Masters of Physician Assistant Studies Financial Aid

RRCC is very excited to be the first community college in the country to have a Master’s Degree and we are especially excited to be able to offer Federal Financial Aid for your program. We are still working on getting our programming in place but meanwhile, we are providing below a set of frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) to assist you. We also have created a very tentative cost of attendance for your first year of the Masters of Physician Assistant (MPAS) program. The financial aid office determines your cost of attendance by adding together your estimated expenses for the 12-month academic year. Every students costs are expected to vary depending on their circumstances; however, colleges all create a generic cost of attendance that is then used to award students what they are request and/or what they are eligible for.

Estimated 2017-2018 Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid

1st Year MPA Student (Fall/Spring/Summer = 12 Mos)
Colorado Resident

Tuition and Fees

$41,482

Books and Supplies

$2,700

Room and Board

$13,776

Travel

$2,220

Loan Fees

$1,088

Miscellaneous

$5,052

Total

$66,318

 

 

1st Year MPA Student (Fall/Spring/Summer = 12 Mos)
Non-Resident

Tuition and Fees

$50,241

Books and Supplies

$2,700

Room and Board

$13,776

Travel

$2,220

Loan Fees

$1,088

Miscellaneous

$5,052

Total

$75,077

 

 

Possible Financial Aid

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

$20,500

RRCC Foundation Scholarship

$2,000

Total

$22,500

Other Important Considerations

The above sample costs assume that the student is not living with parents. Students living with relatives (other than spouse or children) would have a slightly lower cost of attendance (primarily room and board). Possible additions that can be made are child care expenses and the one-time purchase or lease of a computer (starting with the summer before entry into the program).

The difference between the total estimated cost of attendance listed above and the possible financial aid can usually be met by students applying for a Graduate PLUS or an Alternative (Private) Loan. Graduate PLUS and Alternative loans are based on good credit, though, and could require a co-signor, especially if the student has adverse credit history. Students who are unable to borrow the Graduate PLUS or Alternative Loans must rely on other resources to cover the remainder of their program.

There are 7 semesters over 3 academic years that make up the RRCC MPAS program. Students will need to submit the FAFSA a total of 3 times (once each year), preferably starting in October for the next academic year that starts in fall. MPAS students who have met the FAFSA priority date of April 1 and submitted all paperwork, can expect to be awarded in late May or early June. Unfortunately awarding is usually delayed until late spring because the Financial Aid Office is waiting on final determination of tuition rates and course fees which are set annually in spring by the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education. For this reason, the tuition rates and course fees listed above are always subject to change.

Disbursements generally occur approximately 3 weeks after the start of the semester. RRCC uses the BankMobile refund system to issue refunds of remaining aid to students’ accounts, so it could be close to a month after classes start before students’ accounts at the college are paid and students have access to their remaining funds. For this reason, students should plan on having some other resources besides their financial aid available to them at the beginning of each semester to pay their living expenses and their other bills.


MPAS Program - Frequently Asked Questions about Financial Aid

Q. I’m not sure that I qualify for financial aid, should I apply?

A. Graduate students do not qualify for most types of aid that are available to undergraduate students. Graduate students are not eligible for undergraduate federal and state grants. Student loans, however, are considered financial aid and almost everyone will qualify for them. Also, because some scholarships are “need-based” (meaning you have to demonstrate that you have financial need), it would be best to have applied for financial aid (complete the FAFSA), just in case. 

Q.  What are the types of student loans that might be available to me?

A.  Below are the types of loans available to MPAS graduate students at this time:

  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans
  • Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans 
  • Alternative or Private Loans based on student enrollment that the school will be involved in certifying and disbursing
  • Private, signature loans that the school does not certify or disburse

Q. When should I start my financial planning for the PA program?

A. You should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible AFTER acceptance into the MPAS Program. The FAFSA is available beginning October 1st, prior to the start of your program the following August. It is a good idea to have all your documentation into the Office of Financial Aid early, with one exception:  We would ask that you wait to submit any alternative loan application until late spring or early summer to avoid having to re-apply.  Some alternative loan applications expire after a set number of days if not certified and so you will want to contact your alternative loan lender for specific timelines and expiration dates. 

Q. What are the steps for applying for financial aid?

A. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at www.fafsa.gov. You will be asked to establish an ID and password. Keep your User ID and password secure and available for use in making any corrections, completing federal loan processes, and reapplying in subsequent years, etc. After you have submitted the application online, watch for correspondence from the Financial Aid Office requesting any additional documentation needed to complete your file. Once your file is complete, you will most likely be automatically offered the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan, unless you have already met the maximum that is allowed for graduate students. Included with your award will be details on next steps to accept your offered loans and apply for others. 

Q. Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

A. Yes, beginning October 1st, you may submit the FAFSA for the next academic year.

Q. I submitted my FAFSA online several weeks ago, but haven’t heard anything from RRCC. What should I do?

A. Once we electronically load your FAFSA information to our system, we start running programs to see if any additional information is needed. To see where you are in the process, check the RRCC student portal, called The Rock, for information on what might be needed, whether or not you have been awarded, etc. With the earlier availability of the FAFSA starting in October 2016, our office is likely to start loading FAFSA records in December or January of each year so we would suggest that you contact us sometime in December for our timelines. 

Q. How and when will I receive my aid offer?

A. Once your file is complete and we have had time to review your file, you will receive an award letter in the mail. We will also send you an email notifying you of your offered awards, so be sure and check The Rock. In order to actually receive a Federal Direct Student Loan, students must accept their loan online through Banner. You will be required to sign an online promissory note and will need to complete “entrance counseling” (an orientation to student loans), which is also done online. If you have been awarded a Foundation Scholarship, it may be on the award letter.

Q. As a PA student, is there an amount I can plan for in my Financial Aid award?

A. Graduate students may borrow up to $20,500.00 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans each academic year. For students who choose to borrow a Graduate PLUS loan or an alternative loan, the combination of all of these available loans may be borrowed to cover living expenses along with tuition, fees, books, and supplies up to the total cost of attendance.

Q. How will my aid be credited to my student account?

A. Once your money is available to be disbursed, the Business Office credits your account (pays any outstanding balance) and refunds the remaining amount to you through your BankMobile account. Financial Aid funds begin to be disbursed into student accounts after the census date (last date to drop classes without owing any tuition), and then several more days before the refund is available to you through your bank account. Loans are always evenly awarded across the fall, spring, and summer semesters, so you will receive 1/3 of your loan each term. 

Q. After accounting for all of the financial aid that does not require repayment, like scholarships, how should I prioritize the various educational financing options that are available?

A. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans are best because they are not credit-based, do not require a co-signor, and you are automatically eligible for them unless you are in default or have already met the maximum amount allowed for a graduate student. The Graduate PLUS  loan is another federal student loan but it is not always competitive with alternative loans. Both Graduate PLUS and alternative loans are credit-based and frequently require a co-signer, but the interest rates vary and so you will want to shop around before you decide which is best for your needs. There are other private loans that don’t require school certification and they would be the least desirable because they have even higher interest rates.  

Q. What are my choices for a lender when I am ready to apply for my Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans? 

A. With the Federal Direct Loan Program (the Unsubsidized and the Graduate PLUS) the federal government is the lender. The terms (interest rates, repayment options, deferments, etc.) are set depending on when the loan is first disbursed, so there is no decision-making on your part, other than whether or not to borrow and the amount to borrow. 

Q. How do I choose an alternative loan program?

A. If you need additional funding beyond your own resources and Federal Direct Loans, there are numerous alternative loans available to many students. There are many ways to compare alternative loan programs. Typically, a student’s unique circumstances will determine which loan program makes the most sense. While there are no absolute ways to determine which loan programs are best, there are a few general guidelines that will help you choose the most affordable loan option. Unfortunately, in the current economy, the entire student loan market has become extremely tight and there are very few lenders who offer alternative loans. We are unable to recommend any one lender over another because the best choice might vary from student to student based on their individual circumstances. 

  • Lowest Cost: The loan’s interest rates and fee structure determine the amount of a loan’s finance charges. Some loans (like mortgages) allow you to pay up- front fees in exchange for a lower interest rates, whereas some loans don’t even have up-front fee. You should consider this feature in relation to how long you plan to repay the loan. The loans with a longer repayment period are often less expensive with lower interest charges and a slightly higher up front fee. In addition, some loans may be tax deductible. 
  • Interest rate options: Programs offer different interest rate options. Fixed rates stay the same over the life of the loan, while variable rates fluctuate with the prime interest rate (or other index). The frequency of interest rate changes also varies among programs.  Some change annually, some quarterly and a few as often as monthly.
  • Flexibility: Consider the repayment options offered. Are payments required during school enrollment? Can principal be deferred? Are alternative payment programs (graduate repayment or income sensitive, for example) offered?

Q. How is my Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) calculated?

A. The Department of Education has a rather complicated formula that takes into account your income, assets, number in the household, number in college, your age, the state you live in, etc. The EFC is the amount that is then calculated to be your reasonable ability to contribute to all your expenses. Those expenses include tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, PA program fees, transportation, insurance, and personal expenses. The calculation does not take into account what your actual expenses are because those vary from one individual to the next. There are a few unusual expenses that we might be able to add to your estimated cost of attendance (such as child care), but you will need to talk to your Financial Aid Advisor about those possibilities. 

Q. How do I manage the difference between the PA program cost and the amount of financial aid I was awarded?

A. Savings and alternatives loans are the most common additional resources. A limited number of scholarships are available through the Red Rocks Foundation and their application is available for several months during the spring.

Q. Will I have my financial aid by the time I need to pay for tuition?

A. Financial Aid funds are disbursed shortly after the drop date (census date), which is about 2 weeks after classes start. Once the disbursement date has passed, your bill at RRCC is paid with any funds that you have coming and then the Business Office sends any remaining refund to your BankMobile account. If you do not have financial aid pending, you will need to sign up for the payment plan through the Cashiers Office in order to avoid late fees. For your other expenses such as room, board, and personal expenses, you should plan to have funds saved prior to coming to school to cover those expenses for 4-6 weeks, until you receive your financial aid refund.   

Q. I know that a federal loan has a waiting period. Is there also a waiting period with an alternative loan?

A. Yes. We also hold alternative loan funds until the drop (census) date and then we will disburse those funds in 3 equal disbursements (fall, spring, and summer).

Q.  What is Satisfactory Academic Progress and does it apply to me?

A.  Federal and State regulations require that all student financial aid recipients maintain specific academic standards, called “satisfactory academic progress.” These standards are applied to your entire academic history at RRCC, including periods when financial aid was not received.  Evaluations of academic records are based on the following three criteria: cumulative grade point average (GPA), cumulative completion rate (# of credits earned compared to # of credits attempted), and maximum time frame (maximum # of credits attempted at the school). Transfer hours are considered for the maximum time frame criteria, and this is where many PA students find that they have difficulties. Unfortunately, those transfer credits (and sometimes credits taken prior to admission into the PA program) have a negative impact based on this regulation and result in students being ineligible for aid.  If you receive a Satisfactory Academic Progress “warning” or “ineligible” letter from the Office of Financial Aid, please come in immediately to discuss it with us.  Most of the time, we merely need for you to submit an appeal explaining that you have just been admitted into the PA program (which we consider a 2nd major) and your appeal is approved. It is important that you heed these letters, though, so that your aid does not get canceled and/or delayed.

Q. If I have additional questions, who may I contact? 

A.  Cindy Vadeboncoeur, Associate Director of Financial Aid, is the primary contact person for your MPAS financial aid questions. Cindy is located at the RRCC Arvada Campus and may be reached at (303) 914-6021, or by email at cindy.vadeboncoeur@rrcc.edu.