Frequently Asked Questions

 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ - Financial Assistance

Doctoral Students

Do I need to apply for financial aid each year?

Fellowship recipients will have their fellowship automatically renewed each year, provided they are registered full-time and making satisfactory academic progress.
 
Students must apply for federal aid each academic year.  In order to be considered for as much aid as possible, students should apply by the priority deadline, April 30th.  Students who are only interested in Federal Direct Loans (Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS)can file the FAFSA up until one month before the semester ends.  Students interested in Federal Direct Loans must also complete the Federal Direct Loan Request Form annually.

What types of aid are available to doctoral students?

All incoming doctoral students will be admitted with a five year fellowship.  Fellowships typically include a minimum of tuition coverage, though many fellowships also include a stipend and/or assistantship.  For information on the different fellowships available, please visit: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Prospective-Current-Students/Current-Students/Financial-Assistance/Fellowships-and-Grants.
 
Doctoral students (excluding international students who are not eligible for federal aid) who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will also be considered for federal aid.  Graduate students may be eligible for Federal Direct Loans - Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS,- Federal Perkins Loans and/or Federal Work Study.  For more information on these types of aid, please see the relevant subsections of this FAQ.

How do doctoral students apply for fellowships?

Accepted students are automatically assigned a fellowship by their doctoral program.  There is no application for the five-year fellowships.

How do doctoral students apply for federal aid?

Students who would like to be considered for federal aid must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The easiest way to file is online.  In order to file a FAFSA, students will need to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID online.  International students are not eligible for federal aid.
 
The FAFSA asks for demographic information about the student and the student’s spouse (if applicable) and their financial situation within the prior tax year.  For more information on what documentation is needed to complete the FAFSA, please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out.
 
The Graduate Center (GC) begins reviewing new FAFSAs in late May/early June prior to the start of the academic year.   A student may be contacted if additional information is needed to complete his or her application.   Students will automatically be considered for Federal Perkins loans and Federal Work Study based on their FAFSA data.  Students who are interested in applying for Direct Loans (Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS), must also complete a Federal Direct Loan Request Form and it to the Office of Financial Aid.

What is the FAFSA deadline?

Students who would like to be considered for all types of financial aid should file the FAFSA by our priority deadline, April 30th.   If the student is only interested in borrowing Federal Direct Loans, they should file their FAFSA by November 20th for the fall semester and April 15th for the spring semester.  They will still also need to file a Federal Direct Loan Request Form.

Who is eligible for federal aid?

Most students, with the exception of international students, are eligible to receive financial aid from the federal government to help pay for graduate school.  A student’s age, race, or field of study won’t affect his or her eligibility for federal student aid. While income is taken into consideration, it does not automatically prevent a student from getting federal student aid.  For more specific details on who qualifies, please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/infographic-accessible
 
In order to be eligible for federal student aid, a student must be registered at least half-time (6 credits/WIUs).  Courses taken as a non-matriculated student and/or audited courses do not count toward a student’s eligibility to receive federal student aid.

Do I need to wait until I am admitted to file the FAFSA?

No, though no financial aid offers can be made until the student is admitted.  The FAFSA becomes available January 1st for the following academic year.  It is highly recommended that students apply by our April 30th priority deadline, even if they have not received an admissions decision.

How will I be notified of my financial aid offer?

When the award becomes available or a change is made to the award, an email will be sent to the student’s GC email address.  New doctoral students will also receive a paper financial aid award letter.  All financial aid offers will be available to view in Banner. 

As a student, what are my financial aid responsibilities? What should I know?

  • Be mindful of deadlines, such as the FAFSA deadline, the Financial Aid Registration deadline, etc.
  • Check Banner regularly
    • Accept his or her award in Banner.
    • A student should make sure that he or she does not owe financial aid any outstanding documents.
    • A student should monitor his or her bill to make sure his or her aid is being applied appropriately.
  • A student should check his or her GC email regularly.  All financial aid correspondence will be sent to that address.
  • Be aware that if a student’s enrollment or level changes, that student’s financial aid may also change.
 
In order to stay aware of major deadlines, follow the Office of Financial Aid on Twitter @GCFinancialAid.           

What types of aid are available to International Students?

International doctoral students are eligible for institutional aid, including fellowships.  The academic programs will appoint students to a fellowship upon admission.   International students are subject, however, to the Glacier process each semester in order to determine the taxes (if any) that the student’s home country requires to be withheld from the stipend.  This process will likely delay stipend payment.  Advances on stipend payment will be available for international students.  Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for details.
 
International students are not eligible for federal aid.

How will my fellowship be paid?

Fellowships are often made up of different components including tuition, a stipend and/or an assistantship.
 
All components of a fellowship can only be paid once a student has accepted his or her award in Banner and is registered full-time.  For doctoral students, 7 credits is considered full-time.   Students must also have their Social Security Number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) on file with the Office of Financial Aid.  International students should refer to the international student section of the FAQ for additional information.
 
Tuition coverage: Once a student registers full-time, a bill is created by the Bursar and tuition coverage will automatically be applied.

Assistantships: (Grad A, B, or D) are paid biweekly over one calendar year.  In order to have biweekly payments processed, students must attend a Human Resources orientation before the semester begins.   Information on assistantship payment will be provided during that orientation.
 
Stipends (GCF, CSS, Science, Math, MAGNET, Neuroscience):  will be mailed to the student’s address in Banner as a lump sum at the beginning of each semester, provided that the student has enrolled full-time, accepted the stipend, and has a SSN or TIN.   In order to receive payment as early as possible, students should be sure to register and accept their aid prior to the financial aid registration deadline. To find out the deadline for the upcoming semester, please visit the announcement section of our website at http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Prospective-Current-Students/Current-Students/Financial-AssistancePlease note:  If a student’s registration or level changes, his or her financial aid award may also change.

I am teaching at a CUNY college. Does this mean I qualify for tuition coverage?

A student qualifies for tuition remission as long as he or she is registered full-time, teaching a minimum of three credits at a CUNY college, in a PhD or equivalent program, and within his or her first ten semesters of enrollment.

What is a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

A Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a non-need based federal student loan available to eligible graduate or professional students to help pay for the cost of the student's education. Interest accrues from the day the loan is disbursed until the day it is repaid in full. The Federal Government is the lender and does not subsidize the interest.
 
The 2015-2016 interest rate for federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans is 5.84% and is set annually by the Federal Government.
 
Federal Direct Loans also have an origination fee which is deducted at disbursement.  This means the money a student receives will be less than the amount the student actually borrows.  The student is responsible for repaying the entire amount borrowed, not just the amount received.  Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans disbursed between 10/1/14 and 10/1/15 will have an origination fee of 1.073%.   Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans disbursed between 10/1/15 and 10/1/16 will have an origination fee of 1.068%.
 
The maximum loan amount is $20,500, but cannot exceed the student’s cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received.
 
Upon disbursement, Federal Direct Loans are assigned to a third party servicer who will be responsible for billing and the processing of payments. Federal Direct Loans have a six-month grace period.  Borrowers begin repayment in the seventh month upon graduating, dropping below half-time, or withdrawing from school.
 

What is a Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan?

A Federal Direct PLUS Loan is a credit-based loan available to eligible graduate or professional students to help pay for the cost of the student's education. The borrower must not have an adverse credit history. Interest accrues from the day the loan is disbursed until the day it is repaid in full. Graduate or professional students should exhaust Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan before taking out Federal Direct PLUS Loans. The Federal Government is the lender and does not subsidize the interest.
 
The 2015-2016 interest rate for Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan is 6.84% and is set annually by the Federal Government.
 
Federal Direct Loans also have an origination fee which is deducted at disbursement.  This means the money a student receives will be less than the amount the student actually borrows.  The student is responsible for repaying the entire amount borrowed, not just the amount received.  Direct Plus Loans disbursed between 10/1/14 and 10/1/15 will have an origination fee of 4.292%.   Direct Plus Loans disbursed between 10/1/15 and 10/1/16 will have an origination fee of 4.272%.
 
The maximum loan amount is the student’s cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received.
 
Upon disbursement, Federal Direct Loans are assigned to a third party servicer who will be responsible for billing and processing of payments. Federal Direct Loans have a six- month grace period.  Borrowers begin repayment in the seventh month upon graduating, dropping below half-time or withdrawing from school.
 

What is a loan servicer and how do I find out who my servicer is?

A loan servicer is the company that collects payments, responds to customer service inquiries, and performs other administrative tasks associated with student loans on behalf of a lender.  If a borrower has questions about repayment or his or her options, the servicer is often the best resource.  Borrowers must make sure that loan servicers always have accurate contact information to avoid missing payments because of a lost bill.

Servicer contact information is located on National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at www.nslds.gov.
 

When will my Federal Direct Loan disburse?

Federal Direct Loans will disburse weekly starting at the beginning of each semester.
 
The student’s actual disbursement date is contingent upon when the Master Promissory Note (MPN) is signed and when the Federal Government links the signed MPN to the current year loan. Once this occurs, the loan will disburse on the next available disbursement date. There is usually a 2-3 week turnaround time between signing the MPN and receiving the funds.
 
The MPN is valid for 10 years, meaning a borrower does not need to resign the MPN annually.
 

How will I receive my Federal Direct Loan Refund?

If a student has a balance with the Bursar, the balance will be deducted from the loan.  The remaining loan proceeds will be direct deposited into the student’s bank account or mailed to the student.
 
Loan checks can be received in one of two ways:

  1. Direct Deposit (highly recommended) – Paperwork must be completed in the Bursar’s Office.
  2. A check will be mailed to the address listed on the student’s FAFSA.  The mailing address can be updated on question #5 of the Direct Loan Request Form.

What is a Federal Perkins Loan?

A Federal Perkins Loan is a need-based, low-interest federal student loan.  Perkins Loans carry a fixed interest rate of 5%.  The school is the lender; payment will be made to the school’s loan servicer, ECSI.  The Perkins Loan program has a nine-month grace period.  Borrowers begin repayment in the tenth month upon graduating, dropping below half-time or withdrawing from school.
 

When will my Federal Perkins Loan be disbursed?

Before the Federal Perkins Loan can be disbursed, the student must complete both entrance counseling and the Master Promissory Note (MPN) every academic year.  The entrance counseling and MPN are made available during the summer months.  Once those are completed, the loan would pay in the first available pay cycle.  The fall disbursement date will be in September. The spring disbursement will be in February.  Please note:  The Federal Perkins Loan is set to expire on October 1, 2015.  Students who complete their MPN and entrance counseling by September 20th will be able to receive their fall 2015 and spring 2016 Perkins Loan.  Any Federal Perkins recipient who has not completed their MPN and/or entrance counseling by September 20th, will have their Federal Perkins Loan cancelled.
 

How do I find out who my Perkins Loan servicer is?

CUNY’s current servicer for the Federal Perkins loan is ECSI (www.ecsi.net).
 
 

How do I apply for work-study and where would I work?

To be considered for  federal work study (FWS), the FAFSA must be filed by the April 30th priority deadline and question 31 should be answered with a “yes,” indicating an interest in FWS.
FWS money is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. The GC receives a fixed amount of money each academic year to make FWS awards.  Students who do not initially receive a FWS offer may complete the Federal Work Study Wish List form in order to be considered if funds become available at a later date. This form can be found here: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Prospective-Current-Students/Current-Students/Financial-Assistance.
Students who have been awarded work study will see it reflected as part of the financial aid award in Banner.

Student assignments are within the stiudent’s academic program.

Can I choose where I would like to work?

No. The Graduate School of Journalism students are assigned exclusively to their campus.  The Graduate Center may offer a few students an alternative work assignment if their academic program does not have an available position. In this event, students should have prepared an updated resume or CV for distribution.

 

Can I earn as much money as I want?

No. The FWS award represents the maximum amount the student may earn for the academic year. How much of the total award is actually received depends upon the total number of hours worked. Once the maximum FWS award is earned, the student will have to stop working.

Students who would like to request additional FWS funds, may submit the FWS Wish List form after they have has earned 3/4 of their FWS award (make sure to check the box below the signature line to make this request). Submit the completed form the Financial Aid Office for processing.

Master's Students

Do I need to apply for financial aid each year?

Students must apply for federal aid each academic year.  In order to be considered for as much aid as possible, students should apply by the priority deadline, April 30th.  Students who are only interested in Federal Direct Loans (Unsubsidized Stafford and Graduate PLUS) can file the FAFSA up until one month before the semester ends.   Students interested in Federal Direct Loans must also complete the Federal Direct Loan Request Form annually. School of Journalism students should email the form to Rafael Villalona at rvillalona@gc.cuny.edu.

What types of aid are available to masters students?

Masters students who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be considered for federal aid.  Graduate students may be eligible for Federal Direct Loans - Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS - Federal Perkins Loans and/or Federal Work Study.  For more information on these types of aid, please see the relevant subsections of this FAQ.

How do masters students apply for federal aid?

Students (excluding international students) who would like to be considered for federal aid must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The easiest way to file is online.  In order to file a FAFSA, you will need to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID.
 
The FAFSA asks for demographic information about the student and the student’s spouse (if applicable) and their financial situation within the prior tax year.  For more information on what documentation is needed to complete the FAFSA, please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out.
 
The GC begins reviewing new FAFSAs in late May/early June prior to the start of the academic year.   A student may be contacted if additional information is needed to complete their application.   Students will automatically be considered for Federal Perkins loans and Federal Work Study based on their FAFSA data.  Students who are interested in applying for Federal Direct Loans (Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS), must also complete a Federal Direct Loan Request Form and submit it to the Office of Financial Aid.

What is the FAFSA deadline?

Students who would like to be considered for all types of financial aid should file the FAFSA by our priority deadline, April 30th.   If the student is only interested in borrowing Direct Loans, he or she should file their FAFSA by November 20th for the fall semester and April 15th for the spring semester.  The student will still also need to file a Federal Direct Loan Request Form.

Who is eligible for federal aid?

Most students, with the exception of international students, are eligible to receive financial aid from the federal government to help pay for graduate school. A student’s age, race, or field of study won’t affect his or her eligibility for federal student aid. While income is taken into consideration, it does not automatically prevent a student from getting federal student aid.  For more specific details on who qualifies, please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/infographic-accessible.
 
In order to be eligible for federal student aid, a student must be registered at least half-time (6 credits/WIUs).  Courses taken as a non-matriculated student and/or audited courses do not count toward a student’s eligibility to receive federal student aid.

Do I need to wait until I am admitted to file the FAFSA?

No, though no financial aid offers can be made until the student is admitted. The FAFSA becomes available January 1st for the following academic year. It is highly recommended that students apply by our April 30th priority deadline, even if they have not received an admissions decision.

How will I be notified of my financial aid offer?

When the award becomes available or a change is made to the award, an email will be sent to the student’s GC email address.  All financial aid offers will be available to view in Banner. 

As a student, what are my financial aid responsibilities? What should I know?

To avoid any problems with their financial aid, students should:
  • Be mindful of deadlines, such as the FAFSA deadline, the Financial Aid Registration deadline, etc.
  • Check Banner regularly
    • Accept his or her award in Banner.
    • A student should make sure that he or she does not owe financial aid any outstanding documents.
    • A student should monitor his or her bill to make sure his or her aid is being applied appropriately.
  • A student should check his or her GC email regularly.  All financial aid correspondence will be sent to that address.
  • Be aware that if a student’s enrollment or level changes, that student’s financial aid may also change.
 
In order to stay aware of major deadlines, follow the Office of Financial Aid on Twitter @GCFinancialAid.

I am teaching at a CUNY college. Does this mean I qualify for tuition coverage?

A student qualifies for tuition remission as long as he or she is registered full-time, teaching a minimum of three credits at a CUNY college, in a PhD or equivalent program, and within his or her first ten semesters of enrollment.

What is a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

A Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a non-need based federal student loan available to eligible graduate or professional students to help pay for the cost of the student's education. Interest accrues from the day the loan is disbursed until the day it is repaid in full. The Federal Government is the lender and does not subsidize the interest.
 
The 2015-2016 interest rate for federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans is 5.84% and is set annually by the Federal Government.
 
Federal Direct Loans also have an origination fee which is deducted at disbursement.  This means the money a student receives will be less than the amount the student actually borrows.  The student is responsible for repaying the entire amount borrowed, not just the amount received.  Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans disbursed between 10/1/14 and 10/1/15 will have an origination fee of 1.073%.   Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans disbursed between 10/1/15 and 10/1/16 will have an origination fee of 1.068%.
 
The maximum loan amount is $20,500, but cannot exceed the student’s cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received.
 
Upon disbursement, Federal Direct Loans are assigned to a third party servicer who will be responsible for billing and the processing of payments. Federal Direct Loans have a six-month grace period.  Borrowers begin repayment in the seventh month upon graduating, dropping below half-time, or withdrawing from school.
 
 

What is a Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan?

A Federal Direct PLUS Loan is a credit-based loan available to eligible graduate or professional students to help pay for the cost of the student's education. The borrower must not have an adverse credit history. Interest accrues from the day the loan is disbursed until the day it is repaid in full. Graduate or professional students should exhaust Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan before taking out Federal Direct PLUS Loans. The Federal Government is the lender and does not subsidize the interest.
 
The 2015-2016 interest rate for Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan is 6.84% and is set annually by the Federal Government.
 
Federal Direct Loans also have an origination fee which is deducted at disbursement.  This means the money a student receives will be less than the amount the student actually borrows.  The student is responsible for repaying the entire amount borrowed, not just the amount received.  Direct Plus Loans disbursed between 10/1/14 and 10/1/15 will have an origination fee of 4.292%.   Direct Plus Loans disbursed between 10/1/15 and 10/1/16 will have an origination fee of 4.272%.
 
The maximum loan amount is the student’s cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received.
 
Upon disbursement, Federal Direct Loans are assigned to a third party servicer who will be responsible for billing and processing of payments. Federal Direct Loans have a six- month grace period.  Borrowers begin repayment in the seventh month upon graduating, dropping below half-time or withdrawing from school.
 

What is a loan servicer and how do I find out who my servicer is?

A loan servicer is the company that collects payments, responds to customer service inquiries, and performs other administrative tasks associated with student loans on behalf of a lender.  If a borrower has questions about repayment or his or her options, the servicer is often the best resource.  Borrowers must make sure that loan servicers always have accurate contact information to avoid missing payments because of a lost bill.

Servicer contact information is located on National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at www.nslds.gov.
 

When will my Federal Direct Loan disburse?

Federal Direct Loans will disburse weekly starting at the beginning of each semester.
 
The student’s actual disbursement date is contingent upon when the Master Promissory Note (MPN) is signed and when the Federal Government links the signed MPN to the current year loan. Once this occurs, the loan will disburse on the next available disbursement date. There is usually a 2-3 week turnaround time between signing the MPN and receiving the funds.
 
The MPN is valid for 10 years, meaning a borrower does not need to resign the MPN annually.
 

How will I receive my Federal Direct Loan Refund?

If a student has a balance with the Bursar, the balance will be deducted from the loan.  The remaining loan proceeds will be direct deposited into the student’s bank account or mailed to the student.
 
Loan checks can be received in one of two ways:

  1. Direct Deposit (highly recommended) – Paperwork must be completed in the Bursar’s Office.
  2. A check will be mailed to the address listed on the student’s FAFSA.  The mailing address can be updated on question #5 of the Direct Loan Request Form.

What is a Federal Perkins Loan?

A Federal Perkins Loan is a need-based, low-interest federal student loan.  Perkins Loans carry a fixed interest rate of 5%.  The school is the lender; payment will be made to the school’s loan servicer, ECSI.  The Perkins Loan program has a nine-month grace period.  Borrowers begin repayment in the tenth month upon graduating, dropping below half-time or withdrawing from school.
 

When will my Federal Perkins Loan be disbursed?

Before the Federal Perkins Loan can be disbursed, the student must complete both entrance counseling and the Master Promissory Note (MPN) every academic year.  The entrance counseling and MPN are made available during the summer months.  Once those are completed, the loan would pay in the first available pay cycle.  The fall disbursement date will be in September.  The spring disbursement will be in February.  Please note:  The Federal Perkins Loan is set to expire on October 1, 2015. Students who complete their MPN and entrance counseling by September 20th will be able to receive their fall 2015 and spring 2016 Perkins Loan.  Any Federal Perkins recipient who has not completed their MPN and/or entrance counseling by September 20th, will have their Federal Perkins Loan cancelled.
 

How do I find out who my Perkins Loan servicer is?

CUNY’s current servicer for the Federal Perkins loan is ECSI (www.ecsi.net).

How do I apply for work-study and where would I work?

To be considered for  federal work study (FWS), the FAFSA must be filed by the April 30th priority deadline and question 31 should be answered with a “yes,” indicating an interest in FWS.
FWS money is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. The GC receives a fixed amount of money each academic year to make FWS awards.  Students who do not initially receive a FWS offer may complete the Federal Work Study Wish List form in order to be considered if funds become available at a later date. This form can be found here: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Prospective-Current-Students/Current-Students/Financial-Assistance.
Students who have been awarded work study will see it reflected as part of the financial aid award in Banner.

Student assignments are within the stiudent’s academic program.

Can I choose where I would like to work?

No. The Graduate School of Journalism students are assigned exclusively to their campus.  The Graduate Center may offer a few students an alternative work assignment if their academic program does not have an available position. In this event, students should have prepared an updated resume or CV for distribution.

 

Can I earn as much money as I want?

No. The FWS award represents the maximum amount the student may earn for the academic year. How much of the total award is actually received depends upon the total number of hours worked. Once the maximum FWS award is earned, the student will have to stop working.

Students who would like to request additional FWS funds, may submit the FWS Wish List form after they have has earned 3/4 of their FWS award (make sure to check the box below the signature line to make this request). Submit the completed form the Financial Aid Office for processing.