University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Types of Aid

If you are an undergraduate student, your financial aid package may be comprised of different types of awards: Gift aid (grants, scholarships, tuition waivers) and self help aid (loans and work-study).

The type of aid you receive will depend on whether it is need-based (determined by your demonstrated financial need) or non-need-based (determined by merit or other factors).

To be considered for need-based aid, you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Very simply, grants are monetary awards that you do not have to repay. Financial Aid Services awards grants to student based on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is calculated by the U. S. Department of Education using the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students with a lower EFC have a greater potential to receive grants.

Federal Grants

Federal Pell Grant is available to undergraduate students seeking their first bachelor's degree and who meet all other eligibility criteria required for receipt of federal assistance. To receive a Pell Grant, an eligible student's EFC must be less than or equal to the maximum figure established by the federal government for the academic year. The amount may change annually. Eligibility is limited to the equivalent of 12 full-time semesters.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need and low EFC. Priority consideration is given to students who receive Federal Pell Grant and meet the priority deadline for filing the FAFSA. Recipients must meet all eligibility criteria required for federal assistance.

TEACH Grant is available to undergraduate or graduate students in an educator licensure program. See information below.

For information about all federal grants visit: studentaid.ed.gov/types/grants-scholarships

Massachusetts Grants, Scholarships, and Tuition Waivers

Massachusetts has a variety of financial aid programs available. For information about Massachusetts grants, scholarships, and tuition waivers visit Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

University Awards

UMass Amherst administers grants funded through state appropriations, annual gifts from private donors, and University revenues.

Scholarships are similar to grants, in that they are financial aid that you do not have to repay. Scholarships are usually awarded on the basis of academic merit.

When you file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) you will be considered for more than 100 endowed and corporate-sponsored scholarships managed by the campus. Your financial need may not be the only consideration for individual scholarships; we may also take into account your 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 you file your application for admission by the stated application deadline, you are also automatically considered. In many cases, scholarship notification accompanies the acceptance letter.

Financial Aid Services may adjust your award if you receive scholarships, loans, or tuition waivers not listed on your Award Summary in SPIRE. According to federal regulations, a student’s total financial aid may not exceed the estimated cost of attendance or need. Report your additional resources using the Report Outside Aid button in SPIRE.

Other Scholarship Resources

There are other scholarships that are independent of the FAFSA. These may be from your high school, local civic organizations, religious affiliation or an employer. You will also find scholarships by searching online.

A note of caution: Be wary of advertisements that offer to help you find scholarships for a fee. With a little time and research, you can find the very same information yourself.

Scholarships for UMass Amherst Students

See our Scholarships page for more detailed information about scholarship opportunities for UMass Amherst students.  You will find scholarships offered by UMass Amherst as well as outside organizations.

The Gates Millennium Scholarship

The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS), funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was established in 1999 to provide outstanding African American, American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asian Pacific Islander Americans, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education. Undergraduates in all discipline areas are eligible. Graduate students must be pursuing studies in mathematics, science, engineering, education, or library science to be eligible. The goal of GMS is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for thousands of outstanding students with significant financial need to reach their fullest potential.

Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarships

The Department of Aerospace Studies (Air Force) and the Department of Military Science (Army) both offer ROTC programs leading upon graduation to commissioned-officer status as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force or the United States Army. Full and partial four-, three-, and two-year scholarships are available for qualified applicants.

To learn more information about Air Force ROTC, call 413-545-2437 or 413-545-2451.

To learn more information about Army ROTC, call 413-545-2321.

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program is federally funded and provides up to $4,000 annual grants to full-time students who plan to become teachers. A graduate student may receive a total of two scheduled awards, or a total of up to $8,000, for a Master’s degree program.

TEACH Grant recipients at the University of Massachusetts Amherst must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Complete a FAFSA.
  • Be a U.S Citizen or eligible noncitizen.
  • Be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student in an educator licensure program listed below.
  • Meet academic requirements (maintain a 3.25 GPA).
  • Make an appointment with the School of Education Licensure Officer, Kim Drake at (413) 545-2701 to determine your eligibility and receive an eligibility certificate. The certificate is required before meeting with the Financial Aid Office.
  • Sign a TEACH Grant Agreement and a TEACH Grant Counseling Form.

You must also fulfill the following conditions:

  • You must serve as a full-time teacher in a high need-field in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students.
  • You must teach for at least four academic years within eight calendar years of completing the program of study for which you received the TEACH Grant.

NOTE: If you fail to complete this service obligation, all amounts of the TEACH Grant that you received will be converted to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, and the interest on the loan will be charged from the date the original TEACH Grant was disbursed. You must repay this loan to the U. S. Department of Education.

Schools Serving Low-Income Students are listed in the U. S. Department of Education’s Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancelation Benefits.

High-Need Fields in Massachusetts for 2014-2015 (subject to change):

  • English as a Second Language
  • Mathematics
  • Modern Foreign Languages:
    • Chinese, French, Italian, Latin and/or Classical Humanities, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Reading/English Language Arts:
    • English/Language Arts
    • Reading
  • Sciences:
    • Biology, Chemistry,Earth Science, General Science, Physics
  • Special Education:
    • Early Childhood (Pre-K-2), Moderate Disabilities, Severe Disabilities, Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Please see the program description on Student Aid on the Web for general information.

A tuition waiver (or partial tuition waiver) is an award that will lessen the amount of your tuition. The award may not exceed your billed tuition, and it may not be applied to your fees. (You may use other forms of financial aid, such as loans, to cover the costs of your fees.) While you may receive multiple tuition waivers from a variety of sources, you will only be able to use an amount up to, but not exceeding, your billed tuition.

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) administers a variety of tuition waivers. For a list of tuition waivers made available by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts visit the OSFA website.

Chancellor's Talent Award

UMass Amherst offers tuition waivers to admitted freshman who present especially strong art portfolios or who present strong performances in music or dance auditions. Some of these awards are full tuition waivers while others are only partial waivers. This scholarship may not be combined with other tuition waivers.

A loan is a form of financial aid that you must repay with interest, usually after you graduate or leave school. To be considered for federal student loans, you need to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and you must meet all eligibility criteria required for receipt of federal assistance.

Federal student loans come in different categories. UMass Amherst offers two kinds of loans from the federal government - Federal Perkins Loans and William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans.

Federal student loans may also be subsidized or unsubsidized. With subsidized loans, the federal government pays the interest while you are enrolled in college and you must demonstrate financial need to receive these. With unsubsidized loans, you pay all of the interest, but payments may be deferred until you finish your degree. Unsubsidized loans are awarded regardless of family income or financial need.

Promissory Note and Entrance Interview

To receive a federal loan, you need to sign a Promissory Note and complete an entrance interview form. For loans administered by UMass Amherst, the financial aid office will contact you with procedures for completing both documents. For private/alternative loans, your lender will provide the promissory notes.

Federal Loan Limits

There are limits on the amount that a student may borrow under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program for one academic year. There are also cumulative limits on the total amount a student may borrow to pursue their education. Financial Aid Services uses the National Student Loan Database Service (NSLDS) to determine your total loan aggregates. Refer to your Student Aid Report (SAR) for your loan aggregates, it is important for you to monitor your loan aggregates to ensure you do not borrow beyond your eligiliblity.  

  • Dependent undergraduate students in their freshman year may borrow up to $5,500 (no more than $3,500 may be subsidized),
  • Sophomores up to $6,500 (no more than $4,500 may be subsidized) and
  • Juniors and seniors up to $7,500 (no more than $5,500 may be subsidized).
  • The cumulative limit for an undergraduate education is $31,000. (The subsidized portion may not exceed $23,000.)
  • If you are an independent student or a dependent student whose parent has been denied the PLUS loan you may borrow additional unsubsidized loan up to $4,000 for each of the first two years and $5,000 the remaining years. The cumulative limit for independent undergraduate students and dependent undergraduate students whose parent has been denied a PLUS loan is $57,500. (The subsidized portion may not to exceed $23,000.)

Under the Federal Perkins Loan program, students may borrow up to $5,500 a year. The total amount borrowed for freshman and sophomore years cannot exceed $8,000. The cumulative undergraduate limit is $20,000. The interest rate is fixed at 5% and repayment may extend for up to ten years. No interest is charged and no repayment is required while the student is enrolled at least half time (a minimum of six credits per semester) or during a the nine-month grace period following graduation or withdrawal from school. Information pertaining to repayment, cancelation and deferment is included on the promissory note. Additional information is available on the university's controller's office.

Please note that meeting eligibility requirements does not guarantee loan availability.

Interest Rate

The interest rate for Federal Direct Loans varies depending on the loan type and first disbursement date. Visit Federal Student Aid for more information on the Direct Loan program.

Loan Deferments

If you have begun repaying loans, you may be eligible for a loan deferment when you return to school. Contact your loan servicing center to find out more.

Loan Repayment

Several flexible repayment options are available. Visit Federal Student Aid for more information on the Direct Loan program.

Direct Loan Links

Direct Loan Information: Find out about applying for Direct Loans, learn about the options you have for repayment, use the interactive calculators, download Direct Loan deferment and forbearance forms, and get information about Direct Loan Consolidation.

Direct Loan Master Promissory Note: Complete your William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan promissory note online.

The National Student Loan Data Systems: An online tool to obtain information regarding your student loan history, overpayments, Pell Grant history, and enrollment history.

Alternative Loans

First: Have you filed a FAFSA?

Before considering private loan options, you should apply for federal, state and institutional financial aid, including federal student loans. Students considering educational private loans should apply only after they have applied for financial aid and received notification from Financial Aid Services. Go to FAFSA on the Web for more information.

Financial Aid Services strongly recommends that you fully research the alternative loan program and lender that best suits your financing needs. Please compare the benefits and costs of several alternative loan programs before you apply. To get the best interest rate and terms apply with a credit-worthy cosigner. To find out how to apply for an alternative loan visit the lender's website.

Below are links to alternative educational loans. The lenders included on each list responded to a public request for proposal (RFP) distributed by UMass Amherst Procurement Office. The proposals were evaluated and lenders selected based on the benefits the loan products offer to borrowers, including interest rates and fees, repayment benefits and terms, ability to apply, sign, certify and disburse electronically, quality of customer service to borrowers, problem resolution, loan management tools and availability of consumer information and web based service features. This is not a comprehensive list of all the educational loans available. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement or recommendation by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. If a parent or student has worked with a lender not listed below, and has received excellent benefits and quality service from this lender, you may continue to do business with that lender. Financial Aid Services will process alternative loans for any lender selected by the student.

For your convenience, we have provided telephone numbers and links to websites maintained by these lenders. UMass Amherst is not responsible for the availability, content, or accuracy of materials on third party websites. Please carefully read final loan agreements or promissory notes and understand their payment terms and other obligations.

Lender Selection Criteria

The lenders were selected from responses to a public Request for Proposals (RFP) for private/alternative loans published by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Procurement Office. View the RFP and evaluation criteria.

Alternative Loan Options Available

Select the appropriate link below to see a list of lenders.

Work-study is a form of need-based federal financial aid. As with all need-based financial aid, you will need to submit the FAFSA to be eligible and meet all other eligibility criteria required for receipt of federal assistance. The program provides students with part-time and seasonal employment opportunities in a variety of on- and off-campus jobs. Work-study funds are not applied to your UMass Amherst bill. Instead, you are paid bi-weekly, based on the hours that you have worked. These earnings can help offset personal expenses and other educational costs, such as your books or travel home.

If you receive work-study as part of your financial aid package you will be responsible for your own job search. The UMass Amherst Student Job Board provides an extensive list of job openings that are updated daily. The list of available jobs can also be viewed on bulletin boards outside of the Financial Aid Office, Room 243 Whitmore Administration Building.

For more details on work-study employment, visit Student Employment.

Work-Study and Community Service

As a work-study student, you may be able to combine your job with your passion for community service. UMass Amherst has partnered with more than 100 on- and off-campus community service agencies, including the America Read and America Counts programs, to provide jobs for work-study students. Visit Student Employment for more details.

Non Work-Study Jobs

If you do not qualify for work-study, you can still take advantage of the extensive list of on- and off-campus part-time, and seasonal jobs available. The UMass Amherst Student Job Board provides an extensive list of job openings that are updated daily. The list of available non work-study jobs are also included to view on bulletin boards outside of the Financial Aid Office.