Step Two: Federal Aid Application Process

If you do not qualify for enough aid through your department to cover all your costs, consider applying for federal financial aid.  If you are in the Darden School of Business, School of Law, or School of Medicine, contact your school’s financial aid office for more information. Follow these links for this in the MS-MIT or Accelerated Engineering programs. For all other graduate programs, please follow the instructions below.

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

For the quickest and most accurate processing, students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA online. The University of Virginia's school code for the FAFSA is 003745. Graduate students must apply each year for federal aid. Do not complete the CSS Profile as this will delay the processing of your financial aid application.

Your financial aid application submission authorizes the University to disclose your name, demographic information and relevant award amount(s) to University Advancement and applicable donors(s) as appropriate. If you receive a donor-funded grant or scholarship from your department or the University, you will have the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of this disclosure as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

    What Happens Next?

    Your FAFSA will be sent to us electronically. We will review it and, if necessary, request additional documentation to verify your information.  Monitor your To Do List in your SIS account and reply promptly to requests for additional information. Please do not submit copies of your most recent tax documents unless you are specifically instructed to do so by our office.

    You'll likely have a link placed in your Finance Center to complete the University Financial Aid Application. This takes only a few minutes to complete, but your completing it allows you to be considered for Federal Graduate PLUS loans and Federal Work Study.

    Once we receive and review all of your information, including any departmental awards and your enrollment, we will post your award information in the Finance Center section of your SIS account, detailing your financial aid package.

    See instructions on how to view your award

    In most cases, graduate students are awarded federal aid in the forms of loans and/or work study. Graduate students may receive up to $20,500 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans during the award period. Students may also receive a Graduate PLUS loan or a private loan for up to the difference between the student’s budget and any other resources including Direct Student Loans. Please see 2023-2024 Academic Year Loans: Graduate Students for details regarding graduate loans.

    Depending on availability of funds, graduate students may also receive up to $6,500 in a Federal Work-Study award for the academic year.

    Federal Financial Aid & Cost of Attendance Limits

    If you receive federal aid, the total of all financial assistance, including loans, work study, departmental awards, tuition remission, and health insurance assistance cannot exceed the estimated cost of attendance.

    Exceeding the cost of attendance has several undesirable consequences, including the delay of refunds and/or requiring students to repay money that was previously given to them. In an effort to prevent excess funding situations, our office must wait until the departmental awarding is completed before we can award your federal financial aid. 

    Since many departments complete their awarding later in the summer, your federal financial aid award may not be posted until early August. It is in the best interest of all to avoid an excess funding situation, so we appreciate your patience in this process. 

    Important Reminders Regarding Federal Aid

    Graduate students must be enrolled in at least 6 credit and/or research hours to be considered for any federal assistance for the academic year. Graduate students are encouraged to enroll early for a more accurate federal financial aid award.

    Graduate students are billed based on the student’s Approved Academic Load, not on the number of hours for which the student is actively registered.  Approved Academic Load (either full time or part time) is determined by your respective graduate department:

    • Full time: based on enrollment of 12 credit hours. A student is charged the full-time rate even if the student chooses to take a reduced course load (less than 12 credit hours).  For example, if a student enrolls in 9 research hours and her Approved Academic Load is full time, the student will be charged for 12 credit hours.
    • Part time: based on enrollment of 6 hours. A student is charged the part-time rate provided the student is enrolled in no more than 6 hours.