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Financial Aid

Eligibility Requirements

Emerson College's need–based financial assistance program makes every effort to help qualified students finance education through federal loans and the Federal Work-Study Program.

Need-Based Aid

Emerson College awards federal funds based on demonstrated need. Graduate students who apply for federal financial assistance must be matriculated, degree-seeking candidates enrolled at least half-time (4 credits per semester). Federal regulations specify that federal financial aid recipients must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or eligible non-citizens.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and supporting documentation determine the student's financial need, as defined by federal formulas. Most students will qualify for a Unsubsidized Direct Student Loan. The combination of the Unsubsidized Loans and other financial assistance cannot exceed the student's cost of attendance.

The cost of attendance (also referred to as the student's budget) for Emerson College is broken down into two categories, direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are charges billed directly to the student: tuition and mandatory fees. Indirect costs are other necessary educational expenses: off-campus room, off-campus board, books, supplies, travel, and personal expenses. If you feel your cost of attendance is not comprehensive enough to meet your extenuating circumstances, please review Emerson's cost of attendance appeal policy.

In addition to direct and indirect costs, Student Financial Services considers a student's status (full-time or part-time) when determining his or her budget. The student's status does not necessarily reflect his or her academic standing; federal and institutional aid policies determine these categories for financial aid purposes. Graduate students enrolled in fewer than 8 credits are considered half-time and 8 or more credits are considered full-time. Once the status is determined, our office then uses an average budget for each category of students.

Certain majors require students to enroll in seminar courses to complete their programs. If you are enrolled in one of these majors, you must contact Student Financial Services to inform your financial aid officer when you will enroll in these courses.

Note: To receive aid for January seminar courses, you must enroll at least part-time in the spring semester immediately following.

Conditions Affecting Your Graduate Award

Satisfactory Academic Progress: Federal regulations and Emerson College policy require that a student make satisfactory academic progress. Any student receiving merit assistance who fails to satisfactorily complete his or her work and/or whose cumulative GPA falls below 3.20 is prohibited from receiving merit assistance the following semester. Students denied merit-based assistance due to unsatisfactory academic progress may appeal in writing to the director of graduate studies.

Graduate students must meet qualitative and quantitative requirements each semester to receive federal funds. So, depending upon their major, graduate students must complete 63 to 75 percent of their attempted courses per semester to maintain satisfactory academic progress. (The percentage is determined by the number of credits required to complete the program.)

Note: Receiving a grade or code of B–, C, D, F, WF, WP, I, AUD, or DEF does not constitute successful course completion. Also, students with federal aid must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Students denied need-based aid because of unsatisfactory academic progress may appeal in writing to the director of student financial services. A Financial Aid Review committee rules on the appeal and the student is notified of the committee's decision within three weeks.

Housing/residency status: Housing status is printed on each Financial Assistance Statement. If a student's status is different from what's listed, he or she must notify our office in writing. The award package may be adjusted due to a housing change.

Enrollment changes/credit changes: Enrollment changes cause a student's cost of attendance, which is used to determine aid eligibility, to change. Students must notify our office in writing if their expected or actual enrollment changes. Registered credits are checked after the add/drop period, and awards are adjusted accordingly.

Continuing student status/full-time equivalence: Students with this status do not qualify for financial assistance or most alternative loans because they are enrolled in fewer than 4 credits. This status is for academic purposes only.

Drug Convictions: A federal or state drug conviction can disqualify a student for Federal Student Aid funds.  Convictions only count against a student for aid eligibility purposes if they were for an offense that occurred during a period or enrollment for which the student was receiving Federal Student Aid.  Students can regain eligibility upon completion of certain rehabilitation programs.

Withdrawal from Emerson College: When a student withdraws or takes a leave of absence, his or her financial assistance is reviewed. Federal funds must be returned to federal programs according to a federal formula. All students are eligible for a full refund of tuition and fees, excluding nonrefundable deposits, if they officially withdraw before the first day of classes.

Students who receive federal funds get a refund based on the Federal Return of Title IV Aid policy. This policy determines the aid percentage that must be returned to the federal government and the tuition and fee percentage the student owes the College.

Graduation Requirements

The number of credits needed to fulfill degree requirements are reviewed when a student re-applies for financial aid. If we determine you will complete your degree earlier than expected, your aid eligibility will cease. For example, if you take additional summer courses to accelerate your degree and only need two master's thesis/project credits to finish your degree requirements, you will no longer be eligible to receive aid.

Financial assistance is renewable if you are enrolled in a degree-seeking program. You cannot receive aid for optional elective courses; financial aid funds (including merit funds) can only be used for courses required to complete your Emerson degree program.