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GTU Financial Aid Office

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Our fundamental purpose is to assist students to the best of our ability with available financial aid programs to meet the cost of their education and to provide quality service in an accurate, timely and equitable manner. The financial aid information contained in this section of the website is intended to help you understand your options and how to apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

Financial aid is monetary assistance offered to eligible students to help meet their educational expenses. Aid can come from two categories. "Gift" aid which includes grants, scholarships and stipends that do not have to be paid back. "Self-help" aid is educational loans such as the federal Direct Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS Loan Programs, which must be paid back, and/or college work-study, which is money earned from employment on-campus or at an eligible non-profit, community service organization.

New application forms will be posted to this website in early October of each year and the FAFSA will be available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov on October 1.  MA Students: Member schools may have specific institutional aid application deadlines so pay close attention to your school or center of affiliation's institutional financial aid submission deadlines.

The U.S. Department of Education now uses prior-prior year federal tax information with the assumption that most students will be able to provide their actual federal income tax information when they file their FAFSA.  Additionally, if you are selected for federal Verification by the federal processor or by the GTU Financial Aid Office, if you are not eligible to use the IRS Data Retreival Tool (DRT) of the FAFSA, you must submit a copy of your tax transcript from the IRS to the financial aid office as soon as possible. Please note that your financial aid may be modified if there is a large discrepancy.

We encourage students to send in forms as soon as they are completely filled out. However, it is important that you enter your full legal name exactly as it is listed on your social security card or U.S. Passport at the top of all documents submitted.

To request a withdrawal from the school, a student must make a written request of withdrawal to the school's registrar. The date of withdrawal will be the date the registrar receives the written request.

Section 484 (b) of the Higher Education Act specifies a formula that requires federal aid recipients to "earn" the aid they receive while enrolled in school at least halftime. The amount of Title IV (federal) aid "earned" is determined by multiplying the total Title IV aid for which the student qualified by the percentage of time during the term that the student was enrolled. Students who withdraw prior to completing 60% of the semester in which they receive federal student aid may be required to return some of the aid they were awarded.

The formula assumes that a student uses Title IV aid (e.g. Stafford or Perkins loans) to pay institutional charges i.e. tuition, fees, rent and certain other institutional charges. Withdrawal prior to completing 60% of the semester for which aid was awarded requires that a pro rata portion of the aid must be returned to the federal government (loan servicer).

First, the school will return to the appropriate federal fund source a proportional share of institutional charges that were paid. In general, the effect of this "return of Title IV aid" by the institution is to reduce an outstanding federal loan balance. Second, if the amount returned by the school is not enough to repay the entire amount not "earned" the student will be required to repay "unearned" Title IV aid to the loan servicer.

If a student is entitled to a refund from the school for amounts paid to cover institutional charges, any refund due will first be applied to the obligation to return "unearned" aid. Thus, portions of institutional refunds may be applied to an outstanding Direct Loan(s).

This policy is based on 34 CFR, Section 668.22 of Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.

Every year students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents can apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and the school's supplemental application. These forms help determine a student's need for aid by calculating the applicant's income, assets, and family size to determine how much they can contribute towards their education. This calculation is referred to as the student contribution. Each year the financial aid office creates a standard student budget for all students. The budget takes into account tuition, fees, books and living costs. Financial need is determined by subtracting the student contribution from the standard student budget. The difference from these two figures is the student need.

Once your financial aid eligibility has been determined you will receive an award notification informing you that your financial aid offer is available to review on the GTU's Net Partner Financial Aid Student Portal stating the amount of loan funding you are eligible to borrow as well as information on how to apply for this type of student loan.

Yes, this may affect your aid. Given the limited nature of institutional grant or scholarships aid, students who have not applied on time may not receive an offer that includes institutional "gift" aid. Both the free application for federal student aid form AND the financial aid application form must be filed before or postmarked by the deadline. In order to be fair to all applicants in the distribution of our limited funds, students who apply on time will receive priority preference in the awarding process of financial aid.

Yes. Students who have additional costs such as uninsured medical expenses, higher rents, or single parent childcare can appeal, with appropriate documentation, to increase their student budget.

Yes, you never know what you may qualify for if you don't apply. You may at least be considered eligible for a federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan to help cover your educational expenses.

The following information is required in order to complete section G of the FAFSA. Please list each school on the FAFSA to which you will apply. GTU MA students should list the federal school code for both the GTU and their school of affiliation.

School       Federal School Code
Graduate Theological Union   G01207

Student COA

The following budget is an estimated average and reasonable cost of completing the 2020-2021 academic year at the Graduate Theological Union. This budget serves as the foundation for determining student’s financial need as well as the amount of qualified institutional grant/scholarship and federal student aid that can be offered, and is provided to assist GTU students in estimating their budgetary requirements for the nine (9) month academic year only.  As these costs are only estimates, individual budgets may vary considerably. We recommend that each student create a personal budget using actual or projected costs to estimate one’s budget and financial need most accurately. While expenses for family members are not factored into the cost of attendance (COA), we suggest adding a minimum of $7,000 for a dependent spouse and $4,000 for a dependent child to one’s personal budget for the nine-month academic year.

For the purpose of Title IV federal student aid, COA figures are established through student surveys and other research and allowable expenses include: tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, health insurance, federal student loan fees, and personal expenses related to school attendance. Costs incurred prior to the start of the academic year, consumer debt payments, car payments, charitable gifts, legal fees, life insurance, etc., are not considered allowable expenses. The GTU Financial Aid Office may adjust the cost of attendance using Professional Judgment (PJ) for students on a case-by-case basis to address individual circumstances as allowed by GTU Policy and the U.S. Department of Education. For information on budget adjustments, refer to the Financial Aid Budget Adjustment Policy.

Program

per credit

4-month semester

9-month academic year

Ph.D. and Th.D. in tuition

$1,475

$17,700

$34,400

Ph.D. and Th.D. continuing relations fee

$4,775

$9,550

M.A. in tuition

$800

$9,600

$19,200

M.A. continuing relations fee

$4,665

$9,330

 

 

 

 

Allowable Non-Tuition Expenses

per month

4-month semester

9-month academic year

Books and Supplies

$500

$1,000

Housing

$1,300

$5,850

$11,700

Food

$336

$1,510

$3,020

Transportation

$250

$1,125

$2,300

Health/Medical

$1,500

$3,000

Miscellaneous

$140

$630

$1,260

Loan Fee

$110

$220

Total estimated non-tuition expenses

$2,026

$11,225

$22,500

 

 

 

 

Total 2020-2021 Cost of Attendance

(sum of tuition and  non-tuition expenses)

4-month semester

9-month academic year

Ph.D. and Th.D. in tuition

$28,925

$57,900

Ph.D. and Th.D. continuing relations fee

$16,000

$32,050

M.A. in tuition

$20,825

$41,700

M.A. continuing relations fee

$15,890

$31,830

 

 

GTU Federal Verification Policy

The law that governs the administration of the federal student aid programs is the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA). Some aspects of the HEA are clear and concise and do not require more detailed guidance.  However, other provisions merely express congressional intent and require additional interpretation, clarification, or guidance. Such guidance is provided in the form of federal regulations. The regulations in Subpart E of 34 CFR 668.51-61 of the Code of Federal Regulations govern the verification process and its requirements.

The purpose of verification is to ensure accuracy when determining financial aid eligibility.  Each year, the Secretary of Education publishes in the Federal Register a notice announcing the FAFSA information that an institution and an applicant may be required to verify and specifies what documentation is acceptable for verifying FAFSA information.

The Financial Aid Office of the Graduate Theological Union verifies all applicants selected by the U.S. Department of Education’s Central Processing System (CPS).  Additionally, the Financial Aid Office has the authority to select any student not selected by CPS for institutional verification.  It is the institution’s responsibility to require applicants to submit supporting documentation to verify specified data elements of their FAFSA.  It is the student’s responsibility to provide the specified documents and information as requested within the established timeframe.

In accordance with the regulations, the institution must have written policies about what documentation is required, the time period in which students must submit documentation, the consequences for failing to submit those documents on time, the method used to notify students if their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and aid eligibility changes, the procedures to correct FAFSA data, and the process of referring students to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).  The OIG conducts independent and objective audits, investigations, and other activities to promote the efficiency, effectiveness, and integrity of the U.S. Department of Education's programs and operations.  It is their mission to prevent and detect fraud and abuse.

CPS randomly selects applicants for verification and sets a flag on the student’s processed FAFSA, otherwise known as the Student Aid Report (SAR), to indicate that the student’s record has been selected.  Students should be aware that an update or correction to their FAFSA may trigger CPS to select the application or additional data elements for verification.

There are some situations in which the GTU Financial Aid Office may select a student’s FAFSA for verification.  These situations include conflicting information reported on the FAFSA and students who have submitted a budget or financial circumstance appeal.  If you are selected for verification, please do not assume you are being accused of doing anything wrong.  Verification is simply the process used to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate.  This is a process for receiving documentation that supports the information you reported.  A student whose FAFSA is selected for verification will be notified as follows:

  1. If selected by CPS, an asterisk (*) adjacent to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on a student’s SAR designates that they have been randomly selected; or,
  2. If selected by the Financial Aid Office, the student will be notified by email to their school address.

Email notifications sent to students whose FAFSA information is selected for verification will include the:

  1. documentation required for verification; and,
  2. deadline by which to submit required documentation.

Mistakes made on the FAFSA must be corrected if the correction results in a change that impacts any aspect of the student’s financial aid eligibility.  Published guidance indicates that the financial aid administrator must resolve conflicting information before disbursing aid or making a professional judgment adjustment regardless of whether the student is selected for verification.  If the information on a piece of documentation, such as an IRS Tax Transcript and/or the GTU Financial Aid Application, is not consistent with the information on the FAFSA, it represents conflicting information.  To resolve discrepancies in reported information, students may be required to submit additional forms and/or documentation.  The student’s EFC will be recalculated and if the results affect eligibility the student or the Financial Aid Office may be required to submit corrections to the CPS.  This may result in a recalculation of a student’s overall award. Generally, a student cannot update FAFSA information that was correct as of the date it was signed and processed because it is considered a “snapshot” of the family’s situation as of that date.  After the FAFSA has been processed, household size, number in college, and marital status can be updated only under the conditions listed below.

  • Verification of Household Size or Number in College: Updates are required for discrepancies in household size or number in college. Unborn children may be included if they will be born during the 2020-2021 academic year.  Additionally in accordance with Title IV federal student aid regulations, children born after January 1, 2018 and are under the age of 24 are considered dependent.  (e.g. a dependent child who would be required to provide your information when completing their FAFSA for 2020-2021 may be included in household size.)
     
  • Marital Status: The institution may require that the student change their marital status on the FAFSA only if it determines that the update is necessary to address an inequity or to more accurately reflect the student’s ability to pay.  Applicants who were not married in the 2018 calendar year but are married as of the day the FAFSA was completed, must report their marital status as “married” and tax filing status as “Married, filing separately”.  In addition, the spouse’s income must be reported on the FAFSA.

The Federal Register lists individual items that an applicant must substantiate based on the Verification Tracking Group to which the applicant is assigned.  If you have been CPS-selected for verification, your Tracking Status will be listed on your SAR.

Verification Tracking Flag

Verification Tracking Group Name

FAFSA Information Required to be Verified

V1

Standard Verification Group

Tax Filers

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

U.S. Income Tax Paid

Untaxed Portions of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Distributions

Untaxed Portions of Pensions

IRA Deductions and Payments

Tax Exempt Interest Income

Education Tax Credits

 

Non Tax Filers

Income Earned from Work

 

Tax Filers and Non Tax Filers

Number of Household Members

Number in College

V4

Custom Verification Group

High School Completion Status

Identity Statement of Educational Purpose

V5

Aggregate Verification Group

Tax Filers

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

U.S. Income Tax Paid

Untaxed Portions of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Distributions

Untaxed Portions of Pensions

IRA Deductions and Payments

Tax Exempt Interest Income

Education Tax Credits

 

Non Tax Filers

Income Earned from Work

 

Tax Filers and Non Tax Filers

Number of Household Members

Number in College

High School Completion Status

Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose

 

The documentation required for verification varies in accordance with the specific FAFSA information being verified.  A student selected for verification must submit the following acceptable documentation to the Financial Aid Office to complete the process.  Additional documentation may be deemed necessary on a case-by-case basis once the review begins.  The best action a student can take to facilitate this process is to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to automatically populate tax information directly from the IRS into their FAFSA.  Students who make changes after importing their data will be required to submit an IRS Tax Transcript.  If a student is unable to submit any of the required documents, they should contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss possible alternative acceptable documentation.

FAFSA Information

Acceptable Documentation

Information for Tax Filers

For income information listed under items a through g for tax filers -

a. Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

b. U.S. Income Tax Paid

c. Untaxed Portions of IRA Distributions

d. Untaxed Portions of Pensions

e. IRA Deductions and Payments

f. Tax Exempt Interest Income

g. Education Credits

Verification Worksheet, W2’s for all sources of employment, tax transcript or IRS DRT, and, if applicable, a transcript that was obtained from the relevant taxing authority of the US territory (Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands) or commonwealth (Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands), or a foreign central government that lists tax account information of the tax filer

h. Other Untaxed Income

Verification Worksheet and W2’s for all sources of employment

Information for tax filers with special circumstances

For students who filed a joint tax return but at the time the FAFSA was completed was separated, divorced, widowed, or married to someone other than the individual included on the joint tax return -

a. Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

b. U.S. Income Tax Paid

c. Untaxed Portions of IRA Distributions

d. Untaxed Portions of Pensions

e. IRA Deductions and Payments

f. Tax Exempt Interest Income

g. Education Credits

Verification Worksheet, IRS W2’s for all sources of employment, and a copy of the IRS Tax Transcript

For students who have been granted a filing extension from the IRS-

Verification Worksheet, W2’s for all sources of employment, and a copy of the IRS's Form 2350, approval of an extension beyond the automatic six-month extension, if applicable

Verification of Non-filing Letter (VNF) from the IRS dated on or after October 1, 2019

If self-employed, verification worksheet certifying the amount of the AGI and U.S. income tax paid for tax year 2018

For students who have filed an amended tax return

A signed copy of the 1040x and a copy of the 2018 IRS Records of Account Transcript(s).

For married students who filed a separate tax return from their spouse

The 2018 IRS Tax Return Transcript(s) must be provided for student and spouse.

For a student is a victim of IRS tax related identity theft

Verification Worksheet and a Tax Return Database View (TRDBV) transcript obtained by the IRS

h. Other Untaxed Income

Verification Worksheet and W2’s for all sources of employment

Income Information for Non-Tax Filers

 

a. Income Earned from work

b. Other Untaxed Income

Verification Worksheet and W2’s for all sources of employment.  For residents of the Freely Associated states (the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, or the Federated States of Micronesia), a copy of the wage and tax statement from each employer and a signed statement identifying all income and taxes for the year.

“Verification of Non-filing Letter” (VNF) from the IRS (filers of foreign returns must submit a comparable document) dated on or after October 1, 2019 attesting that a 2018 IRS income tax return was not filed.  The letter may be requested online or by paper free of charge.  (To request by paper complete IRS Form 4506-T and check box 7.)

Number of Household Members

Verification Worksheet

Number in College

Verification Worksheet and a copy of registration demonstrating half-time enrollment status for other members in household

High School Completion Status

High School Diploma or transcript; GED certificate or transcript; homeschooled credential or transcript; or, academic transcript showing two-year program completion

Copy of the “secondary school leaving certificate” (or other similar documentation) for students who completed secondary education in a foreign country and are unable to obtain a copy of their high school diploma or transcript

Identity/Statement of Education Purpose

Original government-issued photo ID such as a passport or a driver's license and an Identity and Statement of Education Purpose

Other Information

Other documentation as specified by the CPS and the Financial Aid Office

Typically, students are asked to submit required documentation to the Financial Aid Office within two weeks of being notified.  Students should refer to their verification notification email for the requisite deadlines.  There are consequences resulting from failure to complete verification within the specified timelines.  We are required to inform students of these consequences, however, our goal is to help students avoid them.  Federal verification regulations stipulate the following: estimated financial aid awards may be delayed or canceled if verification is not completed within specified deadlines; any financial aid awarded will remain conditional until all required documents have been reviewed; and, verification corrections that impact a student’s eligibility may result in an adjustment or cancellation of an award.  Students may contact the Financial Aid Office if an extension of time is needed.  Once the Financial Aid Office has completed the verification review, students will be notified in writing to their school email.

Students are advised that the institution must and will refer to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) any credible information indicating that an applicant for Federal Student Aid may have engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with FAFSA applications.  Common misconduct includes false claims of citizenship, use of false identities, forgery of signatures of certifications, and false statements of income.  Note that fraud is the intent to deceive as opposed to a mistake on an application.

Definitions:

FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an online form that is completed annually to determine eligibility for federal student aid programs offered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and need-based institutional aid at the GTU.  Completing the FAFSA is free.  Federal student aid may be used to offset expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and other related educational expenses.  Some external outside organizations, agencies or foundations may use the FAFSA information to determine eligibility for their aid.

Central Processing System (CPS): The primary business function of CPS is student application processing and eligibility determination for federal student financial assistance for postsecondary education.

Student Aid Report (SAR): One of two output documents created by CPS after processing a student’s FAFSA.  The SAR is made available electronically to the student.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC or ‘Student Contribution’): The Financial Aid Office uses the need analysis formula established by the U.S. Department of Education to determine an applicant’s ability to contribute to the Cost of Attendance.  The EFC is the result of the information provided on the FAFSA. The federal methodology calculation of the FAFSA takes into account certain income and asset protection, and employment expense allowances based on household size and number in college.  The EFC represents an evaluation of family size, income and assets.

Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR): One of two output documents created by CPS after processing a student’s FAFSA. The ISIR is made available electronically to institutions listed on the student’s FAFSA.

Federal Unsubsidized Student Financial Assistance Programs: Title IV, HEA programs for which eligibility is not based on an applicant’s need.  For students attending the GTU, these programs include the Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS Loan programs.

IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT):  The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows applicants who have already filed their federal income tax returns to prefill the answers to some questions on the FAFSA by transferring data from the IRS. This can save the applicant some time in completing the FAFSA, it ensures accuracy and it may also reduce the likelihood that your FAFSA will be selected for verification. 

Tax Return Transcript or Record of Account Transcript: A summary of your tax return as filed from the IRS that shows most line items including AGI from an original tax return (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) as filed, along with any forms and schedules. This document is required by ED if you were selected for verification and did not or could not use the IRS DRT.  Signed copies of your Federal 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ are not acceptable documents.

1040X: An IRS form used by taxpayers who have to amend their tax returns for any reason.  Students who have amended their tax return must submit a signed copy of the 1040X and the IRS Record of Account Transcript.

Non-filer: Applicants who are not required to file a federal tax return must submit a Verification of Non-Filing Letter (VNF) from the IRS.

To determine if you are required to file a federal income tax return, please review the chart below as indicated on page 10 of IRS 1040 Instructions for the 2018 tax year.

IF your filing status is…

AND at the end of 2018 you were…

THEN file a return if your gross income was at least…

Single

Under 65

65 or older

$12,000

$13,600

Married filing jointly

Under 65 (both spouses)

65 or older (one spouse)

65 or older (both spouses)

$24,000

$25,300

$26,600

Married filing separately

Any age

$5

Head of Household

Under 65

65 or older

$18,000

$19,600

Qualifying widow(er)

Under 65

65 or older

$24,000

$25,300

 

Students who receive financial assistance understand and agree to comply with the terms and conditions listed below and all applicable institutional policies and federal regulations.

  • You understand that you must be a degree-seeking student at the GTU. Prospective student applications will be reviewed after the Financial Aid Office has been notified of your admission to an eligible degree program. Applications received after a priority deadline may be delayed by a minimum of three to six weeks.
  • You must provide accurate information. Intentionally misreporting information used to determine financial aid eligibility is a violation of federal law and could be a criminal offense, which may be subject to penalties that include fines, imprisonment, or both under the US Criminal Code and 20 U.S.C. 1097.
  • An award will be made in accordance with all current laws, regulations and appropriations of the federal government and the institution in effect at the time of the calculation and the availability of funds.  The Financial Aid Office reserves the right to modify, reduce or withdraw an award in the event of changes in your financial status and/or eligibility for aid, if institutional policies or federal laws are amended.  Additionally, financial aid may be cancelled if the aid offered was based on any unintended error.
  • You agree to use the GTU Net Partner Student Portal to accept and/or decline your aid electronically. You may contact the Financial Aid Office regarding alternative methods of communication and you can rescind your permission at any time. All financial aid matters will be communicated by email to your preferred email if you are an applicant or your school email account if you are a returning student.
  • You understand that an offer of financial aid and determination of your award is for the 2020-2021 nine-month academic year or four and a half month academic term and that offers of financial aid are contingent on the availability of funds. If you enroll for fewer units than estimated or drop classes which bring you below full-time enrollment, your award will be adjusted accordingly or withdrawn completely.  Funding is not guaranteed for increased enrollment. Furthermore, you understand you must re-apply and reestablish eligibility for financial aid each award year.
  • You understand that you may explore other opportunities for assistance. We encourage you to make use of the GTU Guide to External Scholarships and Resources to research other funding sources that may support your education and help to reduce the need to borrow loans.
  • You understand that you must report any additional financial assistance missing on your award notice, such as scholarships, vocational rehabilitation funds, AmeriCorps, fellowships and employer tuition assistance.  Additional assistance received may result in an adjustment, cancellation or required repayment of an award if additional aid exceeds your demonstrated financial need or cost of attendance.
  • You will inform the Financial Aid Office of any changes in your financial circumstances, favorable as well as unfavorable, that occur within the award period.  You may request a recalculation of your financial need if there is a substantial change in your financial circumstances.  However, this may not result in an increase in financial aid.
  • If required, you must provide verification documents requested within two weeks of the time of the request or your award will be subject to delay. An award will be adjusted or canceled if aid eligibility changes as a result of this process.
  • You cannot receive financial aid from two schools at the same time for the same semester.
  • If a Federal Work Study (FWS) award is included in your aid package, before beginning employment, a FWS Authorization form and a current job description must be filed with the Financial Aid Office and employment documents must be completed with Human Resources.  Work-study employment is contingent upon availability of funds and is not guaranteed.
  • Recipients of federal student loans must complete the online entrance counseling requirement before receiving any funds.  Online counseling may be completed at www.studentloans.gov.
  • You understand that once financial aid funds are available for payment, financial aid will be credited to your student account to pay for your mandatory tuition/fees and any other outstanding obligations related to your educational expenses by the established deadline. If your financial aid disbursement does not cover the balance due, you are responsible for the payment.
  • You acknowledge that a condition to receive financial aid requires that you maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards according to policies established by the institution that are compliant with federal regulations.
  • If you are awarded a merit-based scholarship and fall below the scholarship criteria, you may be responsible for repayment of the scholarship.
  • According to federal regulations, if you withdraw or stop attending all classes (i.e., take a leave of absence) prior to completing 60% of any semester for which you have received a federal Direct Loan, awards may be adjusted in accordance with the refund policy and you may be required to repay all or a portion of any federal funds disbursed based on the Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation as required by federal law. Recalculations of your financial aid may cause a balance due and you are responsible for reviewing your student billing account statement to determine if you owe a repayment of a federal Direct Loan or other type of financial aid. Any credit refund that you have received may be returned to the US Department of Education and your federal loan servicer(s) will be notified of your less than half-time enrollment status.  Federal regulations require active participation in courses in order to be eligible for federal funds.
  • Recipients of federal student loans must complete mandatory exit counseling prior to separation either by graduation, less than half-time enrollment, leave of absence, withdrawal or termination.

 

To accept your offer of financial aid, the following steps must be completed: 

  1. Carefully read the Financial Aid Rights and Responsibilities.  By actively accepting institutional and/or federal financial aid, financial aid applicants agree to comply with the obligations and conditions listed in the Financial Aid Rights and Responsibilities and all institutional policies and federal regulations.
  2. Log in to the GTU Financial Aid NetPartner Student Portal to view and accept your financial aid award.  Reduce and Accept or Decline institutional and/or federal awards for the 2020-2021 academic year.  Note to federal student loan borrowers:  You may elect to reduce the amount of the loan request for the academic year but you must do so prior to accepting the loan.  Please note: a full year award must be divided, per federal regulation, into two substantially equal disbursements; fall and spring.  When determining your loan request amount keep in mind that the U.S. Department of Education charges a loan origination fee that changes every October 1. We strongly recommend you use a loan borrowing calculator to help you to decide on an amount to borrow for the year (see #6).
  3. If you anticipate receiving an external award or other financial support that is currently not included in your financial aid package, complete the 2020-2021 Verification of External Aid Form to report this information to the Financial Aid Office.  External awards are educational awards not provided directly by the GTU that include but are not limited to private scholarships, grants, denomination support, Vocational Rehabilitation, AmeriCorps, or other resources such as financial assistance from any person other than the student.

FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS MUST COMPLETE Steps 4 through 6 in addition to Steps 1 through 3.

  1. Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at https://studentaid.gov/ if you wish to borrow a federal student loan and have not previously borrowed with the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program or your MPN has expired.  Select “From the “My Checklists” menu, select “I’m preparing for school” > “Complete MPN (i.e., Loan Agreement)”.  The Direct Loan MPN is a multi-year promissory note good for a period of ten (10) years.  Select “View My Documents” from the main page to verify your MPN expiration date.
  2. Complete the online Entrance Counseling session at https://studentaid.gov if you are borrowing for the first time in either the GTU Master of Arts or Doctoral programs.  This interactive counseling session produced by the FSA Division of the U.S. Department of Education provides useful tips and tools to help you develop a budget for managing your educational expenses and helps the student understand their loan responsibilities.  From the “My Checklists” menu, select “I’m preparing for school” > “Complete Entrance Counseling”. 
  3. Complete and submit the Budget Worksheet and login to https://studentaid.gov to complete the Loan Simulator.  From the “My Checklists” menu, select “I’m in school” > “Use Loan Simulator” You must convert the results to PDF and submit an electronic or hard copy.   Loan funds may not be certified prior to the receipt of your worksheets, if required.  Read the Student Loan Borrowing Policy for a description of the Financial Aid Office's efforts to assist students in managing student loan debt.

GTU MA SAP Policy

The Higher Education Act of 1965 requires that institutions of higher education establish a reasonable Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy to determine whether an otherwise eligible student is making SAP in their educational program.  The SAP policy must include a qualitative and a quantitative measure of the completion of work within a maximum timeframe.  Students must meet both measures to maintain their eligibility during all periods of enrollment.  The SAP policy must apply to all students in the program including those who are not receiving financial aid.  Initial and continuing eligibility for all sources of student funding or support, such as grant-in-aid, other GTU-sponsored merit and/or need-based awards, scholarships, or fellowships and federal aid such as federal work-study and direct loans, require GTU verification of satisfactory academic progress.

Qualitative Measure: Students must maintain an overall cumulative GPA 3.0 (B) or above.  If the student’s GPA falls below 3.0, the student will be notified that it must be brought back up by the end of the following semester.  If the overall GPA has not been raised to a 3.0 by the end of the next semester, the student will not be eligible for any additional financial aid.

Quantitative Measure: Students must make acceptable progress toward completion of the degree within the maximum time periods (excluding leaves of absence) outlined below:

MA                   6 semesters (Full-time)

9 semesters (Part-time)

MDiv/MA         10 semesters (Full-time)

15 semesters (Part-time)

MA students must successfully complete at least 67% of all attempted credits in any given term.  The successful completion of a course is to obtain a B- or greater.  Unsuccessful completion occurs when a student earns a C+ or below.  Full-time students are expected to enroll in at least 12 units each term or a total of 24 units in one academic year.  Part-time students are expected to enroll in at least 6 units per term or a total of 12 units in an academic year.  For full-time students who have completed an MDiv program at a member or affiliate school, 24 eligible units will be transferred into the program, leaving a required 24 units to be completed at the GTU.  Appropriate pace for the MA portion for a full-time student is 12 units a term or a total of 24 units in an academic year.  Similar students completing the MA with part-time status must complete 6 units a term or 12 units in one academic year.  A student must complete 100% of the units required to obtain the MA.

Incompletes (I), Failures (F), and Withdrawals (W): An Incomplete (I) grade must be made up within three weeks of the end of the current semester.  Faculty must turn in the grade three weeks after the submission of the student’s work.  If no grade is turned in by the end of the sixth week after the semester ends, the “I” will automatically change to a grade of “F” and will not count toward graduation requirements.  Only academic courses of three units or more with a B- or above are counted toward the degree.  Courses with a C+ or below cannot be counted towards the MA.  Students can choose to retake the course or take another course that fulfills the same requirement.

Transfer Credits: Students are eligible to transfer units into the MA program, ranging from 18-36 units, depending on the transfer.  These units count toward the overall unit requirement and the student’s pace in the program.

Financial Aid Warning: SAP evaluations will be completed at the end of each term and cannot take place until final grades have been posted.  Students who have not met the qualitative and/or quantitative requirements will be placed on Financial Aid Warning for one semester.  During the semester a student is on Financial Aid Warning, they remain eligible for financial aid.  The student may be required to meet with the Dean of the School of Affiliation to develop an academic plan for meeting SAP by the end of that semester.  At the end of the semester, if the student has not met the requirements of SAP, they will be suspended from receiving financial aid.

Financial Aid Probation: Students suspended from receiving financial aid may regain eligibility by submitting an appeal to be placed on financial aid probation for the subsequent semester.  Probation is not given automatically and is for one semester only.  Students who fail to make SAP at the end of the probationary semester are suspended from receiving financial aid and may not appeal the decision.

Appeal Process: Appeals for SAP will be considered only under special circumstances such as injury or illness, the death of a relative or other extenuating circumstances.  Students requesting an appeal must submit a letter to the Director of Financial Aid and/or Dean of the School of Affiliation.  The letter should explain the mitigating circumstances influencing progress, why they did not meet SAP, what has changed in their situation that would allow them to meet SAP at the end of the next semester and if applicable, an academic plan that outlines how the student will meet the requirements in the upcoming semester.  The Financial Aid Director or the Dean of School of Affiliation may decide to restore eligibility, noting the reasons for doing so in the student’s financial aid file.

Reestablishing Financial Aid Eligibility: Students suspended from receiving financial aid can reestablish eligibility by successfully appealing a SAP decision and making SAP by the end of the semester or if an appeal is not allowed, the student must meet SAP requirements by the end of the next review.

GTU Doctoral SAP Policy

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) provides information to the Dean of Students to determine academic standing, financial aid eligibility, and to help students critically self-assess their progress toward their degree each year.  SAP underlines difficulties with the quality of a student’s work as well as pace in the program. Slow progress, numerous extensions and/or problematic professional relationships are examples of unsatisfactory progress, all affecting a student's standing in the program. A student’s good standing in the program is required.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 requires that institutions of higher education establish a reasonable Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy to determine whether an otherwise eligible student is making SAP in their educational program.  The SAP policy must include a qualitative and a quantitative measure of the completion of work within a maximum timeframe.  Students must meet both measures to maintain their eligibility during all periods of enrollment.  The SAP policy must apply to all students in the program including those who are not receiving financial aid.  Initial and continuing eligibility for all sources of student funding or support, such as grant-in-aid, other GTU-sponsored merit and/or need-based awards, scholarships, or fellowships and federal aid such as federal work-study and direct loans, require GTU verification of annual satisfactory academic progress.

SAP is monitored by the Dean of Students annually and is important for the following reasons:

  1. Developing scholarly knowledge and skills depends upon deep, sustained engagement in a course of study;
  2. Limiting the costs incurred during graduate study is key to limiting consequential financial burdens after graduation; and,
  3. Expeditious program completion means that faculty advisors, coordinators, committee members, and other faculty mentors are available to work with other GTU students.

Annual Satisfactory Academic Progress evaluations will be completed at the end of each academic year and cannot take place until final grades have been posted.  The review will determine eligibility for the upcoming fall and spring terms.  The Dean of Students notifies all Core Doctoral Faculty (CDF) annually about the review process and invites them to share concerns they may have with the quality and/or pace of their students’ work.  Students receive written confirmation of the results of their progress review from the Dean of Students in July with copies sent to the student’s advisor and the Financial Aid Office.

Qualitative Measure: Students must maintain a cumulative average GPA of 3.0 (B) or above after each semester to remain eligible for financial aid for the subsequent term.  Please note that failure to maintain the requisite grade point average automatically warrants academic probation.

Quantitative Measure: Students must successfully complete the program requirements within the expected timeframes of the doctoral program as outlined below.  Doctoral students are expected to enroll full-time in twelve (12.00) units per semester.  All periods of enrollment are counted towards the maximum timeframes even if a student is not receiving financial aid.  Students must complete their degree within 150% of the published length of the program.  The normative timeframe to complete the program is seven years.  The maximum timeframe to complete a doctoral degree cannot exceed eleven years.  Students must successfully earn at least 75% of all attempted credits each semester during the coursework stage of their program.  After the student has completed their coursework, their academic progress is measured by the following academic requirements and expected timeframes.  Please note that the first two requirements will be completed during the coursework stage of the program.

Requirements

Expected Timeframes

Successful Research Readiness Review

End of the third semester

Completion of language requirements

End of the second year

Approval of the comprehensive proposal

End of the third year

Completion of the comprehensive exams

End of the fourth year

Approval of the dissertation

End of the fifth year

Completion of the degree

End of the seventh year

*In each of these cases “year” refers to full-time equivalent (FTE), or the combination of full-time/part-time enrollment equivalent to 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 full-time years.

Incompletes (I), Failures (F), Withdrawals (W)

Failures (F) and withdrawals (W) are attempted but not completed courses.  Incomplete grades are not counted towards completed units until after coursework is successfully completed, posted by the Registrar and reviewed by the Dean of Students.  Coursework must be completed within three weeks following the end of the semester.  An incomplete becomes an “F” grade if the work is not completed and/or a Change of Grade form is not submitted to the Registrar’s Office by the agreed upon deadlines.  A student must repeat the required department seminar if the grade earned is lower than a B-.  Required courses can be repeated one time.

Leave of Absence

Students who are unable to continue academic work for personal, medical, or financial reasons may take a temporary leave from the program.  Students on a leave of absence during some or all of the academic year in review will be held to the expectations in place at the time they took their leave upon their return.  Students on leave for one term and registered for the subsequent term are required to participate in the process.

Financial Aid Probation

Students who have not met the qualitative and/or quantitative requirements for satisfactory academic progress at the annual review are suspended from financial aid for the subsequent semester.  The student will receive a written notification from the Dean of Students that failure to maintain SAP has resulted in loss of financial aid eligibility.  A student who fails SAP must successfully appeal the decision to be placed on financial aid probation and retain eligibility for aid.  The appeal must be submitted with an academic plan that ensures the student is able to meet SAP standards by a specified timeframe.  Probation is not given automatically and is for one semester only.  Although the GTU reviews SAP on an annual basis, by federal law, students who are placed on financial aid probation must be reviewed at the conclusion of the probationary semester.  During the probation period, students who do not meet a semester and cumulative GPA of a 3.0 or higher and/or do not meet the pace and program requirements are suspended from financial aid for the subsequent semester and must once again successfully appeal to be placed on financial aid probation.

Financial Aid Suspension

If a student is not making SAP by the end of the second probationary period, they are placed on financial aid suspension for the following year and may not appeal the decision.  They may regain eligibility by successfully completing the GPA and pace requirements expected in accordance with the normative time schedule and/or according to revised expectations outlined in the Dean of Student’s written review.

Appeal Process

If due to mitigating circumstances a student fails to make satisfactory academic progress and receives an adverse determination, they may appeal the result on the basis of injury or illness, the death of a relative or other special circumstances.  In the event of unusual circumstances the student may request that the GTU temporarily suspend an expected timeframe for SAP during the year in review and approve their request for a deadline extension and/or revised timeframe.  The student may not request that the GTU disregard their performance or eliminate a particular program requirement.

A student choosing to appeal should submit a written petition to the Dean of Students by electronic mail within one month of the date of the final SAP review letter.  The written petition should explain the mitigating circumstances influencing progress, why they did not meet SAP, what has changed in their situation that would allow them to meet SAP at the end of the next evaluation and an academic plan that outlines how the student will meet the requirement(s) due the previous year and the one(s) due for the upcoming fall and spring semesters.  The student must make every effort to get caught up with the program normative time schedule in the year following the review.  The email should also verify support of the plan by the student’s advisor or committee coordinator.  The student should ask their advisor or coordinator to write a memo of support for the revised plan.  For example, the faculty member can verify their willingness to continue working with the student for a longer period of time because of delayed and/or slower progress.  The Dean of Students will render a decision about the appeal in writing by email within one month of the date of the appeal.

Reestablishing Financial Aid Eligibility

Students suspended from receiving financial aid can reestablish eligibility in one of three ways:

  • Successfully appealing a SAP decision and making SAP by the end of the semester;

or if an appeal is not allowed,

  • Completing the requirements expected according to the normative timeframe and/or according to revised expectations outlined by the Dean of Student’s written review; or,
  • The student must meet SAP requirements by the end of the next review.

Flexibility with Expected Timeframes

Childbirth, new parenthood, or caring for ill or aged parents are common experiences for GTU doctoral students.  These are time intensive tasks. Students are often reluctant to ask for a special exception to deal with parenting demands.  While doctoral student parents or parent care-givers are encouraged to fulfill program requirements within the normative timeframe, they may need extra time.  These students will be granted extensions based on parenting demands.  Any student who has taken time to accommodate childbirth  or other serious parental demands,  or to care for a parent who is ill or otherwise in need of support, may receive an extension of up to one extra year to complete  a program requirement.  The total additional time granted by this policy may not exceed two years during a student’s program, regardless of the number of children and/or parents involved.  With the support of the advisor or committee coordinator, students must submit a request for an extension of a normative time deadline in light of the Doctoral Student Parent Support Policy to the Dean of Students.  Students should submit the request via email, explaining the reasons for the extension and outlining a new timeline for completion of their program.

Program Extensions

Students must request an extension if they need to exceed the normative time schedule or revise their deadline for any program requirement.  Students in need of an extension will have their registration blocked and will not be permitted to register for the term.  This issue must be resolved before the end of the general registration period.

To request an extension, students must submit an email, with their advisor's approval, to the Dean of Students, that clearly states the reasons for the extension and, if involving the comprehensive exams, dissertation or overall program completion, provide a concrete, realistic schedule for completion.  Students will receive written confirmation of approval of the extension from the academic secretary with copies sent to the student’s advisor, the registrar, and the Financial Aid Office.

Extensions can jeopardize a student’s:

  1. certification of satisfactory academic progress which determines, in part, their eligibility for financial aid; and,
  2. good standing in the doctoral program.

GTU policy stipulates that students are eligible for grant-in-aid in years one and two with the possibility of providing aid in years three through five as funding permits.  Federal forms of financial aid (e.g. federal direct loans, federal work-study) are available until year seven of full-time registration.  Students demonstrating satisfactory academic progress may petition the Dean of Students for approval for an extension of eligibility for federal student aid for their eighth year in the program.  Such permission is extraordinary, and will be granted as an exception at the discretion of the Dean of Students on the basis of a student’s particular circumstances.

Federal Work-Study (FWS or “work-study”) is a federally funded, campus-based aid program administered by the institution to assist students who have demonstrated financial need in offsetting the costs of a student’s educational expenses.  Federal law states two general purposes for the program. The first and original purpose is to stimulate and promote part-time employment of graduate and professional students who need employment to pursue courses of study at eligible institutions. The Higher Education Act of 1992 added a second purpose, to encourage students receiving federal student financial assistance to participate in community service activities that will benefit the nation and engender a sense of social responsibility and commitment to the community.

The U.S. Department of Education allocates funds for the campus-based, Federal Work-Study Program directly to schools each award year, indicating the amount of funding it is authorized to receive from the Department for the award year. Using a statutory formula and based on the amount of funds appropriated by Congress for the program, the U.S. Department of Education allocates funds based on the institution’s previous funding level and the aggregate need of eligible students in attendance in the prior year. Through the FWS program, the federal government pays a portion of the student’s salary while the institution or off campus organization the remainder.

All FWS work, whether on campus or off campus, has certain conditions and limitations. FWS employment must be governed by those employment conditions, including the rate of pay, that are appropriate and reasonable according to the type of work performed, the geographic region, the employee’s proficiency, and any applicable federal, state, or local law, including state or locally established minimum wage rates. FWS employment must not displace employees (including those on strike) or impair existing service contracts. Also, if the school has an employment agreement with an organization in the private sector, the organization’s employees must not be replaced with FWS students. Replacement is interpreted as displacement. Therefore, replacing a full-time employee whose position was eliminated (for any reason) with a student employee paid with FWS funds is prohibited in accordance with 34 CFR 675.20(c)(2)(ii). Moreover, this prohibition extends to instances where a school first replaces the full-time employee with a student position paid with college funds.

FWS positions must not involve constructing, operating, or maintaining any part of a building used for religious worship or sectarian instruction. In determining whether any FWS employment will violate this restriction, a school must consider the purpose of the part of the facility in which the work will take place and the nature of the work to be performed. For example, if the part of the facility in which the student will work is used for religious worship or sectarian instruction, the work cannot involve construction, operation, or maintenance responsibilities. If that part of the facility is not being used for religious worship or sectarian instruction, the school must first make certain that any work the student will perform meets general employment conditions and that other limitations are not violated.

Neither a school nor an outside employer that has an agreement with the school to hire FWS students may solicit, accept, or permit the soliciting of any fee, commission, contribution, or gift as a condition for a student’s FWS employment.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, prohibits employers (including schools) from accepting voluntary services from any paid employee. Any student employed under FWS must be paid for all hours worked. FWS employers must pay students at least the federal minimum wage in effect at the time of employment. If a state or local law requires a higher minimum wage, the school must pay the FWS student that higher wage. A student’s unmet need, as defined by the Federal Methodology calculation of the FAFSA, places a limit on the total FWS earnings permissible but has no bearing on their wage rate.

Institutions are required by federal law to use at least seven percent (7%) of its overall allocation to support students working in community service jobs with at least one student employed as a reading tutor for children in a reading tutoring project or performing family literacy activities, that may include: reading tutors for preschool age or elementary school children; mathematics tutors for students enrolled in elementary school through ninth grade; literacy tutors in a family literacy project; or emergency preparedness and response. To further encourage schools to employ FWS students in these positions and as mathematics tutors, FWS regulations authorize a 100% federal share of FWS wages.

The law requires that participants be in good academic standing, be citizens or permanent residents of the United States, and demonstrate financial need in accordance with the Federal Methodology calculation of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). FWS students may work up to a recommended limit of 20 hours per week during school periods and up to 37.5 hours per week during non-enrollment (vacation) periods and the amount of the award is based on a student's need as determined by the Financial Aid Office and availability of funds. Students may be employed on or off-campus in an approved work-study position. Federal Work-Study awards do not guarantee a student employment with an eligible employer.

In general, students are not permitted to work in FWS positions during scheduled class times. Exceptions are permitted if an individual class is cancelled or if the instructor has excused the student from attending for a particular day. Any such exemptions must be documented and on file in the student's financial aid record.

In addition to the financial aid that is directly available to students, the GTU seeks to assist students in accessing external scholarships and other outside resources that they may be eligible to apply for. Our Guide to External Scholarships and Resources lists a wide range of private grants, scholarship, fellowships, and other funding opportunities.

Whether you are seeking funds to offset the cost of tuition, support research interests, or subsidize your dissertation year, the GTU External Scholarship Database is a great place to start. The pages on this database include a myriad of scholarships, grants, fellowships, loan opportunities, and other forms of financial assistance that are available to students at the GTU.

External/Outside Aid Resources

Outside resources are considered to be a part of a need-based financial aid award package. Federal law and institutional policy require all students to report any external resources, not directly awarded by the GTU, which they expect to receive during any given academic year. Sources of outside aid includes, but is not limited to, scholarships, grants, fellowships, sponsorships, church, congregation, or denomination support, tuition remission, vocational rehabilitation, stipends, AmeriCorps and any other form of aid that is not awarded directly by the institution. Outside resources must be factored into the calculation of a student’s eligibility for institutional and federal financial aid, and, if necessary, a student’s financial aid package will be adjusted to account for any additional assistance received.

Students must report all outside sources of financial assistance they will receive so that any applicable changes can be made to a financial aid offer in anticipation of these funds. Studnets must indicate the total amount they will receive for the full academic year. If the amount varies, amounts should be specified for each term in which external funding will be provided. PLEASE NOTE: Outside aid awards are disbursed according to donor specification. Unless otherwise specified, aid will be applied in full to the term in which the payment is received. Should a student’s aid package change, a notification of the revision will be sent by email to the student’s GTU email address.

Please submit a completed Verification of External Aid form to the Financial Aid Office as early as possible after notification of any additional financial assistance. If you have any questions about a possible revision to your financial aid package, please contact the Financial Aid Office at (510) 649-2469 or finaid@gtu.edu.

All outside scholarship checks should be made payable to the Graduate Theological Union and must include the student’s full name and GTU student ID# in the memo section of the check.  If a check is made payable to both the student and the GTU, the student must endorse the check before it can be deposited and credited to their student account.  Outside resource checks should be mailed to:

Graduate Theological Union
Attn: Business Office

2400 Ridge Road
Berkeley, CA 94709-1212

Federal Direct Loans

Federal student loans are long-term financial obligations and accepting a loan means accepting the responsibility for repaying the money you borrow including the cost of accrued interest and fees. Prior to requesting a student loan, it is vital for students to research the actual costs, interest rates, and the estimated timeframe for repayment of the loan(s) borrowed during the course of pursuing your degree program.

Title IV federal student loans are regulated by the Federal Student Aid Division (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Education (DOED) and are only authorized to pay for the student’s educational expenses at the school that originates the loan. Education expenses include school charges, such as tuition, fees and indirect educational expenses such as books and school supplies, room and board, transportation to and from the GTU and any requisite education-related activities.

Federal student loans are intended to cover the nine-month academic year and are provided in two proportionately equal disbursements; the first for the fall and the second for the spring semester.  Federal loan money is credited the student’s school account to pay tuition and fees and any other authorized charges, first.  If the loan disbursement exceeds school charges, the GTU will pay the remaining balance to the student by direct deposit or paper check.  In accordance with federal regulations, the earliest timeframe that a federal student loan can disbursed to a student’s billing account is ten (10) calendar days prior to the start of any given semester.  Credit refunds are typically issued at the start of the term, and the Business Office, by federal law, has fourteen (14) calendar days from the date the loan is posted to your school account to issue a credit refund.

If you are a first-time borrower at the GTU, federal regulations require that you complete federal loan Entrance Counseling at www.studentaid.govYou must be attending at least half-time (6.00 units or greater) in order to receive a loan.  If you drop below 6.00 units, withdraw from all of your courses, or are terminated from financial aid for not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress, have had any loans discharged by total and permanent disability discharge, have a federal loan overpayment, or have defaulted or on any outstanding or current federal student loans, you are not eligible for federal student aid.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

A student is not required to demonstrate financial need to borrow a Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loan. The interest rate for a Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loan disbursed on or after July 1, 2020 is fixed at 2.75%.  Interest accrues (accumulates) on an unsubsidized loan from the time it is first paid out.  The interest may be paid while the borrower is in school and during grace, deferment or forbearance periods, or the interest may accrue and be capitalized (that is, added to the principal amount of the loan).  Choosing not to pay the interest as it accrues will increase the total amount a borrower will have to repay.  Accrued interest is capitalized once the loan enters repayment.  Repayment typically begins 6-months after a borrower graduates or otherwise drops below half-time enrollment.

A loan origination fee of 1.062% is deducted from the total amount (gross) of each Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loan with a disbursement date on or after October 1, 2018 and before October 1, 2019. On or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020, the origination fee for federal unsubsidized loans will be 1.059%.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

An additional loan provided under the Direct Loan Program is the Direct PLUS Loan for graduate and professional students.  The terms and conditions include: a determination that the applicant does not have an adverse credit history and a fixed interest rate of 4.30% for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2020.   An origination loan fee of 4.236% is deducted from the total amount of each Graduate PLUS Loan with a disbursement date on or after October 1, 2019 or before October 1, 2020.  Before a student will be considered for a PLUS Loan, the Financial Aid Office must determine the student’s maximum eligibility for Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.  The maximum PLUS Loan amount an eligible student can borrow is the cost of attendance minus any other financial assistance received.

The repayment period for a Direct PLUS Loan begins at the time the PLUS loan is fully disbursed, and the first payment is due within 60 days after the final disbursement.  However, a borrower may defer repayment while enrolled at least half-time.  For Direct PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, a borrower may also defer repayment for an additional six months after ceasing to be enrolled at least half-time.

How to Avoid Processing Delays

Please do not wait until the last minute to complete and submit required forms and documents.  Apply early or on-time and check your financial aid account on the GTU Net Partner Financial Aid Student Portal regularly to determine if you need to respond to any financial aid requests or have outstanding requirements. You should clear all holds on your student account and it is recommeded that you register early or on-time in order to avoid delays.

Federal Student Loan Checklist

To apply for the 2020-2021 academic year, you must complete ALL steps listed below.

  • New Students must apply for Admission.  Once the Financial Aid Office is informed of your admitted admissions status and have received all required application materials, we will begin the review process
  • Complete & submit the 2020-2021 GTU Financial Aid Application
  • Complete the 2020-2021 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa and include the GTU federal school code G01207NOTE: GTU Common MA applicants must also add the federal school code for their affiliate school.
  • Complete and submit all documents requested by the GTU Financial Aid Office.  (After we receive your FAFSA results from the federal processor, any required documents will be listed on your Net Partner account.  Also, check your student email account for any applicable messages.)
  • Complete the online Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (the MPN is a legal and binding document required by the U.S. Department of Education in order to obtain a federal loan).  Log in to your account using your FSA ID at: https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/index.action.
  • Complete online Entrance Counseling at: https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/index.action
  • Once a financial aid award has been finalized, request a federal Direct Loan by logging into your student account on the online GTU Net Partner Financial Aid Student Portal to accept your financial aid offer.

Your federal student loan credit refund disbursement method automatically defaults to paper checks unless you complete and submit the Direct Deposit Authorization form and submit it to the GTU Business Office.

Federal Direct Loan Annual Limits and Aggregate Limits

The annual maximum loan limit of $20,500 refers to the total amount of Unsubsidized Direct Loan a graduate student may borrow based upon eligibility in a single academic year, July 1 through June 30. The lifetime aggregate loan borrowing limit of $138,500, includes all federal loans borrowed (combined FFEL and Direct Loan Programs) is inclusive of both subsidized and unsubsidized loans borrowed at the undergraduate level, excluding capitalized interest as a graduate level student. No more than $65,500 of this aggregate amount may be in the form of subsidized loans. A borrower who has reached their aggregate borrowing limit is not eligible for additional federal unsubsidized loans. Once loans are repaid, in full or in part, the borrower may apply for additional unsubsidized direct loans. Students may review their federal student loan history by logging in using their FSA ID on the National Student Loan Data System website at www.nslds.ed.gov. For information about current loan interest rates, origination fees, and repayment options, please visit www.studentaid.ed.gov.

How to Cancel or Reduce your Loan(s)

All students have the right to request to return all or a portion of a loan disbursement by submitting a formal, written request to the Financial Aid Office within 120 days from the disbursement date.  Direct Loan funds that are returned within 120 days of the disbursement by the school or borrower, for any reason, are treated as a partial or full cancellation, with the appropriate adjustment of the loan fees and interest. Students can send an email from their GTU student email account or submit a written request with a “wet” signature to the Financial Aid Office authorizing the specific gross loan amount they wish to be returned to their Federal Student Aid Loan Servicer.

After 120 days have passed, the student may return loan proceeds directly to their assigned federal loan servicer, however, there are no adjustments to loan fees nor interest.

FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN TERMINOLOGY

Balance Due

If there is a balance due after aid has posted, please arrange to pay your outstanding balance in full or request a payment plan option by the appropriate deadlines. Per federal regulation, a school may not use federal student loans to pay prior-year charges in excess of $200.  Students should contact the GTU Business Office with all questions pertaining to a billing statement, credit refund, or a balance owed.

Capitalization

Adding unpaid interest to the principal balance of the loan acquired.  Example: if interest is not paid on an unsubsidized loan while attending school, the unpaid interest is added to the original loan principal when the loan goes into repayment. WARNING: Capitalization increases the principal amount of the loan and substantially increases the loan amount that must be repaid to the federal government.

Cost of Attendance

The Cost of Attendance (COA) or “student budget,” is the cornerstone of establishing financial need and in determining a student’s financial aid package.  It sets a limit on the total aid that a student may receive for purposes of the Title IV federal student aid programs.  In compliance with federal regulations, the Financial Aid Office has determined a cost of attendance that includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing, student health insurance, transportation, personal expenses, and loan fees.  These components are costs that relate to the individual student and are educational in nature as specified by Section 472 of the Higher Education Act.  A student’s total financial aid package, including scholarships, grants, other external resources, and federal student aid cannot exceed the COA.

Standard budgets for the award year covers only the period of time when students are enrolled at least half-time in a qualified degree program. On an annual basis, the Financial Aid Office determines the standard budget for financial aid applicants based on average allowable expenses for the four and a half-month academic term or nine-month academic year.  Estimated costs are based on averages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the GTU’s geographic location and cannot ensure that all students incur the same costs of living nor that they will arrive with the same financial resources.

Credit Refund (Loans)

Students may be entitled to a credit refund of federal loan proceeds after all aid sources have been posted to their student billing account, and all tuition and education-related fees for the term have been assessed.  Students may opt in to receive credit refunds via Direct Deposit by completing the Direct Deposit Enrollment Form and submitting it to the GTU Business Office.  Students who do not submit the necessary paperwork to the GTU Business Office will otherwise receive funds in the form of a paper check.

Default

Failure to repay a loan in accordance with the terms and conditions outlined in the required master promissory note that a student signs in order to borrow a federal loan.

Deferment

A lawful way of temporarily postponing repayment of a student loan if certain conditions are met as specified by the Federal Student Aid Division (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Education.  WARNING: During deferment, interest continues to accrue for federal unsubsidized loans.

Disbursement

A payment of loan funds which are disbursed in two relatively equal installments over the course of the standard 9-month academic year: fall and spring.  Financial Aid Applicants must fulfill the following requirements to receive federal student loans at the beginning of each semester.  After completion of ALL the necessary steps, students should allow at least two weeks for processing.

  • Apply for financial aid;
  • Receive a financial aid award and reduce, accept or decline the award online via your Net Partner account;
  • Completed Entrance Counseling and signed a Master Promissory Note (link available through Net Partner);
  • Clear all holds placed by various departments on your student account;
  • Register full-time (12 units) unless you have petitioned and have been approved for part-time enrollment;
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress

Discharge

A legal way to release you from the obligation to repay your student loan(s) if you meet specified conditions set forth by the Federal Student Aid Division of the U.S. Department of Education.

Direct Loan Servicing Center

An agent contracted by the FSA to collect Direct Loans, handle deferments, repayment options and consolidation.

Entrance Counseling

A federal requirement that explains a federal student borrower’s rights and responsibilities.  Before receiving a Direct Unsubsidized and/or Graduate PLUS loan disbursement, a student must complete online Entrance Counseling at https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/counselingInstructions.action?coun.... A FSA ID and passward is required to fulfill entrance counseling.

Exit Counseling

Federal student loan borrowers who graduate, take a leave of absence, fall below half-time enrollment or withdraw from school must complete exit counseling for federal loans within 30 days of separation from the school as mandated by federal regulations.  Students will be contacted by email or provided with a letter via USPS to request completion of online exit counseling at https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/counselingInstructions.action?coun... FSA ID and passward is required to fulfill exit counseling.

Forbearance

A legitimate way to temporarily postpone repayment of a federal student loan if a borrower does not qualify for a deferment and is unable to make payments because of financial hardship.  WARNING: Interest continues to accrue during forbearance.

Grace Period

Federal student loans have a grace period (typically 6 months) in which a student does not have to make payments on student loans after initially leaving school or dropping below half-time status.  The grace period begins the day after you are enrolled less than half-time (less than 6.00 units).  During the grace period, the student is responsible for paying the interest that accrues.  At the end of the grace period, students must begin repayment of the student loan(s) borrowed, on both principal balance and accruing interest.  A common misnomer is that the grace period is renewable or starts all over again once they return to at least half-time enrollment in a qualified program.  If a student uses their entire grace period after temporarily leaving school or dropping below half-time, they will not receive a new grace period to use on those loans in the future.

Loan Origination Fee

A federal fee charged by the U.S. Department of Education to originate or issue a federal student loan.  Federal fees are deducted proportionately from each loan before disbursing the loan to the school/borrower.  NOTE: Students must repay the entire principal loan amount, inclusive of the origination fee.

Master Promissory Note (MPN)

A legally binding contract between a lender (federal government) and a borrower.  The promissory note contains the terms and conditions of the loan, including how and when the loan must be repaid.

PLUS Credit Counseling

PLUS Credit Counseling is required if the U.S. Department of Education has determine an adverse credit history and the student must have:

  • Obtained an endorser, or
  • Documented extenuating circumstances to the satisfaction of the U.S. Department of Education

PLUS Credit Counseling can be completed voluntarily at any time.  If PLUS Credit Counseling is completed voluntarily and the borrower has been determined to have an adverse credit history by the U.S. Department of Education within 30 days of PLUS Credit Counseling completion, the requirement will be considered to be fulfilled.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

In accordance with Title IV federal student aid regulations, all students are required to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) in order to maintain eligibility for financial aid.  Please review the SAP policy in the Doctoral and MA Student Handbooks.

Principal Balance

The amount owed on a loan, including any capitalized interest.

Repayment Period

The period during which you are required to make payments on your loan(s).  Federal Direct Loans default automatically to a standard 10-year repayment plan. However, borrowers have 10 to 25 years to repay a loan, depending upon the plan that is chosen.

Repayment Schedule

Information provided to the borrower by the Direct Loan Servicing Center that indicates the amount borrowed, the amount of monthly payments and the date payments are due to their assigned loan servicer.

Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4)

All schools who have the privilege to participate in Title IV Aid are required to perform the Return of Title IV calculation when a student takes a leave of absence or withdraws from their program. The standard formula for Return of Title IV is calculated on a percentage basis by comparing the total number of days the student completed to the total number of days in the payment period. The payment period is defined as the semester from which the student withdraws or takes a leave. Official and unofficial withdrawal/leave of absence dates are defined as the last documented date of academically-related activity by the student. If a return creates a balance due on the student’s account, the student will be responsible for full payment. The student will not be allowed to reenter, register or receive academic transcripts until the outstanding balance has been paid in full. The R2T4 Policy can be accessed online from the GTU Financial Aid Homepage.

IMPORTANT FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN WEBSITES

To learn more about interest rates, how to apply for a federal loan , repayment plans, deferments, forbearance, consequences of default, please visit the Federal Student Aid website at: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans.  To estimate your monthly payments based on your current borrowing level, please visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans and https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans#estimator.

Students can log into the National Student Loan Data System using their FSA ID to retrieve their federal student loan history at https://studentaid.gov/.

In an effort to educate borrowers in making informed financial decisions while in school and to help students realize their educational goals with the minimum necessary amount of educational debt, the GTU Financial Aid Office has adopted a Student Loan Borrowing Policy. Listed below are the requirements and options for the Federal student loan borrower.

  1. All federal student loan borrowers must complete Entrance Counseling once in the course of a program and prior to the first disbursement of loan funds.  To complete online Entrance Counseling go to https://studentloans.gov and sign in and select "Complete Loan Counseling," if you have not previously completed entrance counseling for the school with which your latest financial aid award is associated.
  2. Prior to graduating, withdrawing or dropping below half-time enrollment, all federal student loan borrowers must complete Exit Counseling. On campus exit counseling workshops are announced during the spring semester. To complete online federal student loan Exit Counseling visit www.studentloans.gov.
  3. The Financial Aid Office requires the completion of the Budget Worksheet.  Worksheets are due prior to the disbursement of the financial aid funds. The purpose the Budget Worksheet is to ensure you are choosing a loan amount that meets and does not exceed your financial need or your projected ability to successfully manage repayment.  It also serves two additional purposes: it is used to estimate the annual cost of living allowances included in the annual Cost of Attendance, and it is used as a reference if/when a student appeals for a budget increase.  The Budget Worksheet and Loan Repayment Estimator are due prior to the first disbursement of loan funds.
  4. The Financial Aid Office encourages borrowers to attend a Financial Aid Workshop or to complete Financial Aid Awareness Counseling at least once in the course of a student’s program. A workshop may focus on a specific topic such as scholarship research, budgeting, or loan repayment strategies. Scheduled financial aid workshops are announced to all borrowers through the Financial Aid Important Dates and Events, school e-Newsletters and by email.
  5. All borrowers are invited to seek Financial Aid/Loan Counseling for personal assistance in understanding available financial aid and loan repayment options. To make an appointment with a member of the Financial Aid staff, a student may contact the office by phone or email.  Please visit the Federal Student Aid website at: www.studentloans.gov for access to the Loan Repayment Estimator to get an idea of what your monthly loan payment may look like, depending on the repayment plan you choose.  When it comes time to repay your loans, we suggest a plan that allows you to pay off your loans the fastest.  Remember, the longer you take to pay off your loans, the smaller your monthly payment, but the more you will pay back in total dollars.

Federal Graduate PLUS Loan Borrowing Policy

The Graduate Theological Union participates in the William D. Ford Direct Loan programs.  The Graduate PLUS Loan is a non-need based, low interest loan made to graduate and professional students making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in a qualified degree program and must be enrolled at least half-time in order to maintain eligibility.  Students may apply for the academic year; fall and spring, and must have borrowed up to the maximum annual limit in federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan eligibility.  The maximum Grad PLUS loan limit that a student may borrow in an academic year is up to unmet cost of attendance, the difference between a student’s standard cost of attendance and the sum of all financial aid assistance received.

By federal law, student loans are to be used exclusively for the student’s education related expenses and is not intended to cover the expenses of family members. Allowable costs include tuition, room and board, books, health insurance, and transportation costs.  Understandably, Graduate PLUS loans increase overall loan indebtedness.  Whenever possible, it is recommended that students review their budget to consider how they can reduce their reliance on loan funds through increased income, applying for external scholarships, adjustment of priorities, or reduced expenses.

Interest rates on federal student loans are determined by federal law and set by Congress.  The interest rate varies by the type of loan and the date of the first disbursement. Under section 455(b)(7) of the Higher Education Act (HEA), interest rates on Federal Direct Loans are set according to a formula that is based upon an auction of 10-year Treasury Notes. Separate interest rates are established each year for Direct Unsubsidized and PLUS Loans for which the first disbursement is made on or after July 1 through the following June 30. Therefore while federal student loans have a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan, interest rates may change beginning on July 1 each year.  Interest begins accruing from the date the loan is first disbursed, and includes periods of deferment or forbearance until it is repaid in full.  If you do not pay the interest as it is charged, the Direct Loan Servicing Center will capitalize the interest, by adding it to the unpaid principal amount of your loan when repayment begins.  Capitalization increases the unpaid principal balance of your loan, and interest will then be charged on the new, increased principal amount.  You may opt to pay down any accrued interest while you are in school which may help to decrease the total amount you repay over the life of the loan.

Additionally, a loan origination fee is charged against the total amount borrowed and is deducted from loan proceeds by the federal processor before each disbursement, so the net loan amount received will be less than the gross amount you have to repay.  For more information with regard to the current interest rate and loan origination fee, please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/plus.

Federal regulations require credit checks with the US Department of Education for all graduate students seeking a federal Graduate PLUS loan.  If your credit has been approved it remains valid for up to 180 days.  A financial aid applicant is considered to have adverse credit history if they have one or more debts with a total combined outstanding balance greater than $2,085 that is 90 days or more delinquent, or that has been placed in collection or charged off during the two years preceding the credit report, or has been determined to be in default, debts that have been discharged in bankruptcy, or has been the subject of foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment, or write off of any federal student aid debt within the last five years.  Students will be notified by Direct Loans if their application is denied and will include the reason for denial and the name of the credit bureau from which the denial was obtained.

If you do not meet the credit requirements, you can still obtain the loan by:

  • Appealing the credit decision at www.studentloans.gov by selecting “Appeal Credit Decision” on the main page or by calling Direct Loans at (800) 557-7394;
  • Obtaining a credit worthy endorser to cosign on the Graduate PLUS loan application with you.

Students with adverse credit history that obtain the loan through one of the two methods listed above are required to complete online PLUS counseling at www.studentloans.gov as mandated by federal law.

Please Note: If you request a PLUS loan for more than one loan period your credit record may be accessed more than one time by the Department of Education.

To apply with an endorser (co-signer):

  • The endorser must login to www.studentloans.gov using their own information (SSN and Department of Education FSA ID);
  • Select the, “Complete an Endorser Addendum” link from the main page;
  • Follow the instructions provided to complete the endorser process.  The Loan/Award Identification Number was provided during your original credit check.  If you do not have this information, you may contact the Federal Loan Origination Center at (800) 557-7394; and,
  • The student borrower is required to complete a new PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN) for Graduate/Professional Students at www.studentloans.gov.

To request a federal Graduate PLUS Loan, you must complete the required steps listed:

Step 1. Log into www.studentloans.gov and select the, “Apply for a PLUS Loan” link from the main page and complete the PLUS Loan Application.  Typically, you should receive an email notification of your credit decision within minutes of completion.  You may view your credit decision by selecting the “My Correspondence” link on the right navigation bar.  If you have adverse credit history, you may appeal the credit decision or obtain an endorser.  NOTE: If the USDE has determined an adverse credit decision and you have obtained an endorser, you must submit proof of completion of online PLUS Counseling from www.studentloans.gov. Select, “Complete PLUS Credit Counseling” from the main menu.

  • First-time Grad PLUS loan borrowers at the GTU must complete Loan Entrance Counseling and the PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN) for Graduate/Professional Students at www.studentloans.gov.  To complete Loan Entrance Counseling, select the, “Complete Loan Counseling (Entrance, Financial Awareness, Exit)” link from the main menu then select “Entrance Counseling (Required)”.  To complete the MPN, select the “Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note)” link from the main menu then select, “PLUS MPN for Graduate/Professional Students”.  Please Note: If you have an active Direct PLUS MPN you may not be required to complete a new MPN.  It is your responsibility to keep track of the expiration date.

Step 2. At www.studentloans.gov select the, “Repayment Estimator” link on the right navigation bar and email a copy of the summary of your repayment information to finaid@gtu.edu by selecting the email icon at the bottom of the page.

Step 3. Log onto the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to access your complete federal student loan history and loan servicer information.  You will need your US Department of Education Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID (this is the ID used to electronically sign the FAFSA).

Step 4. Complete and submit the 2020-2021 Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Request form.  PLUS loan request forms that are incomplete will not be processed. The PLUS request may be submitted electronically to finaid@gtu.edu with the subject line, “Grad PLUS Request.”  Keep in mind that student loans are limited to your educational expenses and it is best to borrow only what is needed in order to minimize your overall student loan debt obligation.

Step 5. When your Graduate PLUS loan eligibility has been determined by the Financial Aid Office, a revised award notification will be sent to your school email address.  Once notified, you may reduce, accept or reject your PLUS loan by logging into your Net Partner account.

You will receive a Federal Direct Loan Disclosure Statement from the DL Servicing Center, up to thirty calendar days before the first anticipated disbursement.  It identifies the loan type, anticipated gross and net disbursement amounts and dates, fee and other important information.

Like the unsubsidized loan, PLUS loans typically disburse in two, equal installments; at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters and will be applied toward payment of tuition, room and board (if applicable), and all education-related school charges, first. If you have a remaining credit balance after tuition and fees are assessed, a loan credit refund is issued to the student borrower by the Business Office via paper check or direct deposit.

Budget Adjustment Policy

The Cost of Attendance (COA) or “student budget,” is the cornerstone of establishing financial need and in determining a student’s financial aid package.  It sets a limit on the total aid that a student may receive for purposes of the Title IV federal student aid programs.

In compliance with federal regulations, the Financial Aid Office has determined a cost of attendance that includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing, student health insurance, transportation, personal expenses, and loan fees.  These components are costs that relate to the individual student and are educational in nature as specified by Section 472 of the Higher Education Act.  A student’s total financial aid package, including scholarships, grants, other external resources, and federal student aid should not exceed the COA.  Financial Aid Administrators are allowed to make adjustments to the established components in the COA but are not allowed to create additional or new categories.

Standard budgets for the award year covers only the period of time when students are enrolled at least half-time in a qualified degree program.  On an annual basis, the Financial Aid Office determines the standard budget for financial aid applicants based on average allowable expenses for the four-and-a-half-month academic term and nine-month academic year.  Estimated costs are based on averages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the geographic location of the GTU and cannot ensure that all students incur the same costs of living nor that they will arrive with the same financial resources.

Financial Aid Administrators have the authority to use professional judgment to make reasonable adjustments to allowable expenses for special circumstances on a case-by-case basis.  Professional Judgment (PJ) is the discretion granted by law to make adjustments to costs within the COA components.  However, nothing requires a financial aid administrator to exercise this authority nor is it unlimited.  Institutions have the option not to use PJ in any circumstance.  Budgeting is an exceedingly individual process and a significant part includes ones available resources, such as personal assets and financial assistance.  As such, budget adjustments are intended for special and unusual expenses that differentiates a student from other students enrolled in the same program.  In other words, PJ cannot be considered for a condition that exists for a whole class of students.

The intent of this policy is to provide guidance to students who wish to document unusual, non-discretionary expenses that are directly related to their education.  Budget adjustments can only be made to cover costs incurred during the enrollment period.  If approved, a revision to your budget will not result in additional institutional aid but will increase your eligibility for federal student loans.  An increase to your student budget means you will be borrowing additional funds that must be repaid to cover approved educational expenses.  Approval of a petition in one year does not guarantee approval in subsequent years.

When considering whether to use PJ for a budget adjustment, Financial Aid Administrators must keep in mind that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) includes a modest income protection allowance (IPA) for basic living expenses in its federal methodology calculation.  Assets are typically excluded from the FAFSA calculation for students with an adjusted gross income below $50,000.  Independent students with children receive an asset protection allowance of 7% and students with no dependents are expected to contribute a minimum of 20% of their total assets toward their education.  Financial Aid Administrators will take the IPA into account when making adjustments to the COA.  For instance, if a student believes that their documented medical costs are unusually high, it could be determined whether those expenses actually exceed that portion of their IPA for medical costs.  For example, for the 2020-2021 award year, the IPA for a family of four (4) with one (1) in college is $41,420.  Of this amount, $4,550 represents family expenditures for medical care ($41,420 x .11 = $4,550).  Although a family with $4,000 in annual medical expenses may understandably consider these costs to be worthy of PJ consideration, the expenses have already been taken into account in the need analysis formula.  The US Department of Education has published guidance indicating the breakdown for IPA as follows:

  • Food – 30%
  • Housing – 22%
  • Transportation expenses – 9%
  • Clothing and personal care – 16%
  • Medical care – 11%
  • Other family consumption – 12%

2020-2021 Income Protection Allowance Tables

Independent student without dependents other than a spouse

Independent student with dependents other than a spouse

 

 

Number of college students in the household(FAFSA/SAR #74)

$10,640for single, separated or divorced/widowed student

Number in Household, including student (FAFSA/SAR #73)

1

2

3

4

5

$10,640 for married student if spouse is enrolled at least half-time

2

$26,940

$22,340

N/A

N/A

N/A

$17,060 for married student if spouse is not enrolled at least half-time

3

$33,550

$28,960

$24,360

N/A

N/A

 

4

$41,420

$36,830

$32,250

$27,630

N/A

 

5

$48,880

$44,260

$39,680

$35,080

$30,500

 

6

$57,160

$52,560

$47,990

$43,360

$38,790

Budget Adjustment Considerations

Please keep in mind that student loans are limited to your educational expenses and it is best to borrow only what is needed to cover your educational costs in order to minimize your overall student loan debt obligation.  Remember that loan increases lead to larger cumulative debt.  Explore and maximize all resources that you have as well as those that you anticipate in the coming academic year.  It is recommended that students review their budget to consider how they can reduce their reliance on loan funds through increased income, external support, adjustment of priorities, or reduced expenses.  It is in the student’s best interest to borrow conservatively, budget wisely, and plan ahead not only for the current year but for future academic years.

When determining unmet need and the amount of additional loan aid desired, consider how much you can afford to borrow.  Refer to a loan repayment estimator to estimate future monthly payments at studentloans.gov or use the loan calculator at http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml.

Budget Adjustment Restriction

In alignment with federal student aid regulations, the Financial Aid Office will not approve a budget adjustment request for a student loan borrower who has an outstanding federal student loan balance that has reached the aggregate limit of $138,500, and the student’s recent Graduate PLUS loan application was denied by the Department of Education, the student’s loan was discharged due to a total and permanent disability, and/or the student is in an active default status on a federal student loan.  Please review annual and aggregate loan limits at studentloans.ed.gov

Deadlines

We understand that students may not know their specific costs until after they begin attendance for the academic year.  Therefore, 2020-2021 budget adjustment requests will be accepted up to following time periods:

Fall 2020:                 Friday, October 16, 2020 by 5:00pm

Spring 2021:           Friday, March 19, 2021 by 5:00pm

How to Submit a Budget Adjustment Request

To request a budget increase, complete and submit the request form along with all supporting documentation of your allowable expenses.  Additional documentation that covers the time period of your adjustment request may be required.  While we welcome the opportunity to review a student’s budget appeal, we cannot guarantee that each review will produce a specific, desired outcome.  Once a determination has been made, all decisions are final.

Upon submission of all supporting documentation, your request will be reviewed and the Financial Aid Office will determine the action to be taken.  If your request results in an increase to your cost of attendance and additional federal student aid eligibility, a revised financial aid award notification will be sent to your school email address with further instructions. 

Review Period

The review process for budget appeals typically begins after all required documents have been submitted.  Please allow ten to fifteen business days for the completion of the process upon receipt of all required supporting documentation.

Please note: If you are determined to be eligible for additional federal student loans based on projected expenses, the Financial Aid Office will schedule aid disbursements to coincide with the timing of those expenses.  Documentation confirming the payment of future expenses must be submitted or the approval of your request will be revoked.

The policies and procedures listed are subject to change without advance notice based on changes to federal laws, federal regulations, or school policies.  If changes are made, students must abide by the most current policy.

Acceptable Budget Adjustment Circumstances

Housing

Adjustments for housing will be made only if the student provides documentation that they pay more for housing than what is allotted in the standard budget.  If housing is shared, the student’s share is considered to be proportional to the number of adults living in the household.  Homeowners, rental, or life insurance, moving expenses and security deposits, storage for personal belongings, utility or phone bills, costs incurred by a family member or other people, including a spouse or a roommate’s portion of rent or mortgage, and household repairs will not be considered.  Acceptable documentation includes a copy of the rental agreement.

One-time computer purchase

An increase may be made one time over the course of a student’s academic program.  The computer must be purchased during the enrollment period for which the adjustment is requested.  Related items such as iPods, iPads, computer software and warranties are not included as they are not allowable educational costs.  Acceptable documentation includes receipts of purchase that include student’s name, the items purchased, date and amount paid.  Receipts paid for in cash will not be accepted unless the receipt has been signed by the company/person through which the computer was purchased and is notarized.

Out-of-pocket medical, dental, or optical expenses not covered by insurance

Expenses for procedures deemed medically necessary may be considered.  Only out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance or any other agency will be allowed and receipts and other supporting documentation is required.  Discretionary medical, dental or optical procedures, non-prescription medicines, including vitamins and supplements, and costs for holistic healthcare will not be considered.

Transportation

Adjustments for transportation will be made only if the student provides documentation that they have spent more for transportation expenses to and from school or a school-related activity than what is allotted in the standard budget.  In general, it is assumed that students may rely on public transportation.  If you drive and are requesting an adjustment due to automobile expenses, you must explain the necessity for using private rather than public transportation.  Where private transportation costs are allowed for consideration in a budget appeal, gas usage related to school functions will be allowed and calculated at the most current IRS mileage rate.  The purchase of an automobile, car payments, insurance, or routine car maintenance and repairs will not be considered.

Childcare expenses

Students with dependent children under the age of 12 may request consideration for childcare expenses related to school attendance.  The Financial Aid Office uses the federal definition of a credit-hour to calculate childcare costs.  (34 CFR 600.2 defines a credit-hour as one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for a total of three hours.)  Child support or other childcare expenses (other than day care) and private school tuition will not be considered.  The Budget Adjustment Request Form for Childcare Expenses and supporting documentation is required.

Disability related expenses

Expenses incurred directly related to assistance with educational activities, such as tutoring, personal services, personal assistance, transportation, and special equipment, which are out of pocket, not covered by insurance or another agency may be considered.  Students must submit official proof of documented learning disability from a state testing center or a written statement confirming a permanent physical disability from a medical physician.

Expenses Not Allowed in a Budget Adjustment

There are many types of expenses incurred by students that are not necessarily part of a student’s allowable cost of attendance for financial aid purposes.  The following expenses are not considered a necessary part of a student’s educational cost related to the pursuit of their degree and are therefore not allowed for consideration as part of a budget appeal.

  • Prior year expenses;
  • Credit card or other consumer debts;
  • Summer expenses unless enrolled at least half time taking required coursework;
  • Job interview;
  • Costs incurred outside of the current academic year, including costs incurred before matriculation or after the final day of the term;
  • Legal fees, bail, traffic or parking tickets, or fines;
  • Pet care, unless for a service animal;
  • Luxury items, such as premium cable service and high speed internet;
  • Loan repayment.

Maximum Allowable Increases to the Standard Cost of Attendance

Type of Allowance

Standard Cost of Attendance Components

Maximum Allowable Increases

Documentation Required

Housing

$1,250/month

$11,250/year

$5,100/academic year

Copy of a signed lease or monthly mortgage statement. If rent is not shared equally, you must provide documentation of your share (if married, rent will be split equally).

Transportation to/from campus

$1,125/per single term

$2,300/year

$1,800/academic year

Commuting expenses: Travel in excess of 80 miles or more round-trip will be considered.  When calculating mileage, use the IRS Standard Mileage Rate of $.54/mile and costs for tolls and parking may be included for consideration.

Computer purchase

 

$1,500

Purchase receipt or invoice. You may only request a budget increase for a one-time computer purchase or upgrade.

Necessary Medical/Dental/Optical service not covered by insurance (e.g. check-ups, lab work, prescriptions).

$1,500/per single term

$3,000/academic year

$3,000/academic year

Medical or Dental Adjustment form, copies of billing statements, cancelled checks, or written estimate from your physician.  Include documentation of insurance coverage indicating what portion of your bill(s) will not be covered.

Child care for dependents under the age of 12.

 

$500/month per child

maximum, per academic year

Budget Adjustment Request for Childcare Expense form, contract, cancelled checks, receipts, or statement from provider.  GTU uses the federal definition of a credit-hour to calculate childcare costs.  (34 CFR 600.2 defines a credit-hour as one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for a total of three hours

 

GTU Financial Circumstance Appeal Policy

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application students use to apply for Title IV federal student aid programs offered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED).  Additionally, various institutions of higher education also use FAFSA data to determine eligibility for need-based institutional aid.  Financial aid may be used to fund expenses, such as, tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation to and from school and other academically-related activities, and other eligible education-related costs.

On an annual basis, the institution is provided with a limited allocation of tuition-restricted funding to award to students with demonstrated financial need.  While the FAFSA does not provide an opportunity for students to explain extenuating circumstances that may affect their ability to pay for their education, we understand that a student may have difficulty managing their expected family contribution due to unanticipated changes. On a one-time basis each academic year, students may submit an aid appeal if there was a substantial change in financial circumstances beyond their control between January 1, 2018 and the present.  Additional institutional aid can be only be awarded if and when funding allows.  The intent of this policy is to provide guidance to students who wish to address their extenuating circumstances.

Section 479A of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, provides authority for financial aid administrators to exercise discretion for a student’s special circumstance.  Special circumstances are conditions that differentiate an individual student from other students enrolled in the same program or defined as an unexpected event or situation beyond one’s control.  Professional judgment (PJ) is the discretion granted by law to make adjustments to need analysis data elements used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and components within the cost of attendance.  The federal government allows Financial Aid Offices to use PJ on a case-by-case basis to reevaluate a student’s financial aid eligibility in certain situations when the mitigating circumstance is well-documented but Financial Aid Administrators are not required to use this discretion.  The events that may be considered are: loss of employment, significant and prolonged loss of income, social security or child support benefits, disability, separation or divorce, death of a spouse after filing the FAFSA, excessive prolonged ongoing medical expenses, or unusual and necessary expenditures.

There are certain instances when a student’s FAFSA may not reflect their current financial situation.  In such cases, it may be appropriate to use PJ to help students during challenging economic times.  The Financial Aid Office may use PJ to adjust data that determines a student’s EFC, however, there must be a significant change in order to be considered for PJ.  The recalculation may result in a revision to the EFC and any significant change may result in additional need-based aid.

The FAFSA collects information used to calculate the EFC according to a formula established by law known as Federal Methodology (FM).  It is an estimate of a student’s/family’s ability to contribute toward postsecondary education costs.  The FM formula is the same for all graduate students.  Taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits, such as, unemployment or social security are all considered in the formula.  While the Financial Aid Office may adjust certain elements of FM they cannot make changes or alter the calculation itself.  Also included are: family size, family member(s) that receive more than half of their support from the student, and the number of family members who will attend college at least half-time in an eligible degree program between July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.  The EFC calculation also includes an income protection allowance (IPA) for basic living expenses normally incurred by a student or family.  A percentage of income earned by students is protected (not counted) to allow for minimal living expenses and payment of taxes.  Assets are typically excluded from the calculation for students with an adjusted gross income below $50,000.  Independent students with children receive an asset protection allowance of 7% and students with no dependents are expected to contribute a minimum of 20% of their total assets toward their education. 

When considering whether to use PJ to adjust for special circumstances, Financial Aid Administrators must keep in mind that the income protection allowance in the need analysis formula already accounts for an amount of income that would be required to maintain a modest living standard.  For example, for the 2020-2021 award year, the IPA for a family of four (4) with one (1) in college is $41,420.  Of this amount, $4,550 represents family expenditures for medical care ($41,420 x .11 = $4,550).  Although a family with $4,000 in annual medical expenses may understandably consider these costs to be worthy of PJ consideration, the expenses have already been taken into account in the need analysis formula.  The US Department of Education has published guidance indicating the breakdown for IPA as follows:

  • Food – 30%
  • Housing – 22%
  • Transportation expenses – 9%
  • Clothing and personal care – 16%
  • Medical care – 11%
  • Other family consumption – 12%

2020-2021 Income Protection Allowance Tables

Independent student without dependents other than a spouse

Independent student with dependents other than a spouse

 

 

Number of college students in the household(FAFSA/SAR #74)

$10,640for single, separated or divorced/widowed student

Number in Household, including student (FAFSA/SAR #73)

1

2

3

4

5

$10,640 for married student if spouse is enrolled at least half-time

2

$26,940

$22,340

N/A

N/A

N/A

$17,060 for married student if spouse is not enrolled at least half-time

3

$33,550

$28,960

$24,360

N/A

N/A

 

4

$41,420

$36,830

$32,250

$27,630

N/A

 

5

$48,880

$44,260

$39,680

$35,080

$30,500

 

6

$55,690

$51,210

$46,750

$42,240

$37,790

 

How to submit a Financial Circumstance Appeal

Before an appeal is submitted, students must first accept their current financial aid award package to ensure that aid will post in a timely manner.  Students must complete and submit the requisite form along with all supporting documentation of their situation.  Incomplete appeals will not be reviewed until all documentation is received and once a determination has been made, all decisions are final.  If we are unable to award additional funding during the fall term, appeals may be reconsidered for additional institutional aid in the spring if and when funding becomes available.

Please be advised that when an appeal is initiated, the student’s FAFSA will automatically be selected for federal Verification.  The purpose of verification is to ensure accuracy when determining eligibility.  Applications will be selected for Verification for the current and, if warranted, the subsequent academic year.  Please review the Verification Policy for more information.  This is in addition to any documentation specifically needed to complete the appeal request.  International students:  A copy of your I-20 documents will be requested from the Admissions Office.

Review Period

The review process typically begins after the end of the late registration period, each semester.  The last day to submit an appeal for the fall semester is October 1 and the last day to submit an appeal for the spring semester is March 15.  Please allow a minimum of ten to fifteen business days for the completion of the review process upon receipt of all required documentation.

After an appeal has been evaluated, the student will be notified in writing of the decision.  Please note that while we welcome the opportunity to review a student’s unique situation, we cannot guarantee that each review will produce a specific, desired outcome.  All requests are handled on a case-by-case basis and additional institutional aid can only be provided if funding allows.  Extra time may be needed for review if additional documentation is required.  If we are able to make an adjustment, we may submit corrections to the student’s FAFSA.  If a student qualifies for additional aid based on their adjusted financial need, we will award the additional aid when the correction process is complete.  Conversely, if the tax information reported on the FAFSA was underestimated, submission and evaluation may result in a reduced financial aid award.

Reason for Financial Circumstance Appeal

Required Documents

Layoff/Involuntary Unemployment

  • Copy of the termination notice;
  • Final pay stub showing year-to date earnings;
  • Severance pay agreement, if applicable;
  • Unemployment benefits, if applicable;
  • IRS Data Retrieval Tool or a copy of IRS tax transcript.

Loss of Income

  • A letter from your employer confirming the reduction in earnings and effective date;
  • Termination of benefits documentation;
  • Quarterly business earnings statement or quarterly tax return if self-employed;
  • IRS Data Retrieval Tool or a copy of IRS tax transcript.

Loss of Disability Benefits

  • Letter from the agency verifying date and amount of benefit loss or reduction

Loss of Social Security Benefits

  • Letter from the Social Security Administration verifying the date and amount of benefit loss or reduction.

Death of a Spouse

  • A copy of the death certificate;
  • A copy of final paycheck;
  • IRS Data Retrieval Tool or IRS tax transcript, student and spouse’s W2s;
  • Documentation of death benefits received.

Divorce/Legal Separation

  • A copy of the divorce or separation decree;
  • Statement from family law attorney indicating the date of separation or proof of separation;
  • Documentation of alimony and/or child support received or paid out;
  • IRS Data Retrieval Tool or IRS tax transcript, student and spouse’s W2s.

Loss of Child Support

  • A copy of the separation agreement or divorce decree that shows the amount of child support was provided;
  • A copy of the termination of benefits letter.

Significant loss of financial support from family or outside organization (international students)

  • Letter explaining the extenuating circumstance;
  • Any relevant documentation.

Other unusual or necessary expenses

  • Letter explaining the extenuating circumstance;
  • Any relevant documentation;
  • IRS Data Retrieval Tool or IRS tax transcript.

Items that may not be considered in a financial circumstances appeal:

  • Consumer debt (credit card or educational loan debt)
  • Routine personal living expenses (car payments, insurance, mortgage/rent)
  • Unusual personal living expenses (wedding costs, legal expenses)
  • Reduction in overtime pay
  • Bankruptcy
  • Job loss of less than six months
  • Requests to exclude retirement assets that are not invested in a traditional retirement account

The policies and procedures listed are subject to change without advance notice based on changes to federal laws, federal regulations, or school policies.  If changes are made, students must abide by the most current policy.

GTU R2T4 Policy

The Higher Education Reauthorization Act of 1998, as well as integrity regulations in 2010, set forth rules governing the treatment of Title IV funds when a student cancels enrollment, takes a leave of absence, withdraws, or is dismissed.  Federal student aid funds, formally referred to as Title IV funds, are awarded to a student under the assumption that they will be in attendance for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded.  The term “Title IV,” as outlined in this policy refers to the federal financial aid programs authorized under the Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended (HEA) and includes the William D. Ford Direct Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS loan programs.

The Code of Federal Regulations, CFR 668.22, mandates that a Return of Title IV funds calculation be performed when any student who received, or was eligible to receive, Title IV (TIV) aid ceases attendance in all classes prior to completing the payment period or semester.  A student who never began attendance is not eligible for Title IV funds.  A return calculation is not required if a student never began attendance, continues to attend at least one Title IV eligible class, is on an approved leave of absence that was granted before the semester began, or did not receive and is not eligible to receive any TIV aid.  If a disbursement was made prior to determining that the student never began attendance, all funds must be returned to the U.S. Department of Education and a Return to Title IV funds calculation is unnecessary.

This policy provides information regarding the Return to Title IV (R2T4) funds calculation for students who cease enrollment before completing the semester.  When a student withdraws, a refund of tuition and fees must be calculated by the Business Office and the Financial Aid Office must calculate the R2T4 funds.  The student may receive a full or partial refund of their tuition and fees based on the date they cease to be enrolled.  A refund calculation will not impact the R2T4 calculation, but could potentially affect the amount of money owed to the school for terminating enrollment.  Students should review the GTU’s Tuition Refund Policy for detailed information.

Within thirty (30) calendar days of a student’s withdrawal, leave of absence or termination, the Financial Aid Office must perform an R2T4 calculation to determine how much aid, if any, must be returned.  The R2T4 calculation must be completed in accordance with federal regulations using the requisite worksheet provided by the U.S. Department of Education.  It is a prorated calculation based on the portion of the term during which the student earned Title IV funds.  A student is only eligible for the percentage of Title IV aid disbursed that is equal to the percentage of the semester that was completed. 

The R2T4 calculation identifies two types of federal student aid, earned and unearned.  Earned aid is based on a percentage calculated by dividing the number of days the student completed by the number of days in the payment period.  The number of days counted includes all calendar days in the semester including weekends and holidays, but excludes scheduled breaks of five consecutive days or more.  A student who remains enrolled beyond the sixty (60%) percent point of the payment period or semester is considered to have earned all received and disbursable aid.  Disbursable aid includes federal funds received and funds that could have been (but was not) disbursed as of the withdrawal date.  If a student’s earned aid exceeds disbursed aid, the GTU must offer a post withdrawal disbursement within thirty (30) calendar days of the date it determined that the student withdrew.   No post-withdrawal disbursement will be made if the student does not respond affirmatively within fourteen (14) calendar days of the notification date.  If the student requests a post-withdrawal disbursement and there are outstanding charges on their account, the GTU will first credit the account for all or part of the amount of the post-withdrawal disbursement up to the allowable charges.

The charges used in the calculation are those that were initially assessed for the entire semester or payment period.  The Financial Aid Office must ensure the inclusion of all appropriate tuition and educational fees in the R2T4 calculation.  The GTU is responsible for returning the lesser of the total amount of unearned aid or the institutional charges multiplied by the percentage of unearned aid no later than forty-five (45) calendar days after it determines that the student has ceased enrollment in all classes.  If the student receives more Title IV aid than the amount earned, the school, the student, or both must return the unearned funds in a specified order as follows:

  1. Federal Unsubsidized;
  2. Federal Perkins;
  3. Federal Graduate PLUS.

Students must provide official notification of their intent to either take a leave of absence (leaving with a firm and stated intention of returning) or by withdrawing (leaving without intent to return).  Students choosing to take a leave of absence or withdraw should follow the official leave or withdrawal processes as defined in the Student Handbook.  Official notification from the student is any notification that is provided orally or in writing to a designated campus official acting in their official capacity in the leave or withdrawal process.

If a student begins to attend class, receives federal aid, but then ceases to attend class without providing official notification to the school, the GTU and the Federal Government considers this to be an unofficial leave or withdrawal.  In addition, federal regulations consider students that receive all non-passing grades or a combination of non-passing and withdrawal (W) grades, as an unofficial withdrawal.  When the student has failed to earn a passing grade in at least one class for the term, federal regulations require the school to determine whether the student established eligibility for funds disbursed by attending at least one class or participating in an academically-related activity.  If the school cannot verify that the student attended, all financial aid must be repaid to the federal program and the student will be responsible for any balance due.  Students who are able to verify attendance may submit supporting documentation to the GTU within thirty (30) days from the last day of the semester.  Recalculations for aid eligibility will not be performed for documentation received after that date.  Once grades are posted for a student who receives all non-passing grades, the school will return all unearned aid back to the federal and institutional programs and the student will be charged.

The GTU is not required to take attendance, therefore the date of determination varies depending on the type of leave or withdrawal: official or unofficial.  When a student provides official notification through the formal processes, the withdrawal date is the student’s last day of attendance in an academically-related activity or the date of notification, whichever is later.  Schools that are not required to take attendance must select a method to determine the student’s last day of attendance when the leave or withdrawal are considered unofficial.  For Title IV purposes, the withdrawal date is the midpoint of the semester, the date the school becomes aware that the student ceased attendance in an academically-related activity, or the date an event occurred which prevented the student from officially withdrawing from the institution.  Such events include illness, grievous personal loss, or other circumstances beyond the student’s control.  Please note that a key component of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is course completion.  A total withdrawal contributes no completed units toward the completion of a student’s program.  Absence of course completion during a semester could be viewed as negative progress towards degree completion.  Students should review the GTU Doctoral or Master of Arts SAP policies for more information.

Academically-related activities include but are not limited to:

  • Physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the professor and students;
  • Submitting an academic assignment;
  • Taking an exam, completing an interactive tutorial, or participating in computer-assisted instruction;
  • Attending a study group that is assigned by the school;
  • Participating in an online discussion about academic matters; and,
  • Initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course.

Academically-related activities do not include activities where a student may be present but not academically engaged, such as:

  • Living in institutional housing;
  • Participating in the school’s meal plan;
  • Logging into an online class without active participation;
  • Participating in academic advising or counseling.

The school’s responsibility as it pertains to R2T4 include:

  • Making this policy available to all federal aid recipients;
  • Identifying students who are affected by this policy and completing the Return to Title IV Federal Funds calculation for those students; and,
  • Making the required returns of Title IV funds.

The student’s responsibility with regard to the return of Title IV include:

  • Notifying the GTU of intent to withdraw or take a leave of absence;
  • Following the procedures for officially withdrawing or taking a leave of absence; and,
  • Returning to the Title IV federal programs any funds that were disbursed directly to the student by which the student was determined to be ineligible;
  • Paying any outstanding balance owed to the GTU resulting from an R2T4 calculation.

Students should contact the Financial Aid Office if considering enrolling in fewer units than indicated, plan to drop course(s) prior to the start date of the course(s), or if some classes are canceled after aid has disbursed, as this may result in a reduction or cancelation of financial aid.  Students who drop below half-time enrollment are ineligible for federal student loans.  Students who drop or withdraw from any modular course and plan to enroll in a future course in the summer term must immediately confirm their intent to re-enroll, in writing, to the Financial Aid Office, per federal regulation.  Students who fail to confirm their intent, will be assumed to be withdrawn and any aid disbursed will be adjusted or canceled.

Return to Title IV Funds Calculation Example

A full-time student was registered for the fall 2019 term.  There are 103 days in the semester.  The student took a leave of absence on 09/23/19.  Including 09/23/19, the student attended 21 days of the semester.

Step 1:                   Types and amounts of Title IV aid received (Net disbursement amounts)

                                $10,141 Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

                                $10,141 Total aid received

Step 2:                   Percentage of Title IV earned/unearned

21 days attended divided by 103 days in semester = 20.38%.  The percentage of aid the student earned for the semester is 20.38%.  The percentage of unearned aid is 79.62% (100% - 20.38%).

Step 3:                   Net amount of Title IV aid earned by the student

20.38% of the $10,141 aid received = $2,485.55

Step 4:                   Total aid to be returned (unearned) by school and student

                                $10,141 (aid received) minus $2,066.73 (earned aid) = $8074.27

                                Total aid to be returned to Title IV = $8074.27

Step 5:                   Net amount to be returned by the school

Multiply institutional charges of $17,100 by 79.62% = $13,615.02.  The school is responsible for returning the lesser of this amount or the amount from Step 4 ($8074.27).  In this case, the school must return $8074.27 to the loan servicer.

Step 6:                   Allocation of funds

$8074.27 in unsubsidized loans will be returned to the student’s loan servicer.

Step 7:                   Unearned net amount due from student

Subtract the school portion to be returned (Step 5) from the total amount to be returned (Step 4).  $8074.27 - $8074.27 = $0.  In this example, the student is not required to return funds to the loan servicer.

Once the Financial Aid Office determines the amount of unearned aid that the GTU is responsible for returning, the student and the Business Office will be notified.  An email to the student will specify the amount of aid that must be returned by the school and will identify the Title IV loan program(s) to which the funds will be credited.  The email will also specify the amount of aid that must be repaid by the student in accordance with the terms and conditions outlined on their signed federal Master Promissory Note (MPN).  That is, the student must make scheduled payments to the loan servicer over a period of time.  The GTU will return all excess funds, including funds the R2T4 calculation identifies as the student’s responsibility to return.  If the school’s portion of the funds to be returned creates a balance due on the student’s account, they will be billed.  Students must pay the outstanding balance in full before registering for additional classes, requesting official transcripts and receiving their diploma.

Withdrawing may affect the student’s eligibility for federal aid in subsequent terms.  Anytime a student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time, the grace period begins.  The grace period for loan repayment for federal Direct Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS loans will begin as of the day the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.  If the student is not enrolled at least half-time for more than six (6) months, the loans will enter repayment.  If the grace period has expired, payment is due immediately.  It is important to make on-time payments to prevent default.  A loan is considered delinquent if one payment is missed.  Delinquent loans are listed on a credit report and lowers a borrower’s credit score thereby adversely affecting credit.  Failure to repay federal student loans for 270 days or more results in default and loss of eligibility for future financial aid.  A high percentage of federal loan default may negatively impact the GTU by preventing its ability to continue to participate in Title IV federal student aid programs.  Other consequences of default include federal tax refunds being applied to the defaulted loan, collection fees of up to 24% on each payment, a portion of the loan may be deducted from wages, loss of eligibility for deferments and forbearances, the state may revoke a professional license and the federal government may pursue delinquent debt collection procedures and litigation.

Students may review their federal loans on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and studentaid.gov.  They are the U.S. Department of Education’s online database for federal student loan borrowers.  The NSLDS site displays information on loan and/or grant amounts, outstanding balances, loan statuses, and disbursements.  It is important that students understand where they stand with their current borrowing and it is good practice for students to periodically review NSLDS to help them manage their borrowing and to keep them informed.  This web-based resource allows them to be an educated borrower by providing constant access to the details of their loans.  Studentloans.gov allows students to view and print their Master Promissory Note, view a list of their loan servicers, and utilize the Repayment Estimator Tool.

Before considering a leave of absence or withdrawal, students should refer to their Student Handbook to review the requirements and procedures.  When possible, we recommend that federal student aid borrowers consult with the Financial Aid Office to discuss possible implications if considering a leave or withdrawal.

The policies and procedures listed are subject to change without advance notice based on changes to federal laws, federal regulations, or school policies.  If changes are made, students must abide by the most current policy.  The Return to Title IV calculation is very encompassing and this is intended to be an overview of the policies and procedures that govern regulations pertaining to R2T4.

Schools in most states and the District of Columbia must make a good faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to their students. This voter registration requirement was included in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. In essence, if a Title IV (Federal Student Aid) participating school is located in a state that requires voter registration prior to election day and/or does not allow the ability to register at the time of voting, then the school must make a good faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to its federal student aid eligible students.

To meet this requirement, federal student aid recipients attending the Graduate Theological Union will receive an annual reminder via email of the following ways to complete voter registration:

  • To register to vote in the State of California using the online application, visit http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm.
  • Voter registration forms are available at the Registrar of Voters Office located in the Alameda County Courthouse at 1225 Fallon Street, Room G-1, Oakland, California 94612.
  • Forms are also available at all offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles, all city clerks offices, public libraries and post offices.
  • Individuals may also call the Registrar of Voters at 510-267-8683 or the Secretary of State at 1-800-345-VOTE in order for a registration form to be provided by mail.

To successfully register to vote, it is important that the voter registration application be filled out completely and be postmarked or hand-delivered to the county elections office at least 15 days before a primary or a general election.

Contact Our Office

Phone: (510) 649-2469
E-mail:  finaid@gtu.edu
Fax: (510) 649-1730
In person: 2465 LeConte Ave., 3rd Floor

Mailing Address

Graduate Theological Union
Financial Aid Office
2400 Ridge Road
Berkeley, CA 94709