Eligibility Factors


Undergraduate students must be degree seeking in order to qualify for financial assistance. Most institutional sources of funding require full time status (12 or more credits) each semester. Non-degree students, except those in approved certificate programs, are not eligible for financial assistance.

Eligibility for need based financial assistance is based on the student’s demonstrated need on the financial assistance application. The need may be funded by institutional and federal grants and scholarships and federal loans. While GW offers significant amounts of need-based aid, we are not able to fund 100% of need. Some families also utilize the monthly payment plan or additional federal and/or private alternative loans to supplement the awards that are offered.

Eligibility for Need-Based Aid

Cost of Attendance (COA)

The Cost of Attendance is an estimate of the expenses a student should expect to incur in a given year.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, is determined by the information submitted on the financial assistance application

Outside Resources

Outside Resources are resources awarded to the student by someone other than the federal government or GW's Office of Student Financial Assistance.


Undergraduate students must be degree seeking in order to qualify for financial assistance. Most institutional sources of funding require full time status (12 or more credits) each semester. Non-degree students, except those in approved certificate programs, are not eligible for financial assistance.

Eligibility for need based financial assistance is based on the student’s demonstrated need on the financial assistance application. The need may be funded by institutional and federal grants and scholarships and federal loans. While GW offers significant amounts of need-based aid, we are not able to fund 100% of need. Some families also utilize the monthly payment plan or additional federal and/or private alternative loans to supplement the awards that are offered.

Eligibility for Need-Based Aid

Cost of Attendance (COA)

The Cost of Attendance is an estimate of the expenses a student should expect to incur in a given year.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, is determined by the information submitted on the financial assistance application

Outside Resources

Outside Resources are resources awarded to the student by someone other than the federal government or GW's Office of Student Financial Assistance.


Federal Loans

To be eligible for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Programs, a graduate student must meet the following federal requirements:

  • Enrolled at least half-time which is defined as 4.5 credit hours in the fall and spring semesters, 3 credit hours in the summer
  • Admitted to a degree seeking graduate program, or a graduate certificate program which the school has deemed eligible under federal Gainful Employment regulations. 
  • Be a U.S. Citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Not be in default or have an overpayment on previously awarded federal funds
  • Registered for Selective Service if male
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
  • For the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan only a minimum credit check is required for all borrowers. 

Once our office has determined that the above requirements are met and that there are no other issues on the FAFSA, we can proceed with processing a loan application.

Graduate students enrolled less than half-time as defined above who you working on a thesis, dissertation, internship, or residency, may have eligibility for federal loans. A student contacts the Registrar’s Office or the Dean’s Office of their school to initiate the processing of a Half-time/Full-time Certification Request.  This form verifies the additional academic responsibilities they may have, and establishes whether those responsibilities are sufficient to certify them as a half- or full-time student.  This process must be completed for each semester in which they will register for less than half-time credit hours, and since it requires the review and signatures of the Academic Advisor, Dean, and the University Registrar, should be initiated prior to the beginning of classes.

Private Alternative Loans

Eligibility requirements for private alternative loans vary from lender to lender. We will process any private alternative loan application forwarded from a lender as long as their eligibility requirements are met and the completed Supplemental Graduate Loan Questionnaire is submitted by the student.

Private alternative loan eligibility is determined in the same manner as the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan amount. Outside Resources and any other loan amounts are added together and then subtracted from the Cost of Attendance.

We will not process loan applications for non-degree students. Please visit the Student Accounts Office’s website to pursue other payment options. 

All Loans

Loan applications are processed by our office based on the information provided by the student on the FAFSA, and in the case of Federal Direct Graduate PLUS and private alternative loans the information provided on the Supplemental Graduate Loan Questionnaire. Eligibility for funds is based in part on credit hours taken and tuition charged.  If the student registers for fewer credits than indicated on GWeb, it is important for the student to notify our office immediately by submitting a Graduate Loan Change Form.  We will review the form to determine your new loan eligibility.  Since the rebudget process takes approximately three weeks, you should submit this form as soon as possible.  Failure to do so could result in the loan being cancelled and the funds being returned to the lender in the case of a private alternative loan.

We will not process loan applications for non-degree students. Please visit the Student Accounts Office’s website to pursue other payment options.