The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has several financial programs to assist graduate students with the cost of advanced studies. These programs apply to degree-seeking, matriculated students only. Non-degree students who have not received formal admission to the university, sometimes called “Special Students” at UMass Dartmouth, are generally not eligible to receive financial aid.
Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships
Graduate assistantships come in a variety of forms—teaching, research, or general graduate assistantships—depending on the student’s abilities and the resources and needs of the academic departments. They are awarded with respect to the student’s field of study and are competitive, given to applicants with stronger records who will best meet the department’s needs. All awards are recommended by the department and college and made through the Office of Graduate Studies. Continuation of assistantships will be determined by the department and college and will be contingent upon the student maintaining an acceptable grade record and making satisfactory progress toward the degree. Performance in the assistantship and the availability of funds are also criteria for continuation.
Applicants request consideration for an assistantship on the graduate application for admission form. Because the graduate program faculty and department recommend assistantship appointments, students who want further information about eligibility and the types of assistantships should contact the academic department concerned.
Often, admission acceptance must precede an offer of an assistantship. In some cases, funding may be late to develop; in other cases, one may have been placed on a waiting list for an assistantship. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend that you apply for need-based or non-need-based loans or work-study in a timely fashion, before waiting to learn for sure about the assistantship award.
The stipends offered vary widely depending on qualifications and the student’s academic program. Academic year assistantship stipends at the masters’ level in 2011-2012 ranged from $6,000 to $18,000 (full-time rate, academic year). Some students, especially doctoral students, may also receive summer assistantships earning an additional stipend. UMass Dartmouth’s graduate assistantships that extend from half-time to full-time are accompanied by a full waiver of tuition, whether it be at the in-state or out- of-state rates. Graduate assistants pay the same fees that others pay, with the exception that out-of-state graduate assistants pay only the in-state curriculum support fee rate.
A full-time graduate assistant (RA or TA) is required to work 20 hours per week for the assistantship; part-time assistantships are pro-rated from this amount.
UMass Dartmouth also offers a small number of fellowships to well-qualified doctoral students. Distinguished Doctoral Fellows annually receive a $24,000 stipend plus full tuition and Curriculum Support Fee waivers. First Year Doctoral Fellows receive one year of support that includes a stipend of $16,000 plus a full tuition and Curriculum Support Fee waiver.
Distinguished Art Fellowships will be available for students applying to the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program. These fellowships are intended to attract students of unusual artistic ability. Distinguished Art Fellows will receive $12,000 per year and full tuition and CSF waivers for up to three years as MFA students subject to maintaining full-time status, a 3.5 GPA and making satisfactory progress in the program.
The majority of financial aid for graduate students is in the form of loans. The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan programs provide loan funds to eligible students. Students who demonstrate financial need are considered for the subsidized direct loan. Students who do not qualify for the need based loan will be considered for the Unsubsidized direct loan. Very needy graduate students are also considered for the University Scholarship, comprising a waiver of the curriculum fee. Federal Work Study funds are limited and only on-time applicants are considered. Application for all aid programs is by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Graduate students are not eligible for federal or state grant programs.
Early application is strongly encouraged. The priority filing date is for FAFSA materials to be received at the Federal processor by March 1st of each year with UMass Dartmouth included in the list of schools. The UMass Dartmouth Title IV school code is 002210.
Students must be admitted to a degree program before eligibility can be determined for financial aid. However, in spring those who are still prospective graduate students are encouraged to submit the FAFSA even before the admissions decision is received. We recommend mailing your FAFSA by February 15th to ensure priority consideration. Students will need to reapply for financial aid each year.
In order to maintain eligibility for financial aid, students must be enrolled at least half-time, be in good academic standing with the university, and be making satisfactory progress toward their degree (the specific standard is stated in the chapter on Academic Regulations).
Students who wish to apply to receive aid while on Program Continuation status must complete the appropriate forms, which can be obtained at the University Student Enrollment Center or at Financial Aid Services.
Financial Assistance for International Students
(on temporary student visas)
With the exception of research and teaching assistantships, opportunities for support from the university or from university-related sources are essentially non-existent. The state and federal aid programs are not available to international students. The university also has no special scholarship or financial assistance programs for international students. International students should not expect that they will gain substantial income through part-time work. Opportunities to receive on-campus work are very limited.
International students must demonstrate that they have access to sufficient fiscal resources before the university will issue the immigration forms that authorize them to receive their student visas. For those awarded assistantships, we will apply the stipend and tuition/fee waivers toward their expenses on the I-20 form.
Need-Based Financial Aid
Students requesting need-based financial assistance must complete and mail the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is available in local libraries and high schools, also the Financial Aid Services Office, Foster Administration Building (phone 508 999-8643), where the members of the staff can answer questions and offer other forms of help. Some applicants for aid are selected for verification; those selected will be required to submit documentation in support of their application and/or aid award. Please note that outside resources including tuition exemptions can affect other aid, including loans.
Early application for financial aid is definitely encouraged. The FAFSA should be mailed by February 15 for the fall semester and September 15 for spring semester entry. The Financial Aid Office will process applications throughout the school year for any available funds; however, qualified students who mail the FAFSA by the recommended dates will receive priority consideration. Students need to reapply for financial aid each year.
To qualify for assistance, a graduate student must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree program. Awards are calculated according to the student’s course load, whether half-time or full-time, by criteria established in the graduate academic regulations. Students receiving financial assistance will need to notify Financial Aid Services of any changes in their registration or enrollment status, and are advised to consult the Financial Aid Services promptly about any anticipated changes that might affect their aid eligibility. Only students who have received formal, degree-seeking admission to the university are eligible to receive university financial aid.
Students who withdraw from the university before 60% of the semester is completed will have their Federal financial aid eligibility recalculated in direct proportion to the length of the enrollment. The percentage of time the student remained enrolled is that student’s percentage of dispersible aid for the semester. A student who remains enrolled beyond the 60% point earns all aid for the period. Withdrawal is recorded by the Office of the University Registrar in accordance with UMass Dartmouth withdrawal policies. More complete information is available from the Financial Aid office or web site.
To qualify for federally funded programs (Federal Work-Study, Perkins Loan, Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loan), students must be citizens, or permanent residents, of the United States; have a valid social security number; be registered with selective service if required, and sign a statement of educational purpose.
Please note that financial aid funds are not disbursed to one’s account until after the drop/add period. If you are expecting a refund, you will not receive a check until late September for the fall semester and late February for the spring semester. Please plan accordingly.
Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid Eligibility
In accordance with Title IV Financial Aid federal regulation 34 CFR 668.34, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has established the following policy for evaluating the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) of Title IV financial aid recipients. This policy also extends to state and institutional financial aid programs and private education loan programs.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the measurement of a student’s academic progress toward their degree. SAP evaluates three components to determine eligibility for financial aid: qualitative measure (cumulative grade point average), quantitative measure (percentage of coursework completed) and maximum timeframe allowed for degree completion.
The review of a student’s SAP status is based on the entire academic record, even if the student did not receive financial aid for previous semesters of enrollment. In order to be eligible for financial aid, students must satisfy all components.
Graduate students must meet the following SAP criteria:
· Minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0
· Minimum completion rate of 67%
· Maximum time frame of 150% of defined program length for master’s degree and graduate certificate programs.
Completion rate is calculated by total earned credits divided by total attempted credits.
Earned credits include successfully completed courses (i.e. grades of A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-,C+, C, C-, D+, D, P, S) and transfer credits. Audited and remedial coursework not included.
Attempted credits include successfully completed courses (i.e. grades of A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-,C+, C, C-, D+, D, P, S), non-passing grades (i.e. grade of F), Incomplete (i.e. grade of I), withdrawn courses (i.e. grade of W), transfer credits and repeated courses. Audited and remedial coursework are not included in attempted credits or GPA.
Maximum time frame allowed is calculated by multiplying the published program length by 150 percent. Example: published program length of 120 credits X 150% = 180 credits maximum time frame allowed to complete degree requirements.
Evaluations and Notifications:
The Financial Aid Office evaluates SAP annually at the end of each spring term for undergraduates and graduates, or upon re-enrollment into the university. Students enrolled in a certificate program are evaluated at the end of each term. SAP is also reviewed at the end of each probationary period, if applicable to student. Students must be making satisfactory academic progress to continue to receive financial aid in a subsequent payment period, including summer term*. Financial aid applicants not meeting SAP standards will be deemed ineligible to receive financial aid and will be sent written notification to their permanent address recorded in the university’s system.
*Summer 2011 crossover period will be subject to the 2010-2011 SAP policy.
Financial Aid Termination:
Students that do not meet the university SAP standards are not eligible to receive financial aid. SAP status applies to financial aid eligibility and does not impact registration or academic standing.
Students who do not meet the minimum SAP requirements for continuance of financial aid have the right to appeal when special circumstances exist. Conditions when a student may appeal include death of a relative, injury or illness of the student or other extenuating circumstances.
To appeal, a student must complete the following;
1. Complete SAP Appeal Form. Student statement must include why the student failed to meet SAP and what has changed to allow student to meet SAP at the end of next evaluation.
2. Meet with Associate or Assistant Dean from his/her College or School to develop an Academic Plan. Both student and Dean’s Office representative (and Associate Provost for Graduate Studies where appropriate) must sign SAP Appeal and Academic Plan Form.
3. Submit both completed SAP Appeal and Academic Plan Form and supporting documentation to the Financial Aid Office for review.
- SAP Appeal Form, Academic Plan Form, and supporting documentation must be submitted prior to or during the semester in which the funds are needed.
- Appeal forms submitted for a specific term will not be granted for that term if the student has stopped attending that term or the student withdraws from all courses or the university while waiting for an appeal decision during that term.
- An appeal reviewed by the Financial Aid Office does not guarantee reinstatement of financial aid eligibility.
- All appeals are reviewed by representatives of the Financial Aid Office, with input from academic administrators when appropriate.
- Approved appeals will result in the student being placed on Financial Aid Probation (see financial aid probation section). Written SAP approval notification will be sent to the student’s university email account.
- Denied appeals will result in the student to be ineligible for financial aid. The student may enroll in coursework but will be responsible for payment of their university bill. Written denial notification will be sent to the student’s university email account.
Financial Aid Probation:
A student who fails to meet SAP and who has successfully appealed with the Financial Aid Office will be placed on Financial Aid Probation for one semester. During the Financial Aid Probation period, the student is considered eligible for financial aid. At the end of the Probation period, the Financial Aid Office will evaluate student’s academic record to determine SAP status.
Re-establishing Financial Aid Eligibility:
A student may regain financial aid eligibility by successfully meeting the university’s SAP policy requirements or successfully meeting the requirements of the established Academic Plan.
All SAP information is subject to change based on changes to federal law, regulation, or university policy and procedure. If changes are made, students must abide by the new policy.
Federal Perkins Loan
(formerly National Direct Student Loan)
The Perkins Loan is available to qualified students in any class at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Graduate students who clearly need financial aid for meeting educational expenses may be eligible for loans under the Perkins Loan program.
An eligible graduate student may borrow to a maximum of $5,000 per academic year or $30,000 in total, including any previous Perkins Loans. Payment of principal and interest on these loans is deferred until after withdrawal or graduation from the university. The loan carries a low fixed interest rate of 5% (subject to change).
Direct Stafford Loans
These student loans are government insured loans, which are either subsidized or unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are issued based on need, with no interest charged while the student is enrolled. Repayment starts after graduation or when a student drops below half-time at the university. Unsubsidized loans carry interest from the time of disbursement.
Generally, an eligible graduate student may borrow a maximum of $8,500 per academic year in subsidized Stafford loans, up to $65,500 in total including graduate and undergraduate subsidized loans. Amounts can be increased by the addition of unsubsidized loans. There are limits to the total debt you may have outstanding from all Stafford loans, undergraduate and graduate.
To be considered for Direct and FFEL Stafford Loans, students need to file the FAFSA.
On-campus part-time work opportunities are available in the various departments, offices, and agencies of the university. Some forms of employment are awarded based on demonstrated need, but others are available to any qualified student. In addition, the university can assist students in locating part-time work off campus. Although some work assignments are funded through moneys provided by financial assistance, the student work program is administered through the Student Employment Office (phone 508-999-8647).
Need-based student employment is available through the university’s participation in the Federal Work-Study program administered by the U. S. Department of Education. To be eligible for the Work-Study program, a student must be accepted for admission or be in good standing if currently enrolled. A student must have demonstrated need by submitting the FAFSA application, through the Office of Financial Aid. Approved students are guaranteed a certain level of work-study support but must still have the required personal qualifications and skills for the specific work-study assignment to be undertaken. The Student Employment Office handles the process of application and appointment to work-study jobs.
Non-need-based employment opportunities are provided through a variety of departmental part-time positions. These are positions offered by the academic or non-academic departments of the University to students who desire to work and meet the qualifications for the position but do not meet federal work-study financial need requirements. Information about departmental positions is available in the various departments and through the Student Employment Office, which handles the details of application and appointment.
Part-time employment may also be available in private businesses or homes, corporations, and industries in the area. The Student Employment Office maintains a listing and referral service for such positions.
Other Sources of Support
Special fellowships and scholarships of various sorts may be available through individual departments or through external sources. Departments have scholarship funds that graduate students may receive. Some fellowships and scholarships are available from governmental or private institutions and organizations, often for special purposes such as supporting research or enabling graduate students to study abroad.
Interested applicants and students should first explore opportunities that might be available in their academic department through faculty and administrators involved in research or service activities that might have opportunities for compensated graduate student participation. Then, it is advisable to spend time in the reference room of the university library, where standard information references can be found about external scholarship and fellowship sources. Finally, for certain types of programs, such as federally-funded programs, the University’s Office of Research Administration may be able to provide information and assistance with practical details in the application process (Foster Administration Building, Room 001; phone 508 999-8953).