Application Procedures

Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for federal, state and USD aid. Students should review the Guide to Applying for Financial Aid on the Office of Financial Aid website, or obtain a copy from the USD Office of Financial Aid (OFA) for deadlines and detailed information. Students should also inquire through the school or department to which they are applying regarding financial assistance opportunities specific to that school or department.

A. Financial Assistance Available Through the USD Office of Financial Aid

Eligibility Requirements

  1. The student must be officially accepted by the Office of Graduate Admissions and must maintain satisfactory academic progress. “Special Students” (e.g. not admitted to a degree, certificate or credential program) are not eligible for financial aid.
  2. The student must be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  3. The student must not be in default on any federal loan or owe a refund on any federal grant.
  4. Most programs administered by the USD Office of Financial Aid are based on financial need.
  5. Most funds are available only to eligible students enrolled on at least a half-time basis (4.5 units for master’s students, three units for doctoral students) who are pursuing a degree, credential, or certificate.
  6. The FAFSA can be completed online at Additional forms, applications and informational guides are all available on the Office of Financial Aid website.


USD Graduate Grant (USDGG)

Because applications for graduate grants far exceed funds available, priority for the USDGG is given to students with greatest need. Applicants must have been officially admitted to the USD graduate program by August 1 and must have submitted complete financial aid application forms by April 1 to receive priority consideration for a grant for the following academic year. Students must enroll for at least six units each semester to be considered for a USDGG.

Dean’s Graduate Merit Scholarships

These scholarships are awarded by individual graduate schools or programs without regard to financial need. Students may receive up to $25,000 annually depending on the number of units for which they are enrolled.

Federal Perkins Loan

Depending on availability of funding, qualified students may receive a Federal Perkins Loan to assist in covering tuition costs. Federal Perkins Loan funds are very limited and are normally used to supplement Federal Direct Loans.

Federal Direct Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to help meet educational expenses. A graduate student pursuing a degree at USD (“Special Students” excluded) may apply for up to $20,500.00 per year in a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan.

The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is available to all eligible graduate students who are enrolled at least half-time. In addition, students cannot be in default on any federal loans or owe a repayment on any federal grants. Interest on this loan will accrue while the student is in attendance.

The interest rate on the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan program for the 2013-14 academic year is fixed at 6.8%. To ensure that the loan funds are received on time, all borrowers need to accept their loan on their MySanDiego portal. In addition, new borrowers will need to complete the Application and Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Graduate Entrance Loan Counseling no later than early July prior to the start of the fall semester. For more details on the Federal Direct Loan Programs, go to the Federal Student Aid website or contact the USD One Stop Student Center or the Office of Financial Aid.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans are available to all graduate or professional degree students enrolled at least half-time at an eligible institution leading to a degree or certificate. A credit check will be performed during the application process. If you have an adverse credit history, you may still receive a Federal Direct Grad PLUS loan by obtaining an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history or documenting to the U.S. Department of Education’s satisfaction extenuating circumstances relating to your adverse credit history.

B. Cal Grant Programs

Teaching Credential Benefits

Students who received Cal Grants as undergraduates are eligible to apply for fifth-year benefits to complete a Teacher Credential program. This grant is available to students who:

  1. have received a bachelor’s degree;
  2. were eligible for and received Cal Grant A or B during undergraduate study;
  3. are enrolled in a Teacher Credential program; and,
  4. complete the Request for Cal Grant Teaching Credential Program Benefits (Form G-44) available from the California Student Aid Commission.

Submission of a GPA Verification Form is not required. Form G-44 must be submitted to CSAC no later than 15 months after receiving a BA or BS degree, or from the date on which Cal Grant benefits were exhausted.

C. Additional Financial Assistance

Students should contact the school or department to which they are applying for additional information regarding financial assistance available for students in their program.

D. Financial Assistance For Graduate Certificate Programs

Students should consult the individual program director.

E. Off-Campus Employment

The USD Student Employment Center helps students locate part-time off-campus employment in the San Diego metropolitan area. Job referrals and further details are posted on the Part-Time Job Board at the USD Student Employment Center.

F. Veterans Assistance

Eligible veterans and dependents interested in applying for VA benefits should contact the VA Coordinator in the Office of the Registrar, Founders Hall, Room 117.