STUDENT FINANCIAL AID




 

FINANCIAL AID INFORMATION

OFFICE LOCATION: 518 Scaife Hall
HOURS:  Mon - Fri
  8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
Telephone: (412) 648-9891
Fax (412) 648-8768

Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid  Beth Piraino, MD
Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Cynthia Bonetti
Director of Financial Aid Pam Rikstad
Financial Aid Administrator Beth Thomas
Admissions and Financial Aid Specialists La Toya McLee
  Michelle O'Leary
  Anita Sorrells

The purpose of this section is to inform students of the types of financial assistance available, the eligibility requirements for various types of aid, and the procedures for application.

Financial aid counseling is available to all medical students through the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. In addition, budgeting and debt management seminars are also presented annually.

 

STUDENT FINANCIAL AID

 

I.              What Is Financial Aid?

II.            How Does The School of Medicine Determine Financial Need?

III.           Application Procedures

IV.          Awarding Process

V.           Debt Management Counseling

VI.          Financial Aid and Satisfactory Academic Progress

 

Financial Aid Office Contact Information:

 

Office of Financial Aid
518 Scaife Hall
3550 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh, PA  15261
Phone:  (412) 648-9891
Fax:      (412) 648-8768
Email:   financial_aid@medschool.pitt.edu

Hours:  Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 Associate Dean for Admissions & Financial Aid:             Beth Piraino, MD           piraino@pitt.edu           

Executive Director of Admissions & Financial Aid:          Cynthia Bonetti              cbonnetti@medschool.pitt.edu

Director of Financial Aid:                                               Pamela Rikstad             pjr10@pitt.edu

Financail Aid Administrator:                                           Beth Thomas                 ethomas@medschool.pitt.edu

Admissions & Financial Aid Specialists:                         LaToya McLee               lmclee@medschool.pitt.edu

                                                                                    Michelle O’Leary            moleary@medschool.pitt.edu

                                                                                    Anita Sorrells                asorrells@medschool.pitt.edu

 

The purpose of this section is to inform students of the types of financial assistance available, the eligibility requirements for various types of aid, and the procedures for application.  Students are also encouraged to view the Financial Aid Section of the Zone (www.zone.medschool.pitt.edu) for additional information such as outside scholarships opportunities and frequently asked questions.

 

  

I. What is Financial Aid?

 Simply stated, financial aid is any grant, scholarship or loan obtained for the express purpose of helping a student meet educational expenses.  Grants, scholarships and loans come from a variety of sources, such as federal and state agencies, lending institutions, the University of Pittsburgh, and private foundations.  Grant and scholarship resources are “gift aid,” meaning that funds usually do not require a student to repay the award.  These types of resources can be based on merit or need, as determined by the agency or institution offering the award.  Loans, however, are borrowed funds that must be repaid.  Most loan programs do not require any payment until the student has left the University.   

 The amount and types of financial assistance that a student receives are based on financial need as determined by federal and institutional guidelines.  Financial aid at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is awarded on the basis of documented financial need (See Section II).  Financial aid awards are distributed such that priority is given to those students with the greater financial need.

 Merit Scholarships:  The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine offers merit scholarships to accepted students during the admissions process.  Students do not need to complete any application for merit scholarship consideration.  Students who are selected for a merit scholarship are notified by a letter from the admissions office, detailing the amount of the award and the renewal requirements.

 Need-based Scholarships:  For purposes of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine need-based scholarship funds, the student is not viewed as financially independent of parents.  Students will need to provide parental information on the Need Access and FAFSA.  Parental information will be used to determine need-based scholarship eligibility each year of enrollment.  In cases where a divorced parent has remarried, students have the option of using parent and stepparent.  A parent’s ability to help, rather than their willingness, is something you should consider carefully.  For these school-administered programs, “financial need” is considered in relation to the need of other applicants and the funding available for the academic year.  This information will be collected each year regardless of age or change in marital status.  Annual re-application is required of all aid recipients.  All students, including upperclassmen, should provide all financial aid applications and tax returns no later than April 16th.

 “Outside” Scholarships:  Many students receive funding from organizations and foundations that are independent of the University of Pittsburgh and /or the School of Medicine.  Typically these independent organizations or foundations are contacted directly by the student. Information about some outside scholarship opportunities can be viewed on the Financial Aid Section of the Zone.  www.zone.medschool.pitt.edu

The National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program:  Full funding for tuition, fees, and related educational expenses in addition to a living expense stipend for two, three, and four-year scholarships.  The NHSC is interested only in applicants who intend to practice in a primary care specialty.  In repayment for each year of assistance, after completion of residency training, you serve as an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service in a physician-shortage area (minimum of two-year repayment).  The NHSC has a limited number of scholarships to award nationally each year.  For more information, visit http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov/ or contact the NHSC office at (800) 221-9393.

The Armed Forces Health Profession Scholarship Program:  Full funding for tuition, fees and reimbursement of all mandatory expenses in addition to a living expense stipend.  In repayment for each year of assistance, after completion of residency training (military or civilian), you serve as a practicing physician/officer in your branch of the military (minimum of three year repayment).  For more information, contact the following:

Air Force          http://airforce.com/education/healthcare/                                    (800) GO GUARD

Army                http://www.goarmy.com/amedd/medical/corps_benefits.jsp        (800) USA ARMY

Navy                 http://www.navy.com/                                                                (866) NAV RECR

 Loans:  There are a variety of loan options available to students including Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Graduate PLUS loans, and alternative loan options.  Interest rates, fees, and repayment terms will vary, based upon the type of loan program and/or participating lender.  Most loan programs do not require any payment until the student has left the University.  In order to be considered for any Federal loan option, a student must complete the FAFSA and provide a copy of his/her tax return.  Below are some details regarding loan options:

Subsidized Stafford Loans:  To calculate eligibility for Federal Subsidized Stafford loans, only financial information for the student (and spouse, if applicable) is considered in determining your contribution.  This figure is subtracted from the cost of attendance, along with other scholarships or need-based loans, to determine your eligibility for Subsidized Stafford loans.  The maximum you can receive is $8,500 per academic year, or your remaining financial need.  The annual maximum for eligible medical students is $8,500 with an aggregate maximum of $65,500.  Interest on the subsidized Stafford loan does not accrue until repayment begins six months after graduation or separation from the University.   Federal Stafford Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2006 will have a fixed interest rate of 6.80% during repayment.

Unsubsidized Stafford Loans:  In addition to the Subsidized Stafford Loan, students are also considered for Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.  The annual maximum is $38,667 for students receiving the maximum $8,500 Subsidized Stafford loan or $47,167 for students not eligible for Subsidized Stafford loans.  The aggregate maximum for all Stafford Loans (Subsidized plus Unsubsidized) is $224,000.  The student is responsible for the interest accruing during enrollment and deferment periods.  Students may choose to make payments on the interest or defer all payments while in school.  Federal Stafford Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2006 have a fixed interest rate of 6.8%.  There is a six-month grace period after graduation before repayment begins.

Federal Graduate PLUS Loans:  Federal Graduate PLUS loans are a good option for students who need to borrow additional resources beyond the financial aid offered to them.  The Graduate PLUS loan is a federal loan that has a fixed interest rate of 8.5%. In order to be considered for a Graduate PLUS loan, you must apply for this loan and your credit will be reviewed.  Because Graduate PLUS loans have a higher interest rate than Federal Stafford loans, you should exhaust your eligibility for Federal Stafford loans prior to applying for Graduate PLUS loans.  Remember that your total financial aid resources cannot exceed your cost of attendance, so the Graduate PLUS loan is limited to cost of attendance minus your other financial aid resources.

Private (or Alternative):  Most students should not consider a private or alternative loan unless they are ineligible for Federal Stafford loans.  Students who are ineligible for Stafford loans then may want to consider either a Graduate PLUS or an alternative loan.  Most students find that the Graduate PLUS loan may be less expensive and has better repayment terms.  The following link may be able to help you compare these options:  http://www.aessuccess.org/find_aid_for_school/pdf/Graduate_PLUS_vs._Alternative_Loans.pdf

 

 

 

II. How does the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine determine Financial Need?

 Financial need is determined by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid staff through an analysis of financial information which begins when a financial aid applicant's has completed the required applications and tax information (see Section III for details).  The need analysis calculation accepted by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is the Federal formula which uses information from the FAFSA.   Parental information must be included on the FAFSA form for those students who wish to be considered for School of Medicine Need-Based funding.

 A.    Determination of Anticipated Academic Year Expenses (Cost of Attendance or Budget)

A student’s Cost of Attendance for an academic year includes direct costs (tuition, fees, books/supplies/equipment, board fees, and health insurance) and indirect costs (living expenses such as housing, food, clothing, transportation and miscellaneous expenses).  The average cost of books and living expenses are reviewed by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid in association with the School of Medicine Deans, faculty, and administrators as necessary.  This process is to ensure that we have an accurate picture, albeit modest, of how much a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine student requires for books and living expenses.  A student's Cost of Attendance, or budget, is computed only for enrolled periods.  The length of the academic year is different for each class year.  Expenses not directly related to the educational curriculum within the defined academic year cannot be included in the student’s Cost of Attendance.  Any adjustments for exceptional costs must be reviewed by the Financial Aid Committee and decisions must be made in accordance with federal financial aid regulations.  All debts incurred prior to attendance at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine remain the responsibility of the student.  Please be aware that negative credit ratings may cause ineligibility for some student aid programs, specifically Graduate PLUS and private or alternative loan programs.  You may wish to request a copy of your credit report to review your current credit status.  Students can visit www.annualcreditreport.com to receive a free credit report or to link to the three major credit bureaus.

B.     Determination of Financial Contribution

The FAFSA is a need analysis document that is required from any student applying for any financial aid programs.  A student interested in financial aid should complete the FAFSA, making certain to include our school code (E00516).  The federal processor will provide a student with a Student Aid Report (SAR) and an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) to the schools listed on the FAFSA.  The student must review the results of the FAFSA to make sure the information is accurate, complete, and does not contain errors or issues.  The FAFSA results provide your estimated financial contribution, derived from the need analysis formula called federal methodology, and it also conveys any messages from the Department of Education to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid concerning additional information which the school must require from the aid applicant.  All graduate and professional students are considered "independent" when applying for the Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford, and alternative loans, meaning that parental information is not required nor is it considered in any case when determining a student's eligibility for these loan programs only.

 

Parental Information Requirement for School of Medicine Need-Based Aid Programs:

Some federal programs recognize students as independent of their parents for financial aid.  (Examples include Subsidized Stafford Loans and Unsubsidized Stafford loans.)  Other financial aid programs require parental data of all applicants regardless of their financial relationship with parents.  (Examples include Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students and need-based resources from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.)  Students who want to be considered for all types of financial aid resources will need to provide parental information on the Need Access and FAFSA.  Parental information will be used to determine need-based scholarship eligibility each year of enrollment.   This information will be collected each year regardless of age or change in marital status.  Please note:  To be evaluated for your maximum eligibility, student should include parental data on the FAFSA. The federal processor will disregard the parental information reported on the FAFSA for Stafford loan eligibility, but they will electronically transmit the information to our school.  Our office will then use the federal methodology formula to electronically calculate the expected parental contribution.  If a parental information item on the FAFSA is left blank, even if the answer should be zero, the Office of Admissions Financial Aid must consider the application for School of Medicine Need-Based Aid to be incomplete as we are not permitted to make assumptions concerning the answers to these questions.  In determining the amount parents of students are expected to contribute, such items as income, assets, family size, and number of other children under age 24 in college, are considered.  In cases where a divorced parent has remarried, the student has the option of using parent and stepparent.

 

In truly exceptional cases where a parent's whereabouts are unknown, a student may submit a request that the requirement for the respective parent’s information be waived.  To do this, the student must present 1) a personal letter to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid explaining in detail the family situation, and 2) the situation must be documented in a separate letter by a professional third party: clergyman, attorney, social worker, or family physician who has personal knowledge of the family.  In such cases, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid reserves the right to request supplemental documentation. Such requests will be reviewed and decisions of approval or denial will be made.  Should the student’s request that the requirement for the respective parent’s information be waived be denied, the application for School of Medicine Need-Based Aid will be considered incomplete until the information for the parent in question has been submitted. 

 

As financial aid counselors, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid staff realizes that for some students, the expected parental contribution derived is not always a reflection of the parents’ willingness to contribute financially, and therefore the need analysis system can be frustrating.  However, we ask that you keep in mind that, ultimately, the responsibility for financing a student's cost of a medical education lies with the student, and when resources for financially needy students are limited, the student's family must always be considered a potential resource.

 C. Determination of Financial Need

 

1.     Financial need for the Federal Stafford Loans is calculated according to the following formula: 

Cost of Attendance MINUS Student Contribution EQUALS Documented Financial Need

2.     Financial need for Need-Based Aid programs is calculated according to the following formula:

Cost of Attendance MINUS Student Contribution MINUS Parent Contribution EQUALS Institutional Documented Financial Need (This figure is used to measure your financial need with that of other UPSOM Aid applicants)

 

III.  Application Procedures

 In January, our office will e-mail students, advising of the required financial aid applications and tax documents for the next school year.  Please Note:  A student must reapply for financial aid each year.  Each financial aid application is thoroughly reviewed, treated confidentially, and considered on an individual basis.  In addition to completion of the financial aid applications (FAFSA and Need Access), financial aid recipients are expected to fulfill the following obligations:

-       Explain, in writing, at the time of application, any data in your application which may be inconsistent; otherwise, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid reserves the right to make adjustments to your need analysis based on reasonable assumptions drawn from other data submitted.

-       Report in writing to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid any changes of circumstances which may significantly improve or diminish your financial resources or those of your family.

-       Report in writing to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid any aid received from outside sources. Federal program regulations require an adjustment in a financial aid package when funds from all sources are in excess of calculated need or in excess of your Cost of Attendance (or budget).

 

A.            REQUIRED APPLICATION MATERIALS

 

1.     The following information is required of incoming and returning students interested in Federal Stafford loans and institutional need-based resources:

         FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid (www.fafsa.ed.gov) School Code: E00516

         Need Access www.needaccess.org

         Student (& Spouse) Federal Income Tax Return(s) – or Non-Filer Tax Statement

         Parent(s) Federal Income Tax Return(s) – or Non-Filer Tax Statement

         Proof of any Untaxed Income for student and/or parent if applicable – such as Foreign Income,

Social Security Benefits, Unemployment Compensation, etc.)

 

2.     The following information is required of incoming and returning students interested in

Federal Stafford loans only:

         FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid (School Code: E00516)

         Student (& Spouse) Federal Income Tax Return(s) – or Non-Filer Tax Statement

 

We encourage newly admitted students to apply as soon as possible on or after January 1st.  All students, including upperclassmen should provide all of the above information no later than April 16th.   A tax extension from the Internal Revenue Service is not an extension from the school as far as meeting financial aid deadlines.

 

B.         REQUESTS FOR CONSIDERATION FOR A LATE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE NEED-BASED AWARD

 

The deadline for School of Medicine Need-Based Aid is April 16th.  The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid must adhere to this deadline in order to assess the financial need of all students and allocate funds in time for newly-admitted MS1 students to make a decision by May 15th and to allow us to process the aid applications for rising MS4 students who begin their academic year in June.  As a standard policy, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid will not review applications for School of Medicine Need-Based Aid that were not complete by the deadline; this will have no affect on the processing of federal loan applications as long as the criteria for those programs have been met.  Applications completed after the deadline will be reviewed on the basis of the availability of funding and the application completion date. 

 

C.         VERIFICATION PROCESS

For Federal Loan programs: The verification process was instituted by the Department of Education to protect the integrity of financial aid programs.  If the federal government selects your aid application, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid must verify all of the information reported on your FAFSA before any aid applications can be processed further.  If the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid determines that any additional information is necessary for this verification process, you will be contacted by email. You will have 15 days from the date of our request to respond in writing to our request.  Further processing of your application cannot occur until the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is satisfied with the documentation submitted for verification.  The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid maintains federally mandated authority to select any application for verification and to require supporting documentation to the satisfaction of the School of Medicine before any loan applications will be processed.

 

For School of Medicine Need-Based Aid programs: The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid will conduct a thorough review of all materials submitted by the aid applicant to confirm the accuracy and consistency of data reported.  Should inconsistencies be found and you have not provided an explanation in writing at the time of application (on the documents provided or in a separate letter), the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid reserves the right to make adjustments to your need analysis based on reasonable assumptions drawn from other data submitted to protect the integrity of the financial aid programs.  Should the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid request supplemental information, this information must be received and acceptable by the date specified in our correspondence; otherwise, your application will be considered incomplete and, therefore, you will not be considered for School of Medicine Need-Based Aid for this academic year.

 

IMPORTANT: If the "Verification Form" or any supplemental information requested by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid to verify the accuracy of your application is not received by the stated deadline, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid has the right to consider your application for aid withdrawn.  For federal aid consideration, you may reactivate your application by supplying the information.  Your loan application will be processed following those of on-time applicants.  For School of Medicine Need-Based Aid, if your information is received after the stated deadline your application will be reviewed on the bases of funding availability and completions date. Students are responsible for all late charges assessed on their University account due to incomplete application or application turned in after the stated deadline. 

 IV.  AWARDING PROCESS

 All aid authorized or awarded is to be used solely for meeting direct educational costs and related living expenses.  Additionally, it is the policy of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine to offer federal and institutional funds only to students who are not currently in default on any prior student loans.   All loans and scholarships processed by our office are awarded for a full academic year (Fall and Spring) and are disbursed in two equal installments (half for Fall term and half for Spring term).  Students who apply for financial aid before the deadline of April 16th should anticipate receiving their financial aid notices as follows: 

           

MS1s – Early May         MS2s – Early July         MS3s – Late June          MS4s – Mid June

 

MS3s and MS4s should anticipate receiving their refund in mid-to-late July. MS2s and MS1s should anticipate receiving their refunds in mid-to-late August.  This disbursement process is established because after a student begins the second year of medical school, s/he is continuously enrolled until graduation.  However, the financial aid regulations limit the time of a “loan period” for one year.  The financial aid loan periods indicated below allows our office to provide student for living expenses continuously.  Students should be aware that their exact enrollment schedule may be slightly different than the loan periods.

 

As an MS1, your budget is from August through May. Therefore, you receive your first refund in August.
As an MS2, your budget is from August through July. Therefore, you receive your first refund in August.
As an MS3, your budget is from July through July. Therefore, you receive your first refund in July.
As an MS4, your budget is from July through May. Therefore, you receive your first refund in July.
All students should anticipate their mid-year refund in January.

 

After Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford, and Alternative loan applications are processed, students are notified by their lender(s) that their loans are certified. 

 Overawards: The School of Medicine reserves the right to reconsider offers and commitments of financial assistance in the event that a student’s total aid awarded from all sources exceeds calculated financial need.  If financial aid is not reported at the time of awarding, a student may ultimately be awarded aid in excess of financial need.  In addition, Federal regulations also require that financial aid not exceed the student’s documented Cost of Attendance (or budget) at any time.  For this reason it may be necessary to reduce federal and/or institutional aid funds previously awarded.  If an adjustment is not possible because the funds have been utilized by the student, an overaward may result.  In the case of an overaward, the University will make the necessary refund to the respective aid program immediately and the student will be required to reimburse the University to continue registration status.

 V.  DEBT MANAGEMENT COUNSELING

 The majority of medical students rely upon student loans to pay for medical school.  Good debt management begins with thoroughly understanding the implications of borrowing educational loans, understanding how financial choices made today will affect a student’s finances, goals, and lifestyle both now and in the future.  The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid counselors are always available to schedule appointments to discuss a student’s financial concerns.  Individual financial aid counseling is available to all medical students through the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.  In addition, budgeting and debt management seminars are also presented annually.

 Graduating Students’ Loan Repayment Workshops

In addition to the required Exit Interview, students are encouraged to participate in the Loan Repayment Workshops offered in the Spring, prior to graduation.  A group session will contain repayment options focused on medical students entering residencies.  Students have an opportunity to learn the most up-to-date information and get answers to common questions and concerns regarding repayment, deferment and forbearance options, and loan consolidation.  All students who sign up for these sessions will be provided with an individual loan portfolio, detailing all Federal loans and providing some information about additional loans you may have.

 VI.  FINANCIAL AID AND SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS

 For a student to be eligible to receive financial aid, satisfactory academic progress or probationary status must be maintained as outlined in the Student Handbook "Policy on Normal Academic Progress" and "Guidelines for Promotion."

For students who repeat an entire academic year, this may, depending upon prior financial aid history, affect the student's eligibility for financial assistance from specific aid programs.  Students anticipating such a situation are strongly advised to meet with a student aid counselor to discuss the effects of repeating an academic year.

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