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Financial Aid Tips and FAQs

What is the difference between Student Financial Services and Bursar?

Student Financial Services assists students with applying for various types of financial aid. The Bursar is responsible for managing student statements, receiving payments, and disbursing aid received for students from various aid sources.

What types of financial aid am I eligible for?

As a graduate/professional student, you may be eligible for Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans. Learn more about each one here.

How do I answer the ‘Student Education’ questions on my FAFSA?

FAFSA - Student Education

What will your high school diploma status be when you begin college in the 2018-2019 school year? Choose either ‘High School Diploma’ or ‘GED certificate or state authorized high school equivalent certificate’.

What will your college grade level be when you begin the 2018-2019 school year? Choose either ‘1st year graduate/professional’ (if you will be attending AUA as a first time student) or ‘continuing graduate/professional or beyond’ (if you will be attending AUA as a continuing student).

What degree or certificate will you be working on when you begin the 2018-2019 school year? Choose: Graduate/professional degree.

Do I need to choose the option that I will be pursuing a graduate or professional degree, if I don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree? Yes, the medical program at American University of Antigua is a graduate program.

Will you have your first bachelor’s degree before you begin the 2018-2019 school year? Choose: Yes or No.

What happens after I submit my FAFSA?

At AUA, there are two stages to the loan completion process: Verification and Confirmation of Packaging. You will be assigned two counselors, one to assist you at each stage. In addition to the FAFSA, you must ensure that all the steps listed in the step by step guide are completed. Your Verification Counselor will utilize your FAFSA and verify your loan information. Finally, the verified data is sent to the Confirmation team for the packaging of your loans.

Where can I make corrections/updates to my FAFSA?

You can make changes in one of the two following ways:

  • Make changes by visiting www.fafsa.gov
    1. Select the “LOG IN” and enter your FSA ID.
    2. Create a save key (or enter it if you previously created one).
    3. On the “My FAFSA” page, select “Make FAFSA Corrections.”
    4. Change your information.
    5. Submit your new information.
  • Write in the corrections or updates on your paper SAR, sign it, and mail it to the address provided on the SAR.

Note: Tax return information you transfer via the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool cannot be changed on your online FAFSA form. If you filed a 1040X amended return, contact your school’s financial aid office to discuss whether it would be appropriate for the school to adjust the information on your FAFSA form.

What are the eligibility requirements for Direct PLUS Loans?

You must be enrolled at least half-time in a graduate or professional program (for example, a program that leads to a medical degree) at a school that participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, and must meet all of the other general eligibility requirements for the Federal Student Aid programs. In addition, you must not have an adverse credit history (a credit check will be done).

Can I decline Direct Unsubsidized Loans and use only Direct PLUS Loans to pay for my education?

Yes, however, Direct Unsubsidized Loans have some advantages over Direct PLUS Loans. Direct Unsubsidized Loans have a lower fixed interest rate (currently 6.60%) than Direct PLUS Loans (currently 7.60%). Interest is charged on Direct PLUS Loans during all periods. Additionally, Direct Unsubsidized Loans have a six-month grace period after you leave school; during which you are not required to make payments. There is no grace period for Direct PLUS Loans. While you are enrolled in school, you may choose to defer your Direct PLUS Loans while completing the PLUS application.

How do I apply for a Direct PLUS Loan?

You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and a Federal Direct PLUS Loan Application and Master Promissory Note (PLUS MPN).

Can I cancel a Direct PLUS Loan after I have applied?

Before your loan funds are disbursed (paid out), you may cancel all or part of the loan by notifying your financial aid counselor. After your loan has been disbursed, AUA will return funding up to 30 days from the date it was posted to your account. For details, refer to the Borrower’s Rights and Responsibilities Statement that accompanies your PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN). If you have received your Federal Student Aid Disbursement Notification, you will also receive instructions on how to return monies to the Bursar’s office if you chose to return any funding.

Can the Master Promissory Note (MPN) that I signed for my Direct Unsubsidized Loans be used for Direct PLUS Loans?

No. You must sign an MPN for both Unsubsidized and Plus Loans. Each loan type (i.e. Unsubsidized and/or Grad Plus) and award year must have its own MPN.

What are the loan origination fees for student loans for 2019-2020?

The U.S. Department of Education charges a loan fee of the principal amount of each Loan. This fee is deducted proportionately from each disbursement of your loan. The money you receive will, therefore, be less than the amount you actually borrow. You are responsible for repaying the entire amount you borrowed and not just the amount you received. Click here for the most updated loan fees.

LOAN FEES BY FIRST DISBURSEMENT DATE
First Disbursement DateDirect Unsubsidized LoansDirect PLUS Loans
October 1, 2019 – October 1, 20201.059%4.236%
October 1, 2018 – October 1, 20191.062%4.248%
October 1, 2017 – October 1, 20181.066%4.264%
What are the interest rates on student loans for 2019-2020?

The interest rates on federal student loans are fixed, which means they remain the same over the life of the loan – but each year’s new loans have a new interest rate. The interest rates are based on the high yield of the last 10-year Treasury note auction in May each year.

INTEREST RATES BY FIRST DISBURSEMENT DATE
First Disbursement DateDirect Unsubsidized LoansDirect PLUS Loans
July 1, 2019 – June 30, 20206.08%7.08%
July 1, 2018 – June 30, 20196.60%7.60%
July 1, 2017 – June 30, 20186.00%7.00%
July 1, 2016 – June 30, 20175.31%6.31%

For more information and the most updated interest rates, click here.

What if I have no more unsubsidized eligibility left?

The Subsidized and Unsubsidized Aggregate Loan Limit is $138,500 for graduate or professional students. No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study. As long as eligibility criteria are met, you may still eligible to complete your education using Direct Grad PLUS Loans.

What is the difference between Entrance Counseling and PLUS Credit Counseling?

Entrance Counseling is required for all first-time loan borrowers at any new institution, regardless of whether you have received Direct Loans in the past for undergraduate or another graduate program. You will need to complete entrance counseling as a first-time borrower at AUA.

PLUS Credit Counseling (or Plus Counseling) is required if the US Department of Education has informed you that you have an adverse credit history and you have obtained an endorser. It is also required if you have documented to the satisfaction of the US Department of Education that there are extenuating circumstances related to your adverse credit history.

What is considered an adverse credit history?

You are considered to have an adverse credit history if you are 90 or more days delinquent on any debt or if, within 5 years of the date of the credit report, you have been the subject of a default determination, bankruptcy discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment, or write-off of a Federal Student Aid debt (for example, a Direct Loan or Federal Stafford Loan).

How do I qualify for a PLUS Loan if I have an adverse credit history?

If you have an adverse credit history there are several options you may use to qualify for a Grad PLUS Loan.

  • You could cure a 90-day delinquency by bringing the delinquent account current and then reapply for the Grad PLUS Loan after your credit report has been updated.
  • You could get an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history to cosign the loan, thereby agreeing to repay the loan if you default.
  • You could document that the credit information that was the basis for the adverse credit history determination is incorrect.
  • You could appeal the denial by documenting, to the satisfaction of the U.S. Department of Education that certain extenuating circumstances resulted in your adverse credit history.

Extenuating Circumstances

Extenuating circumstances include the following:

  • You were not responsible for repaying the debt.
    • You were an authorized user of the account, but not the primary borrower.
    • You are divorced and the divorce decree shows that your spouse and not you is responsible for repaying the debt.
  • Satisfactory repayment in progress or completed.
    • The account or debt has been paid in full.
    • Satisfactory payment arrangements have been made on the debt and you have made at least six consecutive, voluntary, on-time full monthly payments under the payment arrangements.
    • The debt was included in a debt consolidation and you have made at least six consecutive, voluntary, on-time full monthly payments under the payment arrangements.
  • The debt was included in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as opposed to a Chapter 7, 11 or 12 bankruptcy, or was converted to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • The default should have been removed from your credit history.
    • The federal student loan was consolidated and the consolidation loan is not delinquent.
    • You have rehabilitated the defaulted federal student loan, so it is no longer in default.
  • The cause of the adverse credit history has been reversed or released.
    • The wage garnishment has been released.
    • The repossession has been reversed and the auto loan reinstated.
  • The foreclosure process was ended.
    • A loan modification agreement has been signed, ending the foreclosure process, and the borrower has been repaying the mortgage in accordance with the loan modification agreement.
    • A short sale has been approved and completed, ending the foreclosure process.
  • Timing issues in the credit report.
    • Proof that the foreclosure, short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure or bankruptcy discharge occurred more than five years ago.
  • Errors in the credit report.
    • Proof that the tax lien was filed incorrectly and has been released.

Borrowers who have extenuating circumstances should call 1-800-557-7394 or select “Document Extenuating Circumstances” after logging in to StudentLoans.gov.

More information about qualifying for a PLUS loan despite an adverse credit history may be found here.

What can I do if I am denied a Grad PLUS Loan?

If your PLUS Loan is denied can attempt to secure funding through one of the options below:

Seek a Credit Appeal
The Department of Education allows borrowers whose credit was denied the opportunity to document either of the following situations.

  • Information showing that credit reporting used in the credit denial is incorrect and/or has been corrected.
  • Extenuating circumstances exist relating to the adverse credit history of the primary PLUS borrower.

Borrowers make a credit appeal through one of these means.

  • Log in to studentloans.gov and select “Document Extenuating Circumstances” on the left navigation bar.
    • Follow the instructions and a representative from the Department of Education’s Applicant Services will contact you with further instructions.
  • Contact Applicant Services at 1-800-557-7394 between 8am to 8pm, Monday through Friday.

Whenever appealing the Department of Education’s credit decision, please notify your financial aid team so your PLUS Loan is not canceled during the appeal process.

Utilize an Endorser

An endorser is someone who will pass the credit check and who agrees, similar to a co-signer, to repay the PLUS Loan if you, the student borrower is unable to do so. Almost anyone can serve as an endorser.

If you choose to obtain an endorser, the endorser should complete the endorser addendum at studentloans.gov. The endorser will need the PLUS Endorser Code to connect the endorsement to the denied Grad PLUS Loan. Completing the endorsement online also requires the endorser to have a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) that utilizes a username and password.

  • If you completed the Direct PLUS Loan Request at studentloans.gov, the PLUS Endorser Code is found in the confirmation email received in the denial notice or by logging into studentloans.gov and selecting “Direct PLUS Loan Requests.”
  • If the endorser does not already have an FSA ID, they may create one at fsaid.ed.gov.

You will need to complete a new MPN for each endorsed loan. Also, any additional PLUS borrowing will require a new MPN and endorser addendum (though the same endorser can be used).

Inform your financial aid team whenever you are seeking or using an endorser so that the loan is not canceled in the meantime.

NOTE: It is very important that the endorser addendum, PLUS Loan application amounts match exactly.

How much can I borrow in Direct PLUS Loans?

There are no set annual or aggregate limits. You may borrow up to your full cost of attendance, minus any other financial aid you receive (including but not limited to Direct Unsubsidized Loans, scholarships and grants) for each term.

Do Direct PLUS Loan amounts count toward the $138,500 Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan aggregate loan limit for graduate/professional students?

No. Only Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans and Federal Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) made through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program count toward the $138,500 aggregate.

Am I eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan if I have reached the $138,500 Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan aggregate loan limit for graduate and professional students?

Yes. However, if you have exceeded the $138,500 aggregate, you must either repay the excess loan amount or make satisfactory arrangements to repay it before you can receive any additional Federal Student Aid, including Direct PLUS Loans.

 

If I have an adverse credit history but cannot find an endorser, can I receive additional Direct Unsubsidized Loan funds?

No. If you are not eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan, the regular Direct Unsubsidized Loan annual loan limit for graduate and professional students applies. You may not borrow more than $20,500 for an academic year.

How many terms should I request aid for?

In general, you should request aid for two terms at a time. Every two terms are equivalent to one academic year regardless of your start date.

Am I still eligible for aid if I am attending multiple schools?

If you are attending two institutions within the same award year, you can receive aid at both institutions for tuition and fees only. You may also receive funds for living expenses at one of the institutions. Living expenses cannot be replicated. Our office will require your multiple school information, such as; award letter, schedules, and/or billing statements.

What is an outstanding verification?

At AUA, verification is a process intended to improve the accuracy of the data submitted on the FAFSA, and www.studentloans.gov. Verification requests may occur when there is conflicting information within the applications. Our office will/may ask you to provide certain information or documents. You must work with your financial aid counselor to amend the information and/or verify that the information you submitted is correct. Some examples include the need to provide proof of citizenship, HS Diploma or Selective Service.

Why was I selected for the outstanding verification for Unusual Enrollment History?

If you were flagged for Unusual Enrollment History (UEH), you must work with your financial aid team to resolve this flag.

The Department of Education is concerned about an enrollment pattern in which:

  • A student attends an institution long enough to receive Title IV credit balance funds, but leaves without completing the enrollment period, and then enrolls at another institution, then repeats the pattern of remaining just long enough to collect another Title IV credit balance without having earned any academic credit.
  • Some students with unusual enrollment histories have legitimate reasons for their enrollment at multiple institutions. However, such an enrollment history requires a review to determine whether there are valid reasons for the unusual enrollment history.
Where is my financial aid offer?

Newly accepted students will receive an estimated financial aid offer once the Office of Student Financial Services receives your FAFSA. After all application requirements are met, you will be able to view your official financial aid offer by logging into the financial aid portal. Our office will email you the instructions to create your portal account once all your information is loaded to the portal. You will also receive an e-mail from [email protected] with your financial aid offer.

Provided there are no outstanding issues, your financial aid offer will be available within seven to ten business days after the office of student financial services submits your loan package for scheduling.

How do I increase or decrease my loans? What if I do not want the entire amount of funding I was awarded?

If the funds have not yet been disbursed, e-mail your financial aid confirmation counselor. If the funds have already been disbursed and you have received, a refund (living expenses) e-mail [email protected]  with the changes you wish to make to your aid disbursement.

What is Exit Counseling; why must I do it?

Exit counseling is required by law. It provides important information you will need as you prepare to repay your federal student loan(s). You will learn how to understand and repay your loans, how to avoid default, and how to make your finances a priority.

You must complete exit counseling when you graduate or leave school. You must complete Exit Counseling if your status changes to one of the following:

  • Temporary Withdrawal (TWD)
  • Withdrawal (WD)
  • Leave of Absence (LOA)
  • Extended Leave of Absence (ELOA)

When our office becomes aware of your status changing to one of these statuses, our office will contact you to complete Exit Counseling.

Exit Counseling is required when you graduate or leave school for any period longer than 4 weeks. You will need to provide the name, address, e-mail address, and telephone number for your closest living relative, two references who live in the United States, and your current or expected employer.

When do I have to begin repaying a Direct PLUS Loan?

The first payment on a Direct PLUS Loan is due within 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed. There is no grace period for Direct PLUS Loans. However, you can postpone payments on your Direct PLUS Loan while you are in school; refer to the next three questions.

Can I postpone Direct PLUS Loan payments while I am in school?

Yes. While you are enrolled in school on at least a half-time basis, you are eligible for an in-school deferment that allows you to postpone payments on your Direct PLUS Loan until you graduate or drop below half-time status.

How do I obtain an in-school deferment?

In most cases, the Direct Loan Servicing Center will automatically grant an in-school deferment on your Direct PLUS Loan based on information reported by your school to the US Department of Education, showing that you are enrolled at least half-time. The Direct Loan Servicing Center will notify you of the deferment and of your option to cancel the deferment and begin making payments on your loan. If the enrollment information that is needed for the Direct Loan Servicing Center to grant an automatic in-school deferment of your Direct PLUS Loan is not yet reported, you will need to submit an In-School Deferment Request form to the Direct Loan Servicing Center. You may obtain an In-School Deferment Request form from online at www.studentloans.gov, by contacting your Loan Servicer or by contacting your financial aid team. You must then complete the sections applicable to you, and then submit it to the Registrar’s Office so they may certify your enrollment status on the deferment request form.

Will my ‘in-school deferment’ need to be renewed each year?

Generally, the in-school deferment on your Direct PLUS Loan will remain continuously in effect until you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment status, and will not have to be renewed each year.

How soon do I have to begin making payments on my Direct PLUS Loan after my in-school deferment ends?

Your loan servicer or lender must provide you with a loan repayment schedule that states when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment. Keep in mind that your loan may have a grace period.

Can I postpone payments on my Direct PLUS Loan during the grace period of my Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans?

If you are unable to make payments on your Direct PLUS Loan after you leave school and your in-school deferment ends, you may request a forbearance that will allow you to temporarily postpone payments. You will have to explain why you are unable to make payments. To request a forbearance, contact your loan servicer or lender.

How do I know what my repayment options are? What repayment plans are available?

Although you may select or be assigned a repayment plan when you first begin repaying your student loans, you can change repayment plans at any time for free.

Contact your loan servicer if you would like to discuss repayment plan options or change your repayment plan. You can get information about all of the federal student loans you have received and find the loan servicer­ for your loans by logging in to “My Federal Student Aid.”

AUA recommends all students complete financial awareness counseling. This will provide you with the tools and information to help you understand your financial aid and assist with managing finances.

How much will I have to pay each month?
2017–2018 Loan Repayment Estimates: Less Than $100K – Standard Repayment Plan

The table below will help you estimate the repayment amount of a student loan. The Standard Repayment Plan term is 10 years, which means you will make 120 payments until the loan is paid off. Contact your loan servicer if you have trouble making your payments or to learn more about other repayment options. Find your detailed loan account information, including loan balance and assigned servicer, at www.NSLDS.ed.gov.

Approximate monthly payment and total accrued interest1
LOAN AMOUNT# OF PAYMENTS6.00% INTEREST RATE27.00% INTEREST RATE3
PAYMENTINTERESTPAYMENTINTEREST
$5,000120$56$1,661$58$1,966
$10,000120$111$3,323$116$3,933
$25,000120$278$8,306$290$9,833
$50,000120$555$16,613$581$19,666
$75,000120$833$24,919$871$29,497

To determine the total amount to be repaid, add interest accrued to your total amount borrowed. For example, total repayment principal and interest for a loan of $5,000 at a 7.00% interest rate would be $6,755 ($5,000 principal and $1,755 interest).

1These calculations are based on the given scenario rate on a 10-year standard term; some loan amounts are eligible for an extended repayment term up to 25 years.

2Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans for graduate/professional students.

3Unsubsidized Federal Direct PLUS Loans for graduate/professional students.

 

2017–2018 Loan Repayment Estimates: $100K or More – Standard Repayment Plan

The table below will help you estimate the repayment amount of student loans that have a principal balance of $100,000 or more under the Standard Repayment Plan (contact your loan servicer for more information about other repayment plans). The Standard Repayment Plan term is 10 years, so under this plan, you will make 120 payments before the loan is paid off. Contact your loan servicer if you are having trouble making your payments, or if you want to learn about other repayment options. You can find detailed loan account information, including your loan balance and assigned servicer, at www.NSLDS.ed.gov.

Approximate monthly payment and total accrued interest1
LOAN AMOUNT# OF PAYMENTS6.00% INTEREST RATE27.00% INTEREST RATE3
PAYMENTINTERESTPAYMENTINTEREST
$100,000120$1,110$33,225$1,161$39,331
$150,000120$1,665$49,837$1,742$58,995
$200,000120$2,220$66,449$2,322$78,660
$250,000120$2,776$83,062$2,903$98,325
$300,000120$3,331$99,674$3,483$117,991
$350,00120$3,886$116,286$4,064$137,656

To determine the total amount to be repaid, add the interest accrued to your total amount borrowed. For example, the total repayment amount of a loan of $100,000 at a 7.00% interest rate would be $135,100 ($100,000 principal and $35,100 interest).

1These calculations are based on the given scenario rate on a 10-year standard term; some loan amounts are eligible for an extended repayment term up to 25 years.

2Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans for graduate/professional students.

3Unsubsidized Federal Direct PLUS Loans for graduate/professional students.

Remember, you can obtain approximate monthly payment amounts for different debt levels or for other repayment plans by contacting your loan servicer.

Is interest charged during a deferment or forbearance?

Interest starts to accrue (grow) from the day your loans are disbursed (sent to you or your school). If you are in forbearance, interest continues to accrue on all of your loans. You do not have to pay this interest while your loans are in deferment and forbearance and the interest is accruing. At certain points in time when your separation or grace period ends, or at the end of forbearance or deferment your Unpaid Interest may capitalize. That means it is added to your loan’s Current Principal. From that point, your interest will now be calculated on this new amount. This is called capitalized interest. Capitalization increases the total loan amount that you must repay.

Can I consolidate my Direct PLUS Loans with my other student loans? If so, when can I consolidate?

You may consolidate your Direct PLUS Loans with your other eligible student loans into a single consolidation loan, after you leave school. Note that the repayment period for a consolidation loan begins as soon as the loan is made – there is no grace period. Therefore, if you want to consolidate your Direct PLUS Loans with your other student loans that have a grace period, you should wait to do so, until shortly before the end of the grace period on the other loans.

What e-mail addresses should I add to my contacts?

Adding these email addresses as safe will prevent essential notifications from being labeled as SPAM:

 

Whom do I contact about charges on my account for a past term?

Contact the Bursar’s office at 212-661-8899, option 6, or email your questions to [email protected].