Financial Aid Basics
What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is any resource that is available to assist you with paying for your cost of attendance. Financial aid includes resources awarded by St. Thomas, a private scholarship organization, a governmental agency or your employer (tuition reimbursement). Financial aid also includes student loans provided by the federal government or private lenders. Earnings from work (including graduate assistantships) are not generally considered financial aid, unless the source of funds is a need-based program such as Federal or State Work Study, or if the award is somehow based on financial need.
How is financial aid eligibility determined?
Financial aid is awarded based on the average costs for a student attending specific graduate programs and the financial aid types for which an individual student is eligible. Some financial aid awards are determined by the academic departments and reported to the Graduate Financial Aid Office. In no case can the total dollar amount of all combined financial aid awards exceed the total cost of attendance budget for the program as determined by the Graduate Financial Aid Office.
What types of financial aid are available to graduate students seeking a degree?
Federal Direct Loans (Degree seeking students only): Federal Direct Loans are the primary source of financing for graduate students seeking a degree. These are fixed interest rate loans with repayment that begin six months after you are no longer enrolled half time. While your credit history is not a factor in determining eligibility for this loan, you must not be in default on a prior federal loan.
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan (Degree seeking students only): This federal loan is available to students that have no adverse credit. Repayment begins six months after you are no longer enrolled half time.
Private Educational Loans: Repayment periods begin six to nine months following graduation from your program. Eligibility for these loans is based on your credit history.
Grants (Degree seeking students only): The Graduate Diversity Grant ($300-$3000) is available to students seeking a degree that demonstrate financial need and complete the Graduate Diversity Application and FAFSA. The Federal TEACH Grant is available to students in certain education majors who commit to a service agreement. For more information visit our Grants and Scholarships page.
Department Scholarships & Grants: Most graduate departments have scholarships and grants to award to students. Contact your academic department for more information.
Federal Work Study (Degree seeking students only): Federal Work Study is available on a student request basis. If you are interested in Federal Work Study, you are encouraged to contact a graduate financial aid counselor to discuss your options.
What are the loan maximums per year for the Federal Direct Loan program?
Master, Law, Doctoral Seeking Students:
- $20,500 Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
Licensure Students enrolled through the School of Education:
- $7,500 Federal Direct Loan for dependent students (up to $5,500 subsidized loan if demonstrate financial need)
- $12,500 Federal Direct Loan for independent students (up to $5,500 subsidized loan if demonstrate financial need)
What is "financial need?"
"Financial need" is a calculated value. It is determined by subtracting the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is an index number determined from the FAFSA, from the cost of attendance budget. If the EFC is equal to or larger than the cost of attendance, then the student is said to have "no financial need" and is not eligible for need-based sources of financial aid.
Are all graduate students independent?
All graduate students are indeed independent, but not all students admitted through the graduate schools at St. Thomas are graduate students. Students who are admitted through the Graduate School of Education into the teacher licensure track only (as opposed to being admitted into the Master of Arts in Teaching track) are considered to be 5th year post-baccalaureate students, i.e. undergraduate students.
To qualify as a graduate student, you must be pursuing a master’s degree or doctoral degree (including the J.D.) or a graduate certificate.
What if I have no financial need?
All students regardless of financial need are eligible for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans and can apply for Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans, Private Educational Loans and UST student employment opportunities.
How is my cost of attendance budget determined?
The cost of attendance budget is determined by calculating the average number of credits students take in each program. In some cases where there are full-time and part-time tracks, we calculate an average full-time course load and part-time course load. We then multiply the average course load for the appropriate student group by the per credit tuition rate for that program. To this average tuition, we add average required fees and allowances for books, housing, supplies, meals, transportation and personal expenses. The sum of all these averages is the total cost of attendance budget for the program.