Graduate Financial Aid Services works with students to make available the best resources for financing their education. Regardless of students’ income or eligibility for need-based financial aid, there are programs available to assist them in funding their education.
Located in 243 Whitmore Administration Building, the office is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Students with any questions or concerns should call (413) 577-0555; TDD (413) 545-9240, email Grads@finaid.umass.edu, or visit the office’s website at www.umass.edu/umfa.
Applying for Financial Aid
Financial Aid Requirements:
In order to be considered for Federal Financial Aid, applicants must be:
1. a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
2. enrolled in or admitted to a degree-seeking program with at least half-time status (six credits)
3. making satisfactory progress in a program of study
4. not be in default on a Federal Student Loan or owe a refund on a Federal Grant
5. registered for the Selective Service (if required)
6. free of convictions for any illegal drug offense or meet the specific eligibility criteria determined by the Department of Education in the case of a drug-related conviction.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the only application used to apply for financial aid at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The information on the FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for federal, state, and institutional funding. Applicants must list the University of Massachusetts Amherst on their FAFSA application and indicate the school code, 002221, so that Graduate Financial Aid Services are able to receive their information. The following versions of the FAFSA form are available. Applicants should submit only one version to the central processor.
Although there is no deadline to file an application for a Direct Student Loan, consideration for other types of need-based aid such as Federal Work-study are given on a first-come first-served basis. Such programs require applications to be filed by February 15 to meet the University’s March 1 deadline.
Electronic and Renewal FAFSA Applications
Students are encouraged to use the interactive FAFSA application available online. This method has built-in edits that immediately identify errors that could otherwise hold up the process. Before completing the online FAFSA, the Department of Education recommends that applicants complete their ‘FAFSA on the Web Worksheet’ to help them compile the data required to complete the form. Students should log on to: www.fafsa.ed.gov to print a copy of the ‘FAFSA on the Web Worksheet’ for their records or to complete their online application. Access to their online application does require a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Students who do not have a PIN or are unable to locate this number should visit www.pin.ed.gov to submit a request. The FAFSA should be submitted as soon as possible. The application is available after January 1 for the upcoming academic year.
Paper applications are available at high school guidance or college financial aid offices upon request.
Special Programs Eligibility
Continuation Fee Students
Graduate students who are not enrolled for any course credits, but who are candidates for a degree, must pay a fee for each term to be considered for continuous enrollment until a degree is formally awarded. Continuation fee students may be eligible for a Federal Direct Loan if the research work that they are performing is equivalent to at least half-time (six credits per term). Students who are on continuation fee and who would like to borrow a Direct Loan must obtain a letter from their Graduate Program Director that states that they are performing at least half-time work. The letter should be sent to the Graduate Registrar’s Office, where their enrollment status will be updated. Their enrollment status will be verified by the Financial Aid Office.
Graduate non-degree students enrolled at least half-time (six credits per term) may be eligible for a Federal Direct Loan if the coursework that the student is taking is verified by the Graduate Program Director (GPD) as being preparatory or prerequisite in nature for admission into that graduate program. The student must have intentions of applying for admission to an University of Massachusetts Amherst degree program at a later date. In this case, the GPD must send a memo to the Graduate Financial Aid Office verifying the above information. A non-degree template is available at www.umass.edu/umfa. Note: non-degree students are eligible for Federal loans only once in their lifetime for a 12-consecutive-month period (two semesters).
Federal Financial Aid Awards
The William D. Ford Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is a need-based Federal Loan administered by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Eligibility for this loan is determined by completing the FAFSA form. The federal government pays the interest on a subsidized loan while a student is enrolled at least half-time and during the six-month grace period following graduation. The interest rate is fixed and can not exceed 8.25 percent. This rate is adjusted annually on July 1.
The William D. Ford Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a Federal Loan administered by the University of Massachusetts Amherst that is awarded regardless of financial need. Eligibility for this loan is determined by completing the FAFSA form. The student is responsible for the interest that accrues on this loan from the time that the funds are disbursed. Students have the option to pay the interest on the loan while they are enrolled or they may postpone payments on principal and interest until six months after they graduate or if they fail to enroll at least half-time (six credits). Like the subsidized loan, the interest rate is fixed and cannot exceed 8.25 percent. This rate is adjusted annually on July1.
Alternative Financial Aid Resources
Several programs are available to supplement students’ financial aid awards or to help students who do not qualify for federal funding. Although alternative loans come from outside sources, Financial Aid Services is only able to certify loans up to a student’s cost of attendance at the university. More information about estimated cost of attendance is available on the Financial Aid website or by contacting the office. Additional eligibility information is also available online.
Deferments are available for graduate students who have outstanding federal student loans and are currently enrolled at least half-time (six credits). The Graduate Registrar’s Office coordinates loan deferments for graduate students with the National Student Loan Clearinghouse.
Students may search for scholarships online at www.massachusetts.edu/scholarships or can contact Graduate Student Grant Services, 517 Goodell Building, tel. (413) 545-5279.