Financial Assistance FAQs


Financial Assistance FAQs

FAQ - Financial Assistance

How do I apply for financial aid?

To apply for financial aid funding to include grants, work-study and federal student loans you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every academic year.  In addition, students must also complete a Direct Loan application with the Graduate Center.

The priority filing deadline for the 2015-2016 FAFSA and all documents is April 30, 2015. If you estimate your income and tax information on the FAFSA, be sure to make any corrections after you file your tax return.

What is your Federal School Code?

CUNY Graduate Center – 004765

Are there other forms to complete in addition to the FAFSA?

Yes.  After you have reviewed and accepted the loans you want to borrow, there will be certain requirements to complete to begin the student loan process:

Federal Direct Loan Application: This form must be completed each academic year to request to be processed for a federal loan.

Federal Direct Loan Entrance Counseling/Interview:  First time borrowers are required to complete this online session before funds can be disbursed.

Federal Direct Stafford and Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan Master Promissory Notes:  All students who have been awarded and have accepted the Federal Stafford Loan and Federal Graduate Plus Loan will need to complete a Direct Loan Master Promissory Note.

Perkins Loan: New and continuing students who have been awarded a Perkins loan will receive an email from the Perkins Loan servicer, ECSI.  Please follow the information in the link to complete your promissory note.  The student must complete the promissory note in order for the loan funds to be credited to their accounts.

Do I have to apply for financial aid each year?

Yes. Both the Graduate Center and the federal government require students to apply for financial aid each year since it is possible that a student's situation may change from the prior year.

Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid?

You do not need to be admitted to the Graduate Center before you can apply for financial aid funding.  However, the Financial Aid Office cannot provide you with a financial aid package without an eligible admission status.  You must be admitted into a degree-seeking program.

How do I accept my financial aid award?

You can accept your financial aid award by logging on to Banner Student Web and indicating the type of financial aid you want to receive and the dollar amount for each type.  Additional requirements are also listed in Banner Student Web.

How do I apply for a graduate assistantship or fellowship?

Decisions regarding assistantships and fellowships are determined by academic departments. Please contact your academic department for information regarding their nomination procedure.

How do I find information on non-GC scholarships?

Visit Fast Web for a General Scholarship Search Tool --

How does citizenship status affect financial aid eligibility?

To be eligible for federal, state, you must be classified as either a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you are subject to different regulations that may require the submission of citizenship documentation. You are considered to be an eligible non-citizen for financial aid purposes if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • A permanent U.S. resident with a Permanent Resident Card (I-551)
  • A conditional permanent resident (I-551C)
  • The holder of an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: “Refugee,” “Asylum Granted,” “Parolee” (I-94 confirms that you were paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired), T-Visa holder (T-1, T-2, T-3, etc.) or “Cuban-Haitian Entrant.”
  • The holder of a valid certification or eligibility letter from the Department of Health and Human Services showing a designation of “Victim of human trafficking.”

How soon after January 1 should the FAFSA be completed for the upcoming school year? Is it better to wait until the income tax returns have been completed?

Send in the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1. You are not required to wait until your taxes are done. Although it is better to complete your taxes early, it is okay to use estimates of your income, so long as they aren't far off from the actual values. You will have an opportunity to correct your FAFSA after you've completed your taxes.

I missed the deadline for applying for aid. Can I still apply now?

It is still possible to apply for financial aid after the FAFSA priority deadline. In order to be considered for federal financial aid, your application and processed FAFSA must be received by the Office of Financial Aid before the end of that enrollment period.

Is there a limit on how long I can receive financial aid?

U.S. Department of Education regulations prohibit students from continuing to receive federal financial aid if they have earned more than 150% of the credits that are required to earn their degree.  If the degree you are trying to earn requires 120 credits, you may not continue receiving aid if you have earned 180 credits and still have not earned the degree.  This can happen if students change their major and are required to take additional courses.  This regulation affects both undergraduate and graduate students.

What if I need to withdraw from my classes and have federal aid?

Please notify our office immediately.  We calculate how much aid you have earned based on the amount of time you have been enrolled.  It is possible that some federal funds will need to be returned and you may owe a bill to the college.

What is half-time and full-time?

A graduate student will be considered half-time if he/she is enrolled in at least 6 credits during the 15 week semester.

A graduate student will be considered full time, if he/she is enrolled in:

7 credits for Ph.D. students (or WIUs)
12 credits for M.A. students
12 credits for School of Journalism students (although students are usually enrolled in 15 credits)

Audit courses do not count toward full-time or half-time eligibility for federal student aid.

What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?

Students must be making satisfactory progress toward the degree in order to maintain status at the Graduate Center and to be eligible for any student financial assistance. A student is deemed not to be making satisfactory progress if he or she has a grade point average below 3.00, has accumulated more than two open grades (INC, INP, NGR, ABS and ABP), has completed 45 credits without having passed the First Examination, has completed 10 semesters without having passed the Second Examination, has received two “NRP” grades in succession, or has exceeded the time limit for the degree.

The Graduate Center reviews each student’s record every semester. If formal standards have not been met, a student may register (and receive financial aid, if otherwise eligible) only upon petition of the student’s Executive Officer to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Students whose petitions are approved are considered to be making satisfactory progress toward the degree and are eligible to receive financial aid.

What is the Master Promissory Note?

It is a legal document between a student and the government agreeing that the student will replay the loan.  It is valid for 10 years.  It explains the rights and responsibilities associated with a student loan.  You do not need to complete a new Master Promissory Note (MPN) each academic year, unless you wish to change lenders.  The Graduate Plus Loan may require a new MPN each year if an endorser was selected.

What should I do if I will be taking more (or less) credits than I originally said on my application?

Send a letter or email to Financial Aid at CUNY – Graduate Center stating the change in number of credits being taken.

What will you do with my deferment form or other enrollment verification form?

Send these forms to the Office of the Registrar.  A deferment form can only be completed once the student has demonstrated half-time status for the period of deferment.