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Financial Aid Basics & Eligibility

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What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is funds awarded to you to help pay educational costs. The federal and state governments as well as post-secondary schools are public sources of aid, while civic groups, clubs, and religious organizations serve as private sources of aid. Financial aid is classified into three basic types: grants and scholarships are funds awarded that are not required to be repaid; employment is work, either on or off campus that you find through campus student employment services or on your own initiative; and a loan is money borrowed from the federal or state government, the University or an alternative lender that must be repaid, including interest. Financial aid is distributed according to a variety of eligibility criteria within two categories:

You are awarded need-based aid to make up the difference between your total cost to attend the University full time and the amount of your family’s contribution as determined by the federal government.

You may use non-need based aid to replace your family contribution if you meet the necessary eligibility criteria, which may vary depending on the program.

Can I get Financial Aid?

Financial aid is awarded based on financial need. At Howard University, more than half of all students receive some form of financial aid. The total amount of financial aid (need and non-need based) awarded to you cannot exceed your total educational costs. Individual program requirements vary and funds are limited, therefore your total financial need may not always be met.

Most programs require that you:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and have a valid social security number. (Individuals in the U.S. on F1, F2, J1, and J2 visas are ineligible).
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible degree or certificate program.
  • Demonstrate financial need as determined by review of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Not be indebted to any institution for repayment of any federal grant (Pell or SEOG) or in default on any federal loan (Perkins or Direct Loan).
  • If you are a male born after December 31, 1959 and are at least 18 years old, you are required to register with the Selective Service System.
  • Comply with the federal verification process, if necessary.


What will it cost to attend the University?

Educational costs depend on your program of study, the number of hours enrolled and your living expenses. Costs for full-time tuition and fees range based on a student’s school/college and program.

More information about costs is available on the Cost of Attendance page.

Students will not be allowed to receive financial aid in excess of their cost of attendance, regardless of the sources of funds. This includes, but is not limited to: federal, state, institutional, donor or external grants, gifts and scholarships.

How much financial aid will I receive?

The cost of attendance budget includes average amounts for all expenses to attend Howard University. These figures are based on the average living expenses in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

Although many factors help to determine the amount you receive, your financial aid award is based primarily on your demonstrated financial need.

Your need is the difference between the cost of attendance and the amount you and your family are expected to contribute (EFC - expected family contribution). Once you are admitted to the University, and your file is complete, the Office of Financial Aid will update your account which is viewable online via BisonWeb.

See How to Apply for Aid -- Step 1: Submit a FASFA for more information on determining your need.

What is my family's share?

You and your family are primarily responsible for financing your education. You and your family are expected to make a maximum effort to assist you with college expenses. You are also expected to contribute to your college expenses from sources that may include savings, summer earnings, monetary gifts from friends and relatives or other sources. Financial aid should be viewed as supplementary to your family’s contribution.

How is my family's share determined?

The income and asset information which you (and your parents if you are a dependent student, or your spouse if married) provided on the FAFSA enables the U.S. Department of Education’s Central Processing System (CPS) to determine your expected family contribution (EFC).


What programs am I eligible for?

To see what programs you are considered eligible for, please see the
Basic Eligibility Chart (PDF).

What are the minimum credit required for financial aid eligibility?

Enrollment Status
Full Time 3/4 Time 1/2 Time Less Than
1/2 Time
Undergraduate 12 9 6 3
Graduate 9 - 4 -
Medical 12 - - -
Dental 11 - - -
Law 9 - - -

Note: Audited courses cannot be included in meeting the minimum required credit hours toward eligibility.

I have a bachelor degree. Am I considered a graduate student?

Not necessarily; only a student officially admitted to a graduate program leading to a masters or doctorate degree is officially a graduate student.

I am not a full-time student this term; am I still eligible for Financial Aid?

below half-time. You are not eligible to receive funds from the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), University Grants, or the Federal Perkins Loan. In addition, scholarships awarded to you based on full-time attendance may be reduced or completely cancelled.

I am not admitted to a degree or eligible certificate program, can I get aid?


Are non-citizens eligible for Financial Aid?

A non-citizen who is in the U.S. as a permanent resident is eligible for federal student aid assistance. A non-citizen in the U.S. on a temporary visa is not eligible for federal aid but may be eligible for assistance through the University’s grants, scholarships, or employment postings.

I am admitted to a degree program at the University beginning in the fall term. Can I receive Financial Aid for classes during the summer term?

No, you must be officially admitted to a degree or certificate program in order to receive Financial Aid. If your admission is effective for the fall term, you will not be eligible before the fall term.

What about distance education?

You are eligible to receive financial aid in certain eligible distance learning courses or programs only if the course is a part of a program that leads to an associate, bachelors, graduate, or graduate/professional degree.

What if I am interested in studying abroad?

Once you are admitted to a Study Abroad Program, you will receive a Study Abroad Cost Estimate Form (SACE) that will include your specific program, programcosts, number of credits, and length of stay. You should then, make an appointment to see a Financial Aid Officer who may adjust your aid if you have additional eligibility.

What if I am seeking a second undergraduate degree?

You may be eligible for Federal Direct Loans. If you have a bachelor degree and want to receive aid for a second degree, you may have your college or the Office of Admission confirm admission in a second degree program. Students seeking a second bachelor degree are not eligible for most federal financial aid programs.


Why must I provide my parents information on the FAFSA?

A basic premise of federal student financial aid is that the family is responsible for educational expenses. Be sure to include yourself when entering your parents’ family size. Read the FAFSA instructions carefully to determine whether you are dependent or independent for aid purposes.

My (or my parents') circumstances are going to change, do I enter what is true now or what will be true on the FAFSA?

Enter what is true now. Use the most recent completed tax year information (e.g. Federal 1040 tax return). If you or your family has a significant decrease in income in the current year, or if a change occurs such as death or divorce, contact a Financial Aid Officer AFTER you receive your SAR from the Central Processor. We may adjust your award package.

My parents have not filed their tax return yet. Can they estimate their income?

Yes, they may use estimates, but the information must be corrected later to match the exact figures from the actual tax returns before aid is paid to you.

My parents are divorced, which parent should complete the FAFSA?

The parent you lived with most during the last 12 months should complete the FAFSA. If you did not live with either parent, or if you lived with each parent an equal amount of time, use the parent who provided the most support to you in the most recent calendar year.

What do I do if I made a mistake on the FAFSA and want to make corrections?

You should consult a Financial Aid Officer before making changes. Not all changes require resubmitting the SAR to the Central Processor.

I have a trust fund that I cannot touch until I am 21 years old. Do I report it on the FAFSA?

Yes, a trust fund must be reported because it represents your financial strength.

Other Common Questions

Is there any special funding for students in health profession programs?

Yes, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Allied Health have special funds. You must include parental information on your FAFSA regardless of your dependency status to be considered for these grants, scholarships, and loans.

What happens if I increase my credit hours after the end of the drop/add period? Will I receive more aid?

No, your aid is based on your enrollment at the end of the drop/add period. Aid is not adjusted after that date.