Image of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form

Frequently Asked Questions

The Most Frequently Asked Financial Aid Questions

Who may apply for aid?

Applicants whose cost of attendance exceeds their family resources are encouraged to apply for financial aid. To be eligible, the applicant:

  • Must meet satisfactory academic progress standards
  • Must be a citizen of the United States or an eligible non-citizen
  • Cannot be in default on prior student loans

What types of Financial Aid are available?

Student financial aid can come in the following forms:

  • Federal Grants and Loans
  • Federal Work Study funds
  • Institutional scholarships (awarded by Colleges)
  • State Grants and Scholarship (SC residents only)
  • Private Student Loans

Do I need to report my parents’ information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

Only dependent students are required to complete the parents’ section of the FAFSA and provide their federal income tax information. Dependency criteria can be found in Step Three of the FAFSA.

A dependent student is defined as follows:

  • Born after January 1, 2000
  • Enrolled in an undergraduate program for 2023-2024 school year
  • Single with no dependents

An independent student must meet one of following criteria:

  • Born before January 1, 2000
  • Enrolled in a graduate program for 2023-2024 school year
  • Married
  • Have children who receive more than half of their support from you
  • Have dependents (other than spouse or children) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you now and through June 30, 2024
  • Both parents deceased or a ward/dependent of the court
  • A Veteran of the U. S. Armed Forces

However, there is an exception: Students who are interested in applying for certain Health and Human Services (HHS) funds are required to complete the parents’ section of the FAFSA and submit their parents’ federal income tax information via the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. There is no exception to this requirement. These HHS programs are the following:

  • Health Professions Loan (Dental and Pharmacy Students)
  • Loan for Disadvantaged Students (Dental Students)

What is the difference between Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans?

The Direct Subsidized Loan is a federal loan with interest paid by the government while you are in school at least half-time. Only undergraduate students are eligible for the Direct Subsidized Loan.

The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a federal loan that accrues interest while you are in school. You have the option of paying the interest or deferring it until after you begin repayment.

What is a Direct Grad PLUS loan?

To qualify for a Direct Graduate PLUS loan, you must be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen, graduate degree-seeking and enrolled at least half time. The Direct Graduate PLUS loan has a fixed interest rate. Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loans are charged an origination fee by the federal government. The loan does require credit approval as defined by federal regulations. However, the credit criteria for the Graduate PLUS loan is less stringent than for private educational loans. Repayment begins six months after the borrower ceases to be enrolled at least half time. This loan can be included in a Federal Consolidation Loan.

When does repayment begin on Federal Direct Loans?

Repayment of subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans begins six months from the date you graduate or cease to be enrolled at least half time. These six months are called a "grace period." The subsidized portion of your loan does not accrue interest during the grace period. There is no penalty for early repayment.

How much money can I request?

The amount of money a student can request depends on his/her estimated cost of attendance. The estimated cost of attendance is the estimated cost for attending the university. The Office of Student Financial Aid is required to follow federal guidelines in composing your educational cost of attendance. According to federal guidelines, the cost may only include direct educational costs and reasonable living expenses. The cost does not include other financial and familial responsibilities that you may have including consumer debt such as credit card and car payments. You may contact the Financial Aid Coordinator for your college to obtain a copy of your estimated cost of attendance/budget. You may request financial assistance up to your estimated cost of attendance. We encourage students to construct a budget and review their expenses before completing the loan request form.

If I run of out of money before the school year ends or have an emergency, can I request additional financial aid?

Students may request additional aid throughout the year up to their total cost of attendance by submitting an additional loan request. If you need additional financial assistance and are at your maximum cost of attendance, contact your Financial Aid Coordinator to determine whether you qualify for a Professional Judgment adjustment to your budget. You will need to provide your coordinator with documentation of your additional reasonable expenses for review. The final decision regarding your request is made by the Student Financial Aid Director. A budget adjustment can only be made for expenses and emergencies which occur during your school year.

How long does it take to process a student loan application?

It takes approximately ten to fifteen business days to process a student loan request once your application is complete. However, it may take some additional time once the Student Financial Aid office has completed their process for the Bursar’s Office to draw down funds electronically and generate a financial aid refund (via paper check or electronic direct deposit to your bank account).

What is are the Health and Human Services Loan programs?

The Health and Human Services Loan programs offer fixed-rate, low interest, need-based federal loans administered by HRSA. These funding sources include the Health Professions Loan (HPL) Program, the Nursing Student Loan (NSL) Program, and Loans for the Disadvantaged Students (LDS). Funding is extremely limited, and students are encouraged to submit their applications by our priority deadline.

  • The Health Professions Loan (HPL) Program offers loans to Dental Medicine and Pharmacy students needing financial assistance. The interest rate is 5%. Repayment may be deferred during periods of residency.
  • The Nursing Student Loan (NSL) Program provides long-term, low-interest rate loans to full-time and half-time financially needy students pursuing a course of study leading to a baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing.
  • Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS) are federal loans at 5% interest made to students enrolled in Dental Medicine who meet the HHS guidelines for being from a "disadvantaged background."

Am I eligible for the LIFE or Palmetto Fellows Scholarship and how do I apply?

The LIFE and Palmetto Fellows scholarships are programs administered by the South Carolina Commission on High Education (CHE). Students must meet certain requirements to be eligible for these state scholarships:

  • Resident of the State of South Carolina
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Can only receive eight consecutive semesters of funding from initial college enrollment.
  • Cannot have previously earned a Bachelor’s Degree
  • Must earn at least thirty credit hours each school year

Each school year, the Student Financial Aid Office reviews student academic records to identify eligible students. Those students who are eligible for the LIFE or Palmetto Fellows Scholarships are notified by email to complete a Scholarship Affidavit. The Student Financial Aid office cannot disburse funds without an affidavit on file each year.

For additional information on these programs and other state resources, visit the South Carolina Commission on High Education at

What other scholarships are available at MUSC?

Each College at MUSC has its own scholarship committee. To obtain information and apply for MUSC scholarships please review scholarships available at

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns eighteen years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer to the student. Students must give written consent before their educational information can be released to a third party (i.e. parents). Students can complete the Educational Record Release form at

How do I get my financial aid refund?

All financial aid refunds are processed by the Bursar’s Office. The Bursar’s Office also receives scholarship checks and handles tuition and fees billing each semester.

Financial aid is disbursed to the Bursar’s Office each term no earlier than ten days prior to the first day of classes. The Colleges submit attendance dates for each program at MUSC, and this information is used to develop a schedule to release funds. The Bursar’s Office typically issues student refunds within the first two weeks of each term. MUSC students have the option of having the funds electronically transmitted to their bank account (Direct Deposit) or receiving a paper refund check.

For more information on refunds, tuition and fees, billing, or scholarship checks please contact the Bursar’s Office:

Phone: 843-792-2170