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Types of Federal Financial Aid

There are two basic types of Federal Financial Aid available at Virginia International University to assist students with their educational expenses: grants and loans. Eligibility for the different types of financial aid may be based on financial need, program of study, and enrollment status.
To apply for Federal Financial Aid awarded by the Financial Aid Office, students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1 for the upcoming academic year. When you apply for federal student financial aid at VIU, you will be considered for the types of aid below.

The Federal Pell Grant is an award for undergraduates earning their first bachelor’s degree. Eligibility is determined by your expected family contribution (EFC) and your enrollment status. The maximum award for the 2017-2018 award year is $5,920. A minimum of 12 credits each semester is required to receive full eligibility, with pro-rated amounts for less than full-time enrollment. Students may receive a Pell grant for six years or the equivalent.

Undergraduate Full-Time Status: 12 credits (Fall, Spring, & Summer Semesters)
Graduate Full-Time Status: 9 credits (Fall & Spring Semester); 6 credits (Summer Semester)

For more explanation on full-time or less than full-time enrollment status, please see Federal Financial Aid Eligibility and Enrollment Requirements

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) This is a need based grant and is awarded to undergraduate students with the lowest EFC and receiving the Federal Pell Grant. The school is awarded a “pool” of funds and those are distributed to these students. Once the Student Aid Report is finalized from verification (if selected) then the FSEOG will be added to the students Award Letter. This grant in combination with other scholarships/grants/loans cannot exceed the schools COA. Students with the highest need (zero EFC) will receive the FSEOG award first. Students who have received a prior bachelor’s degree are not eligible for FSEOG.

The William D. Ford Direct Student Loan Program is the most commonly awarded student loan program offered through the federal government. Direct loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate-level students. If you are not in default on a prior educational loan, are enrolled half-time or more, and meet federal student aid eligibility requirements, you will be approved to borrow in the direct loan program. Types of direct loans shown below:

Subsidized Direct Loans: Interest-free loans, if you are enrolled at least half-time.
Unsubsidized Direct Loans: Loans that accrue interest while you are in school.  You may pay the interest on the loan monthly, or you may opt to let the interest accrue while you are studying.
Direct PLUS Loans: You must be a graduate or professional student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school in a program leading to a graduate or professional degree or certificate, or be the parent (biological, adoptive, or in some cases, stepparent) of a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school and do not have an adverse credit history.

Borrowing levels for the direct loan are based on the academic year and class level of the borrower. The following chart shows the annual and aggregate limits for subsidized and unsubsidized loans:

Year Dependent Students (except students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans) Independent Students (and dependent undergraduate students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans)
First-Year Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit $5,500—No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. $9,500—No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.
Second-Year Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit $6,500—No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. $10,500—No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.
Third-Year and Beyond  Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit $7,500—No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. $12,500—No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.
Graduate or Professional Students Annual Loan Limit Not Applicable (all graduate and professional students are considered independent) $20,500 (unsubsidized only)
Subsidized and Unsubsidized Aggregate Loan Limit $31,000—No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. $57,500 for undergraduates—No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.
$138,500 for graduate or professional students—No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.

Repayment of direct loans begins six months after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment status. The standard length of repayment is ten years, though you can defer payment by meeting certain criteria, such as: enrolling in school at least half-time, becoming unemployed, or experiencing economic hardship.

Entrance Counseling

The entrance counseling session is to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower and to review strategies for effectively managing student loan debt. Entrance Counseling is a requirement for all first-time loan borrowers of federal loans (Stafford, Grad PLUS).

Please note that you must complete the entire session once you begin. If you exit the counseling before completing the session and return later, you will need to start over from the beginning.

All first time borrowers must complete Entrance counseling prior to receiving loan funds. Students that have previously received student loans are highly encouraged to complete additional counseling but it is not required.   

Follow these instructions to complete the Entrance Counseling requirement:

  1. Visit studentloans.gov.
  2. Sign in using your FSA ID.
  3. Click on Complete Counseling.
  4. Click on Entrance Counseling.
  5. Work through the modules to complete the Entrance Counseling.
  6. At the end of the counseling, select VIU (code: 041440) to notify the Financial Aid Office.

Exit Counseling

Any student borrower that withdraws will be asked to complete exit counseling or be provided with exit counseling materials. The exit counseling session is to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower and to help you manage your loans.

Please note that you must complete the entire session once you begin. If you exit the counseling before completing the session and return later, you will need to start over from the beginning.
Follow these instructions to complete the Exit Counseling requirement:

  1. Visit www.studentloans.gov.
  2. Sign in using your FSA ID.
  3. Click on Complete Counseling.
  4. Click on Exit Counseling.
  5. Under Select Your Schools, select VIU and then click Add School.
  6. Complete the Exit Counseling session.

NSLDS Loan Servicer

You may use the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to review all of the federal student loans you have received. Your loan servicer is a company that manages the repayment services associated with federal student loans, assigned to you by the U.S. Department of Education. They will assist you with selecting a repayment plan, loan consolidation, and any other requests associated with your federal student loans. The contact information for each of your loans can be found by logging into NSLDS and clicking the link for the loan. It is important to contact your loan servicer if you are having difficulty making payments. For more information about loan servicers, you may visit StudentAid.ed.gov: Loan Servicers.