Financial Aid

Loan Application Process


Concordia Theological Seminary participates in The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, in which the U. S. Department of Education is the lender. Beginning on July 1, 2012, Subsidized loans were no longer available to graduate students. All loans for graduate-level study will either be Unsubsidized or Graduate PLUS loans. All Direct Loans are serviced for repayment by one of several contracted Federal Loan servicers. The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the official website that has information about your Federal Student Loans and your loan servicer(s), including contact information.

General Requirements/Regulations

  • Eligibility: You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Your FAFSA results for the applicable financial aid year, 2013-14 or 2014-15, must be on file in the CTS Financial Aid Office. Our financial aid year begins in September and ends the following summer.
  • You must submit a CTS Financial Aid application.
  • You must be enrolled in an eligible program at least half time in order to qualify for a Federal Student loan. Half time status is 6 credits per quarter for M.Div. and A.R.; 4.5 credits per quarter for M.A., S.T.M. and Ph.D.; 3 credits per quarter for D.Min. and M.A. in Deaconess Studies (distance education).

For continued eligibility, you must maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP). Consult the CTS Academic Catalog for details about SAP for your program of study.In order to maintain satisfactory academic progress a student must:

  1. Maintain the minimum required cumulative grade point average for one’s program (see CTS Academic Catalogue)
  2. Complete at least 67% of all attempted credit hours each quarter
  3. Complete enrolled program in no more than 150% of the normal length of the program measured in terms of attempted credit hours divided by the number of required credit hours for program completion.

 

The Loan Application Process

Part 1 - Application and Verification

  • Complete, sign and return the Direct Loan Award sheet enclosed with your Award letter which was sent to you. Remember to indicate the amount you want to borrow. Please do not attempt to apply through a private lender website; all Direct Loans must be originated through the Financial Aid Office.
  • The Department of Education is more likely to select your FAFSA for verification if you do not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or if you file your FAFSA using estimated figures. Electronic data will be available for retrieval from the IRS web site beginning February 2, 2014. Allow three weeks after an electronic return has been filed, or eight weeks after a paper tax return is filed. Click here for more information.
  • The Department of Education has adopted a policy of customizing the verification process to the individual student. If you are selected for verification, we will let you know what additional verification information you will need to provide to the CTS Financial Aid Office.

Part 2 - Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note

      • First-time borrowers at Concordia Theological Seminary must complete Entrance Counseling at www.studentloans.gov. You must sign in with your Federal Student Aid PIN first before you can begin Entrance Counseling. The Financial Aid Office will receive the results electronically. You need not submit a paper copy to us.
      • You must also sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN), and this is also done at www.studentloans.gov. You must sign in with your Federal Student Aid PIN first before you can begin the MPN.  Please note: This step is not necessary if you have previously signed an MPN with the U.S. Department of Education and received a Direct Loan disbursement within the past ten years, even as a student of another school. You need not submit a paper copy of your MPN to our office.  However, we suggest that you keep a copy for your own records.

Part 3 - Loan Disbursement

      • The Financial Aid Office will certify your loan eligibility and transmit your loan information to the U.S. Department of Education. Your loan money will be disbursed electronically to your seminary student account at the beginning of each quarter. Remember that a 1.072% origination fee is deducted from each disbursement of an Unsubsidized loan; a 4.288% origination fee is deducted from each Graduate PLUS loan disbursement.
      • Funds left over after your bill is paid can be withdrawn and used for living expenses each quarter.
      • We highly recommend that you sign a Credit Balance Form (click here) and return it to the Financial Aid Office so that your excess funds will remain in your student account until you decide to withdraw them.  Otherwise, excess Federal Student Loan funds will automatically be sent to you by check each quarter, whether or not you need them or request them.


How Much to Borrow

Obviously, you want to borrow only what you need in order to minimize the amount you will have to pay back after you graduate.  Some experts have suggested as a rule of thumb that you borrow no more than what you expect your starting salary to be when you graduate.  If you borrow twice the amount of your expected income, you could be at risk of defaulting on your student loans.  However, some repayment plans offer loan forgiveness after a set period of time for those who qualify.  For more information on loan repayment, see the paragraph below, “Repaying your Loan.”   

The annual maximum loan amount that graduate students can borrow through the Direct Loan program is $20,500 per year. Additional loan amounts can be borrowed through the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Program (see below).  Graduate students are no longer eligible for Subsidized loans and can only receive Unsubsidized loans. With an Unsubsidized loan, the interest accrues while you are in school from the first day of the loan disbursement; although you may defer interest payments until after you graduate from school. Normally, the interest is added to your principal balance through a process called “capitalization.” Repayment is deferred during your vicarage or deaconess internship year because it is a required part of your program. Unsubsidized loans can replace EFC, so you are eligible for a loan even if you have no demonstrated need. The interest rate for Unsubsidized loans is 5.41%. You can increase or decrease the amount of your loan as the year progresses. In order to minimize the need to do this, please use the Seminary Cost Estimator and plan your needs as accurately as possible. Remember that the amount you indicate on your Direct Loan Award sheet represents the amount you want to borrow for the entire financial aid year. The actual disbursement of this amount will be credited to your student account in payments that are divided equally among the quarters that you are attending school (at least half time status)—usually in thirds (Fall, Winter and Spring quarters). Please indicate on your Direct Loan Award sheet if you plan to attend summer sessions and would like to receive a loan payment for the Summer Quarter.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan—In some cases, additional amounts can be borrowed through the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan program. Your credit must first be approved by the U. S. Department of Education. Graduate PLUS loans are available even after you have reached your Unsubsidized borrowing limit, but must either satisfy demonstrated need relative to your Cost of Attendance or replace your EFC. Contact the CTS Financial Aid Office if you believe that you will need a Graduate PLUS loan. Graduate PLUS loans require a new Master Promissory Note in addition to the one submitted for Unsubsidized loans. New Entrance Counseling will be required, as well, if you did your Entrance Counseling under the old, FFEL program. Go to www.studentloans.gov to complete a Graduate PLUS application. Interest rate: 6.41%

The Loan Period

You may borrow for the academic year (Fall/Winter/Spring), for the Summer quarter or for any combination of terms in which you attend classes at least half time.

Loan Delivery Dates for 10 Week Classes

TermFinancial Aid Year 2013-14Financial Aid Year 2014-15
Fall Quarter September 9, 2013 September 8, 2014
Winter Quarter December 2, 2013 December 1, 2014
Spring Quarter March 17, 2014 March 16, 2015
Summer: Session 1 June 2, 2014 June 1, 2015
Session 2 (also Summer Greek) June 16, 2014 June 15, 2015
Session 3 July 14, 2014 July 13, 2015

Loan Delivery Dates for Graduate Intensive Classes (Ph.D., S.T.M.)

TermFinancial Aid Year 2013-14Financial Aid Year 2014-15
Fall Quarter September 30, 2013 October 6, 2014
Winter Quarter January 27, 2014 January 26, 2015
Spring Quarter April 28, 2014 April 13, 2015
Summer: Session 1 June 2, 2014 June 1, 2015
Session 2 (also Summer Greek) June 16, 2014 June 15, 2015
Session 3 July 14, 2014 July 13, 2015


Returning Extra or Unused Loan Funds

The CTS Financial Aid Office will cancel any unwanted loan funds prior to the day of disbursement if the student notifies the Financial Aid Office in writing or by email. The Financial Aid Office sends out a notice at least two weeks before the next loan period payment is made. The student is asked to respond to that notice if he or she wants to change the scheduled loan disbursement amount. Once a loan disbursement has been made to the student’s account, the Financial Aid Office is not obligated to return the funds to the lender, and the student will need to make other arrangements to return unwanted loan funds through his or her own loan servicer(s). Students are often able to return funds to their loan servicer(s) by ACH debit from their checking or savings account. Contact your loan servicer to find out the best method to return unused funds. Loan funds returned before 120 days after disbursement will not have any fees and interest charged. Contact information for loan servicers is found on the NSLDS website. Please contact the Financial Aid Office if you have questions.

Borrower's Rights and Responsibilities

Please click here to view the general terms and conditions of The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.  Please click here to view the general terms and conditions of the Graduate PLUS Program. Your MPN also includes a list of your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

Exit Counseling 

Before you graduate, leave school (by withdrawal or leave of absence), or drop below half-time status, the U.S. Department of Education requires you to complete Exit Counseling in order to review your student loan responsibilities when you are no longer a full time student. You must do this through the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) website www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA. You will need your Federal Student Aid PIN to log on. Normally, you should complete your Exit Counseling during your last quarter of being a full time student here at the seminary (or after you complete a delayed vicarage or deaconess internship). After completion you will get an electronic confirmation with the same confirmation going to us.

Managing your Debt

Knowing how much you have borrowed in Federal Student Loans is critical in managing your financial future. To obtain this information, we recommend that you visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) Student Access website www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA. NSLDS provides a central database for student aid and allows students to access information that is valuable in managing their Federal Student Loans, such as the amount of debt you have and the loan servicers to whom your payments are due. You will need your Federal Student Aid PIN to access this website.  Managing your debt is your responsibility, and the NSLDS website is a helpful tool in assisting you.

Repaying your Loan

You will be required to begin loan repayment within six months after you graduate, leave the seminary, or drop below halftime enrollment. Vicarage and deaconess internship should not cause your loans to go into repayment since you are still considered to be a student. Please contact your lender if you receive payment notification during your vicarage or deaconess internship year. There are several repayment plans available: Standard, Graduated, Extended, Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn, Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), and Income-Sensitive Repayment. The repayment period can vary in length of time from 10 to 25 years, depending upon the plan you choose. Please go to the Federal Student Aid website to review your options.  For information on whether or not you may qualify for loan forgiveness in the Income Based Repayment (IBR) or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, please click here or visit www.studentloans.gov. According to the Federal Student Aid website - if you work for a non-profit organization, your employment will not qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness for time spent in duties related to religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing. Remember that extending your repayment plan or decreasing your monthly payment amounts usually increases the amount of interest you pay over time.

For example, the Standard repayment plan period is 10 years. Under a 10-year plan, 120 monthly payments are made.  The monthly payment on a $50,000 loan, with an interest rate of 5.41%, would be $540 per month.  Go to Repayment Plans and Calculators for more information about the various repayment plans and to calculate your estimated repayment amount under each of the different plans. To learn about student loan consolidation, please click here.

If you experience economic hardship or other circumstances that limit your ability to repay your loan, you may qualify for a deferment or forbearance. A deferment allows eligible borrowers to postpone payments for certain reasons for as long as they are enrolled on at least a halftime basis in a post-secondary school, graduate fellowship, or rehabilitation training program. Deferments of up to three years also are available if borrowers are unemployed. Remember, your interest continues to accrue while you are in deferment.

Borrowers who do not qualify for a government-approved deferment can request forbearance from their loan servicer. Forbearance can delay or reduce monthly payments. Usually, however, borrowers must still pay the interest on their loans during the forbearance period.

Note: If you fail to repay your loan, you will be considered in default. If this occurs, your credit rating will be damaged and you may not be able to borrow in the future to pay for a car, a home or even to continue your education. Your wages may be garnished and your federal and state income tax refunds may be withheld; your loan may be sent to a collection agency, and you will be liable for collection fees. Please contact your loan servicer if you begin to have trouble repaying your student loans.