Most grants and scholarships from state, federal and institutional sources are available only at the undergraduate level, which means that the majority of financial aid available to students in graduate programs will be in the form of student loans. However, there are several ways that graduate students might locate grants and scholarships:
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a confidential statement of income and assets of the student. Graduate students are considered to be independent from their parents and therefore no financial information will be required from their parents.
A FAFSA is required even for the Graduate PLUS loan, so all graduate students interested in any financial aid should complete the FAFSA.
When you complete your FAFSA, make sure you indicate, in question #29, that you will be attending graduate school and make sure you check “Student Loans” on question #31. Messiah College’s Title IV code is 003298.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid application can be found at: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/
A great deal of additional information, applicable to both graduate and undergraduate programs, can be found on our financial aid forms page at: http://www.messiah.edu/offices/financial_aid/forms/
Included here are more detailed instructions for completing the FAFSA, and links to many other forms that you might need. As mentioned above, graduate students should recognize that items specific to grants and scholarships from state, federal and institutional sources will not apply to them.
A graduate student is eligible for two different Federal loans, Stafford and Graduate PLUS. Each loan requires that a FAFSA be completed and that the student be enrolled at least half-time (at least 4.5 credit hours per semester). Since interest rates and fees are lower on Federal Stafford loans, graduate students should take advantage of Stafford loans before taking a Graduate PLUS loan.
Beginning with the 2009-2010 academic year, Messiah College will process all Stafford, PLUS and Graduate PLUS loans through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. This means that, instead of going to a financial institution (bank/lender) to apply for a Federal Stafford or PLUS loan, students and parents will apply directly through Messiah College. More information about the application process can be found at: http://www.messiah.edu/offices/financial_aid/loans/
(Please note that the information at this link is applicable to both undergraduate and graduate students.)
Stafford Loan for Graduate Students
Federal Stafford loans are fixed-rate student loans for graduate students attending a college or university at least half time. Stafford loans are the most common and one of the lowest-cost ways to pay for school. There are two different types of Federal Stafford Loans, the subsidized Stafford Loan and the unsubsidized Stafford Loan.
Subsidized Stafford Loans are awarded to graduate students based on financial need. You will not be charged interest before you begin repayment or during periods of deferment. The federal government "subsidizes" the interest during these times.
Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are the same as subsidized Stafford Loans, except that the borrower is responsible for the interest on the loan while in college and during grace and deferment periods.
Loan limits for the Stafford Loan are:
- $8500 of subsidized/unsubsidized Stafford. Depending on your need, some or all of this may be subsidized or unsubsidized.
- An additional unsubsidized Stafford Loan up to $12,000, or up to your cost of attendance minus other aid.
For graduate students, the interest rate for subsidized and unsubsidized loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2006, is a fixed 6.80%.
Graduate PLUS Loan
The Graduate PLUS loan is a low, fixed interest rate student loan guaranteed by the U.S. Government. The Graduate PLUS loan is a non-need credit based loan similar to a private student loan with the benefit of having a fixed interest rate and federal guarantee.
The Graduate PLUS loan allows graduate students to borrow the total cost for their graduate school needs, including tuition, room and board, supplies, lab expenses, and travel, less any other aid.
Key benefits include:
- Interest rate is fixed at 7.9%.
- Graduate PLUS payments can be deferred while you are in school, but the interest will continue to accrue and be added to your loan balance. We recommend paying accrued interest while you are in school as this will greatly reduce your long term loan debt.
- Cosigner not required
- Interest is tax deductible for most grad students
The borrower is responsible for the interest on the loan while in college and during grace and deferment periods.
More information on Stafford and Graduate PLUS loans can be found at: http://www.direct.ed.gov/student.html or http://studentaid.ed.gov
To apply for a Graduate PLUS loan at Messiah College, please complete this application and submit it to the Messiah College Financial Aid Office: Download Application Here
Private Student Loans
Because of the low cost of graduate programs at Messiah College, we anticipate that the federal student loans will meet the needs of most of our students, and we strongly recommend federal student loans as the best option. However, some students might want to take advantage of private student loans. Information about these loans, including application procedures, can be found at: http://www.messiah.edu/offices/financial_aid/loans/private.html
The terms and conditions of private student loans vary from loan to loan, are typically not as favorable as federal student loans, and are subject to change more frequently than federal student loans. Therefore, when reviewing this information, we recommend that you pay close attention to the eligibility criteria (not all private loans are available to graduate students).
For more information about Financial Aid for Messiah College Graduate Programs, contact the Messiah College Financial Aid Office at:
Financial Aid Office
One College Avenue
Office: (717) 691-6007
Fax: (717) 691-2349