Oct 03, 2022  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Guidelines for Need-Based Assistance

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SMU operates under the philosophy that financing an education is a “shared investment” between government, schools, and families. We believe that both parents and students have a primary responsibility to contribute toward educational expenses to the extent that they are reasonably able. Consideration for need-based financial assistance is based on specific requirements determined by each of the funding institutions.


SMU considers an undergraduate student to be dependent upon their families. To be considered for SMU funded need-based funds, each family must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Board’s CSS/PROFILE® application.

Per federal regulations, a student is classified as “dependent” unless they satisfy one or more of the following requirements. If the answer is yes to any of the following, the student is classified as “independent.”

  • The student is an orphan or a ward of the court.
  • The student is a U.S. military veteran.
  • The student provides more than half of the financial support for a dependent other than a spouse.
  • The student is married.
  • The student turns 24 years of age before December 31 of the academic year for which aid is sought.
  • The student was in foster care after age 13.
  • The student was an emancipated minor by the court in the student’s state of legal residence.
  • The student was under legal guardianship as determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence.

The University reserves the right to alter the combination of gift funds and self-help funding (student loan and work programs) from year to year based on a family’s demonstrated financial need as determined through the FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE® applications, along with the availability of funds, current University policies approved by the SMU Board of Trustees, and federal/state legislation. Typically, the amount of self-help will increase as a student advances toward graduation.


To be eligible for federal and/or state financial assistance, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Be in good standing with the University.
  • Meet or exceed the minimum standard for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in an approved, degree seeking or certificate program.
  • Not be in default on any federal or state student loan or have borrowed in excess of the loan limits
  • Not be flagged for a previous federal or state grant overpayment
  • Be registered with the Selective Service, if required to do so
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen for federal aid programs
  • Be a Texas resident as defined by State of Texas for state aid programs


Students may be selected for verfication by SMU (Institutional selection) or by the U.S. Department of Education (Federal selection). If selected, students and their families must submit any and all documents requested by the Office of Financial Aid to confirm and verify the accuracy of data submitted on the FAFSA. Supporting documentation may include, but is not limited to, official tax transcripts from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, W-2’s, household size documentation, legal marriage and/or divorce documentation including child custody and support decrees, and non-custodial parent financial information. All required documentation should be submitted within the time-frame provided by the Office of Financial Aid. No funds will be disbursed until the verification process is complete.

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