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This webinar features Robert Picariello, financial aid advisor for all of the graduate programs at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, discussing the basics of graduate financial aid, the types of financial aid available, the monthly payment plan offered by Northeastern, and tuition reimbursement that may be available through your employer.
Angela LaGamba: Welcome to Northeastern University’s financial aid webinar for online business programs. My name is Angela and I’ll be your moderator for today. Your webinar presenter is Robert Picariello. He’s the financial aid counselor for the D’Amore-McKim School of Business Graduate Programs at Northeastern University. I’m now going to hand it over to Robert to tell us more about financial aid. Go ahead, Robert.
Robert Picariello: Thanks, Angela. Like Angela said my name is Robert Picariello. I’m the financial aid advisor for all of the graduate programs here at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University and today during the webinar we’re going to go over a handful of topics including basics of graduate financial aid, the types of financial aid that is available, the monthly payment plan that the university offers, tuition reimbursement that you may have available through your employer, and we’re going to finish off with the student financial services department contact information.
So starting with basics of graduate financial aid I do like to go through some of the basic steps because sometimes students aren’t familiar with the federal financial aid process. The first thing that you need to do is file what’s called a FAFSA and the website is here, it’s very easy, www.fafsa.gov. It would also be the first thing that you could Google if you were to Google FAFSA. That stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and on that application you do need to list Northeastern University’s school code, which we have listed here as 002199. You can also search for us by city and state, so you would be using our main office, which is in Boston, Massachusetts and just looking for Northeastern University. But the quickest way to find us would be by our school code listed here.
All graduate students are considered independent and one of the important factors here is that students who may have had to fill out financial aid at the undergraduate level, they’re considered dependent students, but once you become a graduate student regardless of what your age is, you are considered an independent student and again, that doesn’t matter if you’re a younger graduate student or you’re coming back to school after a period of time in the workforce. You’re always considered an independent student when you’re in a graduate program. What this means is that you’re not required to provide any parental income information or signatures. The only information that we need is you as the student and you have the option to put your spouse’s information on there if you qualify in that scenario.
There are no federal grants available to graduate students. The majority, if not all, financial aid availability for graduate students do come in loan programs, which we’ll talk about in a few minutes. And there are a couple of rules of thumb for federal financial aid for graduate students that we’re going to go over.
Students must always be enrolled in at least six credits in a given term to be eligible for federal financial aid. In the online business programs here at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, each full semester is broken up into three smaller modules. So you’ll have, for example, in the Fall you’ll have Fall 1, Fall 2, and Fall 3. Over the course of those three modules that consist of the full fall semester, you must enroll in at least that six credit minimum throughout the course of that entire semester. So a lot of students sometimes will take classes in all three sessions, but for the most part you would have to get to at least six credits in either two of the three sessions or across all three depending on which classes you’re taking.
And then one of the important factors I like to list at the end is all communication regarding billing and financial aid is completed through your Northeastern email address, which you will be provided with once you enter the program. And this is important because sometimes students are managing multiple email addresses at the same time, whether it’s personal or for work, but we are – obviously you’re going to be a graduate student here at Northeastern, so we do all of the communication through that email. It is very easy to forward this email to something you regularly use if you need to.
So we’re going to talk about the types of aid that is available for graduate students first. The main source of financial aid through the FAFSA program is the federal unsubsidized Stafford loan. This loan is – the maximum is $20,500 per academic year, and most graduate students in the online business programs here will qualify for that amount. This loan comes with a fixed interest rate and the loan origination fee that is taken off the top of the loan by the Department of Education. So what this means is that the Department of Ed does charge a small fee to use their loans. So while the gross amount that you receive might be $20,500, the net amount does come in a little lower than that. This loan does accrue interest while you’re in school, however, there is no credit check required to apply. The only requirements for this loan are you need to be a US citizen or permanent resident, and you need to be enrolled in that six credit minimum like we talked about on the last line.
In addition to this loan, there’s another federal student loan program that graduate students can access and that’s the federal graduate PLUS loan program. This loan can be used to borrow up to you total cost of attendance less your other aid. What that means is if your $20,500 loan does not cover everything that you are looking to have covered, and that was the maximum that you received through the FAFSA, you can apply for this graduate PLUS loan which can help with the costs that go above and beyond that over the course of the academic year. This also has a fixed interest rate and a loan origination fee that is taken off the top by the Department of Ed, similar to the Stafford loan. Interest accrues while you’re in school.
However, there is a credit check required for this loan. This is not the same as applying for a mortgage or applying for a car loan, but the Department of Education is running a credit check to make sure that the student may not have previous federal loans that are in a delinquent status or something of that effect and just making sure that you do not have any larger credit issues. I mean if it’s something where you’re a little unsure about your credit score or something like that, I would still encourage you to apply for the graduate PLUS loan if it’s something that you’re planning on using to finance your education.
This does require a separate application which is available through the MYNEU student portal. We offer the PDF on our financial aid website as well, and the easiest way to get this done, though, is through MYNEU student portal, it’s a link and it’s done completely electronically and it’s only two pages and very easy to complete.
The current federal interest rates and fees can be found at studentaid.ed.gov. These are rates and fees that adjust once per year. The interest rate is fixed from July 1st through the following June 30th, and the loan origination fee is fixed from October 1st through September 30th the following year. So, those occurring fees can be found on the studentaid.ed.gov website right there.
In addition to federal loans, there are also private student loan lenders that do offer student loans to graduate students as well. There are multiple lenders who all have different terms and fees and these can vary depending on the lender that you decide to use. These terms and fees are becoming more and more comparable with the federal rates, so I would definitely urge you to take a look at the financing options that we provide on the Northeastern website with the link available here. So, on the Northeastern website if you were to just go to our financing screen, we do have a list of commonly used lenders that students at Northeastern will generally use. And a lot of these may line up with some accounts that you may have in other aspects of your life like a car loan or a mortgage or a credit card. So if you already have a relationship with a private lender and this is the route you are looking to go, this might make sense to take a look at prior to figuring out what type of loan you’re going to use to finance your education.
We do also offer the Double Husky Scholarship. The Double Husky Scholarship is a 25 percent tuition discount for students who have a degree from Northeastern already. So if you are a Northeastern alum and you’re looking to come back and do your graduate work at Northeastern as well, and you’re looking at the online business school programs, whether it’s the MBA, the MS in Taxation, or the MS in Finance, you do have the ability to access this Double Husky Scholarship which will allow you to get a 25 percent tuition discount. More information can be found on the Double Husky website of Northeastern, but the gist is if – the thing to remember is the 25 percent discount off of tuition only.
We also offer the monthly payment plan. So the monthly payment plan is something that is administered by a third party called Higher One. The company Higher One administers monthly payment plans for multiple universities as a third party vendor, and this plan is completely separate from using a student loan program. So this isn’t a loan, this is a way for you to break up the payments for the semester over the course of a period of time.
Enrollment in the monthly payment plan can be set up via a checking or savings account. Unfortunately, Higher One does not accept credit cards as a form of payment for the monthly payment plan. These plans come interest free. However, a $35 fee is charged per semester upon enrollment. And some information and deadlines can be found on the Higher One tuition pay website.
One of the things to keep in mind is that this is not a long-term payment plan, so these payment plans offer assistance to break up the costs of an individual semester. So, for example, if you were looking to break up the fall payments, you would have the ability to break up your fall payments over the course of a fall semester which generally runs from September through December. So it is a way to break up a few payments, especially if you’re only going to be taking one class at a time. It could be an avenue that students may want to take a look at or use in conjunction with another form of payment.
Lastly, for forms of payment and financing, I’d like to mention tuition reimbursement because this can be a big perk depending on your employer’s rules and regulations and what they offer. So there are a couple of different ways that we generally see tuition reimbursement used by a student. The student if they’re getting paid – if the employer is going to be paying Northeastern directly, which is the more rare case, the student must provide Student Financial Services with a written statement of intent to pay by their employer no later than the end of the first week of classes. This is a standard sheet that we can provide to your employer where they fill it out promising to pay regardless of the grade or anything else that the student may have to reach. In the next bullet it does say if there are stipulations associated with the payment agreement, such as a minimum grade requirement, then the student must pay the university first and then they would be using their reimbursement funds to do exactly that, to reimburse themselves.
The other way, the more common, is the tuition reimbursement that’s paid directly to the student. So the student would still be responsible for paying their bill prior to the billing due date. Tuition unfortunately cannot be left unpaid pending a reimbursement at the end of the semester. A lot of the times employers will require the student provide a grade and a certain grade would then trigger the reimbursement and at that point at the end of the semester the student’s bill would definitely have been due at that point. So, again, can’t leave the bill unpaid towards the end of the semester.
But we do have a plan for students who have 100 percent tuition reimbursement with or without a grade requirement and I would recommend reaching out to me for further instructions on that because the students with 100 percent tuition reimbursement we do understand they’re kind of stuck depending on whether it’s a grade or not. We want to make sure they can access that funding source and we do try to help them out. So if you happen to be in a situation where your employer will cover the entire cost of your tuition, but they won’t do it until the end of the semester, reach out to me here in the financial aid office and we can take a look at your individual circumstance.
Speaking of reaching out to me, here is the Student Financial Services contact information. Like I mentioned earlier, our main office is located in Boston, Massachusetts. So if you’re not a local student, obviously the main office may not be as helpful, but if you need to send anything to us or fax, mail, anything like that, our main office is found here on the Northeastern website you can also look up all of our hours and things like that, but we’re going to go over that as well.
The graduate financial aid office has its own phone number, so if you’re looking to reach out to me or anybody else in the graduate financial aid office, we’re located at 617-373-5899. And you can also send a general email at any time to our email address here, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re looking for just billing information or have a question about billing and payment and you’re not someone who may be looking at financial aid, but you’re just looking for questions about your bill, we do have a dedicated line for that as well. That is 617-373-2270 and our billing office can be reached at email@example.com.
Our office hours here in Boston are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., so we can be reached via phone or in person if you’re local during those hours. Again, my name is Robert Picariello. I’m the financial aid counselor for all of the graduate programs in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business including all of the online programs. My email address is fairly simple. It’s my first initial dot last name so it’s firstname.lastname@example.org. I can also be reached at the phone number 617-373-5899 here in the grad financial aid office. If I happen to not be the one answering the phones at that time, just feel free to talk to one of our staff or they can get you in touch with me directly. And I thank you for your time.
If you have any questions regarding any of the topics that we went over today, I would encourage you to shoot me an email or give me a call. I’m happy to answer anything, even if you’re not a live student at this time, if you’re still in the application process, or if you are still making personal decisions on what’s the school you’re attending or what kind of financing you’re looking for, I’m happy to answer any questions whether you’re a deposited student or not. So feel free to give me a call, and again, thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.