Financial Aid

For Domestic Students:

Graduate students generally have some unique situations in regard to financial aid compared to undergraduate students. Graduate students are automatically considered independent for financial aid purposes and do not qualify for federal and state grants. In addition, graduate students are more likely to enroll part-time. These situations can affect the amount delivery of financial aid eligibility. You must apply for financial aid every academic year.

Application Process

You should complete your Federal Income Tax returns as soon as possible after January 1. Having completed tax returns will make the application process much easier.

After you have completed your Federal Income Tax returns, you are ready to apply. In order to apply for financial aid at Southwest Minnesota State University you must:

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. SMSU’s Federal School Code is: 002375

Due to the extensive nature of Financial Aid, please visit our Financial Aid Website or visit the Financial Aid Office in IL 145.

Things to keep in mind regarding financial aid:

  • Graduate students are not eligible for any federal or state grant programs; however, they are eligible to receive funds through loan and work programs.
  • You must be formally accepted into a graduate program before financial aid can be processed.
  • Graduate students must enroll in nine or more credits per semester in order to be considered a full-time student for financial aid purposes. You must be enrolled at least half-time (5 credits) to be eligible for federal or state loan programs.
  • There is no deadline to apply for financial aid. You can apply throughout the academic year. However, we recommend applying as soon as possible after your tax returns are completed.
  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your first step in applying for financial aid at SMSU. You must reapply for financial aid every academic year.
  • In order to have books for the first two weeks of class, you will need to purchase them using your own funds. When financial aid is disbursed, generally two weeks after the semester begins, if the amount of your aid exceeds the amount you owe SMSU, the excess is given to you to use for educational expenses (which may include room, board, transportation, books) or to reimburse you for expenses already incurred.
  • The Business Services Offices, located in IL, handles disbursement of all financial aid funds.
  • If you borrowed educational loans as an undergraduate, you may be able to defer loan payments while attending graduate school. Contact the lender to request a deferment.
  • Financial aid recipients are required to meet standards of satisfactory academic progress. SMSU’s satisfactory academic progress policy has three major components that are taken into account in determining a student’s standing:
    • A minimum percentage of credits earned based on total SMSU credits attempted.
    • A minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement. GPA is calculated using only SMSU credits.
    • A maximum number of credits attempted. This includes all credits attempted at SMSU and credits accepted from other institutions regardless of whether aid was received. After you have attempted the maximum number of credits, you are no longer eligible to receive aid.
  • Further details can be found with entire policy
  • You have certain rights and responsibilities when applying for and receiving financial aid.
  • Keep all copies of correspondence received from the financial aid office. Sometimes questions arise regarding a particular piece of correspondence or financial aid award. It’s much easier if you can pull out a document and refer to it.

For International Students

Financial aid for international students is limited to graduate assistantships. International Students are not eligible to receive loans or grants. However, The MnSCU Board has agreed to allow SMSU to have a pilot program whereby non-resident students can attend and pay Minnesota resident tuition. The savings represented are approximately $3,500 per year.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are available to qualified students enrolled in the graduate program at SMSU. These students will assist with research and other duties related to their graduate program. Departments fund the cost of the graduate assistants and will provide the assistant with a letter of appointment and job description. Graduate assistants must be enrolled for a minimum of six semester credits per term during the time in which they are employed and must meet minimum academic standards for their program of study. They will be employed for no longer than two full years on a contract basis through student payroll. Tuition compensation is taxable income. Appropriate forms must be completed upon acceptance into the program.
 

The Graduate Assistant positions that are available throughout campus allow you to have your tuition waived and get paid to attend classes. But first, there are a few things you should know. Below you will find a few highlights, but make sure to check out Business Services for a complete list.

  • To be eligible for the Graduate Assistantship, you must hold a bachelor's degree, be accepted into the SMSU graduate program, and must continue to meet minimum requirements.
  • GA's will receive free credits; however, students are still responsible for the fees and other charges. Students beginning in the fall semester will receive 18 credit hours of free graduate tuition during a year beginning in the fall and ends in the summer session.
  • GA's will be compensated for their time.

Be sure to fill out an application and send to the department in which you are interested in applying for. If you receive a GA position, a tuition waiver form will have to be filled out.

For other questions, contact Business Services or the School of Graduate Studies.
 

If I receive a graduate assistantship, will this affect my financial aid?
 

Any student receiving a graduate assistantship is eligible to receive tuition assistance to cover up to eight graduate credits each term of the assistantship. The tuition assistance will affect financial aid eligibility. The student’s need-based loan eligibility is generally decreased by the same amount as the tuition assistance. If the student’s loan already has been processed at the time the financial aid office becomes aware or the tuition assistance, the loan amount may need to be reduced. If an assistantship is funded through the work study program, the student’s loan eligibility is generally reduced by the full amount of the assistantship plus the amount of tuition assistance the student will receive. Since this would mean a large reduction in loan eligibility, students who are offered a work study assistantship may want to visit with a financial aid counselor before accepting the assistantship.
 

This concludes the section of Registration. Click on the NEXT button to continue the Graduate Student Orientation.
 

Previous | Table of Contents | Next

Last Modified: 4/24/17 11:57 AM