GTU Financial Aid Office

The GTU Financial Aid Office administers financial aid for students at the GTU and its centers and affiliates. 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 information on this site will help you understand your financial aid options and how to apply.

Financial Aid Programs and Eligibility

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 on October 1.  Member schools may have specific deadlines so pay close attention to your school or center of affiliation's institutional financail 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 (lender).

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 lender.

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 Stafford and/ or Perkins Loan.

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 s/he can contribute towards his/her 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 letter stating the amount of loan funding you are eligible for as well as information on how to apply for student loans.

Yes, this may affect your aid. Some schools will not award any grants to students who have not applied on time. Both the free application for federal student aid form AND the school supplemental 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 award 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 the Stafford 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

The following budget is an estimated average and reasonable cost of completing the 2019-2020 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 TIV 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 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 “Financial Aid Budget Adjustment Policy” under the Financial Aid Policies section of


per credit

4-month semester

9-month academic year

Ph.D. and Th.D. in tuition




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



M.A. in tuition




M.A. continuing relations fee







Allowable Non-Tuition Expenses

per month

4-month semester

9-month academic year

Books and Supplies






















Loan Fee



Total estimated non-tuition expenses








Total 2019-2020 Cost of Attendance

(sum of tuition and  non-tuition expenses)

4-month semester

9-month academic year

Ph.D. and Th.D. in tuition



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



M.A. in tuition



M.A. continuing relations fee





To accept a financial aid award, 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 NetPartner Student Financial Aid Portal to view and accept your financial aid award.  Reduce and Accept or Decline institutional and/or federal awards for the 2019-2020 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 recommend you use the loan borrowing calculator (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 2019-2020 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 borrowers must complete steps 5 through 6 in addition to steps 1 through 3.

  1. Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at if you wish to borrow federal loans and have not previously borrowed with the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program or your MPN has expired.  Select “Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note)” from the main page to complete the MPN.  Select the option “MPN for Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans”.  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 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 US 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.  Select “Complete Loan Counseling (Entrance, Financial Awareness, Exit)” from the main page.  Select the option for “Entrance Counseling – (Required)” 
  3. Complete and submit the Budget Worksheet and login to to complete the Loan Repayment Estimator.  Select the “Repayment Estimator” link under the “Tools and Calculators” section on the left navigation bar, then complete the necessary fields and submit a copy of the “summary of your repayment information” by email to by selecting the email icon at the bottom of the page.  You may return the forms electronically or by hardcopy.  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.

A student’s financial aid package is a collection of different types of aid from multiple sources and is intended to provide support in order to help fill the gap between one’s ability to pay and educational costs associated with the degree program.  Financial Aid is awarded per academic school year and in order to determine eligibility students must reapply each year. The information provided in this document is to help you make informed financial aid decisions. As you prepare for the upcoming academic year, please carefully read and review all contents of your financial aid award package. Additionally, we encourage you visit our website to periodically look out for any important financial aid announcements and deadlines and to research available funding on our external scholarship database. If you have any questions, please contact us by email at, via phone at (510) 649-2469, or in-person on the 3rd floor of the 2465 LeConte Avenue building.

Cost of Attendance are the components of an estimated student budget for the 9-month, 2019-20 academic year associated with full-time enrollment at the GTU.  This is the basis of your financial aid package and includes both direct expenses billed by the institution (Board approved tuition and fees) and estimated indirect expenses not billed by the school (books and supplies, housing and food allowances, allowances for books, supplies, transportation, health insurance, loan fees, and miscellaneous personal expenses) as dictated by federal regulations.  These figures are not intended to represent your tuition bill for the academic year but is the total estimated cost of attending the GTU for one academic year.  Your financial aid cannot exceed your total cost of attendance.

EFC Expected Family Contribution or ‘Student Contribution’: The Graduate Theological Union uses a need analysis formula established by the U.S. Department of Education to determine an applicant’s ability to contribute to the Cost of Attendance.  All financial aid applicants will find an EFC value listed on a financial aid award letter.  For U.S. citizen and eligile non-citizen applicants, 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.  For international applicants, the EFC is the result of the information provided on the GTU Financial Aid Application and supplemental information provided by the applicant.  In both cases, the EFC represents an evaluation of family size, members of your household in college, income, assets and resources.

Need: Eligibility for need-based aid is determined by subtracting the EFC from the Cost of Attendance. Demonstration of need does not automatically guarantee a need-based financial aid award, as aid is limited to the availability of funding.

GTU Merit-based Scholarships: A limited form of tuition-restricted scholarship aid awarded to students based on strong academic abilities and leadership skills, or other specified criteria.  In most cases, the scholarship sponsor has a set of criteria in order to select the recipient(s) amongst all qualified applicants. Some merit scholarships also consider demonstrated financial need, but rewarding ability is the primary objective.

GTU Need-based Scholarships: Each year, the Graduate Theological Union distributes tuition-restricted scholarship aid to students who demonstrate financial need.  The amount is determined on the basis of the number of eligible applicants and the availability of funds.  Scholarship aid is prioritized for students paying tuition in the first two years of full-time enrollment.  Need-based scholarship aid is not typically granted to students who are in the continuing relations fee stage of the Doctoral and Master of Arts programs.  NOTE: MA students who have been approved for transfer of credits from another institution or member school that count toward the 48.00 unit Tuition/Residency requirement may affect need-based institutional aid eligibility.

External Resources/Private Funding: External grants and scholarships are educational awards not provided directly by the GTU.  External funding resources include but are not limited to: scholarships, grants, denomination support, Vocational Rehabilitation, AmeriCorps, or other external sources of financial assistance such as payments made to the school from any person other than the student.  All outside resources, with the exception of Veteran’s Benefits and Vocational Rehabilitation, must be factored into the calculation of a student’s eligibility for institutional and federal financial aid.  Please be advised that an outside resource may affect a student’s financial aid eligibility and, if necessary, the award package will be adjusted to account for the additional assistance.  Failing to report an external funding source may result in having to repay the school or the federal government all or a portion of any financial aid received.  If the total outside resource listed on your financial aid award package is incorrect, use the Verification of External Aid form or send an email from your GTU email account to update the Financial Aid Office.

Federal Work-Study (domestic and eligible non-citizens): Work Study gives students the opportunity to earn part of what they need to meet indirect educational expenses.  Each year, the GTU offers a limited number of federal work-study awards to new and continuing students who have demonstrated financial need in accordance with federal regulations.  An applicant expresses interest in work-study on question 31 of the FAFSA. (International students are not eligible for federal work study, which is a need-based form of Title IV federal student aid.)  Accepting FWS award does not guarantee a job, you must interview, be offered a position, and be placed on payroll before you can be paid.  Work-study employment for the 2019-20 year may begin on or after July 1, 2019 in a work-study approved on or off-campus position.  Before starting employment, a federal work-study authorization form must be filed with the Financial Aid Office and employment paperwork must be completed with Human Resources.  PLEASE NOTE: If you accept a FWS award and are not hired for a work-study position by October 31, 2019, the fall portion of your award will be forfeited; however you can maintain your spring eligibility by sending an email to us at

Scholarship Opportunities:  The Financial Aid Office maintains a Scholarship Database to help support your academic research and the cost of your education.  The scholarship database is an online search site of external funding opportunities for students in theological education.  Visit and look for the “Guide to External Scholarships and Resources” link.  We strongly encourage all students to actively pursue external/private sources of educational assistance during the course of their studies at the GTU.

Federal Student Loan Repayment Calculator: Use the federal student Loan Repayment Estimator tool, to explore and view Standard, Graduated, or Extended, REPAYE, PAYE, IBR, or ICR repayment estimates based on your actual federal student loan information.  The Repayment Estimator estimates your federal student loan payments under each repayment plan so you can make informed decisions.  NOTE: All TIV federal student loans borrowed default to the Standard Repayment plan unless you otherwise actively choose or apply for another repayment option.

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) central database for student aid. NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, the Direct Loan program, and other Department of ED programs to provide recipients of TIV aid access to a centralized, integrated view of all federal Title IV student loans and/or grant data borrowed/received that are tracked through their entire cycle; from aid approval through closure.  For information on your loan and/or grant amounts, outstanding balances, loan statuses, and disbursements, you may login to using your FSA ID.

In-School Loan Deferment: The GTU Registrar’s Office reports enrollment through the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) on a regularly scheduled basis throughout the academic year.  If you have prior federal student loans and wish to bridge the gap between the start of the term and Clearinghouse reporting, you may download an in-school deferment form at:  The GTU Registrar is the “Certifying Official” and can complete the school certification section of the form on the first day instruction.


Loans are a form of “self-help” financial aid that unlike scholarships, grants and work-study, must be repaid with interest.  Educational loans are provided by both the Federal Government and by Private Lenders.  Federal student loans, sometimes called Direct or Stafford loans whose authorized purpose by federal law is to help to pay for education-related expenses.  These allowable education-related expenses are included in the GTU’s published cost of attendance (COA), which is often referred to as a student budget.

All students borrowing a federal student loan for the first time in either the MA or PhD programs at the GTU must complete online Direct Loan Entrance Counseling, as outlined on the Financial Aid Award Checklist.

Federal Direct Loan Annual and Aggregate Limits: The annual maximum of $20,500 represents the total gross amount of federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan a graduate student may borrow based on eligibility for an academic year.  The lifetime aggregate student loan borrowing limit of $138,500, includes all combined FFEL and Direct student loans borrowed at both the graduate and undergraduate student levels.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan: Domestic students may request to borrow a federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, a non-need-based form of TIV federal student aid, to meet educational costs not supported with financial assistance, a student’s estimated unmet cost.  Unsubsidized loans are generally eligible for in-school deferment, which means the student borrower can defer loan repayment until six months after the borrow graduates, takes an approved leave of absence, withdraws, or otherwise drops below half-time enrollment, however, interest begins to accrue when the loan disburses.  Upon repayment, any unpaid interest that has accrued is added to the principle balance of the loan.  Loans are disbursed in substantially equal amounts between the fall and spring semesters.  Information about the Federal Direct Loan program may be found online at  Students who have not previously borrowed a federal unsubsidized loan or whose Federal Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) has expired must also complete the MPN as listed on the Award Checklist.  Once completed, the MPN is a multi-year promissory note good for a period of ten years.

Federal Graduate PLUS Loan: Domestic students may request to borrow a federal Graduate PLUS loan to meet educational costs not supported with financial assistance, the student’s estimated unmet cost.  The borrower is required to pass a credit check and also meet the general eligibility requirements for federal financial aid.  For example, you must not be in default or owe a refund to any Title IV federal student aid program.  Interest rate and fee information may be found online at  Students should review and follow the GTU Graduate PLUS Loan Policy in order to borrow a Grad PLUS Loan.

Satisfactory Academic Progress: The Higher Education Act of 1965 requires institutions of higher education to establish a reasonable Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy to determine whether an otherwise eligible student is making SAP in their educational program.  Satisfactory Academic Progress is required in order to maintain institutional and federal financial aid eligibility and is the standard used to monitor a student’s progress towards successful completion of coursework in the degree program.  Please review the GTU’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policies (SAP) located in the GTU MA and Doctoral Student Handbooks.

Financial Aid Appeals: In certain situations, students may appeal for a reevaluation of their eligibility for financial assistance.  Examples of circumstances that will be considered include: involuntary loss of employment, high medical costs not covered by insurance, or increased educational expenses above the GTU’s standard cost of attendance.  Please be prepared to provide accurate and complete supporting documentation to substantiate your request (i.e. copies of W2’s, tax forms, hospital bills, etc.Note: discretionary and non-educational personal expenses will not be considered in the evaluation of your eligibility for financial aid.  Financial aid is limited to the use towards payment of required tuition and fees, books and supplies, and for maintenance costs related to your education and attendance at the Graduate Theological Union.

Return of Title IV Funds: The Higher Education Amendments of 1998 require that the institution calculate prorated student aid eligibility for students who withdraw or take a leave of absence before completing more than sixty percent of any given academic term.  Aid awarded to the student and not earned at the time of the effective date of withdrawal will be returned to the TIV Federal Student Aid Programs.  The TIV programs include Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS Loans.  The amount of unearned federal financial aid is calculated on a percentage basis by measuring the total number of days the student completed against 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 of absence.  The GTU must return any unearned aid they accepted in payment of charges and must notify the student of their responsibility for returning any unearned aid received as a credit refund after all charges had been paid.  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.

Exit Counseling for Federal Loan Recipients: Federal student loan borrowers who graduate, take a leave of absence, fall below half-time enrollment (less than 6.00 units) or withdraw must complete loan exit counseling within thirty (30) days of separation from the school as mandated by federal regulation.  Students will be contacted by email to request completion of online exit counseling at and/or announcements for on-campus exit counseling sessions.  Students can log into the National Student Loan Data System using their FSA ID to retrieve their federal student loan history at or  Students may request more detailed information about loan repayment options, by visiting the US Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website at: or

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 2019-2020 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
  • 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.


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 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 sessions are announced during the Spring semester.  To complete online federal Stafford student loan Exit Counseling visit
  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: 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 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 of the U.S. Department of Education (FSA) 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 a full academic year and are provided in two proportionately equal disbursements; the first for the fall and the second for the spring term.  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 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 calendar days from the date the loan 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  You 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, or have defaulted 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 annual loan limit, the maximum amount a graduate or professional student may borrow, is $20,500 in a single academic year.  The maximum outstanding total borrowing limit for a graduate or professional student (inclusive of subsidized and unsubsidized loans borrowed at the undergraduate level, excluding capitalized interest) is $138,500.  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.

The interest rate for a Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loan disbursed on or after July 1, 2018 is fixed at 6.60%.  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.

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 7.00% for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2018.  An origination loan fee of at least 4.248% is deducted from the total amount of each loan disbursement.  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 2018-2019 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 2018-2019 GTU Financial Aid Application
  • Complete the 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at and include the GTU federal school code G01207.  NOTE: 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:
  • Complete online Entrance Counseling at:
  • 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 award.

Your federal student loan 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 of $20,500 refers to the total amount of Unsubsidized Direct Loan a graduate student may borrow based upon eligibility for an academic year, July 1 through June 30. The lifetime aggregate loan limit of $138,500, includes all federal loans borrowed (combined FFEL and Direct Loan Programs) as a graduate level student as well as any federal loans borrowed as an undergraduate.  Students may review their federal student loan history by logging in using their FSA ID on the National Student Loan Data System website ( For information about current loan interest rates, origination fees, and repayment options, please visit

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, hwoever, there are no adjustments to loan fees nor interest.


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 or a balance owed to the school.


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 should not 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.


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.


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.


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


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

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


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.

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.


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:  To estimate your monthly payments based on your current borrowing level, please visit and

Students can log into the National Student Loan Data System using their FSA ID to retrieve their federal student loan history at or

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 member schools of the GTU 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
  • 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 the election.

External Scholarships

In addition to the financial aid that the GTU and member schools can make directly available to its students, the GTU seeks to assist students in accessing outside scholarships and other resources that may be available to them. Our Guide to External Scholarships and Resources lists a wide range of private grants, scholarship, fellowships, and other funding opportunities that may be available to students of the GTU and its member schools.

Contact Our Office

Phone: (510) 649-2469
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