2020 Student Financial Aid Services Webinar

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Associate Director of Graduate Aid Robert Picariello discusses the basics of graduate financial aid, the types of financial aid available, veteran assitance, and tuition reimbursement that may be available through your employer.


Robert Picariello:

Hello and thank you for joining me for the Graduate Financial Aid Presentation here at Northeastern University. So this is from Student Financial Services and we’re going to be talking about some financial aid topics here.

My name is Robert Picariello, I’m the Associate Director of Graduate Aid here at Northeastern University, so myself and my staff we support all of the graduate students at Northeastern with their financial aid questions and other assorted topics that have to do with your bill and financing options and things of that nature and throughout the webinar here today we are going to talk about all sorts of different types of topics and also provide some contact information so let’s get to it. The webinar topics for today are going to be basics of graduate financial aid, the types of aid that are available,  some other financing options, tuition reimbursement here at Northeastern, so that’s going to talk about if you are working with your employer they’re going to be providing funding for your education, some tips for navigating the process and then at the end we’ll provide our Student Financial Services contact information like phone numbers, email addresses and important information like that.


So first talking about basics of graduate financial aid. The first step for financial aid as a graduate student would be to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and that’s the FAFSA and you do that on studentaid.gov. You can also google FAFSA and it’s usually the first thing that pops up. The FAFSA is academic year-specific so depending on when you’re starting the program that will dictate which FAFSA you have to submit. For example if you’re starting in the fall semester you would be using the newest version of the FAFSA that is available. So right now the FAFSA that is available is the 2020 – 21 FAFSA for students who are starting in fall 2020. The academic year always begins in the fall and ends at the end of the summer so students in this program would be going fall and spring then summer that’s the academic year. This is an online application where you need to set up an what’s called an FSA ID – so that’s your federal student aid ID. It’s just a username and password like any other website you would be using.  Northeastern has its own school code so if you’re sending your FAFSA to Northeastern or if you’re sending it to multiple schools you can send the FAFSA to either one school or a bunch of schools at the same time, Northeastern’s  school code is 002199 or you can search us by city and state which is Boston Massachusetts and we would pop up that way as well. Graduate students are considered independent so what is important about that is that you do not need anybody else’s information on the FAFSA other than your own. So regardless of whether you live at home if your parents are helping with your education or vice versa you do not need to put any parental information on the FAFSA even if you are still living in that household. Another important factor for federal financial aid is that students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits in a given term to be eligible for this type of aid funding so in the program the MBA program through Northeastern each semester consists of three smaller modules and in parentheses here I put Fall 1, Fall 2 and Fall 3 you’ll learn more about that with your academic team and as you progress through the program, students must be enrolled in at least six credit hours over the course of an entire term so if you’re taking classes in each of those mini modules you’ll likely get to that six credit minimum but if you’re only going to be taking one or two classes throughout the semester and maybe taking one of those modules off, that is something you’ll have to keep in mind if you want to qualify for federal student aid. You will have to get to a minimum of six credit hours, And each class ranges from one and a half to three credits so you’ll have to work with your academic advisor on making sure if you’re planning on using federal financial aid they are also eligible for it  based on your schedule.


The types of aid available – First I always start with institutional scholarships. So these are awarded by the Academic department up front usually up with your admission decision so in this program the scholarships that are available are a Double Husky scholarship so if you’re in northeastern alum and you have a previous degree of any kind from Northeastern you can qualify for the Double Husky Scholarship which is a 25% scholarship off of tuition. We also offer the Parent and Family scholarships so if you have a child or a sibling who is currently an undergraduate student at Northeastern you can qualify for a 25% Parent and Family scholarship. And then lastly we have something called the Full Circle scholarship so this is another 25% scholarship if you have been involved with the Peace Corps or you have English learning and teaching backgrounds that that will all be determined upon admission in that is also a 25% scholarship. There’s more information on the Northeastern University financial aid webpage about those three scholarships if you want to take a look at those after the fact.


When you file your FAFSA if you are a US citizen or permanent resident you can qualify for up to twenty thousand five hundred dollars per academic year in what’s called the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan.  This loan comes with a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan so when you apply for FAFSA whatever academic year you’re using the loan for, each year has its own interest rate and that is the rate for the life of that specific loan. If you’re here for multiple years and you borrow loans in multiple academic years, there could be different interest rates for each loan but that all has to do with which FAFSA you’re applying for, what academic year you’re in so that’s pretty standard for all domestic students across the board. There is an origination fee that is assessed by the government. It’s right around 1% so the Department of Education will send the funding to Northeastern on your behalf and we will apply it to your account but they do take one percent off the top before they send it to us. The interest does accrue while you’re in school with this loan but there is no credit check required so filing the FAFSA and as long as you’re not in student loan defaults or have hit your maximum lifetime aggregate federal loan limits you will qualify for this source of loan funding. Some other financing options so after you file your FAFSA, after you see if you qualify for a scholarship, the only other federal option is called the Graduate PLUS Loan. The Graduate PLUS Loan is a loan that you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance less your other aid. So if you have filed a FAFSA, you’re receiving that twenty thousand five hundred direct unsubsidized loan and you need more funding on top of that to help cover the difference between that number and maybe your personal needs based on your schedule and maybe other expenses that’s what your cost of attendance is, so your cost of attendance can include tuition, living allowance, and other types of books and supplies, other types of things that are not directly tuition-related and you can borrow for those things using this Graduate PLUS Loan if you would like to keep all of your loans federal. Same deal with this loan – there’s a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan and also an origination fee assessed by the government before they send the funding over. The interest does accrue while you’re in school on this one as well but the caveat with this one is that they do provide a credit check so they are going to do a credit check. What they don’t do is they’re not looking for the same types of things if you were applying for a mortgage or car loan or anything like that they want to make sure that you haven’t defaulted on a prior student loan before, that you don’t have any big ticket items like a bankruptcy or court lien, or a judgment or anything like that so if you are in good standing with prior student loans and don’t have any big-ticket credit items you should be able to qualify for this Graduate PLUS Loan. If you decide not to go with the federal loan programs or if you just happen to you know if you have an existing relationship with a company who does private student loans as well and you would like to work with that lender you do have the option to just apply directly with the lender for the private student loan. These lenders are going to have their own credit checks in their own interest rates based on your credit history. While I’m not allowed to recommend one private student loan lender over another I do try to tell students if you have a credit card through a company or you have a bank account through a company who also does private student loans, they would be somebody I would start with because they likely want to keep you with a double customer so they may give you some advantageous rates or perks for looking into private student loans with them. If you’re not interested in loans and you have the ability to pay but you may need to break it up over a period of time, we do have a monthly payment plan option that does not come with any interest. There’s a sign-up fee each semester. The fee currently is $35 per term. You can sign up either by term, you can sign up for the year, you don’t have to sign up any semester that you don’t want to, but this can be an option if you do have the ability to pay over a series of months rather than all upfront before the semester starts when the bill would be due and for more information on these programs and all of our financial aid options if you go to our website is studentfinance.northeastern.edu and you can check out all of the billing payment financing options and it’s all right there. Again if you google Northeastern University Financial Aid we’re the first thing that pops up.


A couple of other financing options I wanted to mention which may only impact certain individuals, we are a school that participates in VA benefits for veterans so there’s a wide variety of options including post 9/11 GI Bill and we are a Yellow Ribbon school. There’s a certification process that’s required and we do have a team of staff who are dedicated to servicing veteran students so if you have additional questions or would like to speak with our Veterans Services team they can be reached at nuvets@northeastern.edu and they would be happy to help you with setting up your VA benefits if you do qualify for them and are trying to get them applied.

Lastly, I like to mention that we have a link to outside scholarships. So sometimes these will take a little bit of digging where you might have to put in some personal information or you might have to put in some you know background information or career goals things like that on our website again studentfinance.northeastern.edu there’s some information about outside scholarship opportunities.

I wanted to mention tuition reimbursement as well because the students in our MBA program will often have tuition reimbursement options with their employer. So there’s usually two different types of tuition reimbursement policies at different companies and I try to go through each individually. So first would be if the tuition is going to be paid to Northeastern directly from the employer if this is the case your job wants to send money directly to Northeastern it doesn’t come to you first 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 class.  While we say the end of the first week of class I would usually try to get in and before the semester begins so it’s all set up before you start, but there is a deadline by the end of the first week of class. If there are stipulations such as a minimum grade requirement, oftentimes employers will want students to get a specific grade before they will pay, the student cannot push the bill off at that point students must pay the university directly in that situation and would need to use the reimbursement funding to reimburse themselves. The other common type of tuition reimbursement program is a program that is paid directly to the student in this case the student would be responsible for paying their bill prior to the billing due date the bill for each semester is usually due right around the first day of class so if you’re going to be getting reimbursed after the semester is over because you need to submit grades or you have to submit some other form of information to your employer, you would have to make sure your bill is due in advance and they use the reimbursement funds to reimburse yourself. Tuition may not be left unpaid pending reimbursement from your employer. The one caveat to this –  if a student has 100% tuition reimbursement with no cap, so let’s say you work for an employer and they’re going to be covering the entire cost of your degree however they want to make sure your grades are at a sufficient grade level before providing you with the funding, contact our office and we’ll have our contact information at the end and we may be able to discuss your individual situation and work that out for you.

Lastly I just try to talk about some tips for navigating the process. We don’t want students to make assumptions so if you have questions if you’re not familiar with the financial aid process definitely ask us that’s why we’re here even if it’s just shooting an email or giving us a call we can certainly help you out with a quick question or if it you know want to go over something deeper we’re happy to do that as well. When applying to the program and applying for financial aid try to use contact information that will likely be stable. So if you’re coming from another undergraduate program and you’re going to be… you still use that school email address I would try to recommend not using that if you have a permanent email address try to use that one instead because you never know if your prior school email will get shut down or it will change. We’ve run into situations where students are using their prior institution’s email and then it gets shut off If you can use a permanent mailing address rather than one where you may only be living somewhere temporarily this happens if you are maybe not as often in this program but sometimes the students are moving closer to the to the actual campus just for a short period of time we try to if you have a permanent mailing address use that address for all of your mailings that will come from the school. Not that we mail a ton of stuff but if we needed to, we would be able to get it to the correct address. It likely won’t be the biggest deal within this program but that’s just something to keep in mind. And once you have a Northeastern University email address so once you’re a student and you’ve applied and your email address is activated, make sure to be checking that regularly because your official emails from the financial aid office and most other offices on campus are going to go to that Northeastern email address once it’s activated. Go back through this presentation if you get a chance. I’m trying to keep it as short as possible so you can do your research and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are running into issues with filing the FAFSA or you have a quick question about the process at any point please feel free to contact myself and my team and we’re going talk about how to do that on the last slide here.


So the Student Financial Services contact information, our main office if you happen to be in the Boston area and the majority of the students who are doing this program they’re online and could be taking the classes from anywhere but if you’re located nearby once our office reopen, we’re located on the main campus at 354 Richards Hall. Like I said our web address is studentfinance.northeastern.edu. The financial aid office can be reached by phone at 617-373-5899 and I also provided the student accounts and veteran services emails and phone numbers here as well. Student accounts is for specifics to billing and when you need to pay a bill, how you can pay a bill that may not be specific to financial aid. All financial aid related questions would come to the financial aid office. I put the veteran services here like I said if you have any specific questions about VA benefits. Our office hours are Monday through and that’s Eastern Standard Time. The D’Amore- McKim School of Business has a dedicated graduate financial aid counselor, her name is Mona Daly and she can be reached at mo.daly@northeastern.edu She’s one of my staff so if you have any questions she would be your primary point of contact and I would be able to help out as needed but Mona is great she’s been here for a long time and she can certainly answer all of your financial aid questions. I just want to take a moment to thank everybody for giving their time to listen to this webinar and please feel free to give us a call or shoot us an e-mail or contact our office however is convenient for you if you have any questions. If it’s something that we didn’t cover in this presentation and you have a question about that we’d be happy to answer to the best of our abilities or get you in touch with whoever may be the primary on that specific topic but please let us know if you have any questions and thank you for attending! Have a good one.