Financial Aid FAQ
What does “gift aid” mean?
Gift aid refers to any financial aid that is not required to be paid back. Scholarships and grants are both types of gift aid.
What is the difference between merit and need-based aid?
Merit aid is based on academic performance. Most merit aid at Ursinus is offered through the Office of Admission at the time of a student’s acceptance. Need-based aid is determined by filling out the FAFSA.
Will I receive the same financial aid each year?
As long as an award is not specifically indicated to be “one-time,” it will be reviewed for renewal in subsequent years. The following conditions will need to be met for renewal:
- Merit aid: students can receive their offered merit aid for up to 8 semesters (fall and spring only) as long as the student maintains full-time enrollment and meets Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
- Need-based aid – Institutional: Institutional need-based aid, including, but not limited to the UC Fund, is renewable for up to 8 semesters (fall and spring only). Students must maintain full-time enrollment status, meet SAP, and demonstrate financial need based on the results of their FAFSA each year. If a student’s FAFSA demonstrates decreased financial need in subsequent years, institutional need-based aid may decrease.
- Need-based aid – Federal: Federal need-based aid, including, but not limited to the Pell grant, is renewable for up to 150% of the student’s published program length (this typically means approximately 6 years). Students must meet SAP and demonstrate financial need based on the results of their FAFSA each year. Students are not required to be at full-time status to maintain Pell grant eligibility, but grant amounts will vary based on the number of credits being taken. Pell grant amounts are set annually by the US Department of Education.
- Need-based aid – State (Pennsylvania): PA state need-based aid is renewable for up to 8 semesters. Students must meet SAP and demonstrate financial need based on the results of their FAFSA each year. Students must be enrolled at least half-time, but grant amounts will vary based on the number of credits being taken. PA State Grants are determined annually by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).
- Federal Direct Loans: Federal Direct Loans are available to students who are enrolled for at least 6 credits, meet SAP, and file a FAFSA each year. Amounts are determined based on the student’s number of completed credits. Aggregate lifetime limits of federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans are based on a student’s dependency status, and, in some cases, the ability of a student’s parent to borrow a Parent PLUS loan.
Do I have to use the loan on my offer letter?
No. Students who complete a FAFSA are automatically reviewed for a federal Direct Loan. We include these loans on the offer letter to show that they are an available resource, but it is up to the student if they wish to borrow it.
If I borrow the loan, when will I need to start repaying it?
Students borrowing a federal Direct Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized Loan(s) will begin repayment 6 months after they cease to be enrolled in a program at least half time (known as the grace period). At Ursinus, this means a student must be enrolled for at least 6 credits and working toward a degree. For most students, the grace period and subsequent repayment will begin following graduation, withdrawal, or a leave of absence.
How will I know how much I need to repay?
We highly encourage students to keep track of their borrowing while they are in school. Students borrowing federal loans can monitor their loan balance by visiting www.studentaid.gov. The median indebtedness at Ursinus College over a four-year period for federal student loans is $27,000. The average monthly repayment for this amount is approximately $278.00 for 120 months (10 years). You can also use FSA’s student loan simulator for an estimate. Students borrowing private loans should check with their lender for payment estimates.