Graduate Students

Financial Aid is Here to Help with the Next Step in Your Education

As you begin your graduate studies at Athens State University, we know that a smooth financial aid process is important to you. At Athens State, we will guide you through these steps and, if at any time during this process you need assistance, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at 256-233-8122 or

Steps to Receive Financial Aid

  1. Create a U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) at You will be prompted to create a username and password and enter your email address. You will receive a secure code by email at the address you entered asking you to confirm your email address with the code. The FSA ID will be your electronic signature for the FAFSA, renewal FAFSA, Master Promissory Note for loans, and other Department of Education websites.
  2. Complete and submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) with the school code 001008. This can be completed online at It opens October 1 of each calendar year and stays in effect for the upcoming academic year (the following fall, spring, and summer semesters.) This form must be completed each year. If you have already completed the FAFSA for the aid year you wish to begin your graduate program, please log back in and send it to Athens State University with our school code 001008.
  3. Once the FAFSA is processed, you will receive a SAR (Student Aid Report). This will show you all of the information that you entered on your FAFSA. Please read it carefully and make sure that it is correct.
  4. Once the SAR is received electronically by the school (3-5 business days after the FAFSA is submitted), we will send you an award package. This will tell you the loans that are available to you. You must be enrolled in at least 6 hours of graduate work applicable toward your degree to receive an award package or any amount of financial aid.
  5. Your award letter will be emailed to your student email address when it has been created. Please login to your Athens State Online account and accept or decline awards following the instructions provided.
  6. If you accept a Federal Direct loan, you will need to complete paperwork online to complete the loan process. Information and directions will be included in your award letter.
  7. You will receive an email directing you to satisfy all missing requirements listed at your Athens State Online account. Financial Aid may be used to cover books.
  8. Continue in your courses and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress which you can learn about below.

The maximum amount a graduate student can receive in loans per academic year (Fall, Spring, and Summer) is $20,500. The amount awarded is based on the number of hours, the number of weeks enrolled, the cost of attendance, and the federal budget for each student. The maximum lifetime aggregate (total) federal loan amount a graduate can receive is $138,500. This amount includes undergraduate loans as well.

You may also pay your account by using Athens State’s Online Payment Plan found at Contact the Business Office for more information about the payment plan options.

Financial Aid for Degree-Seeking Students

The only financial aid funds available to degree-seeking graduate students are Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Federal Graduate Direct PLUS Loans.

Federal Student Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Student Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need. The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan Program allows degree-seeking graduate students to receive loans with the following benefits:

  • Loans have a low fixed-interest rate.
  • No repayment is required while the student is enrolled.
  • Loan acceptance is not based on the student’s credit history.
  • Students may borrow up to $20,500 per year (as of this catalog’s publication).

Eligibility Requirements for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

  • A student must be a U. S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • A student must be registered with Selective Service (if required)
  • A student must be accepted for admission to a graduate program as a degree-seeking student
  • A student must be enrolled as a degree-seeking graduate student in at least six (6) semester hours
  • A student must maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • A student must not in be in default on a federal student loan or owe a repayment of Title IV federal aid funds
  • A student must not be receiving aid at more than one school during the same enrollment period

Federal Graduate Direct PLUS Loans

Federal Graduate Direct PLUS Loans are available to graduate and professional students. A student must exhaust all Direct Unsubsidized Loan eligibility for the year before applying. Eligibility depends on the cost of attendance minus all resources including any unsubsidized loans. Students are not eligible if they have adverse credit without a creditworthy co-signer. Interest accumulates while attending school, but loan payments are deferred while enrolled at least halftime.

A new Master Promissory Note and entrance counseling will have to be completed for first time Grad PLUS borrowers. Direct PLUS loans are not available to students taking undergraduate prerequisites to be admitted into a graduate program.

Federal Regulations on the Return of Title IV Funds for Graduate Students Receiving Aid

The federal regulations in effect at the time of publication are given below. Regulations are subject to change; for additional details, see the Financial Aid Regulations on the University website.

Title IV funds are awarded to students under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student fails to complete the term, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds he or she was scheduled to receive, and the institution and/or the student may be required to return funds according to federal regulations. The Title IV programs included in these regulations are Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), TEACH Grants, and Federal Direct Loans. Federal Work-Study funds are not included.

Federal refund regulations require Athens State University to determine the amount of aid “earned” by each student receiving Title IV funds who withdraws from all classes prior to the 60% point in the term. A student completing 60% of the term is considered to have “earned” 100% of the Title IV funds the student was scheduled to receive during the period.

Any student earning a passing grade in at least one course for the term are not subject to the federal Return to Title IV Funds regulations. Students are strongly encouraged to consult the Office of Student Financial Aid prior to withdrawing or dropping out of the term.

Calculations are based on the student’s official withdrawal date. For unofficial withdrawals, calculations are based on the last date of an academically related activity that the student participated in, the mid-point of the term, or the date the school determines the student ceased attendance due to illness, accident, grievous personal loss or other circumstances beyond the student’s control. Unofficial withdrawals dates are determined by the faculty, identifying the last date of activity for courses where a student earned an ‘F’, ‘I’, or ‘W’. The withdrawal date must be determined within 30 days of the end of the term, academic year or student’s program, whichever is earlier.

The institution must return the amount of Title IV funds for which it is responsible no later than 45 days after the date of the determination of the date of the student’s withdrawal. Athens State University offers all degree programs in a credit hour, term based format. As a credit hour, term based degree program, the following formula is used to compute aid to be returned:

  • (Days Enrolled / Days in Term) x Title IV Aid Awarded and Disbursed = Aid Earned
  • (Any break of five days or more is not counted in the days in the term)
  • Aid Disbursed – Aid Earned = Aid to be Returned

If a student earned less aid than was disbursed, the institution would be required to return a portion of the funds and the student would be required to return a portion of the funds. When Title IV funds are returned, the student borrower will owe a debit balance to the institution.

If a student earned more aid than was disbursed, the institution will owe the student a post-withdrawal disbursement, to be paid within 120 days of the student’s withdrawal.

Our Statement to You

The Office of Student Financial Aid supports the University’s goal of providing post-secondary education opportunities by assisting qualified Athens State University students in the pursuit of their educational goals with funds from federal, state, and private sources. The Office is committed to:

  • Ensuring compliance with federal, state and institutional regulations and policy requirements governing student financial aid services;
  • Maintaining funding sources by ensuring program integrity through ongoing staff training and continuing education, external audits and self-evaluations;
  • Maximizing funds available for Athens State University students to meet their costs of attendance, supplementing the efforts of students in meeting educational goals;
  • Providing quality financial assistance series effectively and efficiently.

Responsibilities of Students Receiving Financial Aid

A student receiving financial aid has the responsibility to:

  1. Review and consider all information about a school’s program BEFORE enrolling.
  2. Pay special attention to the application for student financial aid, complete it accurately, and submit it on time to the right place. Errors can delay or prevent receiving aid.
  3. Know all the deadlines for applying or reapplying for aid and meet them.
  4. Provide all documentation, corrections, and/or new information requested by either the Student Financial Aid or the agency to which the application was submitted.
  5. Notify the university of any information that has changed since the application was made for financial aid.
  6. Read, understand, and keep copies of all forms requiring a signature.
  7. Repay any student loans he/she has. When a student signs a promissory note, he/she is agreeing to repay the loan.
  8. Attend an entrance and exit interview at the university if you have a Federal Direct Student Loan.
  9. Notify the university of any change in name, address, or attendance status. If a student has a loan, the student must also notify the lender of any changes.
  10. Satisfactorily perform the work agreed upon, if employed for a federal work-study job.
  11. Understand the university’s refund policy as outlined in this publication.

Rights of Students Receiving Financial Aid

A student has the right to ask the University:

  1. The names of the university’s accrediting and licensing organizations.
  2. A copy of the documents describing the institution’s accreditation or licensing.
  3. About its programs, its instructional, laboratory, and other physical facilities, and its faculty.
  4. What the cost of attending is, and what its policy is on refunds to students who drop out.
  5. What financial assistance is available, including information on all Federal, state, local, private and institutional financial aid programs.
  6. Who its financial aid personnel are, where they’re located, and how to contact them for information.
  7. What the procedures and deadlines are for submitting applications for each available financial aid program.
  8. How it selects financial aid recipients.
  9. How it determines financial need, including cost of education and resources available.
  10. How much of one’s need, as determined by the university, had been met.
  11. How and when one receives financial aid.
  12. To explain each type and amount of assistance in the financial aid package.
  13. What the interest rate is on any student loan, the total amount to be repaid, when length of time for repayment and when
  14. Repayment must start, and what cancellation or deferment provisions apply.
  15. If offered a federal work-study job – what kind of job it is, what hours are to be worked, what the duties will be, what the rate of pay will be, and how and when wages will be paid.
  16. To reconsider an aid package, if the student believes a mistake has been made, or if enrollment or financial circumstances have changed.
  17. How the university determines whether a student is making satisfactory progress, and outcomes of unsatisfactory progress.
  18. What special facilities and services are available to persons with disabilities.