The Financial Aid Office at Fitchburg State University is committed to providing an affordable education for every student admitted to the school. The University adheres to the basic premise that the student and family are primarily responsible for meeting university costs. Financial aid is available to assist with the educational expenses that remain after the family’s resources have been taken into account.
Financial aid funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, according to demonstrated financial need. In order to receive priority consideration, students must file:
- The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with the federal processor by March 1*
- Any additional information needed to complete an applicant’s files by May 15
Applications are accepted and processed after the priority date listed above. Late applications will be reviewed on a funds available basis.
*The FAFSA may be filed online at www.fafsa.gov.
Please remember that financial aid is not automatically renewed. It must be applied for each year.
Student loans are long-term, low-interest loans, which come due only after graduation, withdrawal from the university, or upon less than half-time enrollment. To apply for the loans indicated below the FAFSA is required. Once students are awarded a loan or loans, additional paperwork may be required.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan Program
- The federal government does not make interest payments on behalf of the student
- Interest on the loan accrues once the loan is made
- The interest payments can be deferred or paid while the student is in school
- Repayment begins six months after the student leaves school, drops below half-time enrollment, or graduates
For information on other educational loans, interest rates, eligibility standards, and requirements, applicants should contact the Financial Aid Office.
Eligibility for Financial Aid
Determining Financial Need
Although Fitchburg State University does not set the standards to measure financial need, the Financial Aid Office will help students and their families with the process of applying under federal and state guidelines. No student should assume that they are ineligible for financial aid. All students, regardless of family income, are encouraged to apply.
A student’s financial need and financial aid eligibility is based on careful review of the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Financial need is based on the difference between expected educational costs and the family or student contribution toward those costs.
Educational costs vary according to the individual circumstances of the student, and include such items as tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, and personal expenses.
Family or student contribution is determined by the federal formula known as Federal Methodology, which factors in such items as income, assets, number in household, and number in college. As a result, the amount of family contribution may vary, even between households having approximately the same income.
Student Financial Aid Budgets
A student’s financial aid budget is based on their own cost of education, which includes both direct and indirect expenses.
Direct expenses are paid by the student to the university, including tuition, fees, and room and board (for on-campus students). These expenses are set by the university and the Commonwealth.
Indirect expenses are those over which the student has some control, including books, supplies, transportation, personal/miscellaneous, and room and board (for off-campus students). These expenses are based on estimated costs for students at Fitchburg State University.
*Estimated budget for a graduate student carrying six credits each semester for the 2017-2018 school year is:
*Not all students will spend exactly these amounts. Budgets will vary depending on enrollment status.
Students are awarded financial aid based on their total budget. When the money for a student’s financial aid is actually received at the university, it is first used to satisfy the student’s direct expenses. Once a student’s bill with the university is satisfied, the balance of their aid is available and may be used to satisfy any indirect expenses the student may have.
Students should plan to start the semester with enough money for books and at least the first two month’s rent (if living off campus). Financial aid refunds will not be available to cover these expenses.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Recipients of federal financial assistance, including most loan programs, must make satisfactory academic progress toward their degree. Both your cumulative grade-point-average (qualitative) and your attempted credit hours (quantitative) factor into satisfactory academic progress.
At the end of the spring semester, student records are reviewed by the Financial Aid Office to determine which students are not maintaining satisfactory academic progress. Notices are sent to students informing them of their ineligibility for financial aid. If notification of a change in academic standing is not received from the student (including incomplete grade reports and summer session grades), it will be assumed that SAP is not being maintained and the student will be ineligible for financial aid.
- Satisfactory academic progress is also checked when students return from a period of non-enrollment, including recent withdrawals.
- Satisfactory academic progress may be checked at other times during the year, as prescribed by specific federal, state or institutional funds.
All undergraduate students must be maintaining the appropriate cumulative grade point average according to the following:
|60 or more
Graduate students must be maintaining the minimum GPA required by their department’s academic policy. No graduate student GPA may fall under a 2.0.
In addition to qualitative standards as outlined above, students must progress through their program in a timely manner (not to exceed 150% of the published length of the academic program and/or 180 attempted credits). Undergraduate full-time day, part-time day, undergraduate evening and graduate students must successfully complete 67% of all credit hours attempted toward their degree program.
- Courses graded W (Withdrawn), I (Incomplete) and F (Failure) are counted as credits attempted but not successfully completed.
- Courses dropped before the published add/drop date each term do not count as credits attempted.
- Transfer credits accepted toward the degree program are neutral for GPA and are counted as credits attempted and completed.
- Repeated courses are counted as credits attempted. Financial aid may be received only once for a repeated course in which a grade was previously earned.
- Credit elimination (academic amnesty) courses are counted as both quantitative and qualitative components.
Students may submit a letter of appeal to the Vice-President for Student Affairs. If circumstances warrant, a student may be granted a one semester probationary period, during which s/he may continue to receive financial assistance. The Dean will develop an academic contract detailing the terms of the probationary period. At the conclusion of the probationary term, students must have met the terms of the contract and/or regained satisfactory academic progress in order to receive financial aid in subsequent terms. Students will not be granted more than one probationary period. Once the student has begun the enrollment period for which the probationary period has been granted, the probationary period is official and cannot be cancelled or deferred.
The appeal letter must be generated by the student and must include the following:
- Basis of the appeal
- Death of a relative
- Injury or illness of the student
- Other exceptional circumstance
- Why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress
- What has changed in the student’s situation that will allow the student to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress at the next evaluation
Students must submit the appeal letter prior to any review being conducted by the Vice-President for Student Affairs.
Financial aid awards will be based upon the availability of funds at the time of appeal approval. All requests must be processed prior to the end of the term for which the student is appealing.
Students may attempt to make up credits or improve their grade point average through enrollment in winter or summer session classes. (Aid will not be offered for these terms.)
It is the responsibility of the student to officially notify the Financial Aid Office of any changes to their academic standing. (For example, credits transferred in from another institution, the completion of incomplete grades, and the completion of summer session classes need to be brought to our attention.) Aid cannot be awarded until this official notification is received.
Students who have been denied financial aid because they were not making satisfactory academic progress may again receive aid the semester after regaining satisfactory academic progress.
Return of Title IV Funds
Refund policy for students who receive federal financial aid.
This refund policy applies to all full-time and part-time students enrolled at Fitchburg State University who are receiving federal Title IV financial aid and withdraw from all classes.
This policy is mandated by federal regulation.
This policy deals only with the percentage of aid that is earned by a student. Charges incurred by a student who withdraws from the University are determined in accordance with the Institutional Refund Policy.
All financial aid recipients that wish to withdraw from the university must do so by contacting the Financial Aid Office. The official date of withdrawal for this policy is the date that the student begins the official withdrawal process or the date that the student officially notifies the university of their intent to withdraw.
Refund of federal Title IV financial aid will be based on the date a student completely withdraws from the university as described above. During the first 60% of the semester, a student earns Title IV funds in direct proportion to the length of time that they remain enrolled. A student who remains enrolled beyond the 60% point earns all aid for the semester.
The percentage of the semester that a student remains enrolled is derived by dividing the number of days that a student remains in attendance by the number of days in a semester. Calendar days are used, but breaks of at least five consecutive days are excluded from both the numerator and denominator.
Unearned federal Title IV aid other than federal work study must be repaid by the student in the following order:
- Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan
Other Title IV Financial Aid
Students must repay 100% of unearned loans according to the terms of their promissory note. 50% of unearned grants must be repaid within 30 days of withdrawal from the university.
An example of the Return of Title IV Funds Policy is available in the Financial Aid Office.
It is very possible that a student who receives federal financial aid and withdraws from the university will owe a balance to the Fitchburg State University Student Accounts Office and may be required to repay funds to the U.S. Department of Education. Students considering withdrawal from Fitchburg State University are advised to contact the Financial Aid Office.
The Financial Aid Office corresponds with Fitchburg State University students via mail and e-mail. Mail will be sent to a student’s permanent address during the summer and to their campus mailbox, if applicable, during the school year. E-mail will be sent to a student’s fitchburgstate.edu e-mail address throughout the year. It is the student’s responsibility to monitor their mailbox and e-mail accounts.
Aid for Veterans
Fitchburg State University strives to meet the needs of our veterans by providing services and information necessary to support their educational goals. Prospective and current students may receive guidance by visiting our resource web page at www.fitchburgstate.edu/veterans.
U.S. veterans are entitled to certain financial aid benefits at Fitchburg State University for undergraduate degree programs. While all veterans are urged to keep informed about benefits available to them through the Veterans Administration, they should contact the Registrar’s Office to establish eligibility for such benefits. The Registrar’s Office will provide the veteran with an Application for Benefits or the Change of Place of Training Form, whichever is applicable. Along with an application, the veteran needs to provide the following documents for the Registrar’s Office:
- a DD214 Form notarized by a veteran notary
- a marriage certificate, if applicable
- birth certificates for each dependent child, if applicable
All veterans, whether or not exempt from paying tuition, must pay all fees.
For more information on veterans education benefits write to:
Department of Veteran Affairs
JFK Federal Building, Government Center
Boston, MA 02203
Some veterans from Massachusetts are entitled to attend Fitchburg State University on a no-tuition basis.
Additional information may be obtained from:
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Department of Education
1385 Hancock Street
Quincy, MA 02169
Or call the hotline at (800) 827-1000.
Graduate and Continuing Education Scholarships
Fitchburg State University has several scholarships available to graduate students. These scholarships are administered by the Graduate Scholarship Committee or by the appropriate area representative. The online scholarship application is available at www.fitchburgstate.academicworks.com and is open beginning September 1 each year, running through the Friday of President’s week each February.
Graduate Assistant Program
A limited number of Graduate Assistantships are available at Fitchburg State. Current and entering graduate students are eligible for these positions that waive both tuition and fees for fifteen semester hours of graduate course work and also earn a stipend amount up to $8,900. Qualified students apply and secure a position with the Department before securing final approval from the Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education.
Students seeking appointments to graduate assistant positions must be accepted to a graduate degree program. Newly accepted graduate students must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better. Current graduate students must have a graduate GPA of 3.5 or better. Two letters of recommendation attesting to their work history are required.
Once a position with a department has been secured, a complete application including the following documents must be submitted to the Graduate and Continuing Education Office for the Dean’s review:
- Completed application for Graduate Assistantship
- Letter of recommendation from Department.
- Current Resume
- Two letters of recommendation in reference to candidate’s work history (letters from prior managers/employers)
- Unofficial transcript (available on Web4)
Load and Academic Requirements to Maintain Assistantship
- Graduate Assistants must carry a load of six semester hours of graduate work per semester (Fall & Spring) in their program, which is considered full time. Under load or over load must be petitioned to the Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education.
- Graduate Assistants must maintain a GPA of 3.5 in their academic work.
- Graduate Assistants are required to work 20 hours per week for 43 weeks, which is considered a full-time work schedule.
- Graduate Assistants are not allowed to secure a second position on campus.