Preparatory Coursework

Federal Reference: 2018–2019 FSA Handbook Vol. 1 pp. 1-5–1-27, 1-88–1-91; and Vol. 3 pp. 3-108, 3-124; and Code of Federal Regulations Title 34 CFR 685.200(f)(6).

A student may apply for a Federal Unsubsidized Stafford and/or Graduate PLUS Loan for coursework the school has documented as necessary for him/her to enroll in an eligible graduate level program. The courses must be part of an eligible program otherwise offered by the school. If enrolled at least half-time (six credits) in these prerequisite courses, the student is eligible for loans for one consecutive 12-month period beginning on the first day of the loan period.

A graduate student may borrow up to $12,500 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans if he/she is taking preparatory coursework required for full admittance into an approved graduate degree program. Breakdown of the loan limits for graduate/professional coursework is as follows:

  • Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized = $5,500**
  • Additional Direct Unsubsidized (for independent students and dependent graduates whose parents are unable to receive a PLUS loan) = $7,000**

** Loan limit is not prorated if the coursework lasts less than an academic year. See Volume 1, Chapter 6, 2018–2019 FSA Handbook for more information on FSA eligibility for this coursework.

To be eligible for loans under this exception, a student must be taking prerequisite classes for at least half-time admission into a graduate program. If the student is only taking these classes to raise his/her GPA in order to be admitted, he/she will not qualify.

The ability to borrow funds requires that the student has not reached undergraduate loan limits for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. Additionally, student financial aid cannot be used twice to pay for the same coursework (except as required by law for failed coursework). For example, student financial aid cannot be used to pay for a course designated as undergraduate coursework, then again for the same coursework designated as graduate level. In all cases, the coursework taken must lead to a degree in the enrolled program of study.

Eligibility for a federal student loan may be granted to a student for up to one calendar year if he/she is enrolled in coursework required to meet prerequisites for admission into a degree program.

Note: Please be aware that financial aid is awarded based on a student’s enrollment status and degree/course agreement for the declared program of study.

English as a Second Language (ESLI Courses): Financial Aid Eligibility

Reference: 2018–2019 FSA Handbook Vol. 1, Ch. 1, p. 6

ESLI courses, if taken as part of an approved academic program and have credit equivalencies, are eligible courses for financial aid purposes and aid will be awarded to cover tuition costs for these courses. ESLI courses taken when a student is enrolled in an ESLI program are not eligible for financial aid.