What is financial aid? Financial aid is funding that is comprised of grants, scholarship, federal work-study and loans and used to pay educationally related expenses. Basically, financial aid breaks down into two categories. Gift aid, that which is free money and that does not need to be repaid and Self-Help aid, which is either borrowed in the form of a loan and repaid with interest and federal work-study which is obtaining a job and being paid for your work.
Students applying for aid should complete the FAFSA as close to October 1st EACH year. For more information, please visit https://studentaid.gov/h/understand-aid
How do I apply for financial aid? Students wishing to apply for financial aid will need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students should log onto www.studentaid.gov. Students will first need to obtain a FSA ID and, if dependent, the custodial parent will also need obtain an FSA ID. The FSA ID will serve as your electronic signature so that you can sign your financial aid documents. The FAFSA will ask you for the federal school code, which Pitt’s is 008815. The University of Pittsburgh does not require the CSS Profile application. More information: https://studentaid.gov/h/understand-aid
The first step in applying for grants is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Federal Pell Grant – This grant is based on eligibility and can be awarded to students who are full-time, three quarters time, half-time and less than half-time.
Pitt Success Pell Match – this grant is specific to students attending the University of Pittsburgh. The University will match the Federal Pell Grant dollar for dollar.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) is a need-based grant. Because there are limits on this grant it recommended that you complete and submit your FAFSA as close to October 1st each year.
State Grants – there are several state grant programs. For Pennsylvania students, a FAFSA will need to be completed each year. The PA state grant has a very strict May 1st deadline, but it is recommended that you complete the FAFSA as soon after October 1st, when the FAFSA becomes available.
For more information, please visit the https://financialaid.pitt.edu/
Scholarships are a type of financial aid that does not need to be repaid. Scholarships may be based on academic achievement, athletic achievement or other attributes specific to the student. Students are encouraged to apply often as a scholarship is free money and it is a great way to keep your debt low.
How do I apply for scholarships? University of Pittsburgh students have access to a scholarship data base called PittFund$me. This data bases houses both university specific scholarships and non-Pitt scholarships. The non-Pitt scholarships have been vetted to make certain that these are legitimate scholarships. Students are encouraged to apply often as funding levels and availability can change quite frequently. Some of the scholarships listed on PittFund$me are renewable so this could assist in your planning to finance your education each year.
- Student Loans
Student loans are a type of financial aid used to help with educational expenses. These expenses could include such items as tuition, fees, room and board and other collegiate related expenses. If you are borrowing a student loan you should remember that these are funds that you are borrowing with interest. A student loan may help you establish credit while you are in college. Because this is a debt, you should be sure to read all information about the loan and be sure that you have a goal to pay the loans off quickly so that you do not accrue interest. The Center for Financial Education and Wellness is available for assistance.
What kinds of loans are available to me? (https://financialaid.pitt.edu/types-of-aid/loans/)
Students who need to borrow may consider the following programs; Federal Direct Student Loans, Federal Direct Parent PLUS loans, Private Education Loans. More information can be found on https://financialaid.pitt.edu/types-of-aid/loans/
Federal Direct Student Loans are available to eligible students who have completed the FAFSA form. Once a loan is offered by the University, the student has the option of declining, reducing or accepting a loan. Be sure to only use what is needed. There may be additional steps that are required such as a Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling before the loan process is completed. Students who wish to use this loan will need to complete Entrance Counseling, which explains the rights and responsibilities of being a loan holder and a Master Promissory Note (MPN) which is the application for the loan. There two types of Federal Direct loan.
Subsidized – the loan is based on demonstrated financial need as a result of filing the FAFSA. The federal government pays the interest on a subsidized loan while the student is enrolled on at least a half time basis.
Unsubsidized –the loan is not based on demonstrated financial need. You are not required to pay the interest on this loan while you are in school, but it is recommended that you do. You are charged interest on this loan while in school.
Can I decline my loan if I don’t need it? Yes, federal loans which are offered to students may be accepted, declined or reduced. We encourage students to financially plan what is needed and only borrow what is needed. For more information, please visit https://financialaid.pitt.edu/accept-decline/
How can I keep my loan balance to a minimum? There are several options a student may consider keeping their borrowing to a minimum.Seek employment so that you can save some funding for tuition, living expenses and other educationally related expenses. Pre-pay on your loans. There is no penalty for early repayment. It is recommended that you meet with a financial aid counselor of financial wellness staff member for help, if needed. Pay on the interest if you have borrowed unsubsidized loan funds. Budget for the long term.
Tips for borrowersKeep track of your borrowing while you are in school –for federal loans you may log onto www.studentaid.gov. You may review your personal dashboard. For private education loans you will need to refer to your private education lender. Be sure to know who your servicer is and always be sure to keep your contact information up to date. Review the variety of payment plans that are available so that you can make an informed decision about what repayment plan works best for you. Use the Loan Simulator to help calculate your payments. Start budgeting early so that you are prepared when your loan comes due. Sign up for the most up to date information from the US Department of Education regarding loan updates/changes https://www.ed.gov/subscriptions
How do I find my loan records and how often should I review my loan balance?
Each year the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid will send to you a breakdown of your student loan borrowing. Students are encouraged to log on to www.studentaid.gov and review their federal loan borrowing.
What is Panthers Forward? Panthers Forward is an innovative program, unique to the University of Pittsburgh, which leverages the power of the University community to ease the burden of student loan debt. https://www.alumnionline.pitt.edu/s/1729/m20/interior.aspx?sid=1729&gid=2&pgid=5582
Can my parents a borrow loan to help with costs?
The Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan is a credit-based loan. The dependent student for whom the loan is being borrowed for must be enrolled on at least a half-time basis, 6 credits per term, be degree seeking, be making Satisfactory Academic Progress and have completed a FAFSA. The parent borrower will need to go through a credit check and be either a biological or adoptive parent or stepparent. Both the student and parent borrower must be a U.S. Citizen or eligible non-citizen and not be in default on Federal aid. Because the loan is in the parent's name, ownership of that loan will be the parent.
Repayment on the Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan does not begin until 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed to the school.
What if my parent cannot borrow on my behalf?
Because this loan is subject to a credit check, a loan can be denied, the parent can then seek an endorser, or the student can be awarded additional unsubsidized funding.
What other loan programs are available?
Private Education loans are non-federal education loans, through private lenders. These loans are typically in the student’s name and may require a co-signer. Each Private Education loan will have terms that that lender has established. This means that eligibility requirements, loan rates, loan terms and conditions will be set by the lender. For more information, please visit https://financialaid.pitt.edu/types-of-aid/loans/