Northern strives to make graduate degrees more affordable so you can invest in yourself and advance your professional development. As you plan for your graduate degree, it's important to be aware of some differences in the financial aid process for master's degrees.

Find answers below to your questions about financial aid in graduate school. If you need more information or assistance, please email the NSU financial aid office or call the office at 605-626-2640.


Graduate school financial aid FAQs

How is financial aid for graduate school different?

The financial aid process at the graduate level is the same as when you were an undergraduate student. However, as a graduate student, you are no longer eligible for Federal Pell Grants, and all federal loans you receive will be unsubsidized. 

Am I eligible for financial aid?

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is still your ticket to federal student aid. This process is the same as before. When filling out the FAFSA, make sure to use Northern State University’s school code: 003466.

Do I need to complete the FAFSA again?

YES. You must file a new FAFSA application every academic year. The FAFSA is available beginning October 1, and must be submitted before March 1 to receive priority consideration for different forms of financial aid.

Do I need to include my parent's financial information?

NO. As a graduate school applicant, you will automatically be classified as an independent student. Now, your financial aid will be awarded based on your income and assets, not your parents’ income and assets. 

How long does it take to process my FAFSA?

In most cases, you will receive your FAFSA Submission Summary within 3-5 days. For updates on your FAFSA submission, you can view all of your financial aid information on the Self-Service Banner page. 

How much financial aid can I receive?

You can borrow up to $138,500 in federal student loans. This amount, however, includes how much you took out to pay for your bachelor’s degree. For example, if you borrowed $25,000 as an undergraduate student, you could borrow up to $113,500 for graduate school. 

Do I need to pay off my loans while in graduate school?

As long as you maintain half-time enrollment (6 credit hours per semester), you can defer your loans. While in deferment, your payments will be postponed until you finish your degree or withdraw from your graduate program.  

If you do not maintain half-time enrollment, you will need to continue paying all current and past federal student loans. However, if these repayments grow too expensive, you can request forbearance to reduce or postpone repayments until you finish your program.

What federal aid is available?

Depending on your economic circumstances, you will have access to a variety of federal student aid opportunities: 

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These loans are not based on financial need, but interest accrues while attending school and during deferment. As a graduate student, you can borrow up to $20,500 each year in Direct Unsubsidized Loans. 
  • Direct Grad PLUS Loans: These loans are available with sufficient credit, but, like Direct Unsubsidized Loans, interest continually accrues. You can use Direct Grad PLUS Loans to cover any remaining graduate school costs. 
  • TEACH Grant: This grant program offers teachers willing to fulfill a service obligation up to $4,000 per year. However, if this obligation is not fulfilled, the grant must be repaid with interest. 
Are there other sources to fund my education?

YES. There are other ways to reduce your cost of attendance. We encourage you to explore and apply for all opportunities available to you: 

  • Graduate Assistantships: Several graduate assistantship positions are available each year. As a graduate assistant, you will receive reduced tuition, gain valuable professional experience, and earn monthly stipends to help cover other costs. 
  • K-12 Teachers and Educators: Current South Dakota teachers living in the state are eligible for reduced tuition rates. Teachers applying for reduced tuition must maintain a 3.00 GPA and continue to teach while attending graduate school. 
  • Foundation Scholarships: Scholarships are offered to students pursuing degrees in counseling and leadership and administration. There is also a program scholarship available to art education students. 
  • Outside Scholarships: There are several outside scholarships that you can apply for as a graduate student. These funds do not need to be paid back. 
  • Employer Tuition Reimbursement: May organizations offer reimbursement programs as an employee benefit. Check with your company to see if they offer (or would consider offering) this kind of benefit. 
  • Other Options: Other options, such as payment plans or private loans, are available to help cover the costs of attending graduate school. 
What's next in my educational journey?

With these FAQs answered, you should feel more confident moving forward with your graduate degree. However, if you have any further questions about graduate financial aid, please do not hesitate to contact NSU's financial aid office

With financial aid plus tuition reductions, it is more affordable than ever to earn your graduate degree. Cost should not be a deterrent for attending graduate school at Northern; it is financially feasible for you to invest in yourself and advance your professional development. 

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