Need-Based Financial Aid
One major source of funding for students comes from "need-based" financial aid, which may be in the form of grants (which do not need to be repaid) and loans (which must eventually be repaid after leaving the university).
Need-based financial aid is available to U.S. citizens. Students must demonstrate financial need through the federal government's FAFSA system.
Need-based aid is typically determined and funded by the federal government and requires applicants to be certified by the University as having income and asset levels that fall within certain limitations.
Current federal regulations classify virtually all graduate students as independent of parental support unless they are claimed as dependants on their parents' federal income tax return. For independent graduate students, parental income is not considered in determining need and eligibility for federal financial aid programs.
For students who have been working, salary in the year before entering graduate school is the basis for determining financial need. A percentage of that salary has to be considered as an asset available to the student to pay for graduate school expenses.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education provides descriptions of the various types of programs offered for graduate and professional students.
Students may also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center toll free at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) to obtain needed information.
The Department Education provides a free Student Guide booklet containing general information on financial aid, including student eligibility, financial need, dependency status, and how to apply.