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Graduate Student Financial Aid Information

As a graduate student seeking financial aid, your situation may differ from that of an undergraduate student. Examples are:

Another resource to review is the Boise State Financial Aid Handbook.

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Different credit requirements for student loan eligibility

To receive graduate level loans, you must:

  • be enrolled in at least 5 graduate level credits or have a combination of at least 5 graduate and/or undergraduate credits that are required for the completion of your graduate degree/certificate (undergraduate courses with a “G” designation). If you have undergraduate credits that meet requirements for your graduate program, please email financial
  • be accepted into a specific graduate program
  • meet all other eligibility requirements

Graduate students are awarded graduate level loans with the assumption that the above requirements are met. About a month before aid disbursement for the upcoming term, you will see a HOLD on my.BoiseState Student Center if you do not meet the qualifications.

To defer existing student loans, you must enroll in 5 or more credits for any combination of graduate and undergraduate courses.

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Financial aid based on enrollment level.

All financial aid recipients have a budget or Cost of Attendance (COA) which is used to determine the maximum amount of aid you may receive. The Cost of Attendance and financial aid award is based on full-time enrollment. Shortly before aid disburses for a semester, the budget is adjusted for students enrolled part-time. Reducing the budget will often cause a reduction in the amount of aid awarded and disbursed. An in-depth explanation of these adjustments is provided prior to each semester in an email to financial aid applicants, in the Boise State Financial Aid Handbook, and in a Timely Tip called Financial Aid Based on Enrollment Level.

Only financial aid eligible credits are used to determine your enrollment level. Eligible credits are graduate level courses and undergraduate courses with a “G” designation  If you have undergraduate credits that meet requirements for your graduate program, please email financial

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Programs eligible for federal financial aid

The U.S. Department of Education determines which academic programs are eligible for federal financial aid. Graduate programs for master’s or doctoral degrees are eligible for federal aid.

Gainful employment regulations were recently enacted for certificate programs. The following graduate certificate programs were approved for federal financial aid prior to the recent gainful employment regulations, and therefore remain eligible for federal financial aid under grandfathering provisions:

  • Certificate: Addiction Studies offered by Counselor Education and Heath Sciences
  • Certificate: Gerontological Studies offered by Counselor Education, Health Sciences, and Social Work
  • Certificate: Health Services Leadership offered by Health Sciences
  • Certificate: Secondary/K- 12 Teaching, offered by Curriculum, Instruction and Foundational Studies
  • Certificate: Community and Regional Planning offered by Community and Regional Planning Department
  • Certificate: Conflict Management offered by Public Policy and Administration

You can pursue private loans for graduate certificates created after gainful employment regulations were enacted. Master’s or doctoral degree students with concurrent enrollment in a graduate certificate are eligible for federal financial aid, assuming all other eligibility requirements are met.

All the financial aid credits in which you enroll must be credits required to complete your graduate certificate or degree.

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An enrollment status of “Pending Department Review”

Pending Department Review (PDR) is a non-eligible status for federal financial aid status.

When your records show that you are “Pending Department Review” you will have one or more Financial Aid To Do items visible on your Student Center.

Pending Department Review may mean one of the following:

  • You have not been admitted into a specific master’s program
  • You may need to submit further materials to complete your application to a specific program
  • The academic department is in the process of reviewing your application
  • Your academic department has not forwarded the necessary notifications to the Graduate Admissions Office

Follow up with the academic program you are pursuing and with the Graduate Admissions Office. Once your status on my.BoiseState shows you are admitted into a specific program, your Financial Aid To Do items should disappear within one week. Your aid will be awarded as long as all To Do items are completed and you meet all eligibility requirements.

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A student fee waiver offered with a graduate assistantship

The terms of your financial aid require you to report any education benefits you receive that are not visible on your Student Center financial aid award. This includes tuition waivers for graduate assistantships. It is in your best interest to report it as soon as you know you are receiving it. If you forget to report the waiver, it will still be reported to the Financial Aid Office when the waiver appears on your student account. A recalculation of your aid is required by federal regulations and could cause you to…

  • repay large amounts of federal aid
  • receive much more aid fall semester, leaving little or no aid for spring semester aid

Financial aid staff can help you identify special circumstances you may have so you can reduce or eliminate unexpected aid adjustments.

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Different student loan limits

Graduate students may be awarded up to $20,500 an academic year (fall, spring, and summer) in federal Direct Student Loans.

The combined undergraduate and graduate total debt you can have in outstanding federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans is $138,500 of which no more than $65,500 may be subsidized loans.

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Complete correct loan MPN (Master Promissory Note)

Graduate students are awarded the Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan first. Usually you need to complete the MPN shown below. Very few students will have Graduate PLUS loans.

Screenshot with directions on how to complete loan master promisory note

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Federal PLUS loans available for graduate students

PLUS loans are available to graduate students who still have an unmet Cost of Attendance after borrowing $20,500 through the Federal Direct Loan program and other sources of aid. The PLUS loans are a better financial option than an alternative student loan from a private lender.

The differences between the Federal PLUS loan for graduate students and other federal loan programs include:

  • A credit check is required to be approved for a PLUS loan. If you have an adverse credit history, you may still qualify with an eligible co-signer.
  • You can request an in-school deferment if enrolled at least half-time. If granted, payments on the principal will be deferred, but you should be paying the interest while enrolled.
  • The interest rate is a fixed rate set by July 1 for the following academic year. See current interest rates.
  • A separate PLUS Master Promissory Note must be completed and signed
  • A loan counseling session is required for each PLUS loan requested
  • The Graduate PLUS Loan application is here:

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“In Progress” grades for thesis credits impact Satisfactory Academic Progress Eligibility (SAP)

“In Progress” (IP) thesis credits impact your Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) status, since they represent credits you have attempted but not completed. If you fall below the minimum 75% completion rate, a Financial Aid Hold will appear temporarily on your Student Center.

After the SAP process is completed at the end of each semester, we will review your academic progress separately to determine if the in-progress credits are the only reason for your SAP issue. If they are, the hold is removed.

We are more than happy to discuss your individual account with you and determine if your SAP is impacted by your in-progress thesis credits.

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Maximum credit standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress eligibility

There is another Satisfactory Academic Progress standard that indicates that a student may receive financial aid for 150% of the minimum number of credits required for his or her degree program. At the graduate student level, these maximums are program specific.