Financial Aid FAQs


Below are common questions we receive regarding financial aid and scholarships. Have a question you don’t see listed below? Contact us at

Who is eligible to receive federal student assistance?

Generally, students must meet the following criteria to be awarded federal financial assistance:

  • Admission to a degree or select certificate program and maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and demonstrated financial need.
  • US citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Valid Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Registration with Selective Services if a male between the ages of 18-25.
  • Verification that you are not in default on a federal loan and the financial assistance will be used for educational purposes only.
  • Verification that you have not been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs while receiving federal financial assistance.
  • Registration at least half-time in the School of Continuing & Professional Studies.
What will happen if I refuse to get vaccinated?

Students who are administratively withdrawn from their classes for the fall semester for not complying with the university’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement will be ineligible for any type of financial aid, including scholarships, grants, fellowships, loans, remission, work study, etc. Noncompliant students will NOT have financial aid applied to their student account and will not receive a financial aid refund to help them cover living expenses.

How many credit hours do I need to complete to be considered half-time and maintain federal financial assistance?

Undergraduate students must complete a minimum of 6 credit hours of course work during each of the fall, spring, and summer semesters with a C (2.0) minimum grade point average.

Graduate students must complete a minimum of 4.5 credit hours of course work during each of the fall and spring semesters (3 credit hours during the summer) with a B (3.0) minimum grade point average.

What type of financial assistance is available?

Students admitted to a degree or select certificate program and enrolled at least half-time are eligible for grants, loans, and scholarships. Grants and need-based scholarships are awarded according to income. Most students are eligible for loans, regardless of income, provided they meet all eligibility requirements.

There are also merit-based scholarships that do not take income into account. Students enrolled less than half-time may be eligible for alternative financial assistance like banks or other lending institutions outside the University. Visit our Financial Aid Sources to learn more.

How much financial assistance am I eligible to receive?

Degree and select certificate seeking students are usually eligible for the amount of tuition and related expenses (i.e. books). Award amounts are based on a student’s individual circumstances, such as current enrollment status, financial need, dependent status, prior loan history, and academic level.

Please contact our Financial Aid Team at CAPSFINANCIALAID@WUSTL.EDU for award details.

I need financial assistance, but I am not admitted into a degree or certificate program at CAPS. Am I eligible for any financial assistance?

You must be admitted into a degree or select certificate program to qualify for federal financial assistance or CAPS scholarships. However, you can seek alternative sources like banks or other lending institutions outside the university such as:

I am admitted to a CAPS degree or select certificate program. How do I apply for and receive federal financial assistance?
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at This information is submitted to the federal government and determines your need for assistance.
  • Complete the Financial Aid Award Request Form. This alerts our Financial Aid Office that you are applying for federal financial assistance.
  • Wait for your award letter to be emailed to you. Complete your award letter response form and entrance counseling. Sign for any loans (if applicable). Submit tax return and verification worksheet (if randomly selected for “verification”).
  • Register for at least half time in the School of Continuing & Professional Studies.

For more information about the financial aid application process, visit Applying for Financial Aid.

Which certificate programs are eligible for financial aid?

The Geographic Information Systems certificate program, Post-Baccalaureate Elementary Teacher certification and Post-Baccalaureate Secondary Teacher certification programs are eligible for financial aid.

How do I apply for a CAPS scholarship?

The School of Continuing & Professional Studies (CAPS) offers several scholarships. Learn more about CAPS Scholarships.

What are the deadlines to apply for financial assistance?
  • Federal/State Grants  – April 1 (for the subsequent fall and spring semesters).
  • Federal Loans (i.e. Stafford/Perkins) and Private Loans – There isn’t a deadline to apply for loans; however, the process takes 4-6 weeks to complete. The required documents must be complete before assistance can be used to register for course work. Therefore, it is best to begin the process at least 4-6 weeks before the semester begins.
  • CAPS Scholarships
    • New Students – August 31 (Fall); January 31 (Spring)
    • Current or Returning Students – May 1 (Fall); October 31 (Spring)

Students who are starting in the summer should contact the CAPS Financial Aid Coordinator at 314-935-6701 to discuss options.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

Yes. You may be eligible for additional or less assistance because of changing financial circumstances (i.e. income or family changes).

How will dropping a class impact my financial assistance?

If it results in a change in enrollment status (i.e. half-time to less than half-time), financial assistance may need to be reduced or canceled. In order to remain eligible for financial assistance, students must meet satisfactory academic progress (SAP). In order to meet SAP, certain minimum requirements must be met:

  • Undergraduate students must enroll in a minimum of 6 credit hours of course work and maintain a 2.0 GPA each semester.
  • Graduate students must enroll in a minimum of 4.5 credit hours of course work and maintain a 3.0 GPA each semester.

Students who do not meet these minimum requirements could lose their current financial assistance or jeopardize their eligibility for future financial assistance.

What does it mean to be “selected for verification?”

Randomly selected students are required to submit additional financial documentation (i.e. income tax returns) to Student Financial Services. These documents must be submitted in order to receive financial assistance.

Can I cancel a loan?

Yes. Contact Student Financial Services at 314-935-5900 for details. Your promissory note will explain the procedure and time frame for canceling your loan.

What is the difference between a Federal Direct Loan, Unsubsidized or Subsidized (Stafford)?

Federal Direct Loan, Subsidized (Stafford)

  • Need-Based
  • Interest does not accrue on this type of loan while students are attending school at least half-time.
  • The maximum amount that can be borrowed per year is typically smaller than with Federal Direct Loans, Unsubsidized (Stafford).

Federal Direct Loan, Unsubsidized (Stafford)

  • Not Need-Based
  • Interest does accrue on this type of loan while students are attending school. Accrued interest does not have to be paid while attending school, however unpaid interest will be capitalized (added to the principal loan balance) when the loan transitions to repayment status.
  • The maximum amount that can be borrowed per year is typically larger than with Federal Direct Loans, Subsidized (Stafford).
I’ve been offered an Federal Direct Loans, Unsubsidized (Stafford) as part of my award. Can I change it to a Federal Direct Loans, Subsidized (Stafford)?

No. Federal Direct Loans, Subsidized (Stafford) are based on need, while Unsubsidized Loans are not need-based. However, you are free to decline any portion of a loan award.

When do I have to pay back my student loans?

Typically, there is a 6 month grace period after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time status. The grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment option. There are some loans that do not have a grace period (i.e. Plus Loan). The US Department of Education can answer repayment questions or you can contact Student Financial Services at 314-935-5900.

I am an employee of Washington University; can I get financial assistance in addition to the tuition benefit?

Yes. You may apply for grants and loans if you are admitted into a degree or select certificate program. However, WashU employees are not eligible for CAPS scholarships.

Don’t see what you’re looking for?

Contact us today and we will be happy to answer any questions you might have.