As a graduate student you will approach and calculate financial aid differently than you did as an undergraduate student in with 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) as accurate income and tax information is available.

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 and the earliest possible notification.

We strongly suggest that students submit the application electronically at The Catholic University of America's Federal Title IV School Code is 001437. You can add Catholic University's Title IV code to your current FAFSA at

If you have not previously done so, we also urge you to create a FSA ID at If you are a dependent student, one of your parents will also need to create a FSA ID in order to submit the FAFSA. Beyond using it to complete the FAFSA, the FSA ID can be used to make any needed FAFSA corrections and to monitor your status with federal aid programs.

Graduate students are admitted on a rolling basis. Therefore, Financial Aid Notification (FAN) letters for admitted students with valid FAFSA will be made on a rolling basis starting April 15 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 that 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

The Office of Student Financial Assistance projects your initial COA each semester on assumptions based on your 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.