As a graduate student, you will approach and calculate financial aid differently than you did as an undergraduate student in three key ways:

  1. Department Based: You will pursue merit-based assistantships, scholarships, and fellowships — the primary source of graduate aid — through your respective academic department, which makes selections based on your Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score and other criteria.

  2. Federal Aid: You may also pursue federal student aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. These awards will be administered by the Office of Financial Assistance, and coordinated with any department-level awards.

  3. Independent Status (FAFSA): In most cases, as graduate and professional degree students you will be considered as an independent student and will not be required to supply parent income information on the FAFSA.

Graduate students should file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at The Catholic University of America's Federal Title IV School Code is 001437.

Graduate students seeking federal loans should file their FAFSA by March 15 for the fall and spring terms or by November 1 if starting in the spring semester to ensure timely processing.

Graduate students are admitted on a rolling basis. Financial Aid Offer Letters for admitted students with a valid FAFSA are sent on a rolling basis starting May 1 for fall admits and continuing graduate students, and November 15 for graduate students starting in the spring semester.

Candidacy/Dissertation Guidance

Graduate/Doctoral students enrolled as any of the criteria listed under the university’s policy website which establishes them as an academically full-time student may be eligible for federal aid and may have federal loans remain in an in-school status. Graduate/Doctoral students who hold teaching/research assistant positions that are considered full-time must take Assistantship contracts to Enrollment Services located in Father O'Connell Hall to have the enrollment status updated in Cardinal Station.  Although Graduate/Doctoral students are academically considered full-time, the estimated cost of attendance for students registered in candidacy is budgeted based on the student’s actual charges.

Enrollment Assumptions

Our office projects the initial Cost of Attendance(COA) each semester on assumptions based on the academic career and program. At the end of each semester's drop/add period, the COA is updated to reflect that semester's actual enrollment status. If actual enrollment status differs from the assumption, aid eligibility is recalculated accordingly. Students may owe a balance.

Graduate: Aid eligibility for Canon Law students is projected assuming full-time enrollment. All other graduate student eligibility is projected assuming half-time enrollment. If you plan to attend a semester other than half-time enrollment, please make an appointment with our office to discuss how your federal aid may be impacted.

Important: Graduate students must be registered at least half-time to qualify for federal aid. 

  • Merit-Based Awards

    All graduate university scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships are awarded by the respective academic departments. These awards are not administered by the Office of Student Financial Assistance or the Office of Admissions. Therefore, graduate students should contact their respective academic departments concerning deadlines and application procedures. The Office of Student Financial Assistance only processes graduate students for their federal loan eligibility, therefore graduate students are processed on a rolling basis, as FAFSA applications are received up until our Federal Loan FAFSA Processing Deadline. All departmental awards must be coordinated with any federal or commercial loans; a reduction of loan amounts may result if departmental awards are received after loan eligibility is determined.

    Graduate scholarship eligibility is determined by the individual graduate school/department and questions about eligibility or criteria should be directed to your academic department

  • Graduate Assistant Positions (limited number funded by the Federal Work-Study Program)

    Graduate stipends are available to a limited number of graduate students. Students must have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and meet the federal need requirements for the award. In addition, students must be accepted to the university, interviewed, and selected by a hiring department with an approved work-study position on file with the Center for Academic and Career Success in order to be eligible to receive this stipend.
  • Federal Loans

    Graduate students may be eligible to participate in the Federal Direct Loan Programs. For additional information please review the Loans section of this Web site.


  • Commercial Loans

    Graduate students may apply for commercial education loans from various private lenders. Graduate students are urged to explore and exhaust their federal loan eligibility before considering commercial educational loans, which generally carry higher interest rates and origination fees. For additional information please review the Loan Types and Applying for a Loan sections of this Web site.