Ques: Does FAFSA Cover Full Tuition?
The FAFSA-based financial aid can be used to cover the entire cost of attendance at the college, including tuition and fees. While student financial help may theoretically pay the entire cost of tuition, in fact it likely fall short.
Unless the parents acquire a Federal Parent PLUS loan, most students will not get enough financial aid to cover the whole cost of tuition.
Financial help will be awarded based on demonstrated financial need, which is typically less than the cost of attendance.
Ques: Do I Have to Apply for a Graduate PLUS Loan Every Semester?
Eligibility for the Federal Grad PLUS is determined based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is submitted once a year.
The first time a graduate student receives a Federal Grad PLUS loan, they will need to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN), which covers a continuous period of enrollment at a single college or university for a period of up to 10 years.
In most cases, Federal Grad PLUS loans will be disbursed in two installments, one per payment period (semester).
Ques: Can I Still Get Financial Aid for a Second Master’s Degree?
You have ambitions and are working hard to realize them. So you’ve decided to pursue your second master’s degree. You undoubtedly took a long time to determine what you wanted to study, but now it’s time to face reality.
How are you going to pay for it? You don’t have any work sponsorship and can’t afford to pay your tuition. What are your options? How are you going to go about doing it?
People benefit greatly from federal student loans. Millions of students have been helped to obtain their degrees and master’s degrees thanks to these academic financial aid programs. However, the topic of whether you can acquire a loan for a second master’s degree remains unanswered.
Most student loans have their own set of laws and regulations that control how they work. As long as you are eligible, you can receive financial aid for your education. So, if you follow those conditions, you may be able to acquire a student loan for a second master’s degree.
But what about those who have already borrowed money from the federal government? Let’s take a look at various circumstances where you might be able to benefit from financial aid.
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