Financial Aid for Undergraduate Students

Our financial assistance staff will work one-on-one with you to provide the personal financial solutions that best suit your family. Gift aid includes scholarships, grants, and other benefits (such as Veteran’s Benefits); these kinds of financial assistance generally do not need to be paid back unless otherwise specified.

Self-help aid, on the other hand, includes student and parent educational loans, which require repayment. Also included in the self-help aid category is Federal Work Study, which allows undergraduate students to earn a specified amount of money by working a University job.

In addition, St. Mary’s University awards scholarships to qualified applicants at the time of admission. Our awarding system attempts to provide equitable awards for everyone. First, your financial need determines the amount federal and state gift aid you receive. These are the primary components of your aid package. Next, St. Mary’s University gift aid and self-help (loans and work) are added to fulfill as much of your demonstrated need as possible.

When awarding gift aid, St. Mary’s University considers your academic achievement whenever possible. The better your academic performance, the greater percentage of gift aid you will receive in relation to total package aid. The total amount of each package is determined by the financial need analysis. However, the proportions of gift aid and self-help within that total are determined by your prior academic work.

Outside scholarships are also used to meet unmet need or to replace self-help. If your outside scholarship is greater than your unmet need and/or the amount of awarded self-help, the gift aid must be reduced in order to comply with federal and state regulations. If you receive notification of an outside scholarship, please let us know as soon as possible. This will allow us to make adjustments and notify you of those changes.

If we receive your FAFSA results after the priority date has passed, you may receive less favorable sources of financial assistance due to limited funding and the demand for those funds. The financial aid package represents the best and most equitable award we can make, based on the information you and your family submit, the completion date of the file, academic performance and the availability of funds.

The Office of Financial Assistance reserves the right to replace all gift aid (grants and/or scholarships) awarded by St. Mary’s University with other gift aid sources in the same amounts, in order to maximize limited resources. Please note that the total amount of gift aid awarded will not be reduced.

Current students are able to review and accept financial aid awards on Gateway.


Grants

Need-based grant programs help you cover the difference between the cost of attendance and your other resources.

The Federal Pell Grant is available to undergraduate students with the highest level of need (based on FAFSA data). The amount a student receives is also determined by the expected family contribution and the student’s enrollment status. Effective July 1, 2012, the maximum number of equivalent full-time semesters a student is eligible to receive a Pell Grant will drop from 18 to 12 semesters for all students, including those close to completion.

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is available to students who qualify for the maximum Pell Grant. Funds are limited and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sponsored by St. Mary’s University, the Financial Aid Grant is available to undergraduate students. These limited funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

To be considered for the Tuition Equalization Grant, students must be Texas residents, demonstrate financial need and be enrolled full time. These funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.


Loans

Direct Federal Stafford Loans

The U.S. Department of Education offers low-interest loans to eligible students to help cover the cost of college. You may be eligible to receive subsidized and unsubsidized loans based on your financial need.

Direct Federal Stafford Loans may be subsidized, which means the government pays the interest while you are in school, or unsubsidized, which means the interest accrues while you are in school. The eligibility of the Direct Federal Stafford Loan is determined by the completion of the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The interest is a fixed rate of 4.29 percent for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2015. Students must submit a FAFSA, meet federal eligibility requirements, and enroll at least half-time in a degree-seeking program.

Students who demonstrate financial need are awarded the Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan, while those with less financial need may be eligible for only part of the Subsidized Stafford Loan and may borrow Unsubsidized Stafford Loans up to the academic year limit.

The following charts show the annual and aggregate limits for subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Annual loan limits

Annual loan limits
Student classification Dependent students* Independent students
First-year undergraduate $5,500 (max $3,500 from subsidized loans) $9,500 (limit $3,500 from subsidized loans)
Second-year undergraduate $6,500 (max $4,500 from subsidized loans) $10,500 (limit $4,500 from subsidized loans)
Third-year+ undergraduate $7,500 (max $5,500 from subsidized loans) $12,500 (limit $5,500 from subsidized loans)
Graduate/Professional students N/A $20,500 (unsubsidized only)

*Dependent students whose parents are unable to obtain a PLUS loan fall into the independent loan limits.

Aggregate loan limits

Aggregate loan limits
Dependent students (undergraduate) Independent students (undergraduate) Graduate/professional students
$31,000 (max $23,000 subsidized) $57,500 (max $23,000 subsidized) $138,500 (max $65,500 subsidized)*

*The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.

If you are a first-time borrower on or after July 1, 2013, there is a limit on the maximum period of time (measured in academic years) that you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans. This time limit does not apply to Direct Unsubsidized Loans or Direct PLUS Loans. If this limit applies to you, you may not receive Direct Subsidized Loans for more than 150 percent of the published length of your program. This is called your “maximum eligibility period.” Your maximum eligibility period is based on the published length of your current program. You can usually find the published length of any program of study in the school’s catalog.

For example, if you are enrolled in a four-year bachelor’s degree program, the maximum period for which you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans is six years (150 percent of 4 years = 6 years). If you are enrolled in a two-year associate degree program, the maximum period for which you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans is three years (150 percent of 2 years = 3 years).

Because your maximum eligibility period is based on the length of your current program of study, your maximum eligibility period can change if you change to a program that has a different length. Also, if you receive Direct Subsidized Loans for one program and then change to another program, the Direct Subsidized Loans you received for the earlier program will generally count toward your new maximum eligibility period.

Certain types of enrollment may cause you to become responsible for the interest that accrues on your Direct Subsidized Loans when the U.S. Department of Education usually would have paid it. These enrollment patterns are described below.

If entering the Armed Forces, Peace Corps, VISTA or other volunteer public service work, your loan servicer may grant you a forbearance. With forbearance, you may be able to stop making payments or reduce your monthly payment for up to 12 months.  Interest will continue to accrue on your subsidized and unsubsidized loans (including all PLUS loans).

Federal Perkins Loans

The interest rate for Federal Perkins Loans is fixed at 5 percent and repayment begins nine months after you leave school or drop below half-time status. Priority is given to students with financial need on a first-come, first-served basis. Perkins Loans may be eligible for loan cancellation for full-time teaching at a low-income school, or for teaching in certain subject areas.

In addition, for each complete year of service, a percentage of the loan may be canceled. The total percentage of the loan that can be canceled depends on the type of service performed and when that loan was taken out, you may be eligible to cancel part of or your entire loan if you have served as one of the following:

  • Volunteer in the Peace Corps or ACTION program (including VISTA)
  • Member of the U.S. armed forces (serving in area of hostilities)
  • Nurse or medical technician
  • Law enforcement or corrections officer
  • Head Start worker
  • Child or family services worker
  • Professional provider of early intervention services

Federal Parent Loans

The Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS Loan) is available to creditworthy parents who want to borrow a portion or all of the annual cost of education minus other financial assistance offered. Repayment is generally set at small payments on a 10-year plan and begins 60 days after the loan has been fully disbursed to the institution.

This federal loan is offered at a fixed interest rate of 6.41 percent with an interest rate cap 10.50 percent effective for loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2013. The maximum PLUS loan amount you can borrow is the cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial assistance received.

A similar program, Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, is available for graduate/professional students. Repayment is generally set at small payments on a 10-year plan and begins when the student graduates or falls below half-time status. Effective July 1, 2015, this federal loan is offered at a fixed interest rate of 6.84 percent. To begin the Direct Graduate PLUS loan application, complete and return the Graduate-PLUS Application to the Office of Financial Assistance.

College Access Loans

College Access Loans are available to Texas resident students (or out-of-state students receiving competitive academic scholarships) with creditworthy cosigners. The loan has a $500 annual minimum, but may not be greater than the cost of education less other aid received. The interest rate is fixed at 4.50 percent and a 3 percent origination fee will be deducted from each disbursement. Pre-approvals and promissory notes may be processed online through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Alternative Loans

Alternative loans are private loans available through lending institutions, which offer competitive interest rates, flexible repayment schedules and differing cosigner requirements. Students should pursue all possibilities for scholarships, grants, work-study and federal loan programs before borrowing from an alternative loan program. Most financial institutions have alternative loan programs.

Discover Financial Services Certified Private Student Loan
1-877-728-3030

Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan
1-800-472-5543

Wells Fargo Collegiate Student Loan
1-800-658-3567

St. Mary’s University offers families the opportunity to pay each semester’s balance in as many as five monthly payments free of finance charges. To participate, families should fill out a Financial Planning Form with the Business Office.

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) central database for student aid. NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, the Direct Loan program, and other Department of ED programs. NSLDS Student Access provides a centralized, integrated view of Title IV loans and grants so that recipients of Title IV Aid can access and inquire about their Title IV loans and/or grant data. All loan information will be submitted to NSLDS and accessible by authorized agencies, lenders, and institutions.


Work Study

An on-campus job doesn’t have to be all work (and no play). It’s also an opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills or discover your buried talents.

To assist students who demonstrate financial need, we participate in the Federal Work-Study Program to provide you with employment.

Annual awards range from $1,500 to $3,000 (with a wage of $7.25 an hour). Most jobs are located on campus and require you to work between 10 and 13 hours per week (on average).

A variety of jobs are available, including clerical work, communications assistant, fitness center attendant, lifeguard, office assistant, public services assistant, reference assistant or sports official.

In addition, you could choose to participate in the Community-Based College Work-Study Program which allows students to complete work-study hours while working with a community partner.  St. Mary’s University partners with a number of local nonprofit agencies, particularly in the areas of education, elderly, health care and legal service.

How to Get Started

Getting started with work study is easy! Below are the steps you must take:

  • Accept your Work-Study on Gateway.
  • Financial Assistance Office will email the ApplicantPro work-study job vacancy listing to eligible students.
  • Submit the I-9, W-4 and Policy Acknowledgement forms to St. Mary’s Office of Human Resources.

Financial Aid for Studying Abroad

Student enrollment in a program of study abroad approved for credit by St. Mary’s University may be considered enrollment at St. Mary’s University for the purpose of applying for assistance under Title IV.



  • How to Appeal

    If you fail to meet the minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress standards (SAP), you will be placed on the Suspension SAP status. We understand that there are many factors that impact a student’s academic success, and that in any given semester, there may be extenuating circumstances which may also hamper a student’s success. We are sensitive to these issues, provided you document in a professional manner.

    You can appeal this suspension by writing a letter to the appeals committee after receiving the official notification from the Office of Financial Assistance. A good financial assistance appeal should:

    • Explain in detail what happened within the semester that hampered your achievement.
    • Explain in detail what your plan of action will be to allow you to meet SAP guidelines in the future.
    • Be professional.
    • Be submitted prior to established deadlines.

    The Appeals Committee will review your appeal and determine whether the suspension is approved. If the appeal is granted, the student will be placed on a SAP Probation status and will be allowed to receive eligible financial aid for the next semester. If your appeal is not approved, you may become eligible again by meeting the standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress. You will be notified in writing of the final decision.

    Conditions for Reinstatement

    A student who has been denied aid for academic reasons can become eligible for financial aid again by meeting the appropriate standards for SAP while enrolled at St. Mary’s University. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Office of Financial Assistance if SAP requirements are met again.


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