Financial Aid FAQs
Where do I begin?
In order to receive federal financial aid (loans), you must complete the FAFSA application and include the VCU SOM school code number 003735. Parental information is not required on the medical student’s FAFSA. Only the federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan in the amount of $42,722 is offered to first-year medical professional students (subject to the federal aggregate limit of $224,000 for medical students). There is no gift aid from the Department of Education and it is not suggested for medical students to work, so federal work study will not be awarded.
Please review the Student Aid Report sent to your email address (provided on the FAFSA) about three days after completing the FAFSA. If there are issues to be resolved, you will have to provide proper documentation to our office so that we can resolve those issues on your behalf.
Please contact us by email or by phone for assistance if you are unsure what documentation is required.
After you have accepted your offer of admittance and paid your seat deposit, you will be given access to the Admissions Orientation webpage, which will contain the instructions on obtaining your computer eID, your student ID number and other pertinent information.
The financial aid office plays no part in the determination of your residency and the charges that accompany that classification. The Office of Records and Registration on VCU's main campus processes all domicile appeals. More information on submitting a domicile appeal is available here.
To be considered for any type of institutional scholarship, you must complete both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile found on the College Board website. A student is not guaranteed to receive a scholarship if the CSS Profile is completed, but you will not be considered for any type of scholarship if the CSS Profile is not fully completed along with all the requested parental information. Parent information is required regardless of the student’s age, marital status or level of support. No exceptions are made to this requirement. You must complete the FAFSA and the CSS Profile annually to receive any loan and/or scholarships.
Some scholarships are offered at the time of acceptance to the School of Medicine. You will receive an email from the scholarship committee if you are later awarded an endowed scholarship based on both need and merit. Notifications are sent in April and will continue to be sent until all the available funds have been awarded to attending students.
The amount of scholarships can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. It is the goal of the scholarship committee to award an amount enough to make a significant impact on a student’s borrowing level but there is never a guarantee of the amount.
Most, but not all, scholarships are renewed annually for up to 4 years as long as the student continues to make satisfactory academic progress, completes the FAFSA and completes the CSS Profile. You will be informed if the scholarship is a one-year award when you are notified of the award.
It is possible to get a scholarship in subsequent years but only if both the FAFSA and CSS Profile applications are completed each year. Some scholarships are created specifically for students at different levels of their education.
Scholarships are posted to student accounts in mid-June. Your email notification of the scholarship is your official confirmation that the scholarship will be applied to your student account.
Cost of Attendance Budget
The cost of attendance (COA) budget establishes a student’s maximum loan eligibility (particularly for the Graduate PLUS loan) and identifies the educationally related costs (for the student only) for attending school during the current academic year. The COA budget includes the direct costs, tuition and fees, as well as other estimated indirect costs of attending an institution for one academic year. The Department of Education determined that students might have to pay for the following to attend school: health insurance; housing, food, transportation, books and supplies, and an amount for miscellaneous items. Not all students have to pay for health insurance but if the student wants enough financial aid to reach the maximum budget amount, the money allocated for health insurance could actually be used for other living expenses. If a student is experiencing extra childcare expenses due to their enrollment, the student can contact the Office of Financial Aid to request their budget include the cost of childcare. This extra consideration is considered a professional judgment and must be approved by the university’s professional judgment committee.
Unsubsidized Stafford Loans
Up to an aggregate total Stafford Loan amount of $224,000 for all of the subsidized and unsubsidized loans borrowed during your entire education:
Your first and fourth years of medical school are 10-month academic/loan periods. The fall semester begins in July and ends in December. The spring semester begins in January and continues up to the last day of class in May. The second and third years of medical school are 12 month academic/loan periods. The fall semester begins in July and ends in December. The spring semester begins in January and ends in July. The length of the academic period increases the total loan eligibility for the 2nd and 3rd years.
Your financial aid and billing periods do not match your progression in your academic calendar. For billing and financial aid, the year has two semesters, fall and spring. You will be billed twice a year and financial aid will be disbursed twice a year to be applied to the bill.
The Office of Student Accounting creates the bill in July for the fall semester and in December for the spring semester. Payment of the bill or arrangements for paying your bill are due at the beginning of class. There is an installment payment plan (IPP) available and administered by the Office of Student Accounting. If you are interested in enrolling in the IPP, please go to: https://sfs.vcu.edu/billing-and-payments/installment-plan/
You will be asked to accept, partially accept or decline the offer of the federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan in the Banner eServices. The Office of Financial Aid will provide a checklist with the steps and links used to accept your aid and authorize the university to conduct business on the student’s behalf. If you do not accept the full amount of the loan offered and later decide you want to borrow the additional funds, please contact the Office of Financial Aid. As long as the academic period has not ended, you can request the remaining loan eligibility.
The U.S. Department of Education does not allow graduate/professional students subsidized Stafford loan eligibility and there are no federal grants for this student population. There are only interest-bearing loans for medical students.
The interest rate is set each year by the federal government and is based on the Treasury bill rate. The interest rate is year specific and never changes for the life of the loan.
As noted in the Master Promissory Note, the federal government charges an origination fee, a percentage of the loan amount, each time funds are sent to the university on your behalf. The fee amount changes annually and is set by the government for each academic year funds are borrowed. The fee is deducted from your loan before it is sent so your loan amount is higher than the amount that is applied to your account. If the origination fee on the unsubsidized loan is 1.057% and the loan amount is $10,000, the amount of the fee is $105.70 and $9,894.30 will be applied to your student account.
- Complete the FAFSA
- Complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN)
- Complete the entrance counseling
Subsequent years (M2 - M4): Complete the FAFSA.
Complete the Voluntary Consent to Participate in Electronic Transactions and answer the Title IV authorization questions: Federal financial aid guidelines require that VCU obtains your Voluntary Consent to Participate in Electronic Transactions and collects your decision regarding how you want your federal financial aid funds applied to your student account charges. Complete both the Title IV Authorization questions and the Electronic Consent at eServices.
Electronic Consent (completed annually):
- Click on the Financial Aid Tab;
- Click on Award;
- Click on Award for Aid Year;
- Select the current award year;
- Click in the Rights and Responsibilities Tab;
- Read the Terms and Conditions and choose to click the accept button
Title IV Authorization questions: Answering “yes” to these questions allows the university to apply the loan funds to your student account to pay for current charges on your student account and to be able to pay up to $200 of a previous year’s balance with the current year’s federal financial aid:
- Click on the Financial Aid tab;
- Click on Award;
- Click on Award for Aid Year;
- Select the current award year;
- Click the Terms and Conditions tab; Read the Terms and Conditions and choose to click the accept button.
No, the maximum loans amounts are available only for the year they are offered. The awards are year-specific.
Within the first 30 days after your loan money has been applied to your student account, you may complete a Financial Aid Change Form and indicate the amount of funds you wish to have returned to your loan servicer. The origination fee for the amount returned will be refunded when we return the funds. If you have already received a refund of the money you want returned, you must pay the university the amount you want returned.
If you did not request your entire loan eligibility when your loans were first processed, you can request an increase in your loan during the year. Always contact our office for a change in the loan amount because the process is different for different types of loans.
No payments are required on your loans as long as you are enrolled at least half time in a degree seeking program. If you had loans during previous academic periods that went into repayment prior to attending medical school, we recommend you contact your servicer to notify them when your program begins and to see if they require an enrollment confirmation. Most servicers update their records based on our electronic enrollment reporting. Those loans will go back into repayment immediately once you are no longer enrolled at least half time. You may request your loans be put into forbearance for a period to delay your payments. If your loans have never entered repayment, you will be allowed a six-month grace period before repayment begins after you are no longer enrolled half time (e.g., on leave of absence or graduating).
Graduate Plus Loans
Loan funds provided to graduate/professional students by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. This federal loan program allows graduate students with no adverse credit history to apply for a loan amount up to their Cost of Attendance each year, less any other financial aid received. The Graduate PLUS loan can be used to cover any additional direct costs not covered by the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and indirect costs such as living expenses for the student.
Please visit studentaid.gov/loans for a full disclosure of the Graduate PLUS loans and to complete documents required to obtain the loan.
A student must complete a separate application and MPN at studentaid.gov/loans to obtain a Graduate PLUS loan. The Department of Education will run a credit check and determine the student eligibility and will notify the student immediately if their application is approved.
The Department of Education does not expect a student to have a long credit history or a high credit score. As long as you have not defaulted on a student loan or declared bankruptcy, your application for the loan should be approved. Sometimes a co-signer is required if there are some negative credit issues.
- Obtain the total Cost of Attendance (COA) for your residency status and year in medical school;
- Subtract the amount of the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and any other aid you have been awarded;
- The difference is the maximum amount that can be requested and certified for the year in the Graduate PLUS loan.
Example: The COA is $90,000 per year, less a scholarship for $3,000 and the Unsubsidized Stafford loan amount is $42,722, the remaining amount is $44,278. The $44,278 is the maximum amount your Graduate PLUS loan amount can be for the year.
By federal law, all loans are applied to your university student account first to pay any outstanding tuition and fee amounts. If there are excess funds once your account is satisfied, a general refund will be sent to the student (either by check or by direct deposit) by Treasury Services.
How can I have the excess loan funds sent directly to my bank account?
Please complete the Direct Deposit Bank Authorization for the safest and quickest way to receive a general refund. The form and frequently answered questions are found at https://sfs.vcu.edu/media/strategic-enrollment/student-financial-services/sa-forms/Direct_Deposit_Form21.pdf
The Department of Education charges an origination fee for processing all federal education loans. The amount of the fee is established annually and is lower for the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan than for the Graduate PLUS loan. If the origination fee is 4%, then the government will keep $400 of a $10,000 loan. The origination fee is included in the original loan amount when repayment occurs.
No, the interest rate on the Graduate PLUS loan is higher (usually 1%). The Office of Financial Aid will always have the student maximize their Stafford Loan eligibility before borrowing with the Graduate PLUS loan.
Yes, the same rules, processes and forms apply for the Graduate PLUS loans as was provided in the Unsubsidized Loan section of this document.
Yes, the loan application is year-specific and the amount of the loan is subject to the origination fees and interest rates applicable to the academic year they are borrowed.
AAMC provides excellent information for medical school students both in print and through webinars. The webinars are recorded. If you register for a webinar and are not able to attend, you will be provided with the link to the recorded version at a later date. It is always best to register and then access the information at your convenience.
For new students, we recommend you download the AAMC’s Education Debt Manager PDF, available here. It is comprehensive and provides information regarding budgeting, credit, and loan repayment. There will be some loan/debt counseling sessions provided during your enrollment in medical school. Individual exit counseling sessions are
Our offices are located on the fourth floor of the McGlothlin Medical Education Center, room 4-306. You can call us at: 804-828-4006
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Financial Aid
Senior Counselor for Office of Financial Aid