Financial Aid Basics
There are four basic types of aid (scholarships, grants, loans and employment) that students may access in financing their education. Students must be matriculated and in a degree seeking program to be eligible to receive grants and federal loans. While the family is always considered the primary resource in funding a college education, families who don’t have the personal means to pay part or all of the cost of college may rely on aid from some of the programs listed below.
Scholarships are considered gift aid which does not have to be repaid and are typically awarded based on special talent (i.e. academic achievement), sometimes in combination with financial need. These awards often have annual conditions for renewal related to the specific award (i.e. a specific cumulative Grade Point Average for renewal of an academic scholarship). Students must also maintain full-time status to be eligible.
Eastern will support four kinds of scholarships, Honors Scholarships, Merit Scholarships, Presidential Scholarships and Phi Theta Kappa Scholarships, beginning with the 2015-16 academic year, as described below:
- Honors Scholarships are awarded to incoming first-year students who are admitted to the University Honors Program and are conditioned on the student’s living on campus, continuing participation in the program and maintaining the following cumulative GPA’s in the four undergraduate years (freshman, 3.3, sophomore, 3.4, junior, 3.45 and senior, 3.5). The scholarship covers the student’s annual tuition (not fees) and, for in-state students, $2,000 of annual room charges. The scholarship is limited to eight semesters.
- Merit Scholarships are awarded to incoming first-year and transfer students of high academic ability. First-year scholarships are limited to eight semesters and transfer scholarships may provide up to six semesters of aid. First-year scholarships require the student to live on campus, maintain academic progress and range from $9,000 to $2,500 depending on academic achievement in high school and state of residence. Transfer scholarships require the student to maintain academic progress and range from $9,000 to $2,000 depending on academic achievement in college, state of residence and whether the student lives on- or off-campus.
- Presidential Scholarships are awarded to incoming international students of high academic ability. These scholarships require the student to maintain academic progress and are valued at $9,000 or $6,000 annually, depending on whether a student lives on- or off-campus. These scholarships provide eight semesters of aid to incoming first-year international students and up to six semesters of aid for incoming transfer international students
- Phi Theta Kappa Scholarships are awarded to incoming transfer students who are members of the Phi Theta Kappa Transfer Honor Society and who demonstrate sufficient financial need based on filing the FAFSA. This scholarship is valued at $1,000 annually, may provide up to six semesters of aid and requires the maintenance of good academic standing (2.0 GPA) for renewal.
The State of Connecticut also makes available The Governor’s Scholarship Program Scholarship for students who ranked in the top 20% of their high school junior class or have a combined SAT score (Critical Reading, Math and Writing) of 1800 or higher or an ACT Composite Score of 27 or higher.
- The scholarship provides a merit-based award to Connecticut students with the above outlined credentials who will begin college in the fall 2013 and beyond. A FAFSA application and scholarship specific application are required by February 15th for the following academic year. The student must also maintain full-time status.
Grants are awarded, and vary in amount, based on financial need and do not have to be repaid. At Eastern, grants may be funded by the state or federal government and from the University’s own resources. Students from outside Connecticut are advised to check on the availability and portability of state grants in their home state. While Pell Grant is an “entitlement” program that guarantees funding to any eligible student, all the other grant programs listed below have limited funding and awards are based on, among other things, whether a student files the FAFSA by Eastern’s Financial Aid Priority Dates.
Student loans have long been a part of the array of federal financial aid programs and continue today as one important component of financing a higher education. There are several federally-funded programs, as well as privately funded programs, available to families. Loans represent financial aid that must be repaid over time and interest rates vary from program to program. Eligibility for borrowing through most of these programs is determined by filing the FAFSA on an annual basis and require at least half-time enrollment for all students. See the charts below that describe annual and aggregate borrowing limits and interest rates. Students should only borrow what they absolutely need to cover mandatory expenses.
Please note under HEOA Sec. 489, amended HEA Sec. 485B (d) (4) (20 U.S.C. 1092b), all potential students or parents of a student borrowing a Federal Student Loan will have their information submitted to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), and that information will be accessible by guaranty agencies, lenders, and institutions determined to be authorized users of the data.
- Direct Loan is by far the largest federal loan program through which students borrow. This program serves both students who demonstrate financial need and those who don’t. The difference is that undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need qualify for subsidized loans, while undergrads who don’t demonstrate need and graduate students only qualify for unsubsidized loans. The term subsidized means that the federal government pays the interest on the loan for the student as long as the student is enrolled as at least a half-time student. Unsubsidized means that the student must pay the interest that accrues during their college career or defer the interest payments until they graduate. For more information please click here.
First time Direct Loan borrowers are required to complete Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note (MPN). An MPN is a contract under which a borrower receives federally funded loans. These items can be completed electronically at www.studentloans.gov.
Direct Loan Interest Rates and Aggregate Borrowing Limits
|Year||Dependent Students||Independent Students**|
|First-Year Undergraduate (0-29 credits)||$5,500—No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized* loans.||$9,500—No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized* loans.|
|Second-Year Undergraduate (30-59 credits)||$6,500—No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized* loans.||$10,500—No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized* loans.|
|Third-Year and Beyond Undergraduate (60 or more credits)||$7,500 per year—No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized* loans.||$12,500 per year—No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized* loans.|
|Graduate or Professional Degree Students||Not Applicable||$20,500 – all unsubsidized*|
|Maximum Total Debt from Direct Loans||$31,000—No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized* loans.||$57,500 for undergraduates—No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized* loans.
$138,500 for graduate or professional students—No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized* loans. The graduate debt limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.
*Interest rates are set every July 1st by Congress. Please click here for more information on current interest rates and origination fees.
**Includes dependent students whose parents are unable to qualify for a PLUS Loan
Working during college is also a longstanding part of the way students help finance their education. In fact, holding a part-time job improves a student’s chance of persisting to graduation by providing another opportunity to make campus connections that supply support. Eastern has opportunities to work on and off campus through funding made available by the Federal Work Study Program and the institution itself. Students may receive a work award as part of their package if they indicate an interest when filing the FAFSA, demonstrate financial need and meet Eastern’s priority filing date. Such awards allow students to earn approximately $2,600 during the academic year based on working approximately 10-12 hours per week. If they are not awarded work study, they can still work on campus under institutional funding. You can view all available jobs and apply at our Student Employment website.