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Graduate Studies: Frequently Asked Questions

We have provided answers to common questions that graduate students have about financing their degrees. Take a look and if you still have questions, our financial aid counselors are always ready to help you navigate your options. Contact us at (573) 876-7106 or [email protected]

How many hours do I need to take to be considered a full-time graduate student?

Full-time is 9 credit hours for the fall, spring and summer semesters. Half-time is 4.5 hours.

 

What if I need less than half-time, or I only want to take one class (3 hours)? Can I still receive aid?

With careful planning, students may budget the semester with the Office of Financial Aid before they go half-time or less than half-time. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you to make sure you are awarded enough money to cover the less than full-time semester. The Office of Accounting can hold the funds in your account for that semester if you sign an “AUTHORIZATION TO HOLD A FEDERAL STUDENT AID CREDIT BALANCE.” The form is available in Accounting or Financial Aid.

 

Are graduate students eligible for Pell Grants?

No

 

Are graduate students eligible for subsidized Stafford loans?

No, graduate students are no longer eligible for subsidized Federal Stafford loans as of July 1, 2012.

 

Are graduate students eligible for unsubsidized Stafford loans?

Yes, and there are no financial need requirements. Full-time graduate students are eligible to take loans of up to $20,500. There are, however, maximum loan limits. The combined base limit for subsidized and unsubsidized loans is $65,500 including undergraduate Stafford loans. The additional limit for unsubsidized loans is $73,000. The total limit for unsubsidized loans, minus subsidized amounts, is $138,500.

 

Can I still get a loan if I am a part-time student?

Yes, based on the total number of hours you enroll each semester (summer, fall, spring).

 

Can I switch from a part-time student to a full-time student and back again and still get aid?

Yes

 

Can my loans be taken on a “per semester” basis if my need changes?

Yes, as long as you are at least half-time.

 

Do I have to pay interest on my unsubsidized loan while I am in school?

No, students can choose not to pay the interest while in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, although the interest will continue to accrue and be capitalized.

 

If I prefer to pay personally and not use loans, is there a payment plan available to me?

Yes, Stephen uses a payment plan that is offered in partnership with Tuition Management Services. The cost is $62 per semester, but the interest rate is 0%. You can break down any amount you want to finance in the fall and spring into 4 equal payments. You can set up the plan online at stephens.afford.com.

 

Can I get a book voucher with my remaining student loan money?

Yes, book vouchers are available only through MBS. Email Emily Wilson, Financial Aid Associate/Application Coordinator, at [email protected]. If approved, she will issue your voucher and return the information to you via your Stephens email.

 

How soon can I get a book voucher?

Generally two weeks before school starts up until one week after classes have started.

 

I plan to use refund money to buy books. How soon after my loans are processed will I receive my refund check?

Aid is not applied until several days after school begins. All refund checks are mailed (unless you live in Columbia) 14 days after your aid is applied and you have been notified that your loans have been sent to the College. Do not count on your refund check as a way to pay for your books—the timing will put you too far behind in your class.

 

Can I return loan money I do not need?

Yes! We would always advise you to return unused money for your loans, and we encourage you to pay interest as it accrues. We strongly advise against taking more in loans than you need. For example, an unsubsidized loan for $5,000 would leave you owing approximately $5,991 in 3 years if you capitalize the interest and defer payment. 

 

Is Stephens College a Yellow Ribbon School?

Stephens College is proud to be a Yellow Ribbon School.

 

How do I use my VA Education Benefits?

If you are eligible for Veterans Administration Education Benefits, please email your certificate of eligibility to Mary Flatt, School Certifying Official, at [email protected]. If you have questions, do not hesitate to call (573) 442-2211, Ext. 4446 or email. 

 

How do I know if I am eligible for a VA Education Benefit?

To learn about your eligibility, log in and register at www.ebenefits.va.gov

 

What do I do if I am receiving my benefit through a transfer of entitlement?

If you are receiving your benefit through the transfer of an entitlement, your spouse/parent must first register in eBenefits (www.ebenefits.va.gov) transferring the benefit to you. You then need to register with eBenefits. Submit your certificate of eligibility to our School Certifying Official, Mary Flatt, at [email protected]

 

Does this change have any impact on my VA or Vocational Rehabilitation benefits?

No

 

Is there anyone who could help me develop a payment plan for my entire degree?

Yes, the Office of Financial Aid will be glad to help you make a financial plan for degree completion; however, there may be tuition or fee increases throughout your plan that they can’t anticipate. Please call (573) 876-7106 and set up an appointment with Kim Stonecipher-Fisher, Director of Financial Aid, or Greg Hutchinson, Assistant Director of Financial Aid, once you and your adviser have completed your degree plan.

 

Is there a phone number or a place where I can ask general questions via email or in person?

The Office of Financial Aid can be reached at (573) 876-7106 or [email protected], or you are welcome to come by Lela Raney Wood Hall 2nd floor.

 

Will this change impact my degree plan or the curriculum?

No

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