Financial Aid Programs for Graduate Students
Fairfield University understands that the decision to begin a graduate education can be a significant investment for any student, especially financially. Please find detailed information on our financial aid web pages, which we created specifically for graduate students. We hope this information will assist you in making the best decisions regarding the various financing options as you embark on your new academic endeavor.
What is a Direct Loan?
A Direct loan is a loan offered to students and processed through the federal government. The only Direct Loan available to graduate students is unsubsidized. Students can borrow the Direct Loan for a specified period of enrollment and can expect loan repayment to begin six months after graduation or six months after enrollment is less than half-time (five or fewer credits).
An unsubsidized loan is non-need based. Students will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid off. The interest will accrue while a student is in school and/or during other periods of non-payment and it will be capitalized. The interest will be added to the principal amount of the loan and additional interest will be based on the higher loan amount.
How do I apply for a Direct Loan?
Students must first submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Office of Financial Aid will provide eligible students with an award notification (e-mail or mail), which will provide an offer of the Direct Loan. The two required loan applications, in addition to the FAFSA, include the Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note (MPN). These applications must be completed online. It will be important to have a Personal Identification Number (PIN), which is also used to sign the FAFSA, to complete these loan applications.
Is there a charge for this loan?
Yes. There is a 1.072% origination fee for loans disbursed on/after December 1, 2013. The fee will be proportionately deducted from each loan disbursement, prior to the Department of Education sending the loan funds to the school. Loans disbursed prior to December 1, 2013 have different origination fees.
How much can I borrow?
Please refer to the eligibility chart below for graduate loan limits.
|Programs||Eligibility Requirements||Annual Award Limits||Interest Rates||How to Apply|
Direct Unsubsidized Loan
Available for students who are matriculated in a degree program, enrolled at least half-time
Effective July 1, 2012: Subsidized Stafford loans are no longer be available to graduate and professional students
$20,500 or up to Cost of Attendance (varies by program)
$138,500 - No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.
Submit the FAFSA
Additional loans for graduate students
Cost of Attendance - (minus) financial aid assistance
Submit the FAFSA
Complete both credit check and PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN)
Repayment begins six months after graduation or six months after enrollment status is less than half time (five or fewer credits).
What is the Direct Graduate/Professional PLUS Loan?
Graduate and professional degree-seeking students are eligible to borrow through the Direct Graduate/Professional PLUS Loan Program. Students who decide to borrow this loan are required to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is suggested that students apply for the annual loan maximum amount ($20,500) with the Direct Loan Program before applying for a Direct Graduate/Profressional PLUS Loan.
How do I apply for the PLUS Loan?
Students must complete a credit check and the Master Promissory Note (MPN) online. It will be important to have a Personal Identification Number (PIN), which is also used to sign the FAFSA, to complete the credit check and Master Promissory Note. You will be prompted to complete the credit check first. If approved, you must then complete the Graduate PLUS MPN in order to have your loan certified by the University and the loan proceeds disbursed accordingly.
How much can I borrow?
You can borrow up to the annual cost of attendance for your program, minus any other financial assistance you may be receiving (Direct Loan, graduate assistantship benefits, scholarships, etc.).
What if I am NOT approved for the PLUS Loan?
If you are not approved for this loan, you may be offered the option to secure a credit-worthy endorser and/or appeal your loan decision with the Department of Education.
What is the interest rate on the PLUS Loan?
The interest rate Direct Graduate/Professional PLUS Loans disbursed between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 is fixed at 6.41%. Student borrowers will be notified of interest rate changes throughout the life of the loan. Interest is charged on the loan from the date the first disbursement is made until the loan is paid off.
Is there a charge for the PLUS Loan?
Yes, there is a 4.288% loan origination fee on all Direct Graduate/Professional PLUS Loans processed on/after December 1, 2013. The fee will be proportionately deducted from each loan disbursement, prior to the Department of Education sending the funds to the school.
How do I repay this loan?
When you receive your PLUS loan, you will be contacted by the loan's servicer. The loan servicer will provide regular updates on the status of the loan and will provide information on how and when to repay the loan. Find out more about loan servicers.
Payments are generally required on this loan while the student is in school and will begin after the loan is fully disbursed for the year; however, payments can be deferred until six months after graduation or six months after enrollment is less than half-time (five or fewer credits), only after the payment deferment has been approved by the loan servicer. If payments are deferred during the in-school period and/or the six month post-enrollment period, the student will be notified of quarterly interest statements and will have the option to pay the accrued interest. Unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized (added to the principal loan balance) at either the end of the in-school deferment or, if taken, the end of the six month post-enrollment deferment, increasing the overall loan costs.
It is recommended that students consider borrowing the maximum in Direct Loans and/or Direct Graduate/Professional PLUS Loans before considering an alternative student loan. Direct loans may be less expensive and with various options repayment. The Office of Financial Aid will certify any alternative loan at the request of any borrower, provided they are approved and provided the loan amount does not exceed their eligibility for the year. However, it is the responsibility of the borrower to determine which loan program, alternative or federal, best fits their borrowing needs.
What are alternative student loans?
Alternative student loans are available to assist students cover any financial gap that may exist between their educational costs (cost of attendance) and the amount of financial aid they are receiving. There are many types of alternative student loans and each are calculated with different interest rates and repayment terms, which vary, depending on the borrower's (and/or the cosigner's) credit-worthiness. Students should review their finances to determine which financing option best fits their borrowing needs.
How do I select the right alternative student loan?
Fairfield University does not have a preferred lender list for alternative student loans, nor can we recommend specific lenders. However, ELM Select, a service provided by ELM Resources (see link below), can assist you with what is likely one of the most important tasks in the financial aid process. ELM Select is a free online lender comparison resource that provides extensive loan options. This service has several features that will help you make the financing decision that best fits your financial needs. It also provides a wealth of information regarding borrower rights, responsibilities, and loan repayment.
Important Note: This loan application and school certification process can take anywhere from three to four weeks to complete. Please apply early to allow for this processing time.
Fairfield University participates in the Federal Direct Loan program and does not have any preferred lenders. Fairfield University abides by all principles outlined in the CT Code of Conduct.
Through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, Congress created the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program. As a result of the automatic budget cuts (sequester) of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and of the recent sequester on the Federal student financial aid programs, the TEACH grant program has been impacted (see chart below). This grant provides up to $4,000 per year to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families. Undergraduate students may be eligible to receive a maximum of $16,000 in TEACH Grant and graduate students may be eligible to receive the maximum of $8,000.
|TEACH Grant Awards|
|Impacted Awards||Statutory Maximum
Scheduled Award Amount
|Dollar Reduction Amount||Adjusted Maximum Award Amount|
|First Disbursed Prior to March 2, 2013
|First Disbursed after
March 1, 2013 and before
October 1, 2013
|First Disbursed Prior to
October 1, 2013
|First Disbursed on or after
October 1, 2013 and
October 1, 2014
|First Disbursed Prior to October 1, 2014||$4,000||.89%||$35.60||$3,964.40|
|First Disbursed on or after
October 1, 2014 and October 1, 2015
|$4,000||Not Determined Yet||Not Determined Yet||Not Determined Yet|
Please read the information about the TEACH Grant program very carefully.There are specific conditions attached to a student's award of this grant. If a student fails to meet all of the conditions of this grant, the grant will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, which will become payable, including accrued interest, from the date the grant was first disbursed.
What are the conditions for receiving the TEACH Grant?
In exchange for receiving a TEACH Grant, a student must agree to:
- Serve as a highly-qualified, full time teacher in a high-need field in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students
- Teach for four academic years within eight calendar years of completing the program for which the student received a TEACH Grant
- Teach a specific subject
How do I qualify for a TEACH Grant?
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
- Be enrolled as a junior or senior undergraduate education minor and be enrolled in the coursework necessary to begin a career in teaching and meeting the requirements that will allow a student to fulfill the conditions of the TEACH grant program successfully or
- Be enrolled as a graduate student in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions in a graduate program that will lead toward the completion of a degree which will allow a student to fulfill the required conditions of the TEACH Grant program successfully
- Meet certain academic achievement requirements which is a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25, which will be determined prior to each disbursement of the TEACH Grant, or receive a qualifying score on admissions test
- Sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve
What are high-need teaching fields?
- Bilingual Education and English Language Acquisition
- Foreign Language
- Reading Specialist
- Special Education
- Other identified teacher shortage areas as of the time you begin teaching in that field. These are teacher subject shortage areas (not geographic areas) that are listed in the Department of Education's Annual Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing.
What is the definition of a school that serves low-income students?
Schools serving low-income students include any elementary or secondary school that are listed in the Department of Education's Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits. Access the directory online.
What is the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve?
Each year that a student receives a TEACH Grant, he/she must sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve (ATS). The ATS is available electronically, only via the Department of Education's website.
The TEACH Grant ATS specifies the conditions under which the grant will be awarded, the teaching service requirements, and includes an acknowledgment by the student that he/she understands that if the TEACH Grant teaching service requirements are not met, the student must repay the grant as a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, with interest accrued from the date the grant funds were disbursed. Specifically, the TEACH grant Agreement to Serve will require the following:
- For each TEACH Grant-eligible program for which the student received TEACH grant funds, he/she must serve as a full-time teacher for a total of at least four academic years within eight calendar years after graduation from the academic program for which the TEACH Grant was paid.
- You must perform the teaching service as a highly-qualified teacher at a low-income school. The term highly-qualified teacher is defined in section 9101(23) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 or in section 602(10) of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
- Your teaching service must be in a high-need field
- You must agree to teach a specific subject
- You must comply with any other requirements that the Department of Education determines to be necessary
- If you do not complete the required teaching service obligation, TEACH Grant funds you received will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan that you must repay, with interest charged from the date of each TEACH Grant disbursement.
TEACH Grant Counseling Requirements
- TEACH Grant Entrance Counseling is required for all students that are awarded the Federal TEACH grant.
- Additionally, it is required that all students receiving multiple TEACH Grants receive subsequent entrance counseling and sign the Agreement to Serve each year that they receive a TEACH Grant.
- TEACH Grant Exit Counseling is required once it is determined the student will not be the recipient of any further TEACH Grant awards. Further instruction on the TEACH Grant exit counseling session will follow when a student completes their education.
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