Financial Aid at SMU
The Financial Aid Office at SMU strives to make an SMU education financially accessible to all students. We know that families have many questions about the comprehensive costs of attending private universities. This guide is designed to provide general information on financial aid, the application process, types of aid available, and how to maximize eligibility.
Types of Financial Assistance
When considering funding a college degree, there are several types of financial assistance to keep in mind:
- Grants – (gift aid) Grants may come from federal, state, or institutional sources. These funds are typically need-based and do not have to be repaid.
- Loans - Money that you borrow to pay for your education. Maximum eligibility is determined by need. Loan repayment is typically postponed until you graduate or leave the university.
- Merit Scholarships - Money awarded based on academic achievement. Transfer students who transfer in 50 transferable hours and have a 3.5 transferable grade point average or higher may be eligible for merit scholarships.
- Other Scholarships - Money awarded based on criteria established by the scholarship source or donor. Funding sources may include your local Chamber of Commerce, booster clubs and churches. Good resources for identifying this type of funding can be found at fastweb.com or collegeboard.org.
- Work Study - Money that you earn through an on-campus job which helps with your expenses while you attend school.
- SMU Opportunity Scholarship - Institutional funding a student may receive based on financial need determined by filing the FAFSA and CSS Profile.
The difference between merit scholarships and financial aid is that SMU merit scholarships are based on your college performance to date. Your financial aid package is based on your financial need. That is why you will hear scholarships referred to as merit aid, whereas grants and loans are referred to as need-based aid.
Apply for Financial Aid
Students applying for financial aid complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® (“Profile”) as early as October 1.
Both forms require tax information from two years prior to the academic year for which you are applying for aid. This is often referred to as “Prior-Prior” tax information. For example, if you are submitting the FAFSA and CSS/Profile for the 2018-2019 academic year, you must use tax information from tax year 2016. Tax year 2016 is two years prior to the academic year 2018-2019 for which you are requesting aid. This may seem a bit confusing so if you have any questions, visit the FAFSA website.
Most students will utilize the IRS data retrieval service to automatically pull the correct tax information from the IRS directly into the FAFSA. Although the CSS/Profile does not offer the option to automatically retrieve data, SMU encourages students and parents to complete the CSS/Profile immediately after filing the FAFSA so that the data is readily available and can be easily transferred from the FAFSA to CSS/Profile. If you need to correct your Profile, you must contact your SMU financial aid advisor for further instructions.
Keep all the records you use to file the FAFSA (tax documents, W-2’s, child support payment records, etc.) together and accessible. Copies may be requested as needed by the SMU Financial Aid Office.
The FAFSA will be used to determine federal and state aid eligibility, such as Pell Grant, Federal Direct Loans and Work Study. The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® will be used to determine eligibility for SMU need-based aid.
In addition to filing the FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®, an independent scholarship search can be done here. If you belong to an organization, such as a religious organization or community group, it is also recommended to ask if they offer scholarships.
Remember: File a new FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® each year prior to the priority deadline listed below.
- First year students: February 15th
- Returning and transfer students: April 15th
Review Your Student Aid Report (SAR)
You will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education a few days after you apply. Please review the information on the SAR carefully and make corrections as soon as possible, if needed. If you have questions, call the Department of Education at (800) 433-3243 (4-FED-AID). You can check the status of your application online.
Set Up Your SMU Email Account
Open your SMU e-mail account as soon as you receive instructions. Important official Financial Aid notices will only go to your SMU email account. Check your Task Tile for missing information needed to complete your Financial Aid Award. Confirm your housing status with Financial Aid to receive the correct Financial Aid award.
Watch for Your Financial Aid Award Notification
Beginning in April, the Office of Financial Aid begins sending Award Notification Letters to incoming students.
New first-year students receive their first financial aid notification by paper. Subsequent notifications are sent by email.
Continuing and incoming transfer students begin receiving award letters in June. To ensure timely processing of your financial aid package, be sure to check the student tasks tile in my.SMU for any required documents.
Transfer students must submit all prior university transcripts to be evaluated by SMU before they are eligible to receive a Financial Aid award package. Students under review for possible merit aid must have all of the documentation required submitted and may have a delay in awarding during this process.
Students transferring in a high number of credit hours may be requested to speak with their Financial Aid Advisor before being awarded Financial Aid. Your Transfer Admission Advisor will contact you as necessary during the Admission process.
View Your Financial Aid in my.SMU
Your financial aid notification will include instructions on how to finalize your aid in my.SMU. You will be able to view your aid and take actions to accept, decline or reduce offered loans.
***Aid may be reviewed and/or revised so check your SMU e-mail often.***
If your FAFSA is selected for verification, the Financial Aid Department notifies you via e-mail with a list documents needed for review. Required documentation requests are found through my.SMU on the student tasks tile. To prevent any delays in processing your financial aid, please send all requested documents promptly. Financial aid awards are subject to change upon review. Students are notified of any changes via their SMU e-mails.
Any outstanding items are listed through the “Tasks” panel located on the my.SMU Student Homepage.
Estimate your costs for a year at SMU with our Net Price Calculator
The Net Price Calculator is designed to give you an early estimated indication of how much and what types of financial aid you might qualify for if you were attending SMU full-time in the academic year indicated. It is a tool which we hope gives you a clear picture of options and opportunities so you can make more informed decisions about your college choices.
Additional Financial Resources
- Apply for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan
Parents of dependent students may apply for the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan. This credit-based loan is made in the parent’s name and must be credit approved by Direct Lending.
- Apply for a Grad PLUS Loan (graduate students only)
Graduate students who file the FAFSA may be eligible for the Grad PLUS loan, which requires credit approval.
- Apply for a private alternative loan
Private or alternative loans are credit-based loans in the student’s name and may require a co-signer.
- Tuition Payment plans are available through the SMU Bursar’s Office.
Things to Remember
- Never pay anyone to file the FAFSA for you. This is a free service.
- Undergraduate students must complete the FAFSA and CSS/Profile.
- Graduate students must complete only the FAFSA. Do not submit the CSS/Profile.
- Complete the CSS Profile and FAFSA carefully. Double check your name and social security number. Check for data entry errors. All of these items can cause delays in processing.
- SMU views the educational process as a partnership between the student, parent or guardian, and the University. SMU does not provide 100% of the cost of attendance and expects students to use all means of financing available to them, including loans and work study.
- SMU merit aid and need-based grants are traditionally available for only 5 semesters for transfer students or until the student graduates, whichever comes first.
- To retain merit scholarships, students must be full-time and maintain a 3.000 or higher cumulative SMU GPA. If you fail to meet this requirement by the end of each spring term, you will lose the merit aid for the following fall and spring terms. Students may use summer school work to improve GPAs and retain scholarships.
- Limited financial assistance is available for summer school.
- Financial assistance is not available to students pursuing a second bachelor’s degree.
Click here for more information about transferring to SMU.