FAQs

FAQ - Financial Assistance

01. Prospective Doctoral Students

Applicants are formally notified about fellowships at the time they receive an offer of admission. This varies by doctoral program but is unlikely to be before early February. New doctoral students will receive a paper financial aid award letter.

Applicants are formally notified about fellowships at the time they receive an offer of admission. This varies by doctoral program but is unlikely to be before early February.

New doctoral students will receive an emailed financial aid award letter.

Are there any programs that do not provide fellowships?

Yes. Doctoral students in the audiology, nursing, and social welfare programs do not receive fellowship support. These students may receive alternate sources of funding.

Can I defer my funding offer to next year?

Unfortunately, the Graduate Center does not allow incoming students to defer their fellowship or admission. If you are offered a fellowship and are unable to attend, you will need to re-apply in a future admission cycle and be reconsidered for fellowship funding.

Can I hold more than one five-year fellowship?

No. Students with a Graduate Center Fellowship, CUNY Science Scholarship, Science Fellowship, or Presidential MAGNET Fellowship may not concurrently hold another Graduate Center five-year award. Students with these fellowships also may not concurrently hold another CUNY graduate assistantship.

Only students who hold five-year Tuition Fellowships may hold other Graduate Center awards and graduate assistantships, but not another five-year fellowship.

Do different programs offer different funding awards?

Yes. Your academic program will determine the exact award you receive. Each program has its own individual funding structure.

Do five-year fellowships cover the cost of student fees?

Each semester, all doctoral students are charged student fees. The descriptions of the five-year fellowships clearly specify whether the award covers the cost of student fees. Please review the description of your fellowship to verify this information.

How do I make changes or corrections to my Student Aid Report (SAR)?

If you need to make corrections to the SAR, you can make them online. You can make a few changes to your SAR information by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). After a correction is processed, the Department of Education will automatically send each school listed an updated FAFSA.

How will my fellowship be paid?

Fellowships are often made up of different components, including tuition, a financial aid fellowship, and/or a graduate assistantship.

All components of a fellowship can only be paid once you accepted your award in CUNYfirst and registered full time. For doctoral students, seven credits is considered full time. You must have your Social Security Number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) on file in CUNYfirst.

International students should refer to the international student section of the FAQ for additional information.

Tuition coverage: Once a student registers full time, a bill is created by the Bursar. Tuition coverage (fellowship or remission) will automatically be applied about a week before the semester starts, provided the student has accepted the award in CUNYfirst.

Assistantships (Grad A, B, or D): These are paid biweekly through payroll over one calendar year. In order to have biweekly payments processed, first time graduate assistants must attend a Human Resources orientation before the semester begins. Information on assistantship payment will be provided during that orientation. Students with questions about their assistantship service assignment or placement should contact Anne Ellis and Rosa Maldonado in the Provost’s Office.

Financial aid fellowships (GCF, CSS, Science, Math, MAGNET, Neuroscience): Funds will be mailed to the address on file in CUNYfirst or direct deposited (requires sign-up via the CUNYFirst portal) as a lump sum at the beginning of each semester — provided that you have enrolled full time, accepted the fellowship, and have a SSN.

In order to receive payment as early as possible, you should register and accept your aid prior to the financial aid registration deadline. Review the cheat sheet applicable to you to ensure you get paid on time:

Please note: If your registration or level changes, your financial aid award may also change.

I meet all of the criteria. How do I apply for a tuition fellowship?

There is no application process. If you are eligible for tuition coverage, our office will post the award for you. If you believe you should receive tuition coverage but no award is posted, please reach out to our office.

What are the requirements to apply for a SEP Award?

Students must be enrolled full time (doctoral students: seven or more credits/WIUs; master’s students: nine or more credits) as a Graduate Center student. Audit credits do not count towards full-time enrollment. You must be registered full time for our office to submit your completed SEP payroll documents to the Human Resources Office for processing.

Students who drop below full time will no longer be eligible to participate in SEP.

Students are required to work to earn their SEP award.

What do I have to do to receive my funding?

You will be notified by the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid that you must accept the stipend portion of your award as well as your Tuition Fellowship online via CUNYfirst.

You must accept each award, including each individual component of a fellowship. Failure to do so will result in the award being rescinded. Follow the instructions here.

Notices to incoming students are sent to the addresses and emails that they used on their application for admissions. Incoming students must also attend a Human Resources orientation in August, where they will sign an appointment letter and will be placed on The Graduate Center payroll for their graduate assistantship. (Information about these sessions is sent in the summer.)

What if I enter The Graduate Center with an outside fellowship or grant money?

We will work with you to secure additional funding from The Graduate Center. Please contact us at financialaid@gc.cuny.edu to discuss.

02. Current Doctoral Students

After my fellowship’s five years are up, can I apply for other forms of support?

Students who hold five-year fellowships may not hold another fellowship concurrently. However, students past year 5 who are no longer on their five-year award may apply for other awards, such as the Graduate Center Dissertation Fellowship, GC Digital Fellowship, Program Social Media Fellowship, and fellowships funded by various centers and institutes.

Can I lose my funding?

To be eligible for funding, students must be in good academic standing and registered full time in accordance with The Graduate Center degree requirements. Students must also be satisfactorily performing the service requirement of their funding.

Appointments are made on a yearly basis, subject to satisfactory academic progress. You must accept the award each year and will receive a yearly letter for the graduate assistantship appointment. This letter must be signed and returned to the Human Resources Office. You must also accept the fellowship and tuition portions of the award online via CUNYfirst. Failure to do this can result in the loss of funding or in the delay of payments.

Failure to receive approval for a leave of absence can result in the loss of an award.

Can I undertake extra teaching or research at CUNY beyond that required by my graduate assistantship for additional compensation?

Students holding a graduate assistantship are usually able to teach one course per semester as an adjunct. Contractual workload rules apply.

Do I need to establish residency?

We expect doctoral students to establish residency within 12 months of beginning their Graduate Center education. Typically, our fellowships only cover out-of-state tuition rates for one year.

How do I complete my service requirement?

If you are appointed to a graduate assistantship, you must complete the 15-week service requirement each semester. If you do not complete the service requirement, your salary will be canceled for the remaining weeks of service.

Students who are employed as graduate assistants on departmental adjunct lines or as research assistants by individual grant holders must show satisfactory performance in these activities. If this performance is found to be unsatisfactory, such employment may be terminated. This type of termination is independent of satisfactory academic progress.

If you have questions about your service requirement or placement, you should contact Anne Ellis or Rosa Maldonado in the Provost’s Office.

How do I petition for a change of doctoral level?

If your registration or level changes, your financial aid award may also change.

Students are responsible for ascertaining that their tuition level has been properly established. Students questioning their level for billing purposes must petition the Registrar's Office and the Vice President for Student Affairs in writing by the end of the third week of the semester in question. Unless a written petition is filed with the Registrar by the deadline and the Vice President for Student Affairs is notified in writing of the pending petition, no retroactive changes in level can be made.

How do I petition for a change of residency?

Submit a City University Residency Form (PDF) to the Office of the Registrar along with sufficient supporting documentation (PDF) no later than the end of the third week of classes of the semester for which the change is to be effective. Unless a written petition is filed with the Registrar by the deadline and the Vice President for Student Affairs is notified in writing of the pending petition, no retroactive changes in residency can be made.

I have been in school for more than 10 semesters. Can I receive a tuition remission?

Effective spring 2020: Doctoral students enrolled in their 11th through 14th semester who are employed in a title recognized under Article 1 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement who are not otherwise receiving tuition fellowship support will receive level three in-state tuition remission.

Otherwise, if you have been teaching as an adjunct at one campus for 10 or more consecutive semesters, you should contact that campus’s Human Resources department. They may be able to offer a tuition benefit.

What happens if I need to take a leave of absence?

First, be sure to file the appropriate leave of absence paperwork with the Registrar’s Office. Five-year fellowship recipients should also complete the Fellowship Deferment form so that they can save their unused fellowship for a future semester. Eligible students can defer up to two semesters of their five-year fellowship.

For more information, please review our Fellowship Deferral Policy.

Federal loan borrowers will need to compete exit counseling online, even if they plan to be at least half time the following semester.

What happens to my fellowship and/or tuition coverage if I transfer programs within The Graduate Center?

As long as you are still within your first 10 semesters of enrollment at The Graduate Center, you will remain eligible for tuition remission.

However, your fellowship will not transfer with you. Five-year recruitment awards cannot be made to people who have already received one in another program. Over the course of their lifetime, no one can receive more than five years of support from a fellowship award.

What if I earn external (non-CUNY) competitive funding? Can that replace my fellowship?

If you hold a Graduate Center Fellowship or Provost’s Enhancement Fellowship, you have several options. See our external award policy and top-up request form.

You qualify for tuition coverage as long as you meet the following criteria: Are registered full time in a Ph.D. or equivalent program Are within your first 10 semesters of enrollment Do not hold a five-year fellowship Hold a graduate assistantship (A, B, C, or D) OR are teaching a minimum of three credits with the official title of “Adjunct Lecturer Doctoral Student” or “Adjunct Lecturer” If you are past your 10th semester of enrollment, please

You qualify for tuition coverage as long as you meet the following criteria:

  • Are registered full time in a Ph.D. or equivalent program
  • Are within your first 10 semesters of enrollment
  • Do not hold a five-year fellowship
  • Hold a graduate assistantship (A, B, C, or D) OR are teaching a minimum of three credits with the official title of “Adjunct Lecturer Doctoral Student” or “Adjunct Lecturer”

If you are past your 10th semester of enrollment, please see below.

03. Master's Students

What types of federal student aid are available for Master's students?

Master’s students who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be considered for federal aid. You may be eligible for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans, and/or Federal Work-Study (FWS). (FWS is particularly popular with master’s students).

International students are not eligible for federal aid.

What types of institutional aid are available for Master's students?

The Graduate Center offers a limited number of Dean’s Merit Scholarships for new students applying to start any master’s program. The merit scholarship will cover $3,000 in tuition costs per year for the first two years for a total of $6,000 towards your tuition. In order to be eligible, students must register for a minimum of six credits per semester and remain in good academic standing, as outlined in the Graduate Center Bulletin. The scholarship cannot be deferred.

All applicants to all master’s programs will be automatically considered for these scholarships, which will be awarded solely on the basis of academic merit.

04. International Students

Are there tax considerations I need to be aware of?

See the Tax Information page for more details.

What types of aid are available to international students?

International doctoral students are eligible for institutional aid, including fellowships. The academic programs will appoint students to a fellowship upon admission. International students are subject, however, to the Sprintax Tax Determination System (TDS) process each semester in order to determine the taxes (if any) that the student’s home country requires to be withheld from the financial aid fellowship. This process will likely delay financial aid fellowship payment. Emergency loans on financial aid fellowship payment will be available for international students. Please contact the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid for details.

International students are not eligible for federal aid. 

Due to visa restrictions, international students can only work at CUNY. International students can apply for our student employment program. Student employment hires students to work in administrative offices at the GC. For more information, please visit our Student Employment page.

05. Federal Loan Information

Do Federal Direct PLUS Loans accrue interest? What is the interest rate? Are there fees?

Interest accrues from the day the loan is disbursed until the day it is repaid in full. Graduate or professional students should exhaust Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan before taking out Federal Direct PLUS Loans. The Department of Education is the lender and does not subsidize the interest.

There is a fixed interest rate for Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan of 5.30% (for loans disbursed on or after 7/1/20). 

Federal Direct PLUS Loans also have an origination fee, which is deducted at disbursement. This means the money a student receives will be less than the amount the student actually borrows. The student is responsible for repaying the entire amount borrowed, not just the amount received.

For loans where the first disbursement is made on or after October 1, 2020, the loan origination fee is 4.228%. Loans disbursed between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020 had a loan origination fee of 4.236%. Loan origination fees are subject to change each fall.

The maximum loan amount is the student’s cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received.

Do Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans accrue interest? What is the interest rate? Are there fees?

Interest accrues from the day the loan is disbursed until the day it is repaid in full. The federal government is the lender and does not subsidize the interest.

There is a fixed interest rate for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans of 4.30% (for loans disbursed on or after 7/1/20). The interest rate is set annually each July 1st by the federal government.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans also have an origination fee, which is deducted at disbursement. This means the money a student receives will be less than the amount the student actually borrows. The student is responsible for repaying the entire amount borrowed, not just the amount received.

For loans disbursed after October 1, 2020, the loan origination fee of 1.057% that is deducted automatically from the amount disbursed. Loans disbursed between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020 had a loan origination fee of 1.059%. Fees are subject to change in the fall.

While the maximum loan amount is $20,500, the amount cannot exceed the student’s cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received.

How will I receive my Federal Loan refund?

All Direct Loan funds are sent to the school. If you have a balance with the Bursar, the balance will be deducted from the loan. The remaining loan proceeds will be direct deposited into your bank account or mailed to you.

Loan checks can be received by:

  1. Direct deposit (sign-up must be completed on CUNYfirst)
  2. A check will be mailed to the address listed in CUNYfirst

We highly recommend that students sign up for direct deposit. If you do not select that option, please ensure that your mailing address in CUNYfirst is correct.

What are my options if my Federal Direct PLUS Loan is denied?

If denied a PLUS loan, you can either obtain an endorser (a co-signer) or document extenuating circumstances to the satisfaction of the U.S. Department of Education. More information can be found on their website.

What happens after my Direct Loan disburses?

The Department of Education holds all Direct Loans. Upon disbursement, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are assigned to a third-party servicer, who will be responsible for billing. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans have a six-month grace period. Borrowers begin repayment in the seventh month upon graduating, dropping below half time (six credits), or withdrawing from school.

What happens to my federal student loans if I take a leave of absence?

If you take a leave of absence, we are required to report that you are no longer enrolled half time to your servicer. You will enter your grace period and, should you remain on leave for longer than six months, you will go into repayment. If you return before the six months’ grace period ends, you will be placed back into in-school deferment after you enroll for at least six credits. Students taking a leave of absence will need to compete exit counseling online, even if they plan to return to at least half time the following semester.

What happens to my previous loans?

If you previously borrowed a federal student loan, your loans will be placed in-school deferment as long as you are registered for at least half time. 

If you borrowed a private student loan, you may be eligible for a deferment depending on the terms of the loan. You may also be able to request a forbearance. Contact your private loan lender to discuss options.

What happens when I graduate?

When you graduate, you will begin your six months’ grace period. Your loan servicer will contact you about setting up your repayment plan. Please see the section below for more information on loan repayment.

What is a Federal Direct Loan servicer? How do I find out who my servicer is?

A loan servicer is the company that collects payments, responds to customer service inquiries, and performs other administrative tasks associated with student loans on behalf of a lender. If you have questions about repayment or your options, the servicer is often the best resource. (See the “Paying Back Your Federal Loans” section for more information)

Make sure that loan servicers always have accurate contact information in order to avoid missing payments because of a lost bill.

Servicer contact information is located on the Federal Student Aid website.

What is a Federal Direct PLUS Loan?

The Federal Direct PLUS Loan is a credit-based loan available to eligible graduate or professional students to help pay for the cost of the student's education. The borrower must not have an adverse credit history.

What is a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

A Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a non-need-based federal student loan available to eligible graduate or professional students to help pay for the cost of the student's education.

Who owns Federal Direct PLUS Loans?

The Department of Education holds all Direct Loans. Upon disbursement, Federal Direct Loans are assigned to a third-party servicer who will be responsible for billing. Federal Direct Loans have a six-month post-enrollment deferment. Borrowers begin repayment in the seventh month upon graduating, dropping below half time or withdrawing from school.

06. Federal Aid Eligibility

Am I eligible for federal aid if I have a criminal conviction?

Criminal convictions for crimes related to controlled substances may result in the unavailability to a student of federal financial aid.

Review Federal Student Aid’s policy on drug convictions.

Are international students eligible for federal aid?

No.

Do I have to reapply every year?

Yes. Virtually all financial aid funds require an application every year. Federal funds in particular require new applications with updated financial information. Many scholarships, even those based on merit, will require some type of reapplication for subsequent years.

How do I fulfill the satisfactory academic progress requirement for federal aid?

You must be making satisfactory progress toward the degree to maintain your status at The Graduate Center and remain eligible for any student financial assistance.

In general, a doctoral student is deemed not to be making satisfactory progress if they have:

  • A grade point average below 3.00
  • Accumulated more than two open grades (INC, INP, NGR, ABS, and ABP)
  • Completed more than 45 credits without having passed the First Examination
  • Completed 10 semesters without having passed the Second Examination
  • Received two NRP grades in succession
  • Exceeded the time limit for the degree (specific programs may have rules that differ)

Please refer to the sections on “Incomplete Grades,” “Standards for Retention,” “Computation of Grade Point Average,” and “Time Limits for Degrees,” which appear in the Student Handbook's section on “Academic Policies and Procedures” on pages 55 through 57.

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.

I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?

Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid, such as unsubsidized (interest begins accruing upon disbursement) Direct and Graduate PLUS loans, that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free. There is no excuse for not applying.

Who is eligible for federal aid?

Federal Student Aid outlines the basic eligibility requirements in detail:

  • Demonstrate financial need (for most programs)
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau)
  • Be registered with Selective Service, if you’re a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25)
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program
  • Be enrolled at least half time to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school
  • Sign the certification statement on FAFSA form stating that:
    • You are not in default on a federal student loan
    • You do not owe money on a federal student grant
    • You will use federal student aid only for educational purposes
  • Show you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education through one of the following:
    • Having a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent, such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate
    • Completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law (or — if state law does not require a homeschooled student to obtain a completion credential — completing a high school education in a homeschool setting that qualifies as an exemption from compulsory attendance requirements under state law)
    • Enrolling in an eligible career pathway program and meeting one of the "ability-to-benefit" alternatives described on the website

Most students, with the exception of international students, are eligible to receive financial aid from the federal government to help pay for graduate school. A student’s age, race, or field of study won’t affect their eligibility for federal student aid. While income is taken into consideration, it does not automatically prevent a student from getting federal student aid.

In order to be eligible for federal student aid, a student must be registered at least half time (six credits/WIUs). Courses taken as a non-matriculated student and/or audited courses do not count toward a student’s eligibility to receive federal student aid.

07. Applying for Federal Aid

Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

Yes. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less need-based aid. After the first year you apply, some information from the previous year's FAFSA will be filled in.

Please note: The only need-based aid currently available to graduate students is Federal Work Study. Eligibility for Direct Loans is not dependent on income

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

No. You can apply for financial aid any time after October 1 of the year prior to your enrollment. To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted and enrolled at CUNY.

How can I check the status of my FAFSA application?

At any point during the processing period, you can use your Federal Student ID to check the status of your FAFSA or to check on a correction you made to your FAFSA.

How do I apply for federal aid?

File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The easiest way to file is online or by downloading the myStudentAid app. In order to file a FAFSA, you will need to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID online.

The FAFSA asks for demographic information about you and your spouse (if applicable). For more information on what documentation is needed to complete the FAFSA, please visit Federal Student Aid. Parental information is not required for graduate students. 

The Graduate Center begins reviewing new FAFSAs in April prior to the start of the academic year. You may be contacted if additional information is needed to complete your application.

You will automatically be considered for Federal Work-Study and Direct Loans based on your FAFSA data. 

How do I receive my funds?

There are several options in place to assist you in receiving any federal aid funds owed to you. See the “How will I receive my Federal Loan refund?” question in the “Federal Loan Information” section

How soon after October 1 should I complete the FAFSA? Is it better to wait until your income tax forms have been completed?

At CUNY, the first financial aid awards are sent in early April, so we recommend you file your FAFSA as soon as possible.

The FAFSA becomes available on October 1st of the year before you plan to enroll. It will use tax information from the year before that, better known as “prior-prior” tax information.

My SAR indicates that my application has been selected for “verification.” What is that?

The federal government uses a process called verification to help determine the correctness of the financial information on your FAFSA. If your application needs to be verified, you will have comments on your SAR indicating what actions you need to take to complete the verification process. Your electronic record will also indicate that verification must be completed before any federal student aid payments are made. If your application is selected for verification, or if there are any other questions about your application, the financial aid office will send you an email requesting you to provide documentation and complete a “Verification Worksheet.” Tax filers will have to submit a Tax Return or Transcript that is obtained from the IRS or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool that is part of FAFSA on the web.

Should I pay for help to fill out my FAFSA?

No. If you apply via www.studentaid.gov, you can get instructions for each question, and you can chat live online with a customer service representative.

Whether you apply online or through the paper FAFSA, you can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) with questions about the application process or general federal student financial aid. You can also visit the financial aid office at your CUNY campus for help.

What do I do with my Student Aid Report (SAR)?

Review it carefully to make sure it's correct, complete, and contains your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Check for any comments and feel free to reach out with any questions. The schools listed on your FAFSA will appear on your SAR and will receive your SAR information electronically.

What is your federal school code?

Our school code is 004765.

When should I apply for the FAFSA?

You can apply for financial aid even before you've been accepted to a college. Most applicants follow this guideline:

  • Fall: Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 of the year before you plan to enroll.
  • Spring: Apply before November so that your financial aid application is processed before you begin classes

08. Federal Work Study

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits when I have earned my FWS award?

No. Students enrolled in a nonprofit or public educational institutions that combine academic instruction with work experience (such as the FWS program) are excluded from the Unemployment Insurance Program.

Am I paid an hourly wage or a salary?

Students are paid an hourly wage for FWS positions.

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY pay rate is $15.00 per hour (effective 7/1/18).

The Graduate Center pay rate is $18.00 per hour (effective 7/1/18)

Are FWS earnings taxable?

Yes. FWS earnings are considered taxable income by both federal and state governments. FWS earnings are not, however, included in the calculation of your eligibility for financial aid, provided that your complete FAFSA question 44C.

Can I earn as much money as I want?

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

If you would like to request additional FWS funds, you may submit the FWS Wish List Form. This form can be submitted after you have earned three-quarters of your FWS award (make sure to check the box below the signature line to make this request). Submit the completed form to the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid for processing.

Do I have to stop working if I withdraw from school, take a leave of absence, or if I graduate?

Yes. If you withdraw from school for any reason, you lose your eligibility for FWS and must stop working. If you take a leave of absence, graduate, or drop below the six credits/WIUs, you are likewise no longer eligible to earn monies from the FWS Program.

How do I apply for FWS?

To be considered for federal work study (FWS), your FAFSA must be filed by the April 3 priority deadline, and question 31 should be answered with a “yes,” indicating your interest in FWS.

How many credits do I have to take for FWS eligibility?

You must register for and maintain an enrollment status of half time (six credits/WIUs) or greater to retain federal student aid eligibility for the FWS Program. Courses taken as a non-matriculated student and/or audited courses do not count toward your eligibility for federal student aid.

If, for any reason, your course load falls below half time (six credits/WIUs), you can no longer earn monies from the FWS program and must stop working.

How will I be paid?

Your FWS supervisor is responsible for submitting the biweekly FWS time sheet to the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid. Once submitted, the time sheet will be processed and payment will be generated.

You can determine if you prefer a paper paycheck or direct deposit.

Payments are made biweekly as outlined on the FWS Payroll Calendar. If your FWS time sheet is submitted late, then your payment will be made on the next pay date listed on the FWS Payroll Calendar.

I am currently receiving unemployment. Do I have to report FWS earnings to the unemployment office?

Yes. Students who are receiving unemployment insurance benefits while employed in the FWS program must notify their local unemployment office that they are working in the FWS program. The New York State Department of Labor considers it willful misrepresentation to collect unemployment benefits without revealing that the student is also receiving FWS.

If I am unable to earn my entire award, will I be able to receive the rest of the money?

No. You can only be paid for the hours worked. If you cannot earn the entire FWS award before the end of the academic year, the unearned portion of the award is returned to the program.

What are the benefits of the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program?

If you have never had a job, the FWS program provides valuable exposure to the world of work.

FWS employers are often willing to give on-the-job training, and most FWS placements are directly related to your program of study or career choice. When seeking regular employment after graduation, you can use your FWS position as an employment reference.

When will my Federal Loans disburse?

Federal Loans will disburse at the beginning of each semester, assuming all requirements are completed in time. For those students whose requirements are not complete at the beginning of the semester, loans continue to disburse on a weekly basis. 

Your actual disbursement date is contingent upon when the Master Promissory Note (MPN) is signed and when you complete entrance counseling. Once these steps occur, the loan will disburse on the next available disbursement date. There is usually a 1-2-week turnaround time between completing the documents and receiving the funds.

The MPN is valid for 10 years. entrance counseling only needs to be completed once, though new Graduate PLUS loan borrowers may have to complete an additional entrance counseling module. Students should monitor their CUNYFirst “To Do” list to review any required documents.

Where will I work?

We make every effort to assign students to positions within their academic program, subject to the number of vacancies. The Graduate Center may offer a few students an alternative work assignment if their academic program does not have an available position.

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY students are assigned exclusively to their campus.

Who gets FWS jobs?

FWS money is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Graduate Center receives a fixed amount of money each academic year to make FWS awards. Students who do not initially receive a FWS offer may complete the Federal Work-Study Wish List Form to be considered if funds become available at a later date.

Students who have been awarded FWS will see it reflected as part of the financial aid award in CUNYfirst.

Why do I have to fill out an I-9 form and the other forms posted to my CUNYfirst “To Do” list?

According to federal law, the identity and work eligibility of all FWS students must be verified before beginning a FWS assignment.

You will have to complete an I-9 form and present certain documents to an appropriate FWS representative.

You may not participate in the FWS program until you have filed an I-9 form with the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid. Other required documents include: the FERPA Confidentiality Agreement, the NYS Wage Rate Pay Day form, and withholding forms for the IRS and NYS. Find these on the Student Employment page.

09. Student Employment Program

Do I accrue sick leave or vacation time?

SEP is an hourly position. Students will not be paid for breaks, vacations, sick time, jury duty, and/or any days the University or your department is closed.

Do SEP positions have health insurance coverage?

No. SEP does not provide health insurance.

How do I apply for SEP?

Send an email to financialaid@gc.cuny.edu with the subject line “Seeking a Student Employment Position” and attach your current resume or CV. Be sure to read all of the information below.

How many hours per week can I work?

SEP students cannot work more than 20 hours per week during the academic year.

I am a student at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism/School of Labor and Urban Studies. Can I obtain a SEP position?

Unfortunately, SEP is only open to Graduate Center students.

What documents do I need to submit after I have accepted a SEP position?

Once a student is hired in a SEP position, they must submit the documents listed below as soon as possible. More information and the necessary forms can be found on the Student Employment page. Please review this page before submitting any SEP documents.

  • I-9 Form*
  • FERPA Statement (also known as the Confidentiality Agreement)
  • W-4 Withholding form for the IRS** 
  • IT-2104 Withholding form for NYS**
  • Social Security card; please bring your original card (no copies or metal versions)

*All international students must have their I-9 form completed by the International Students Office.

**Newly hired and reappointed international students are to complete the Sprintax Tax Determination System (TDS) Process. You must self-identify and send an email to our office: financialaid@gc.cuny.edu with the subject line “SEP International Student.” Your email should contain your legal name, Graduate Center email address, CUNYfirst ID #, and when you expect to start working. This will initiate the set-up process to create an invitation to access the TDS website.

What happens if I drop below full time?

You will no longer be able to participate in the SEP. The Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid must be informed of the total number of hours the student worked before they dropped below full time to determine if there has been an overpayment. If there was an overpayment, the student will be required to return the amount that they were overpaid.

What happens if I need to quit my SEP position?

The SEP student must advise the SEP supervisor of any intent to resign in advance in writing. The SEP supervisor must forward this information to the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid immediately. Our office must be informed of the total number of hours the student has worked to determine if there has been an overpayment. If there was an overpayment, the student will be required to return the amount that they were overpaid.

What is student employment?

The Graduate Center’s Student Employment Program (SEP) places students in on-campus positions in Student Services, Student Affairs, the Child Development and Learning Center, Mina Rees Library, and Information Technology Offices.

What is the pay rate?

The current pay rate is $18 per hour.

Who is responsible for submitting the SEP Job Description form?

The SEP Supervisor/SEP Student Job Description Form is to be signed by both parties. All SEP students and their supervisors are to complete the SEP Job Description/Placement Form. Both parties must complete, read, sign, initial, and retain a copy of the form for future reference. The SEP Supervisor is to return to the original form to the Financial Aid Office for processing. Please make sure that both of you have initialed the Non-Discrimination Statement and the Acceptance of Placement Sections.

10. Auditing Classes

Can I receive financial aid if I am auditing classes?

No, financial aid is not available for audited classes. Tuition Fellowships cannot be used to cover the cost of audited courses.

Do my audited classes count towards full time enrollment?

No, only classes taken for credit count towards full time enrollment for finanical aid purposes.

11. Course Withdrawals

How do I return funds?

Students who would like to return loan money that they no longer need should contact the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid.

How many credits do I have to be registered for in order to keep my financial aid?

Doctoral students receiving institutional aid (fellowships and assistantships) must be registered full time (at least seven credits/WIUs) to maintain eligibility.

Any student receiving federal student aid (Federal Work-Study and Federal Direct Loans) must be registered for six or more credits/WIUs.

Audit classes do not count towards your eligibility to receive institutional and federal student aid.

What happens if I withdraw from all of my classes?

The total dollar amount of aid a student is eligible to receive is affected when they drop all of their classes. Students who want to drop all of their classes should come to the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid to speak with a financial aid counselor about the implications of their decision.

What happens to my federal student loans if I drop below half time/six credits but do not withdraw completely?

Students who drop below half time (six credits/WIUs) at any point in the semester but do not withdraw from all classes will have their federal aid cancelled and must be returned. Students who drop below half time will need to compete exit counseling online, even if they plan to be at least half time the following semester. Students should consult the financial aid office if they are considering dropping below six credits and rely on federal student loans to cover their tuition and/or living expenses. Doing so may result in a large balance owed to the school.

When can I withdraw?

This information is available on the academic calendar.

If you need to withdraw after the last date to withdraw as posted by the Registrar, then an additional signature from the VP of Student Affairs is required.

Refund policies are available in the Student Handbook.

Will dropping one or more classes affect my standing or future aid awards?

Dropping one or more classes may result in the cancellation of future loan disbursements and/or  may result in you having to return money to the school. Dropping classes may also impact your Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements apply to federal student aid recipients even when they withdraw from classes for a semester. Repayment of part of a student’s federal student aid does not release that student from the satisfactory academic progress requirements.

The Graduate Center and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY will adhere to federal policies when determining the amount of funding that must be returned by the school and/or the student to federal aid programs.

Adhering to federal regulations, the school will calculate the federal aid that must be returned. The Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid will send an email to federal student aid recipients who withdraw explaining how the school calculated what funds were returned. The student may also be required to return funds.

Contact the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid to for more details about the calculation of returns and available disbursements.

Will I lose my fellowship if I withdraw?

In order to receive a fellowship, you must be registered full time (seven credits/WIUs) at the end of the third week of the semester. Audit credits do not count towards full time enrollment for financial aid/fellowship purposes.

Tuition fellowships/tuition remission will pay for the number of credits you are registered for at the end of the third week. But the number of credits you are billed for will be the number you were registered for on the first day of class. If you drop credits, you will owe the cost of those credits minus the refund you are entitled to. 

Students who drop below full time but remain enrolled will have their fellowship — including tuition coverage — cancelled, even if they are still being charged tuition for the credits they have dropped. You will be responsible for paying any remaining tuition charges and returning any stipend funds you have been paid.

If you withdraw from all of your courses before 60 percent of the semester has passed (for fall 2020, before November 4. For spring 2021, before April 12), your fellowship — including tuition coverage — will be cancelled, even if you’re being charged tuition for the credits you have dropped. You will be responsible for paying any remaining tuition charges and returning any stipend funds you have been paid.

If you withdraw from all of your courses after 60 percent of the semester has passed (for fall 2020, before November 4. For spring 2021, before April 12), you will be able to retain your fellowship and tuition coverage.

Course withdrawal can affect your academic progress and future financial aid eligibility. If you are considering withdrawing from a course, you are strongly advised to speak with financial aid about the impact of the withdrawal on your financial aid.

Will my federal aid funds be returned if I withdraw?

If you withdraw from all of your courses during the term, the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid will determine if any of the federal aid you received should be returned to the Department of Education. Students who drop below half time will need to compete exit counseling online, even if they plan to be at least half time the following semester. 

Federal student aid eligibility is based on the length of time a student attends their classes. If you do not attend your classes for the entire term, federal regulations may require that you return all or a portion of the federal aid received.

If you receive all W, NGR, WA, and/or WN grades for a term, the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid must perform this calculation (if you have received federal student aid other than Federal Work-Study). The number of days remaining from the school’s last date of attendance determines the repayment percentage.

12. Paying Back Your Federal Loan

Do I have to repay my loans as soon as I leave school?

Most loans will give you a period of time — known as a grace period — after graduation before you have to start making payments on your loans. Interest will not accrue on most subsidized loans during the grace period, but will accrue on all unsubsidized loans.

Do my Federal Direct PLUS Loans have a grace period?

There is no grace period for Federal Direct PLUS Loans. However, in most cases, the Direct Loan Servicing Center will automatically grant an in-school deferment on your Federal Direct PLUS Loan based on information reported by your school to the U.S. 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. The loan will remain in deferment for an additional six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half time.

Interest will accumulate during the deferment. If the interest is not paid during deferment, it may be capitalized (added to the principal balance).

Do my Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans have a grace period?

The initial grace period for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan begins after you are no longer enrolled in an eligible status, drop below half time enrollment (less than six credits), graduate, take a leave of absence, or withdraw from school. The grace period for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans is six months. Once the grace period is exhausted, you will not receive another one.

Please note: if you have previously borrowed a federal student loan and already used your six months’ grace period, your previous loans will go into repayment immediately. If that situation applies to you, we suggest contacting that loan servicer(s) immediately to discuss repayment options.

In most cases, the Direct Loan Servicer will automatically grant an in-school deferment on a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan based on information reported by your school to the U.S. Department of Education showing that you are enrolled at least half time

Does my Federal Perkins Loan have a grace period?

The initial grace period begins after you are no longer enrolled at an eligible status, meaning when you drop below half time enrollment (six credits or six equated credits), graduate, take a leave of absence, or withdraw from school. The initial grace period lasts nine months.

No interest accrues nor are payments due during a grace period. You must begin repaying the Perkins loan when the grace period ends. 

Once you enter repayment, CUNY’s loan servicer, ECSI, will send you a monthly billing statement. 

How can I defer my Federal Direct Loan?

Deferment is not automatic. Apply for deferment by using a deferment form obtained from your servicer’s website. Supporting documentation may be required.

How can I defer my Federal Perkins Loan?

Deferment is not automatic. Apply for a deferment by using a deferment form obtained from the University’s billing servicer, ECSI. You will need your ESCI PIN to access the site. Supporting documentation is usually required. Once the approved deferment period ends, you are entitled to an additional six-month post deferment grace period.

How can I put my Federal Perkin Loan into forbearance?

Apply for a forbearance by using a forbearance form obtained from the University’s loan servicer, ECSI. You will need your ESCI PIN to access the site.

Forbearance is usually granted for six months at a time. The total period of forbearance is limited to three years.

Forbearance and extensions on forbearance are not automatic. For an additional forbearance, you must submit a new request.

What are Federal Perkins Loan cancellations?

As one of the benefits of the Federal Perkins Loan, you may be eligible to have up to 100 percent of your canceled by engaging in certain types of public service and community-based work. A Perkins loan may also be canceled in the event of total and permanent disability or death. For more information about what qualifies for loan cancellation, visit Federal Student Aid.

Cancellations are not automatic. If you are eligible for a cancellation, it is your responsibility to complete the appropriate forms and submit them to the loan servicer on a timely basis. Contact the University’s loan servicer, ECSI, or download forms from their website. Additional documentation is usually required.

What happens if I do not repay my federal loans?

After 270 days of non-payment, your loan will enter default status. The consequences of default can be severe:

  • The loan will be assigned to a collection agency.
  • The loan will be reported as delinquent to the credit bureaus, damaging your credit. It will take years to reestablish credit after a default.
  • May result in wage garnishment and/or tax offsets.
  • Please see Federal Student Aid for additional details.

What is a deferment?

A deferment is a period of time where you can suspend payments as long as you meet certain eligibility criteria.

Subsidized loans will not accrue interest during any period of deferment. Interest will accumulate on unsubsidized loans.

While you are not required to pay the interest during a deferment, any unpaid interest will be capitalized (added to the principal) once the deferment ends.

What is a forbearance?

A forbearance is a temporary adjustment of payments during times of hardship. During a forbearance, interest will accumulate on all loans. If the interest is not paid during forbearance, it may be capitalized (added to the principal balance).

What is a loan servicer?

A loan servicer is the company that collects payments, responds to customer service inquiries, and performs other administrative tasks associated with student loans on behalf of a lender. If you have questions about repayment or your options, the servicer is often the best resource. Make sure that loan servicers always have accurate contact information to avoid missing payments because of a lost bill. All servicers have sophisticated online systems and students should avail themselves of those services to stay up-to-date.

What types of repayment options are available?

Federal Direct Loans and Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loans have both standard (level), graduated, or income-driven repayment options.

The Graduate Center provides resources (including presentations and individual counseling session) to prepare students for repayment. This is available to all students and alumni. Do not hesitate to make an appointment if you would like assistance.

When I enter repayment, how much will I pay?

For Federal Direct Loans, approximately one month before you are scheduled to enter repayment, your servicer will send information on the different repayment plans available and an estimate as to what each repayment plan will cost.

For information on the different repayment plans available to Direct Loan borrowers, please visit Federal Student Aid. This site also has a calculator that will allow you to estimate your payments before entering repayment.

ECSI will contact you regarding payments for the Perkins Loan.

Where can I find information about all of my student loans?

Federal Student Aid contains information about every (undergraduate and graduate) federal student loans you have borrowed, whether paid or unpaid.

The record includes lender(s), servicers, outstanding principal balances, and current loan status. In order to access the website, you must use your FSA (Federal Student Aid) ID.

Alternative loans are not reported to or recorded on Federal Student Aid. Contact your alternative loan lender directly for information about those loans. If you are unsure whether you ever took out a private student loan or do not know who your lender was, please request a free copy of your credit report for that information.

Will my federal loans ever be forgiven, canceled, or discharged?

You must repay your loans even if you don’t complete your education, can’t find a job related to your program of study, or are unhappy with the education you paid for with your loans.

There are rare circumstances, however, when a student’s loans may be forgiven, canceled, or discharged. For more information, visit Federal Student Aid

If your federal student loan payments are high compared to your income, you may want to repay your loans under an income-driven repayment plan.

See below the “Public Service Loan Forgiveness” section below for more information.

13. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Can I start the program after I graduate?

Yes. You can begin the 120 payments (10 years) at any time.

Do I have to make the payments consecutively?

No.

Do I have to stay in the same job?

No. You can move around jobs as long as they fall under the public service definition.

How do I know if I qualify?

Review the requirements on the federal government’s website, which contains comprehensive information about the program.

Students and alumni should feel free to contact our office to set up an appointment to discuss how to take advantage of the program.

What is Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)?

PSLF is a federal program for students pursuing full time jobs in the public sector (i.e. governmental or nonprofits). After 120 payments, the full balance of the loan is forgiven, with no tax consequence for the borrower.