Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ - Financial Assistance

Applying for Financial Assistance (Prospective Students)

How do doctoral students apply for fellowships?

Accepted students are automatically assigned a fellowship by their doctoral program. There is no application for the five-year fellowships.

How do doctoral students apply for federal aid?

Students who would like to be considered for federal aid must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The easiest way to file is online. In order to file a FAFSA, students will need to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID online. International students are not eligible for federal aid.
 
The FAFSA asks for demographic information about the student and the student’s spouse (if applicable) and their financial situation within the prior tax year.  For more information on what documentation is needed to complete the FAFSA, please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out.
 
The Graduate Center (GC) begins reviewing new FAFSAs in late May/early June prior to the start of the academic year. A student may be contacted if additional information is needed to complete his or her application. Students will automatically be considered for Federal Perkins loans and Federal Work Study based on their FAFSA data. Students who are interested in applying for Direct Loans (Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS), must also complete a Federal Direct Unsubsidized/Grad Plus Loan Request Form and submit it to the Office of Financial Aid.

How do masters students apply for federal aid?

Students (excluding international students) who would like to be considered for federal aid must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The easiest way to file is online. In order to file a FAFSA, you will need to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID.
 
The FAFSA asks for demographic information about the student and the student’s spouse (if applicable) and their financial situation within the prior tax year. For more information on what documentation is needed to complete the FAFSA, please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out.
 
The GC begins reviewing new FAFSAs in late May/early June prior to the start of the academic year. A student may be contacted if additional information is needed to complete their application. Students will automatically be considered for Federal Perkins loans and Federal Work Study based on their FAFSA data. Students who are interested in applying for Federal Direct Loans (Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS), must also complete a Federal Direct Unsubsidized/Grad Plus Loan Request Form and submit it to the Office of Financial Aid.

What is the FAFSA deadline?

Students who would like to be considered for all types of financial aid should file the FAFSA by our priority deadline, April 30th. If the student is only interested in borrowing Direct Loans, he or she should file their FAFSA by November 20th for the fall semester and April 15th for the spring semester. The student will still also need to file a Federal Direct Unsubsidized/Grad Plus Loan Request Form.

Who is eligible for federal aid?

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 his or her eligibility for federal student aid. While income is taken into consideration, it does not automatically prevent a student from getting federal student aid. For more specific details on who qualifies, please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/infographic-accessible
 
In order to be eligible for federal student aid, a student must be registered at least half-time (6 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.

Do I need to wait until I am admitted to file the FAFSA?

No, though no financial aid offers can be made until the student is admitted. The FAFSA becomes available January 1st for the following academic year. It is highly recommended that students apply by our April 30th  priority deadline, even if they have not received an admissions decision.

How will I be notified of my financial aid offer?

When the award becomes available or a change is made to the award, an email will be sent to the student’s GC email address. New doctoral students will also receive a paper financial aid award letter. All financial aid offers will be available to view in Banner. 

Do I need to apply for financial aid each year?

Doctoral Students who have received a GC Fellowship will have their fellowship automatically renewed each year, provided they are registered full-time and making satisfactory academic progress.
 
Students must apply for federal aid each academic year. In order to be considered for as much aid as possible, students should apply by the priority deadline, April 30th. Students who are only interested in Federal Direct Loans (Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS) can file the FAFSA up until one month before the semester ends. Students interested in Federal Direct Loans must also complete the Federal Direct Unsubsidized/Grad Plus Loan Request Form annually.

Available Financial Aid (Prospective Students)

What types of aid are available to doctoral students?

All incoming doctoral students will be admitted with a five-year fellowship. Fellowships typically include a minimum of tuition coverage, though many fellowships also include a financial aid fellowship and/or assistantship. For information on the different fellowships available, please visit: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Prospective-Current-Students/Current-Students/Financial-Assistance/Fellowships-and-Grants.
 
Doctoral students (excluding international students who are not eligible for federal aid) who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will also be considered for federal aid. Graduate students may be eligible for Federal Direct Loans - Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS,- Federal Perkins Loans and/or Federal Work Study. For more information on these types of aid, please see the relevant subsections of this FAQ.

What types of aid are available to masters students?

Masters students who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be considered for federal aid. Graduate students may be eligible for Federal Direct Loans - Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS - Federal Perkins Loans and/or Federal Work Study. For more information on these types of aid, please see the relevant subsections of this FAQ.

Additionally, the Graduate Center will offer four Provost’s Merit Scholarships for new students applying to start the M.A. in Liberal Studies Program in Fall 2017. This merit scholarship is equivalent to the cost of six credits at the New York State rate for the student’s first four semesters of enrollment.  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. If a student is an out of state or international student, the difference in tuition would be the student’s financial responsibility. The scholarship will be awarded by the admissions committee of the M.A. in Liberal Studies Program. This scholarship will be awarded on the basis of academic merit, with the most deserving candidates being selected.

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 Glacier 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. Advances on financial aid fellowship payment will be available for international students. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for details.
 
International students are not eligible for federal aid.

Federal Student Loans (Prospective Students)

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. 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.
 
The 2017-2018 interest rate for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans is 6.0% and is set annually by the Federal Government.
 
Federal Direct 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. Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans disbursed between 10/1/16 and 10/1/17 will have an origination fee of 1.069%. For loans where the first disbursement is made on or after October 1, 2017 the loan fee is 1.066%.
 
The maximum loan amount is $20,500, but cannot exceed the student’s cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received.
 
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 grace period. Borrowers begin repayment in the seventh month upon graduating, dropping below half-time, or withdrawing from school.

What is a Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan?

A 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. 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 Federal Government is the lender and does not subsidize the interest.
 
The 2017-2018 interest rate for Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan is 7.0% and is set annually by the Federal Government.
 
Federal Direct 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. Direct Plus Loans disbursed between 10/1/16 and 10/1/17 will have an origination fee of 4.276%. For loans where the first disbursement is made on or after October 1, 2017 the loan fee is 4.264%.
 
The maximum loan amount is the student’s cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received.
 
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.

What is a Federal Perkins Loan?

A Federal Perkins Loan is a need-based, low-interest federal student loan. Perkins Loans carry a fixed interest rate of 5%.  The school is the lender; payment will be made to the school’s loan servicer, ECSI. The Perkins Loan program has a nine-month grace period. Borrowers begin repayment in the tenth month upon graduating, dropping below half-time or withdrawing from school.

Federal Work-Study (Prospective Students)

How do I apply for work-study?

To be considered for federal work study (FWS), the FAFSA must be filed by the April 30th priority deadline and question 31 should be answered with a “yes,” indicating an interest in FWS.

FWS money is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. The GC 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 in order to be considered if funds become available at a later date. Students who have been awarded work study will see it reflected as part of the financial aid award in Banner.

Where would I work?

Student assignments are within the student’s academic program. 

Fellowships (Prospective Students)

When are applicants notified about fellowships?

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.
 

Can an entering student who receives an offer of admission and funding defer these offers to the next year?

No. Neither funding offers nor admission offers can be deferred. Applicants can ask that their application be put into a pending status for reconsideration the following year.

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 or Dissertation Fellowship.

Students holding only Graduate Center five-year Tuition Fellowships may hold other Graduate Center awards and graduate assistantships, but not another five-year fellowship.

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.

What do I have to do to receive my funding?

Students will be notified by the Financial Aid Office that they must accept the stipend portion of their award and their Tuition Waiver online via the GC student web. 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, where they will sign an appointment letter and will be placed on the Graduate Center payroll for their graduate assistantship. Human Resource orientations are held in August. (Information about these sessions is sent in the summer.)

What does the service entail for the Graduate Center Fellowship?

In the first year of the GCF, the required service is a graduate assistantship B (GAB). The GAB requires 7.5 hours per week of service for your academic program. Usually this is in the form of research assistance for a faculty member.

In years two, three, and four of the GCF, fellows are required to teach one course per semester at one of the CUNY undergraduate campuses. Campus placements are made by your doctoral program. In year five of the GC Fellowship, the required service is a nonteaching graduate assistantship on one of the CUNY campuses. This will require fifteen hours per week of service as part of the CUNY-Wide Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Program.

What does the service entail for the CUNY Science Scholarship?

In the first year, there is a modest service obligation related to professional development and research laboratory rotations. In the second through fifth years of the award, there are usually some teaching assignments arranged by the campus where the fellows do their research.

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.

How will my fellowship be paid?

Fellowships are often made up of different components including tuition, a stipend and/or an assistantship.
 
All components of a fellowship can only be paid once a student has accepted his or her award in Banner and is registered full-time. For doctoral students, 7 credits is considered full-time. Students must also have their Social Security Number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) on file with the Office of Financial Aid. 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 and tuition coverage will automatically be applied within two business days.

Assistantships: (Grad A, B, or D) are paid biweekly 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.
 
Financial aid fellowships (GCF, CSS, Science, Math, MAGNET, Neuroscience): will be mailed to the student’s address in Banner as a lump sum at the beginning of each semester, provided that the student has enrolled full-time, accepted the stipend, and has a SSN or TIN. In order to receive payment as early as possible, students should be sure to register and accept their aid prior to the financial aid registration deadline. To find out the deadline for the upcoming semester, please visit the announcement section of our website at http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Prospective-Current-Students/Current-Students/Financial-AssistancePlease note:  If a student’s registration or level changes, his or her financial aid award may also change.

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 progress. Students 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. Students must also accept the stipend and tuition portions of the award online via the student web. 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.

Are there other restrictions?

  • Financial support is contingent upon the fellow being registered full-time and in good academic standing.
  • Notifications of financial awards are emailed to the student’s Graduate Center email address. The student must accept each award, including each individual component of a fellowship. Failure to do so will result in the award being rescinded.
  • Students with at Tuition Fellowship must have a taxpayer identification number (TIN). All other students with Graduate Center funding must have a U.S. Social Security number (SSN). 

        NOTE: The amount of fellowship aid you receive has an effect on the
        amount of federal aid for which you are eligible 

After the five years of the fellowship, are there any other forms of support available?

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