Preparatory Coursework

Federal Reference: 2020–2021 FSA Handbook Volume 1, Chapter 1 pp 5–7; Volume 1, Chapter 6, pp 105–106; Volume 3, Chapter 5 pp 125–126; and Code of Federal Regulations Title 34 CFR 685.200(f)(6)

A student may apply for a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford and/or Graduate PLUS Loan for coursework the school has documented as necessary for them 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 the student 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, 2020–2021 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 their GPA in order to be admitted, the student 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 for up to one calendar year (one consecutive 12-month period) if the student is enrolled in coursework required to meet prerequisites for admission into a degree program. In order to be offered federal student loans for preparatory coursework, students must complete a Preparatory Coursework Form with the academic department chairperson, or other departmental designee, and submit the completed form to the Office of Financial Aid.

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 (ESL Courses): Financial Aid Eligibility

Reference: 2020–2021 FSA Handbook Vol. 1, Ch. 1, p. 1–9 plus Code of Federal Regulations Title 34 CFR 668.20; Title 34 CFR 668.8(j); and Title 34 CFR 668.32

ESL 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. ESL courses taken when a student is enrolled in an ESL program are not eligible for financial aid.