Kimberly: We look forward to giving you some information over the next half hour, so I’m going to turn it over to Meghan Petsko. Meghan is our associate director for financial aid. Meghan is going to speak to the processes and the details for both the online MBA and the master’s of science in analytics programs. That will be about a half hour, and then we’ll open it up for questions. You’ll see there’s a chat at the bottom of the screen. I do ask if you have questions to just hold those until the end because this is a pretty comprehensive session, so Meghan will cover a lot of information. And then at the end of the session if you have questions, we’ll open up the chat and ask you to jump on then. Without any further ado, I’ll turn it over to Meghan Petsko.
Meghan: Okay, thank you very much Kimberly. Welcome everyone, this is the first webinar that we’re doing for the online programs, so I’m just going to switch this to the next slide to give an overview of what we’re going to be talking about today. Like Kimberly said, I am the associate director for graduate, part-time, and online students in the office of financial assistance. I think this is something that makes Villanova very unique and I’d like to mention, so that you know that there is a person in the financial aid office who is specifically dedicated to graduate and online programs. That means that
I know more about how your programs are set up, the credits that you’re going to be taking, and can hopefully give you some better counsel along the way if you decide to use financial aid as a financing option. Today the things we’re going to cover – the types of financial aid that are available, which as you can see, are in the form of loans – both federal and private educational loans. We’ll talk about key reminders that you’ll need to know for the program, as far as your financial planning. And then planning ahead – you may not be looking to use financial assistance may be this coming term, but in future terms if you’re interested, we’ll handle that as well.
Okay, so we’ll get things started with how you begin the process. The process is the same if you’re in the online MBA or the MSA, so there aren’t any different steps depending on which program you’re interested in. You’ll see at the top of the slide that we don’t give you a hard deadline of when to apply by. This is done on purpose. Financial aid for graduate student is awarded continuously throughout the academic year. Our suggestion is that you do apply certainly before the start of your semester. I would say a good rule of thumb of applying is about a month before you begin your first term or the first term you’re looking for financial aid. That way that gives us enough leeway to put your financial aid in place before that term begins. But you may find that you’ll start your program, and maybe you’re paying out-of-pocket or maybe an employer is helping you with some of the costs upfront. Later in the semester, maybe you find out “Man, I really do need some financial assistance.” If it’s, say, October, you can still apply for financial assistance at that point in the term. It’s not that you have to have it in August or January. It can be later in the term. I do like to stress that so that you know there’s assistance throughout your program, not just at the start.
To apply for financial assistance, the very first step is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is FASFA.gov. You’ll see on your screen. This is going to take you about I would say 25 minutes, 23 minutes is the national average. You’re going to use your 2014 tax information, so have that at hand.
You also need to know what’s in your checking and savings accounts as of today. But otherwise it’s really just collecting some demographic information from you. You’re graduate student, so it’s not like we’re going to be looking for parental data or anything like that. To sign the FASFA, you now have to apply for a federal student aid username and login, which is similar to how you would set up online banking – your username and login. If you’ve done a FASFA before, you may remember that you used a four digit pin number to sign the FASFA. As of May this year, federal student aid phased that out. They moved to the username and login because it’s a more secure way of signing the FASFA. So when you set that up obviously want to keep that moving forward for future years.
The next step in the process is our one-page graduate student supplemental loan application. This is found on our website. You would print it out. When you printed out, it’s three pages. But the one page is all that you need to return to our office. On there, again, we’re going to collect some demographic information, which program you’re in. But most importantly, we’re trying to gauge how many credit hours you’re looking to take this year and how much of a loan you’re going to need to borrow. That’s where my office can help you with trying to determine that amount if you’re not sure yourself. Or you’d reach out to the school of business to find out maybe what your plan for this year as far as credit hours go. Step four, entrance counseling and signing on master’s promissory note. These are one-time requirements that you’ll need to do in order for the loan to disperse to Villanova. The graduate-plus loan that you’ll see here, this would be if you need a loan above and beyond the primary direct unsubsidized loan. I think we talked about that in another slide. And then you’ll see me mention this a few times – checking the My Nova student portal. When you become a student at Villanova, you’ll get access to the My Nova student portal. There’s a lot of things you can do from this portal. Look at your grades, look at your registration, but also look at your financial aid, in your financial aid requirements. We have a link down here at the bottom for FAQs. They were designed specifically for the online student, so I really recommend checking them out or printing them out to have at a later time because they are going to be a great resource for you along with this webinar.
Talking a little bit more about the loan options – the first loan that’s available for graduate students is the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan. This loan has an annual maximum of $20,500 per year. That is a standard limit set by federal student aid. Right now you’ll see it has occurred interest rate of 6.21 percent. The rate is set every July 1, so since we’re close to July 1 this will be changing. However, we aren’t told yet what is going to be. The rate is tied to the Treasury bill, and so it’s expected that it supposed to be lower but we haven’t been giving any guidance yet. We’re still using the 6.21 percent. Then you’ll see that there’s an origination fee applied. The origination fee is subtracted from the loan before it ever disperses to Villanova.
That’s with the Federal Loan Services are keeping as their fee for servicing your loan. Repayment doesn’t begin until after graduation or departure from the program; however because this is an unsubsidized loan, interest does begin to accrue upon disbursement. So you’ll see that once you have been awarded a loan from Villanova and once it has dispersed, you’ll get communication from your federal loan service letting you know who they are, how to contact them, and then you can always check in to see what interest is accruing there and what will be capitalized to the principle upon your departure from the program.
We have this year – the loan has to disperse equally between the fall in the spring or between the summer, fall, and spring if you’re entering the program and borrowing again next year. We can’t make unequal disbursements between fall and spring. I know it might sound silly, but when we tried to create unequal disbursements, we’re then sent the loan back and it is rejected. So we have to keep the same amounts between the semesters – even though that may mean that your credit hours aren’t the same. That’s something that we see in our campus programs as well. Unfortunately that’s not something we can change with the loan. Okay, just to give an illustration of how this would look – this is the maximum loan amount applied for fall and then the same amount in the spring.
And then talking about the Direct Graduate Plus Loan – this loan is a secondary option if the unsubsidized loan of $20,500 wouldn’t cover your costs. It would really depend upon how many credit hours you’re taking a semester. If you’re taking a full-time load of credit hours, then you may need to seek a secondary loan option, like the Graduate Plus loan. This has a higher rate, as you can see – also the higher origination fee. That’s something you would need to carefully think about as a secondary option because that fee – it’s a higher origination fee. This does require a credit check. It’s not as involved as the credit checks you’ll find with a private educational loan. They’re looking for adverse credit history when this is done. They’re not looking at income-to-debt ratios or anything like that. That’s done online when you apply. Repayment can typically begin 60 days after the final disbursement; however, as we have here, you can defer payments while you’re enrolled and six months after – like the unsubsidized loan. But it would be something you would need to speak to the servicer about. Then we have a link here about looking more into repayment and consolidation upon graduation.
Private educational loans are an alternative to both the federal loans we discussed. Many students may seek this loan as their secondary loan option. What you’ll find with private educational loans is that they will offer variable and fixed rate loan options versus just the fixed rate option. It depends upon
the student about what works best for you as far as repaying the loan back. Some students, if they’re only borrowing a small amount of a private educational loan, they will take the risk of a varied loan option. Others want the safety of a fixed rate. It really depends on the student. We have a lot of information about private educational loans on our website. We actually have a third-party platform, where you can compare private loan products side-by-side. That’s where I always counsel students to begin, to look side-by-side and see – what is the best loan option for you? And then of course if you have questions, you would reach out to our office.
Now employer reimbursement, a lot of our students who seek MBAs are going to get some resources from their employer. It may not cover your full costs of course with the program, but it’s certainly a resource for you. You can combine this with borrowing federal direct loans. At Villanova unfortunately, there is no policy that you can defer payments until the end of the term when your grades are in. You do have to pay for your bill up front, so I do want to mention that here. That is not a financial aid policy. It is going along with billing, so I want to mention that. You would have to plan financially to pay for the bill upfront. Then if your employer reimburses you at the end of the term, you could then either pay back the loan you borrowed and make a payment on your loan, or you may decide to cancel the next disbursement and user employer reimbursement to pay for the spring. For example, if you’re starting with us in the fall and your grades are in in December and you’re given your employer support, after that you may then opt to decide to pay toward your January bill, or you may make a payment to your loan. You can certainly reach out to me. We can discuss that. There are interest calculators that you can use as a resource to determine what may be the best for you. Again, it’s really the student’s decision to see what works best.
Okay, so for some key reminders, as I’ve already reinforced about using a combination of the employer reimbursement with loans. And then when planning for the upcoming academic year, trying to keep a realistic monthly budget in hand to avoid any unnecessary borrowing. You may find that you’re going to need the loan perhaps for the fall, but maybe in the spring you have other resources at hand. We don’t want you borrowing just for the sake of it of course. If you need to borrow for books or something like that in addition to your tuition, that’s an option available to you, and we can help you with figuring out may be an additional amount you need to borrow beyond your tuition.
And then resources – again, as Kimberly mentioned, this is going to be recorded so you can come back to this webinar. These links – I think you can just click right on them because they are hyperlinks. Yes, they are. We have the pin site here. This will take you to where you would create your federal student login and user name, we get the forms for our office. The studentloans.gov site is where you would apply for the Graduate Plus loan and also complete those direct loan requirements that I mentioned and how to look up financing options on our website as well.
For planning ahead, as I say here, everybody’s circumstances and situation is different. We can certainly set up a phone appointment and talk about what your resources are, what you’re thinking as far as how long this program will take you. We encourage students reaching out to talk about their individual financing plans. My contact information is here at the bottom. That’s my direct email. And then the number for office – please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any specific questions that you may want to ask one on one. That’s fine. I think that’s our last slide, so I’m going to go back to the resources screen. Yes, as Kimberly just reminded me, if you want to start asking questions we’re here and we can answer them live. Thank you.
Meghan: Okay, and Kimberly just said if you do have a question, you can type it right into the chat box. Then I can answer it live on the webinar.
Meghan: Okay, so we have our first question and it’s a good one. How long does it take to notify a student of a financial aid package if everything has been submitted? This is a great question. For a side of things, we need the FASFA in place. We need the supplemental form in place, and then the student also needs to be registered for their upcoming term. So when we have all three of those things, then we’re able to produce a financial aid package. Typically if the student has all that done about a month before the term – for example, is when we’re going to be starting for the fall semester. So I would say it’s usually like about a two-week turnaround after you’re registered because that’s what triggers the process for us to get your financial aid package. We may complete things a lot earlier on our side of things, but until you registered we can’t get it started. I would say it’s about a two week process. Right now we’re beginning everybody for the fall semester because we’ve completed all of our summer requests for financial aid. Then we will award fall through
August or September. It’s just an ongoing basis.
Another question we had was – financial aid requirements to maintain your financial aid. That’s a good question. Each year we have to measure academic progress for our graduate students, undergraduate students – anyone is receiving financial aid at Villanova. To maintain your financial aid eligibility, you do need to keep a 3.0 cumulative grade point average. This is in line with the academic standing requirement with our colleges here at Villanova. You also need to complete the courses you’re attempting in a year. If you’re attempting courses and then finding you need to withdraw from some of them due to other circumstances in your life – things will happen – that can count against academic progress. When that happens, the colleges and I will work together – along with you – to create possibly an academic plan so that you can regain your eligibility for financial aid. There is a waiver process, an appeal process to that standing. The two criteria are the 3.0 cumulative GPA and then completed the courses you’re attempting in the year.
Meghan: Okay, another question we have is – “When would financially disperse?” – which is also a good question. For the online programs, financially disperses after the add-drop period has ended. That’s for not only our programs in the school of business, but in the other colleges as well. We have this policy because we have found that in an online program, you may change your mind about your course and want to drop, and if financial aid has already disperse, that can cause a problem with what you’re borrowing. So we wait until after add-drop is over, and then financially disperse. However your bill will likely come out and show that it has a due date that’s earlier than financially does disperse it. The bursar’s office is aware that we’ll not disperse funds until after add-drop is over. What they’re looking for is to make sure that financial aid is in place and it covers your bill in full. Let’s say, for example, if your charges are $15,000 and you have a $10,000 loan disbursement, they understand the loan disbursement will be coming in when it is set up to. They’re going to want to look for that $5000 outstanding balance from you. That’s the part that they’re going to be concerned about. So it is something, like I said, that we do for all of our online programs, but it is after the add-drop period, which is one week into the term.
We have another good question. “Can you cancel or stop your financial aid if you believe you do not need it anymore? If so, are there any penalties associated with doing that?” You can’t stop your financial aid. You can always cancel a future disbursement before it has paid. That is something we do all the time. You would email us in writing and say “I don’t want my upcoming spring disbursement,” and that would be canceled before it even pays to Villanova. If financial aid has already dispersed, you have 30 days to then decline it. After that 30 days, we would not be able to cancel it on our side.
What happens is after financially disperses, the bursar’s office sends those students an email letting you know about that 30-day window. So within 30 days, if you notify us that you’re going to be paying with other means and do not want the loan, we would then return it to the loan servicer for you, and there wouldn’t be any penalties along with that.
Meghan: Just because I haven’t mentioned this earlier, I want to say it now and cover it now – as I mentioned, we rollout financially packages on an ongoing basis. When you are awarded financial aid, you will be sent a notification from the office of financial assistance that goes to your Villanova account. I stress that because you would want to get into the habit of checking your Villanova email regularly. Even if you have it set up for forwarding to your own personal account, I’ve heard from other students that if you don’t go in and clean out your Villanova email, it will fill up and then it won’t forward anymore. You do still want to log into your Villanova regularly. Now if you and I are conversing or you’re conversing with somebody in my office, we will exchange emails from whatever email you’re using. But the official notification from my office will always go to your Villanova email. When you get the email from our office, it’s going to give you instructions about how to navigate the My Nova portal to login into your notification. It will be there for you throughout the year so that if you want to go back and check and see what you’ve received, you’ll be able to see that there. It will also list for you any outstanding requirements. For example, if you send us your FASFA, but you didn’t send the paper application to us yet, you’ll be able to see out there that it’s outstanding. We will send you incomplete notices letting you know that you started the financial aid process, but you haven’t finished it. We have links there for the outstanding requirements, too, so that you can see – if entrance counseling is missing, you can click on the link to complete it.
It will be a good tool for you. You would want to get used to the My Nova portal, since that’s where you’re going to see the majority of your information.
As far as reapplying for financial aid, you have to reapply every year, so you would apply for fall-spring this year. That would cover the 2015-16 year.
Around April of next year is when you would reapply for the summer. Now in the summer, since that starts the year at Villanova, we do have to check your fall and spring grades first before we receive the financial aid. That’s something I usually mention. But you do only have to reapply once a year. Also something I didn’t go over earlier but I can mention now – even if you’re not looking to borrow a new set of direct loans or more financial aid, if you borrowed in your undergraduate degree and you’re coming back to school – as long as you take at least three credits a semester, you are eligible for in-school deferment on those previous loans. That something that our registrar’s office would help you with as far as the enrollment notification to your servicer, but I put that out there as well. Even if you have a separate plan in mind for financing – if you’re thinking you want those undergraduate loans to go into deferment, as long as you stay three credits, which we call have time, you are eligible for that in-school deferment status.