Graduate Theological Union


Q: What is financial aid?
A: Financial aid is monetary assistance offered to eligible students to help meet their educational expenses. Aid can come to two categories. Gift aid includes grants, scholarships and stipends that do not have to be paid back. Self-help aid is educational loans such as the Stafford and Perkins, which must be paid back, and/or college work study, which is money earned from employment on campus or in non-profit organizations.

Q: How do I know if I am eligible for financial aid?
A: Every year students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents can apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and the school's supplemental application. These forms help determine a student's need for aid by calculating the applicant's income, assets, and family size to determine how much s/he can contribute towards his/her education. This calculation is referred to as the student contribution. Each year the financial aid office creates a standard student budget for all students. The budget takes into account tuition, fees, books and living costs. Financial need is determined by subtracting the student contribution from the standard student budget. The difference from these two figures is the student need.

Q: Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?
A: New application forms will be posted to this website in mid-December of each year. Some schools have specific deadlines so pay close attention to your school's deadline.

Q: I know I need to borrow a student loan. Where do I get a loan application?
A: Once your financial aid eligibility has been determined you will receive an award letter stating the amount of loan funding you are eligible for as well as information on how to apply for student loans.

Q: I might not have my last year's tax return done by the deadline. Can I use estimated information?
A: Yes, however, you will need to submit a copy of your tax return to the financial aid office as soon as possible. Please note that your financial aid may be modified if there is a large discrepancy.

Q: I may not be able to meet the financial aid deadline. Will this affect my aid?
A: Yes, this may affect your aid. Some schools will not award any grants to students who have not applied on time. Both the free application for federal student aid form AND the school supplemental form must be filed before or postmarked by the deadline. In order to be fair to all applicants in the distribution of our limited funds, students who apply on time will receive priority preference in the award process of financial aid.

Q: Can I mail forms to the financial aid office as they are ready? Or should I send them all together?
A: We encourage students to send in forms as soon as they are completely filled out. Since we service the financial aid needs for several schools it is important to put your name and school name at the top of all documents.

Q: The standard student budget does not cover some of my extraordinary expenses. Can my student budget be adjusted in order for me to increase my student loans?
A: Yes. Students who have additional costs such as uninsured medical expenses, higher rents, or single parent childcare can appeal, with appropriate documentation, to increase their student budget.

Q: I made too much money last year. Should I still apply for financial aid?
A: Yes, you never know what you may qualify for if you don't apply. You may at least be considered eligible for the Stafford unsubsidized loan to help cover your educational expenses.

Q: If I withdraw from the program, what happens to the federal aid I've received?
A: To request a withdrawal from the school, a student must make a written request of withdrawal to the school's registrar. The date of withdrawal will be the date the registrar receives the written request.

Section 484 (b) of the Higher Education Act specifies a formula that requires federal aid recipients to "earn" the aid they receive while enrolled in school at least halftime. The amount of Title IV (federal) aid "earned" is determined by multiplying the total Title IV aid for which the student qualified by the percentage of time during the term that the student was enrolled. Students who withdraw prior to completing 60% of the semester in which they receive federal student aid may be required to return some of the aid they were awarded.

The formula assumes that a student uses Title IV aid (e.g. Stafford or Perkins loans) to pay institutional charges i.e. tuition, fees, rent and certain other institutional charges. Withdrawal prior to completing 60% of the semester for which aid was awarded requires that a pro rata portion of the aid must be returned to the federal government (lender).

First, the school will return to the appropriate federal fund source a proportional share of institutional charges that were paid. In general, the effect of this "return of Title IV aid" by the institution is to reduce an outstanding federal loan balance. Second, if the amount returned by the school is not enough to repay the entire amount not "earned" the student will be required to repay "unearned" Title IV aid to the lender.

If a student is entitled to a refund from the school for amounts paid to cover institutional charges, any refund due will first be applied to the obligation to return "unearned" aid. Thus, portions of institutional refunds may be applied to an outstanding Stafford and/ or Perkins Loan.

This policy is based on 34 CFR, Section 668.22 of Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.