Shenandoah University awards financial aid to graduate and doctoral students in the form of grants, assistantships, and student loans. Sources of aid include the university, federal government, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Students are strongly encouraged to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for each year of their enrollment. The FAFSA is available at www.fafsa.gov. For financial aid purposes, full-time enrollment is defined as six enrolled credits per semester, while half-time enrollment is defined as three enrolled credits per semester.
The following types of financial aid are available for graduate students:
Virginia Tuition Assistance Grants (VTAG)
This program is a state-funded, non-need-based grant potentially available to graduate and doctoral students enrolled in a health profession program. Students are required to have been domiciled in the Commonwealth of Virginia for least one year and be enrolled for at least nine credits per term. The application for VTAG is due July 31 and is available at the Office of Financial Aid’s website. Once awarded, it is not necessary to reapply for subsequent years. Previous recipients of VTAG as an undergraduate student must complete a new application. Pharmacy students may receive the VTAG for up to four years, while other graduate and doctoral students may receive the grant for up to three years. Recipients must notify the Office of Financial Aid immediately if their domicile moves outside of Virginia. The amount of the grant is based on annual state funding. The Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant is routinely used to replace other institutional scholarships and fellowships that cover tuition costs.
Graduate assistantships are awarded to selected graduate students who are qualified to fulfill specific responsibilities. Assistantships are awarded on the basis of merit by the dean/director of the school/division after receipt of a letter of application and a resume. Assistantships may include a scholarship, a salary for services rendered, or a combination of both. Recipients of assistantships and student employment program positions may be limited in the number of classes they can take each semester. The work of graduate assistants and students receiving student employment program positions is reviewed each semester to verify acceptable performance. Unsatisfactory performance of assigned responsibilities will result in loss of the assistantship or grant.
Federal Student Loan Programs
These federal loans programs are available to graduate and doctoral students who are enrolled at least half-time and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov. The FAFSA must be completed for each year of a student’s enrollment.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a guaranteed loan available to degree-seeking students and some certificate-seeking students. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is borrowed from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. This loan does not require a credit check in order for a student to be approved.
The interest on the Direct Unsubsidized Loan is determined each year and is fixed for the life of loan. Interest will begin to accrue immediately from the time the loan is disbursed to the university until it is paid in full. Students are permitted the option of paying the interest each quarter or deferring interest payments until they enter repayment. If the student allows the interest to accrue while they are in school or during other periods of nonpayment, it will be capitalized — that is, the interest will be added to the principal amount of the loan, and additional interest will be based on that higher amount. There is an origination fee that is deducted from the loan amount prior to its disbursal to the university.
The total loan amount graduate students can borrow in a Direct Unsubsidized Loan each year could be limited by the costs of their academic program, but cannot exceed the federal maximum of $20,500. Pharmacy students may receive additional loans based upon their enrollment in the academic year. Students will receive a financial aid award letter informing them of the maximum Direct Unsubsidized Loan they are eligible to borrow for the academic year or term. If the student wishes to accept the loan as awarded, decline the loan, or request a different amount, they must notify the Office of Financial Aid by signing and returning the letter as quickly as possible.
After a student graduates, withdraws, or drops below half-time enrollment, they are given a six month grace period before they must begin repayment of their Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Students are granted one grace period. The grace period may be extended to longer than six months if the student is on active duty in the military.
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan
Depending upon the cost of their academic program, graduate or doctoral students may borrow additional loan funds beyond the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan. For these students, the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan may be an available option.
The Graduate PLUS Loan is borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. The interest on Graduate PLUS Loans is determined each year and is fixed for the life of loan. These loans also carry an origination fee. The origination fee is deducted from the loan amount prior to its disbursal to the university and is subject to change.
To qualify for a Graduate PLUS loan, a student must not have an adverse credit history, which is determined by a credit check. If necessary, students may obtain an endorser to qualify. Students may borrow up to the Cost of Attendance for the period of enrollment, minus other financial assistance such as the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, grants, or assistantships. Students may borrow for each year of their academic career, though subsequent credit checks will be required.
The interest rate is determined each year and is fixed for the life of loan. Payment is deferred as long as the student is enrolled at least half-time. Similar to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, the Graduate PLUS Loan does accrue interest while the loan is in deferment. This interest can either be paid as it accrues or capitalized. Repayment begins immediately upon graduation or less than half-time enrollment. Unlike the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Graduate PLUS Loans do not have a grace period. The student can defer repayment while enrolled in school at least half-time and for an additional six months after the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
In order to receive federal, state, or most other forms of financial aid, students must maintain satisfactory progress in their course of study. by maintaining the GPA defined by their course of study and by completing their degree within 150% of the published length of their program. Students who do not meet these standards will not be meeting satisfactory academic standards and will lose their eligibility for financial aid.
Reinstatement of Eligibility
Students may re-establish eligibility for financial aid by completing the minimum number of credit hours and achieving the minimum cumulative grade point average.
Students who lose financial aid eligibility by failing to make Satisfactory Academic Progress may appeal in writing. A required component of the appeal is the development of an academic plan which outlines how the student will regain eligibility. Approved appeals result in a financial aid probationary status. Probationary students will be eligible for aid for one semester and will have their eligibility re-evaluated at the end of the following semester.
Withdrawing from the University
To withdraw from Shenandoah University at any time during the academic year, a student is required to obtain a Withdrawal/Leave of Absence form from the Office of Enrollment Management and Student Success. This form must be completed and returned to that office in order for the withdrawal to be processed in an accurate and timely manner. A student who fails to withdraw properly may receive failing grades in all currently enrolled courses and may be ineligible for a proration of tuition and fees as described below.
Tuition Proration Policy
Students withdrawing from the university during the published add/drop period will be fully refunded tuition, fees and housing charges. Students may be eligible to receive a portion of awarded federal financial aid.
For students withdrawing after the add/drop period, tuition will be pro-rated accordingly. The amount of tuition will be calculated on a pro rata basis through the first 60 percent of the term. After 60 percent of the term has been completed, the student will be responsible for all tuition charges assessed. Tuition charges and awarded financial aid will be prorated based on the official withdrawal date as determined by the last date a student participated in an academically related activity.
The determination of the payment period attended by the student will be calculated as follows: Number of days completed divided by the total number of days in the term = the % of term completed.
This percentage will determine the amount of tuition charges that the student is responsible for paying. If the percentage is 60 percent or higher, the student is responsible for 100 percent of tuition charges assessed.
Distribution of Financial Aid Funds
Financial aid funds applied to a student’s account will be returned to the appropriate program in accordance with mandatory federal, state, private organizations and Shenandoah University requirements. Any remaining amount of credit will then be applied to unpaid charges on the student’s account with any remaining funds being refunded to the student. It is possible for students whose accounts were paid in full at the start of a term to owe payment for the balance of charges after the return of financial aid funds.