1201 S. State Street,
Big Rapids, MI 49307
Financial Aid Guide for Michigan College of Optometry Students
Below you will find the most common financial aid options for a student going through the Michigan College of Optometry. If you have specific questions about your financial aid that are not addressed below, please contact Melanie Mulder at the email address provided at the bottom of this page.
Unfortunately most Optometry students rely heavily on student loans to finance their education. I am often asked to rank loan options. For that reason, I have listed loan types in the preferential order below.
Once you are admitted in to the Doctorate of Optometry program, you are automatically considered an independent student for financial aid purposes. Whether or not your parents claim you on their taxes has no bearing on your dependency for financial aid. There are no federal grants or subsidized loans for graduate level student, with the exception of the extremely limited Health Professions Loan mentioned below. If you are eligible to file a FAFSA, you will automatically be offered Direct Unsubsidized Loan and DIrect Unsubsidized Health Professions Loan as outlined below from the federal government.
FAFSA - UNSUBSIDIZED LOAN
Complete the FAFSA (preferably by April 1st) to be awarded the Direct Unsubsidized Loan for an amount of up to $20,500 for the academic year. The unsubsidized loan interest rate for graduate/professional students is currently 7.05% fixed for 2023-24.
NEW FOR 2023-2024: UNSUBSIDIZED HEALTH PROFESSIONS LOAN
in addition to the $20,500 unsubsidized loan listed above, each student eligible to file a FAFSA will be offered an additional $20,000 to $26,667 in Direct Unsubsidized Health Professions Loan. The amount that you will be offered depends on whether you are required to attend in the summer semester each year. The Direct Unsubsidized Health Professions Loan interest rate for graduate/professional students will be the same as the unsubsidized loan rate, which is currently 7.05% fixed for 2023-24.
HEALTH PROFESSIONS LOAN
The subsidized "Health Professions Loan" is the only loan option for graduate level students that has no interest accrual while you are enrolled at least half-time in school. To be considered for this very limited funding, you must provide parental tax information on your FAFSA by April 15th and apply for the loan. An email with subsidized Health Professions Loan application instructions will be sent to you early in June. Please note that traditionally there is not enough of this funding to award every eligible student. We utilize a first come, first served method of awarding the subsidized Health Professions Loan. Applications are date and time stamped as they are received and funds are awarded in that order, until they are expended. Parent's demographic and income information must be included on the FAFSA (regardless of the student's age, marital status or other dependency factors - per federal regulation). Parental information is used for subsidized Health Professions Loan consideration only. Failure to include or the late addition of parental data on the FAFSA may result in ineligibility for Health Professions Loan awards.
PRIVATE LOAN OPTIONS
Most private loan options require credit-worthy cosigners. However, private loans typically have zero processing fees, which could potentially save you hundreds of dollars each year.
GRADUATE PLUS LOAN
To apply for this loan option, you must have a FAFSA on file and you must be enrolled at least half-time during the semester or academic year for which you are applying for the loan, which is a minimum of 5 credit hours for a graduate/professional student. This application requires credit- worthiness and may be requested to cover up to the remaining balance of your Cost of Attendance.
Please note that you may apply for a Grad PLUS Loan to cover your out of pocket expenses for the academic year (fall and spring semesters); for fall semester only; or for spring semester only. If you are enrolled at least half-time for summer semester, you may apply for an additional Grad PLUS Loan to cover your expenses for summer semester.
Advantages of the Grad PLUS Loan is that it is very easy to qualify for, and typically does not require a co-signer. It has a moderate fixed, interest rate (8.05% for 2023-243). The disadvantage of this loan is that it has a significant loan processing fee (4.228% of the amount borrowed for 2023-24).
You may apply for the Grad PLUS Loan at studentaid.gov. Applications for the 2023-2024 academic year are available now.
SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES LINK
Select the link below to view scholarship opportunities that are available for optometry students.
Summer is the final semester of each academic year. For example, the summer of 2024 is the last semester of the 2023-2024 academic year.
You must be enrolled at least half time (5 credit hours for grad/professional students) to be eligible for federal student loans for summer. Summer semester is treated separately from fall and spring and has a separate Cost of Attendance. If you have not used all of your $20,500 of unsubsidized loan and the $20,000 to $26,667 of Unsubsidized Health Professions Loan in the prior fall and spring semesters, then we will offer you the remaining amount of annual loan eligibility for summer, up to your cost of attendance. If you had previously used all of your annual Unsubsidized and Unsubsidized Health Professions Loan eligibility for the academic year, you will receive a message indicating that due to Extremely Limited Summer Funding options, that you had expended all of your annual federal loan eligibility and that you would have the option of applying for alternative loan options to cover your summer expenses. That is your indicator that you may need to apply for an alternative loan option (such as the Grad PLUS or private alternative loan) to cover your summer expenses. Grad PLUS and private loan applications are available for summer semester beginning April 1 each year.
Student Financial Services offers multiple payment plan options that you may choose from each semester. There is a $30 payment plan fee charged for each semester that you select a payment plan.
Email: [email protected]
Fax: (231) 591-2950