MD Financial Aid Handbook 2016-2017

FINANCIAL AID HANDBOOK 16-17

Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Tara Olsen, Assistant Dean
Tanya Jean-Francois, Associate Director; Caseload MD Students A – G
Jeffrey Welch, Assistant Director; Caseload MD Students H – O and all Grad students
Kara Martin, Assistant Director & Financial Literacy Coordinator; Caseload MD Students P–Z
Valarie Marchese, Financial Aid Coordinator

Appointments are encouraged, walk-ins are always welcome.

Philosophy:

The intent of the financial aid programs at TUSM is to assist students with meeting any shortfall that exists after a maximum effort has been made by the student and his/her family to pay for school related costs.   While the Office of Financial Aid will make every effort to assist those with financial need, students and their families bear the primary responsibility for financing their medical education.  Like most other U.S. medical schools, TUSM requires the disclosure of parental financial information in order to be assessed for institutional scholarships and/or institutional loans, regardless of marital or family status.  Students who are 38 years or older are not required to submit parental information in order to be considered for institutional assistance.  Students who wish to only apply for federal Title IV funding such as the Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and/or Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loans are not required to submit parental information.

The financial aid award package is determined after an extensive review of all available resources as detailed on the FAFSA and verified through supporting documentation. Financial aid packages may consist either entirely of loans or in the case of those that have documented substantial financial need, a combination of loan and scholarships. Students are required to apply for financial aid annually, therefore, changes in marital status, increases to income, decreased number of family members and/or those in college,  and change to assets may impact your eligibility in future years.

Financial Aid advisors are available to answer questions and to provide assistance.  Although staff can answer routine questions on a walk in basis during office hours, you are encouraged to make an appointment if you would like to meet with your financial aid advisor at a particular time.

Who May Apply:

Students whose cost of attendance exceeds their family resources are encouraged to apply for financial aid.  To be eligible for financial aid, the applicant must be:  1) accepted or enrolled in a degree-seeking program at TUSM on at least a half-time basis, 2) meeting standards of academic progress, 3) a citizen of the United States or an eligible non-citizen  4) NOT in default with prior student loans, 5) if male, you must comply with requirements of Selective Service Registration and 6) have no prior drug convictions during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving Title IV aid. Students are required to apply for financial aid each academic year and eligibility is determined for all financial aid programs available. New students are encouraged to apply as early as possible; please do not wait until you are accepted.
 

Application Deadline:

The priority deadline for having financial aid applications complete for the 2016-17 academic year is March 25, 2016.  To meet this deadline, the following documentation must be received by March 25th:

• Processed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
• TUSM Financial Aid Application

The FAFSA takes approximately 10 days to process and is available to complete as of January 1st.  Students may request a paper FAFSA from the website if they are not comfortable completing this online.  Students should visit www.fafsa.ed.gov to complete this requirement. 

Please note: If student was married as of the date the FAFSA was filed, the student must submit their spouse’s taxes even if they were filed separately.

Students who are interested in applying for institutional funds, in addition to federal programs, must submit the following documentation by March 25th.  If parents are divorced, please submit the following information for both parents:

• Processed Free  Application for  Federal  Student  Aid  (FAFSA) complete with parental information
• Signed copies of all pages of student’s AND parents’ 2015 Federal 1040, including schedules and W-2s
• TUSM Parental Information Form
• Current mortgage statement, home equity statement, and/or secondary mortgage statement (if  applicable)  showing  outstanding  principal  balance  due  at  time FAFSA was filed.

*Please note: Students who are 38 years or older are not required to submit parental information to be considered for institutional assistance.

Files completed after the priority deadline will be reviewed after all on- time applicants. There may be a delay in the receipt of funds and/or students may not receive any or all institutional aid they would have otherwise been eligible for. Students will still be expected to meet all tuition payment deadlines even if they have not received a financial aid award notice by those dates. Consequently, late applications may also cause a delay with disbursements and/or refund checks being issued. Award notices are mailed out beginning in April.

Loan eligibility may not be originated after the last day of classes. Students who are applying for financial aid late into the semester (within one month of the last day of classes) should contact the Office of Financial Aid to confirm that adequate time is available to process the request.

Renewal of Aid:

Students must complete a financial aid application every year if they wish to receive financial aid.  Components of students’ aid packages may change from year to year due to changes in financial circumstances, late applications, changes in program regulations, and/or funds available. Financial aid is never guaranteed from year to year. 

Types of Aid Available:

Loans (federal and institutional)
Institutional Scholarships
Federal Work Study funds

Budgeting Information:

Students must budget monies for the period of time before their financial aid funds are received and a refund can be produced from their account.  As a guide, students should have three months of living expenses readily available in order to secure an apartment, to assist with moving expenses and/or to purchase books/supplies.  Refunds from excess financial aid will not be issued until the student has matriculated and begun their studies for a particular year, all paperwork has been completed, and all financial aid funds have actually been received.  First time borrowers must complete an entrance interview before loan proceeds can be disbursed to their account.  Entrance interviews should be done online at www.studentloans.gov.

All federal awards are disbursed once per semester in two equal payments.  If students are attending both the fall and spring semester, they will receive half of their total award each semester.   The Office of Financial Aid attempts to have loans disbursed during the first week of classes each semester if all paperwork is received in a timely fashion. 

It is critical that students budget appropriately in order to understand the funding necessary for covering expenses each semester.  This can only be accomplished if students have created a budget to determine funds necessary on a monthly basis.  Refunds should be deposited to a savings account and monthly transfers to a separate checking account should be scheduled in advance so students are not tempted to overspend.  Semesters vary in length so students need to plan accordingly and understand how many months the funds are intended to cover.  Summer semesters are not considered when a student is not enrolled (i.e. summer between 1st and 2nd year of studies). 

Please be aware that the Academic Year is defined as the following and monies should be budgeted appropriately to cover the periods below:

MD1: August – May  Disbursements typically occur in August and January
MD2: August – June  Disbursements typically occur in August and January
MD3: July – June  Disbursements typically occur in July and January
MD4: July – May  Disbursements typically occur in July and January

Please remember that loans must be repaid with interest.  It is to your advantage to keep expenses and borrowed amounts as low as possible.  These are your future earnings that you are pledging.  Keep careful records of your loan portfolio, be an educated consumer and take ownership of the process from the very beginning to attain financial wellness.

Refunds:

Refunds result when the actual funds that have been credited to your account exceed your charges.  A provisional credit is notification of a loan or scholarship application in process and cannot be used as a refund.  Refunds will not be granted before the funds are actually received, eligibility has been confirmed, funds have been credited to the student’s account, all necessary documents have been processed and the student has begun enrollment in the semester that he/she is being paid.  Students are encouraged to sign up for e-refunds to expedite the process.  STUDENTS SHOULD CONTACT THE BURSAR'S OFFICE WITH ANY QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO THEIR REFUND.

Financial Aid Advances/Emergency Loan/Emergency Funds:

Financial aid advances may be available once a student’s financial aid application is complete and provisional credits appear on the student account but no sooner than 30 days before the semester begins. Advances are requested through the Office of Financial Aid.  A student may request up to the lesser of the future expected refund or $1500.  The student’s account will be charged and their future refund will be reduced by the amount of the advance.  Advances are not available for those who do not have pending financial aid to cover such requests and they are not available to students until they have officially matriculated. The Assistant Dean of Financial Aid has the discretion to make final approval or denial of all such requests.  

The Felice Voss Emergency Loan Fund has been established to temporarily assist students who, due to circumstances beyond their control, require a short term emergency loan ($1500 maximum). Students must have a method for repaying the loan funds within 90 days of receipt.  This program is NOT designed to assist students that have been tardy with their financial aid applications or those who are having trouble securing loans due to credit issues.  An emergency loan is not available to students until they have officially matriculated. The Assistant Dean of Financial Aid has the discretion to make final approval or denial of such requests. 

The TUSM Emergency Fund has been established to assist students who are faced with catastrophic or emergency events that result in an unexpected hardship which requires short-term immediate financial assistance.  The Financial Aid and Scholarship Committee will review requests to determine which funding, if any, is available to be awarded based on the unique circumstances the student is faced with.  This fund is only available to matriculated students with unforeseen, emergency circumstances.  The Financial Aid and Scholarship Committee have the discretion to make final approval or denial of such requests.

Withdrawal:

If a student completely withdraws from school during a semester and before 60% of the semester has passed, federal regulations require that a school determine the percentage of any federal aid received that is earned. The amount of aid earned is calculated by multiplying the total net amount of federal aid for the semester, by the percentage of the term for which the student was enrolled before withdrawing.  If the amount of aid earned is less than the amount of aid already disbursed to the student, a repayment may be required. If the aid disbursed was used to pay institutional charges (i.e. tuition), the portion of the unearned aid will be repaid by TUSM in the order prescribed by federal regulations; first to Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, then to Federal Perkins Loans, then to Federal Direct GradPLUS Loans.

Please note that your tuition liability remains as described above, according to the TUSM Refund Policy. If federal loan money used to pay tuition must be returned to the Department of Education according to the federal regulations, then any balance due remaining on the student’s account becomes the student’s responsibility. The student is responsible for repayment of any unearned living expense money from federal aid advanced before the withdrawal.  If the total amount of this repayment comes from loans, then the student may make this repayment under the original terms of the loan. If the institution is required to return loan proceeds, this will likely result in a balance owed to TUSM.  The student is expected to make immediate payment on any outstanding balance owed and will not be able to continue their studies if a balance exists. Students should make financial arrangements with the Bursars Office immediately upon withdrawal.  Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information on this policy.

Students should meet with their Financial Aid advisor if they are considering withdrawing to determine the effects on their federal loans.  Students would be required to do an exit interview online at  www.studentloans.gov

Frequently Asked Questions:

I'm financially independent from my parents.  Why does TUSM ask for my parents' information?
When  determining  federal  Title  IV  eligibility,  all  medical  students  are  considered independent.  Only the student's (and spouse's if applicable) financial information will be used to determine need for federal loan programs.  Since institutional funding is limited, parental information is used as a way to determine the family's ability to pay for the student's educational expenses.  It allows the Office of Financial Aid to consider all families in an equitable fashion, as the same need analysis formula is applied to all families consistently.  A parent contribution will be calculated regardless of marital status and financial dependency, unless the student is 38 years or older when determining eligibility for institutional aid.  If parental information is not provided or files are not complete by the priority deadline, students will only be considered for federal funds.

Should everyone file financial aid applications with parental information?
We encourage all first time financial aid applicants to file with parental information in order to determine the extent of possible assistance available from the family.  The potential parental/family resource is used to rank each student in order of consideration for institutional and some Title VII low-interest loans and scholarships.  If you did not qualify for financial aid as an undergraduate, do not assume that you will not qualify for financial aid as a medical student.

What is the maximum amount of institutional scholarship a student may receive? 
No individual scholarship will exceed a value equivalent to 75% of MD tuition and no student may receive a combination of multiple scholarships, from any source, that exceeds the value of 100% MD tuition.  Externally funded scholarships are considered when determining the total scholarship eligibility for institutional funding.  Students are encouraged to disclose outside scholarship awards as early as possible to avoid having their institutional scholarship reduced later in the year.  

How do outside scholarships/ loans impact a financial aid package?                              Federal law clearly states that a financial aid recipient may not receive funds from any source in excess of the cost of attendance.  If funding not originally reflected in the financial aid package causes an over award, we may be required to reduce institutional, federal, and/or private loans as not to exceed the cost of attendance. 

Students who are notified that they will be receiving outside assistance once their initial eligibility for institutional assistance has been determined will have their aid eligibility recalculated when the Office of Financial Aid has been notified.  This may include reducing institutional loans and/or scholarships at the time of notification, regardless of the time of year.  Students are encouraged to disclose outside scholarship awards as early as possible to avoid having adjustments made to their financial aid award later in the year.  

Students who receive an outside scholarship after aid eligibility has been determined and awards have been accepted will have their loans reduced dollar for dollar upon the receipt of an outside scholarship in order to reduce indebtedness, i.e. scholarships will be considered to replace loan funds.  If an over award does NOT exist and students still have room within their budget, they may always request additional funding. 

In addition, the Office of Financial Aid will also review students who are recipients of institutional scholarship funding that receive subsequent outside scholarship awards.  If it is determined that the total amount of all scholarship resources exceeds the value equivalent to 100% of MD tuition, institutional scholarships will be adjusted.  Tufts University School of Medicine will not provide institutional scholarship funds for any student  that exceed a combined total equivalent to 100% MD  tuition value regardless of the source of funding.

How does the Office of Financial Aid determine financial need?
Once a student has been admitted to TUSM, their financial aid advisor reviews their completed financial aid application. Financial aid advisors determine a student’s Total Family Contribution (TFC) when determining eligibility for institutional aid by assessing the student’s (and spouse’s if applicable) and parents’ taxed and untaxed income, assets (including home equity), and family information. The calculated TFC is then subtracted from the appropriate Cost of Attendance (COA), a figure that includes direct (billed costs like tuition and fees) and indirect (unbilled expenses such as housing and personal expenses) that students incur during their enrollment.  What remains is the student’s demonstrated financial need.

The need is reduced by any outside assistance the student expects to receive (i.e. private scholarships, military assistance, etc.) and the remaining financial need is further reduced with a standard loan component. After the standard loan component is added to the award AND if the student has any remaining need, they are considered for institutional assistance.  If students file after the priority deadline, institutional assistance would be offered only after reviewing all on-time applicants and only if funds remain available. The maximum amount of financial aid that a student is eligible for will be summarized on the Financial Aid Notice (FAN) they receive but will never exceed the Cost of Attendance. 
All medical students are considered dependent for institutional aid and a parent contribution will be calculated regardless of marital status and financial dependency, unless the student is 38 years or older.

Students and parents’ are never expected to pay the calculated TFC out of pocket.  The TFC is used to get a snapshot of the family’s resources and to rank students based on their need when determining eligibility for institutional resources.

I have unusual extenuating circumstances and am unable to provide parental information. Is there a formal appeal process for a parental waiver?
In the event students have documented, unusual and extenuating circumstances, they may submit an appeal to waive parental information.  Students must submit the Parental Information Waiver Application form, a letter detailing the situation including relevant documentation, and three (3) letters of reference from a parent, third-party (i.e. teacher, clergy member, physician, attorney, and/or financial aid professional from undergraduate studies), and any individual of choice.   Once all information has been received, the Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee will review your request and inform you of the final determination.  Parental information is only required when assessing eligibility for institutional assistance (i.e. TUSM scholarship and/or TUSM loans) and/or some Title VII loans.  Parental information is never required in order to borrow Federal Direct Unsubsidized or Federal Direct GradPLUS loans.

My parents reside outside the United States and I am a citizen or permanent resident. How do I apply for institutional financial aid?
Families residing in a foreign country should submit the foreign tax return, as well as a copy that has been translated to English and converted to US dollars. The exchange rate must be based on the date the FAFSA was filed. If a foreign tax return does not exist in a particular country, we may accept a notarized statement attesting to all income and assets. Parents are held to the same deadlines regardless of the country they reside.

Are international and/or DACA students eligible for financial aid?
DACA and/or international students are not eligible for federal or institutional assistance at this time.  DACA and/or international students must be prepared to absorb the high cost of US medical education and will be expected to have proof of funding for all years of their education prior to matriculation.

There may be private loans available if the student has a US cosigner and meets other eligibility requirements determined by the lender.

My parents are divorced/separated. Who should fill out the financial aid applications?
Both parents are required to complete the Parental Information Form(s) and provide their 2015 Federal Tax Returns, including all schedules and W-2s. Students should choose the parent who provides most of their support and/or the last parent they resided with to use on the FAFSA. The other parent would still be required to complete the parental information form and submit all required documentation.

How much can students borrow per year in Federal Stafford Loans?
The maximum amount a student can borrow in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans is $42,722 for first year students, $44,944 for second year students, $47,167 for third year students and $44,944 for fourth-year students. Actual eligibility for these loan programs will be outlined on the student’s financial aid award notice.

How much may I borrow each year from the Federal Direct GradPLUS Loan Program?
Students may borrow up to their cost of attendance minus any other aid they will be receiving.  Please remember this program requires annual credit approval that is based on federally-mandated criteria.  Negative credit history may result in the denial of eligibility.  Credit decisions that result in the denial of funds may be appealed with the Department of Education and/or an endorser may be required.  If an endorser is used, the student must complete a Master Promissory Note annually.  Actual eligibility for these loan programs will be outlined on the student’s Financial Aid Notice.

How much debt does the average MD student graduate with?
The average medical school indebtedness for the graduating class of 2015 was $205,322.

What is Federal Work Study?
Federal Work Study (FWS) is a need-based program designed to allow students to work part-time to assist with educational expenses. The Office of Financial Aid awards FWS funding to students that meet eligibility requirements. Students are responsible for notifying the Office of Financial Aid if they are interested in receiving FWS as part of their financial aid package.   Students are responsible for securing their employment.  Employers may find students that are eligible for work study to be beneficial as a portion of the student’s earnings are subsidized by the federal government. Additionally, FWS earnings are excluded from the FAFSA when determining eligibility.  More employment information may be found on the student employment website.

How does satisfactory academic progress affect financial aid?
Federal regulations require that a recipient of financial aid must be making satisfactory academic progress.  Please refer to the MD policy of satisfactory academic progress.  The Registrar’s Office determines if students are making SAP and all questions should be directed to that department by calling 617-636-6568.

How does financial aid pay for charges on my bill?
Students must return their signed Financial Aid Notice (FAN) to the Office of Financial Aid indicating which aid they wish to accept and/or decline. There are instructions pertaining to each award outlined on the FAN. Generally, once the FAN is returned to the Office of Financial Aid, scholarship money is provisionally credited to the student's account. Loan funds are not credited to the account until all required documentation has been received including promissory notes and/or entrance loan counseling and the student has begun their enrollment for the semester. Students are required to submit a Master Promissory Note (MPN) both for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Federal Direct GradPLUS loans that they wish to borrow.  Once the MPN is completed, it is valid for a 10 year period unless an endorser is used which would require an MPN annually. You may visit www.studentloans.gov to complete your Master Promissory Notes for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized and/or Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan programs.  Please note that you must still qualify for Federal Direct GradPLUS funds annually as credit approval is a mandatory requirement. 

The student is responsible for paying any remaining portion of the bill that will not be covered by financial aid. Any questions regarding the bill should be directed to the Bursar's Office at 617-636-6551.

What happens when tuition is adjusted?
Any adjustment in tuition charges has an immediate impact on the amount of financial aid awarded. In  many  cases,  financial  aid  is  retroactively  reduced  to  allow  for  the adjustment.  If you think your award may change, be careful not to spend your refund as an adjustment may require you to repay this partially or in full. Students who are not charged tuition will not be eligible to receive institutional aid but may be eligible for federal aid depending on their enrollment status.  Students on a leave of absence (temporary withdrawal) are not eligible for financial assistance.  Students participating in RCP (Research Concentration Program) and/or ACP (Active Citizens Program) are typically eligible for federal aid as they’re enrolled full-time.

Why does the amount that was actually received differ from the amount of the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan/Grad PLUS Loan that I accepted on my Financial Aid Notice?       It is a little lower than the amount I requested.
Origination and federal default fees are deducted from all loan proceeds prior to disbursement.  As of July 1, 2016, the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan fee is 1.068% and the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan has a 4.272% fee.  Loans with first disbursements issued on or after October 1, 2016, will have a fee of 1.069% for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans and 4.276 for the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan.

What is the interest rate for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans and GradPLUS loans?
Annually interest rates are determined for any loans borrowed within that specific academic year (July 1st – June 30th) and will have a fixed rate for the life of the loan.  However, students will likely have different interest rates associated with loans that are borrowed in different academic years.  For the 2016-17 year, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans will have an interest rate of 5.31% and GradPLUS loans will have an interest rate of 6.31% for the life of the loan.

Gramm-Leach Bliley Act:

The Financial Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the “Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act” or GLB Act, includes provisions to protect consumers’ personal financial information held by financial institutions. The GLB Act gives authority to eight federal agencies and the states to administer and enforce the “Financial Privacy Rule” and the “Safeguards Rule”. These two regulations
apply to “financial institutions,” which include not only banks, securities firms, and insurance companies, but also companies providing many other types of financial products and services to consumers, including universities who administer loans and other financial aid. 

The Financial Privacy Rule governs the collection and disclosure of customers’ personal financial information by financial institutions. It also applies to companies, whether or not they are financial institutions, who receive such information. Because universities are already subject to the privacy provisions in the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) (see Privacy Information section of this Handbook), the Federal Trade Commission decided that institutions of higher education that are complying with FERPA in protecting the privacy of their student financial aid records will be deemed to be in compliance with the GLB Act.

The Safeguards Rule requires all financial institutions that collect or receive customer financial information to design, implement and maintain safeguards to protect such information. Tufts University maintains safeguards to protect student financial information and generally requires that third parties who provide services to the University which requires them to have access to student financial information maintain safeguards that comply with the GLB Act.