Contact: Financial Aid Services
Office: 255 Whitmore
Phone: (413) 545-0801 (voice)
(413) 545-9420 (TTY/TDD)
Financial Aid General Information
The Department of Financial Aid Services provides educational financial planning information to students and their families, delivers financial aid funds to qualified students. The department supports institutional aid efforts for maximizing enrollment and diversity of students. Office hours for telephone contact are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Reception hours for visitors are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
The U.S. Department of Education requires that students receiving federal financial aid meet university academic status standards ensuring academic progress toward a degree or certificate program of study. Measurement for SAP is conducted at the close of the spring semester. To meet the university’s academic status standards, students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.000. Students are expected to maintain the necessary credit hours to ensure graduation within 10 semesters. Failure to maintain these standards will, at a minimum, place the student on academic probationary status. If a student does not meet the university’s academic status standards after a probationary period, he or she may become ineligible to receive federal financial aid. An appeal process is available for students who may lose or have lost financial aid due to failure to maintain SAP after probation. Contact the Financial Aid office for more information.
Applying for Financial Aid
The university uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This standard form is the only application used to determine eligibility for all the need-based financial aid programs. The FAFSA is available on the Internet at: www.fafsa.ed.gov. Students should complete the FAFSA after January 1 for the upcoming academic year. To meet the university’s March 1 financial aid deadline, submit the FAFSA to the processing center by February 15. Copies of parents’ and students’ federal income tax returns and other documents may be requested by Financial Aid Services. All information submitted to Financial Aid Services is held in strictest confidence.
The Types of Financial Aid
The following summary outlines the types of grants, scholarships, tuition waivers, and loans students may receive as part of their financial aid package. Specific details on these types of aid are available on the Financial Aid website: www.umass.edu/umfa/.
Grants are awards that students do not have to repay. The size of a grant is generally based on need, cost of attendance, and enrollment status. The University of Massachusetts Amherst administers several types including Federal Pell Grants, Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG), National SMART (Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent) Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Massgrants, and University Awards.
When students file a FAFSA, they are considered for more than 100 endowed and corporate-sponsored scholarships. Their financial need may not be the only consideration for individual scholarships; also taken into account are grades, class standing, academic major, residency, and other factors. In general, entering students do not need to participate in a separate scholarship application process in order to be considered for UMass Amherst scholarships. When students file their application for admission by the stated application deadline, they are also automatically considered. In many cases, scholarship notification accompanies the acceptance letter.
Other Scholarship Resources
Other scholarships are independent of the FAFSA form. Financial Aid Services can offer assistance in locating these sources and many are also available by searching online.
University of Massachusetts system-wide scholarship database
Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistant
Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts
A tuition waiver (or partial tuition waiver) lessen the amount of a student’s tuition. These may not exceed the cost of tuition, and may not be used to cover fees. Although students may receive multiple tuition waivers from a variety of sources, they may only use an amount up to, but not exceeding, the cost of tuition. Information on the categories of student eligible for tuition waivers may be found at: www.osfa.mass.edu.
A loan is a form of financial aid that must be repaid, usually after graduation. For most loans, students need to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered. The University of Massachusetts Amherst administers two different kinds of loans—Federal Perkins Loans and William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans. For information on alternative loans, see “Alternative Financing” elsewhere in this section.
Work-study is a need-based federal program that may be a part of a student’s financial aid package. The program provides students with part-time employment opportunities in a variety of on- and off-campus jobs, with awards (maximum earnings) that range from $1,500-1,800. With a work-study job, students are paid bi-weekly, based on the hours worked. These funds are to help offset personal expenses and other educational costs, such as books or travel home. Students are responsible for their own job search, but the Student Employment Office (SEO) provides an extensive list of job openings outside their office, 243 Whitmore Administration Building, and on their website: www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~umfa/wsjobs.html
Students who do not qualify for work-study can still take advantage of the Student Employment Office’s extensive list of on- and off-campus temporary, part-time, and seasonal jobs to help meet educational costs. Jobs are posted outside the SEO office as well as on the Financial Aid Services home page, and these are updated weekly. The university is the largest employer of students in Western Massachusetts, with over 7,000 students earning more than $10 million during the academic year. In addition, the SEO helps 2,000 student find off-campus employment every year. For further information, contact the SEO, tel. (413) 545-1530 or visit their website www-unix.umass.edu/~umfa/nwsjobs.html
Alternative Financing Options
Many Alternative Loan programs are available; however, all students should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and wait to receive the financial aid for which they are eligible before considering alternative financing options. Parents and students should first take advantage of less expensive federal loans, as they offer better terms and repayment options. Students who need to apply for alternative loans to finance all or a portion of their undergraduate education should consider applying with a cosigner, which usually results in a slightly lower rate than that available to applicants on their own.
Additional information on alternative financing options, including a monthly payment plan, is available on the Financial Aid website at: www.umass.edu/umfa.