Financial Aid FAQ


What is the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the Department of Education’s application for determining a student’s eligibility for federal student aid.

Where can I find the FAFSA?

You can complete the FAFSA online at The FAFSA is a FREE application. If you are asked to pay a fee to complete the application, you are on the wrong website.

Do I need my parents’ tax information to complete the FAFSA if I live on my own?

If you are applying to graduate school, you do not need your parents’ financial information to complete the FAFSA.

When is the earliest I can complete the FAFSA?

Each year the updated FAFSA is available October 1.

What constitutes an academic year for federal student aid?

Simmons processes financial aid on what is called a Borrower-Based Academic Year (BBAY). This means that a financial aid year for the online program equals two terms.

What types of federal student aid are available to graduate students?

Graduate students can apply for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and the Federal Direct PLUS Loan. Learn more about types of federal financial aid here.

Will I need to fill out the FAFSA each year?

Yes, the FAFSA needs to be completed each year. Federal student aid eligibility does not carry over from one award year to the next.

Why am I not eligible for the Pell Grant or Direct Subsidized Loans?

The Department of Education only awards the Federal Pell Grant and Direct Subsidized Loan to students pursuing degrees at the undergraduate level.

What if I didn’t include my SSN in my application for admission? Will Simmons receive my FAFSA?

If you did not include your SSN in your application for admissions, Simmons will not be able to retrieve your FAFSA from the federal database. Please contact Student Financial Services via phone at 617-521-2001 to verbally provide your SSN or securely send us a copy of your SSN card so that we can verify your information and update your account.

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Direct Unsubsidized Loans

What is the difference between an unsubsidized loan and a subsidized loan?

Direct Subsidized Loans, also commonly known as Stafford Loans, are only available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The federal government pays the interest on the loan while the student is enrolled at least half time and during the six-month grace period. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need. Learn more about the difference between unsubsidized and subsidized loans here.

What is the aggregate loan limit?

Your aggregate loan amount is the total you can borrow across the course of your education. The aggregate amount for graduate and professional students is $138,500, which includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study. Learn more about aggregate loan amounts here.

How do I find out if I am near my aggregate loan limit?

You can go to to view your federal student loan borrowing history.

What is the current interest rate?

The current interest rate for Direct Unsubsidized Loans can be found here.

Do I have to pay my loans while I’m in school?

You are not required to pay on your student loans while you are in school as long as you are enrolled at least half time. At Simmons, half time for graduate students is considered 5 credits, and you cannot combine credits from other semesters in order to reach this status. You must be enrolled at least half time within in a single term. Your unsubsidized loan will go into repayment six months after you graduate, take a leave of absence, or fall below half-time status.

What criteria is used to determine eligibility?

In order to apply for federal student aid, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid SSN
  • Be registered with Selective Service, if you’re male (must register between ages 18–25)
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree program
  • Be enrolled at least half time (5 credits) in an eligible program
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Not currently be in default on previous student loans borrowed through FSA
  • Not have exceeded the maximum aggregate loan limit

The Direct Unsubsidized Loan (commonly referred to as a Stafford Loan) is not based on income or credit history. You can learn more about student eligibility criteria here.

Are there any additional loan fees? 

Yes, there is a current loan origination fee of approximately 1 percent of the total loan amount. The loan origination fee is deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. You can learn more about the origination fee here.

What if I am currently in default or have defaulted on a prior federal student loan?

Review your loan history at and contact your servicer for details on how to clear the default.

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Direct PLUS Loans

What is a Direct PLUS Loan?

Direct PLUS Loans are federal loans that graduate or professional degree students can use to help pay for education expenses. Learn about Direct PLUS Loans here.

How do I apply for a Direct PLUS Loan?

In order to apply for a Direct PLUS Loan, you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once you have completed the FAFSA, you can apply for the Direct PLUS Loan by completing the credit application at

What is the current interest rate?

The current interest rate for Direct PLUS Loans can be found here.

Do Direct PLUS Loans affect my aggregate loan limit?

No. Only Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans are used to calculate your aggregate loan amount.

When do I have to repay my Direct PLUS Loan?

Your Direct PLUS loan will go into repayment six months after you graduate, take a leave of absence, or fall below half-time status. You are not required to pay your student loans while you are enrolled in school as long as you are enrolled at least half time.

What criteria is used to determine eligibility to receive a PLUS Loan?

You are eligible if you are a U.S. citizen, enrolled in a graduate program at least half time, and have passed a credit check. You must first exhaust the funds in a Direct Unsubsidized Loan before getting a Direct PLUS loan.

How much can I borrow with the Direct PLUS Loan?

If approved for a Direct PLUS Loan, you can borrow up to the full cost of attendance as determined by Simmons University, less any other financial aid received.

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Military Benefits

How do I apply for military education benefits?

To begin the process of applying for eligible military education benefits, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

What documents are required to process military education benefits?

Visit to complete the Education Benefits Application, which generates a request for the Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Once approved for benefits, the VA will mail the COE to you within 6-8 weeks from submitting the application.  A copy of the Certificate of Eligibility must be provided to Student Financial Services by mail, fax or emailed to

What is the difference between active and non-active duty?

Active Duty is in the military full time and is not currently eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP). Non-Active Duty is someone who is not currently serving or no longer serving in any capacity of military service of the United states and is eligible for YRP if at 100% per the COE.

What are the eligibility factors for the Post 9/11 GI bill?

You are potentially eligible if you have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service after Sept.10, 2001, and are still on active duty, or if you are an honorably discharged Veteran or were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days, you may be eligible for this VA-administered program. Learn more about the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

What is the current tuition and fee payment rate, and Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA)?

The tuition and fee payment rate, and MHA are determined at the beginning of each military academic year on August 1st. The current rate table is located on the Education and Training page of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs site.

What is the Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP)?

The Yellow Ribbon program allows degree-granting private colleges and universities in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the VA to fund tuition expenses that exceed the annual maximum cap for the resident tuition and fees at public institutions. Veterans who are utilizing Post-9/11 GI Benefits and who are entitled to 100% of their benefit may be eligible. To participate in the Yellow Ribbon program, you must be using Post-9/11 GI benefits at 100% eligibility, not on active duty, and not a military spouse. There are a limited number of Yellow Ribbon awards available. Learn more about the Yellow Ribbon Program. 

There are a limited number of Yellow Ribbon awards available to Simmons College students. Please contact Student Financial Services for more information about this program.

Who can I contact at Simmons for questions about using Military Education Benefits?

For questions pertaining to financial aid for active-duty military service members and veterans benefits, please contact your assigned financial aid officer.

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Loan Repayment

When do I have to pay back my loan?

After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you will have a six-month grace period before you are required to begin repayment. Learn more about repayment timelines here.

Can I consolidate my graduate loans and my undergraduate loans?

A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to consolidate (combine) multiple federal education loans into one loan including both graduate and undergraduate loans. The result is a single monthly payment instead of multiple payments. Learn more about loan consolidation here.

What are the repayment plan options, and how do I select one?

Loan servicers offer a range of repayment options, including income-based repayment. Your servicer will contact you during your six-month grace period to select a repayment option. You should select your repayment option before your first payment is due.

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Simmons University Financial Aid

Are there any payment plans available?

Payment plans are available. If you are interested in setting up a payment plan for your tuition, you can sign up online with Tuition Management Systems® (TMS). If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your Student Account Representative. Their contact information is available at Student Financial Services.

How do my employers go about paying the school?

For more information about employer tuition assistance, please contact our Student Accounts office.

How are my loan funds distributed by term?

You can receive up to $10,250 of the Direct Unsubsidized Loan (commonly referred to as a Stafford Loan) per semester, including the summer semester.

Does Simmons require I complete any supplemental financial aid forms?

Yes, you must complete the Student Information Form (SIF) each year in March as the new financial aid year begins in May.

What is the minimum number of credits I must take to receive federal student aid?

You must be registered for at least 5 credits per semester to be eligible to receive federal student aid.

Do I have to pay my tuition deposit before I can receive my award package?

No, you do not need to pay your deposit in order to receive your financial aid package. However, Simmons’ financial aid office will not be able to provide an award until they have received both a FAFSA and a Student Information Form for the year. Please complete these documents at the same time you complete your application for admission.

Can I use financial aid to pay my deposit?

No, you cannot use financial aid to pay your deposit.