Jaime SchulangIn part one of this podcast Q&A, we talk with Jaime Schulang, MA, director of Student Financial Affairs. She talks to us about the different loans, scholarships and financial aid that are available for students when they come to Salus University.


Q: What types of financial aid do you offer?

A: The bulk of financial aid at the graduate level is loans. Most of what students take are the unsubsidized direct student loan and then the Graduate PLUS student loan. Some cases, for optometry students, there also may be eligibility for the Health Professions Student Loan. And that's based on information provided on the FASFA as long as the parental information is given, which generally isn't required for a graduate student, but in this case is for this specific type of aid. There's also the option of students when they go with a private lender, through a bank or a credit union, a credit card. They can look into that option for loans as well.

Q: How do you apply for financial aid?

A: The application for aid is the FASFA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which students complete every year. And anyone who's done loans in undergrad, it's the same exact process of going on every year, completing the FAFSA and submitting it to the school, making sure that the Salus school code is on there so that we can have access to the information. If a student is looking into work-study, we have a separate application for work-study that we post online and we tell the students when that's available.

hallway at salusQ: Are there any scholarship or grant opportunities for students?

A: When it comes to graduate school, when it comes to federal grants, things like the Pell Grant or the SEOG Grant are not available unfortunately, because those are earmarked solely for undergraduate students. But the institution does have scholarships available, both for students when they're incoming, and that's determined based on undergraduate information and what's put on their application coming into school, and then there's also some more merit-based aid available for continuing students that we look at every year to see who's eligible for those endowed funds.
 
There's a lot of external aid that students may be able to get scholarship-wise from different organizations. Whenever we get information about that, we send that out to the students so that they know where they can apply, what the requirements are. And hopefully, they're granted some funds and we can put on their award.

Q: Who is eligible for financial aid?

A: There's a whole list eligibility criteria for aid through the government. It depends partly on whether you're doing federal aid or a private loan. Most of our students do the federal route, so that's what we usually center on.
 
The main requirement is being matriculated in the program, being at least a half-time student, and being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. There are some other criteria further down like being enrolled in Selective Service, if you're a male, not having drug violations. There's some smaller things that we don't tend to run into issues with too often, but the main points are how many credits you're enrolled in, your residency status. Basically, those are the two big ones, being matriculated.
 
When it comes to non-federal loans, there are some lenders who will let students who are not at least half-time take loans. There's not a lot out there for students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, but there are some programs that are open to those students if they have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer.
 
When it comes to international, there's not a lot out there. For our Canadian students, we do get a lot of students from Canada, specifically in our optometry program, and there are some provincials support options for those students. We just encourage them to check with their province to see what information they have and refill out any documents that are needed for that.

Finland studentsQ: Are there financial aid opportunities for international students?

A: With international students, like I said, a bulk of them are coming from Canada. Anyone who's Canadian should definitely talk to your Ministry of Education in your province and see what aid may be available to you. I believe there are some students who may have gotten credit lines through the Rural Bank of Canada and can maybe take loans out through them. I know that we have certified a number of forms for Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta. I know I've seen a lot of different provinces that do provide some support to their students and get confirmation from the Registrar's Office and from financial aid as to the student's enrollment status and the costs, the anticipated costs for the year.
 
When it comes to students from other countries, like I said, there are some lenders that may borrow to international students, but generally you have to have a U.S. co-signer to be eligible to get that, which is not always readily available. It all depends on your unique situation. But I just recommend to check with whatever Ministry of Education you have in your home country to see if they have anything that they may offer. I know that we have had some students who are sponsored by their countries to come here and their country is paying their way. I'm not sure if anyone who's listening to this probably knows that that's happening or not.
 
When it comes to international, it doesn't mean that you necessarily can't get scholarship dollars. When we review students for scholarships, it doesn't matter what your citizenship is most of the time. We do consider students for endowed scholarships as long as there's no restrictions.

Q: Are there any work-study opportunities?

A: When it comes to work-study, we do have opportunities all over campus. A lot of the different administrative offices will hire work-study students. I know Admissions hires a lot of work-study students to help give campus tours and meet with applicants when we have applicants coming into campus, which right now we really don't have that going on. But when everything settles down with the health emergency, things get back to normal, we'll have that again. Places like the Learning Resource Center, the Hafter Center, they all hire students to work in those positions. There are definitely opportunities all around campus.
 
Learning Resource CenterThere's no required amount of hours. When we do awards, we base it on the number of hours that a student expects to work. That’s what's on that work-study form we ask them to fill out every year, and that ranges from one to five hours a week up to 15 to 20. There's no minimum and there's no requirement to work if you have work-study on your award, but you're not supposed to go over 20 hours a week because work-study is not designed to be a full-time job, because your full-time job is being a student. It's just kind of some supplemental money. That's why it's capped to 20 hours per week.
 
In terms of part-time students, there really isn't eligibility for part-time students only because it is a need-based program. And generally students who are going part-time, you have to meet the federal aid requirements for work-study so you have to be at least half-time. You can't be less than that. But usually because you're not taking enough credits and your budgets aren't very high when it comes to us, figuring out your cost of attendance with your tuition and your fees, you don't really have the financial need for work-study. Generally, we don't have any part-time students that are eligible for work-study funds.
 
There are some departments that will hire students that do pay out of their own budgets and not out of work-study. Those are always possibilities because it doesn't have the federal requirement attached to it. And there are opportunities like that for students who are not aid eligible, so international students as well. Whether it's something like note taking or tutoring or something along those lines, there are opportunities for students who normally aren't aid eligible to work those kinds of jobs as well.

Q: How are payments dispersed?

A: Disbursements are linked to the terms you attend. Every term, whether you're going on quarters or you're going on semesters, we have scheduled disbursement in line with the start of the terms. We do the awarding, we send you a notification that your offer's available. If you want to make any changes, you let us know. If not, we go and we process your aid. The money then, based on the disbursement date, comes into your account and it's applied to your tuition.
 
We take care of all of the disbursement. Once you do your application and everything's good, and we have your award, we take care of everything on the backend. You have your tuition payments but then you also have your living expenses, like we just mentioned in the cost of attendance.
 
Basically, what happens with that is after your tuition and fees are paid, anything you owe the institution, whatever's left over from your loans (assuming that you're borrowing enough money) would then be cut to you in a check. We do offer direct deposit, which we encourage students to take advantage of, and that's how the students receive their funds for living expenses to use however they need to.
 
To learn more about the financial aid opportunities at Salus, you can visit salus.edu/admissions.