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Types of Aid Available

Financial Aid is any source of funds available to assist students with paying for the costs of a college education. If you think you will need assistance, you are encouraged to apply for financial aid. Whatever your family situation, you can be sure that you will be treated fairly and equitably.


Most assistance is based on demonstrated financial need; however, some are based solely on merit. Merit programs, including most scholarship programs, help students who have special abilities. Often, you do not have to show financial need to receive money through merit-based programs.


There are four main types of financial aid:  Scholarships, Grants, Work-Study and Loans. Usually, a student is offered a combination of aid (known as an award "package") from these four programs which are a combination of Merit Base and Need Base Aid:


Merit-Based vs Need-Based Financial Aid

As you’re learning more about financial aid, you’ll hear the terms need-based aid and merit-based financial aid. Understanding how this aid is awarded and what type of financial aid is available to you will help you determine how to pay for your college tuition and other school costs.


Many students assume that all financial aid is based on financial need. However, there is a variety of college money available based on your academic merits and special skills, as well as from the organizations you belong to. To get the most money for college, you’ll want to understand the differences between each type of aid and how to get the amount you need to pursue your college degree.


The Basics on Merit-Based Aid

Some money for college is awarded without regard for financial need. This type of college aid is usually awarded for a student’s academic achievements in high school, as well as for special talents and unique traits, such as musical or athletic skills. Awards and scholarships like this are usually awarded by states, colleges and universities, private groups or individuals. It’s generally intended to supplement need-based aid or help you cover your expected family contribution if you don’t have that money on hand.

Common examples of merit-based financial aid:

  • College Scholarships
  • Awards
  • Tuition Waivers

The Basics on Need-Based Aid

Need-based college aid is awarded based on your family’s financial need. The Department of Education and the colleges and universities you’re applying to determine your need by subtracting your expected family contribution (EFC) form the cost of attendance (COA) at each college or university.


Because all federal aid is need-based, you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to be eligible for federal aid, as well as need-based aid from states and institutions. Some need-based aid consists of education grants you don’t need to repay, while others are college loans that need to be repaid with interest. Federal loans are the largest form of financial aid, and they will likely be a large part of your college award letters.

Common examples of need-based financial aid:


Please click on our Aid-Scholarship tab for more information regarding Dillard University Scholarships Programs and there is additional information on the Outside Scholarships tab.





Federal Pell Grant

    • Need based grant awarded to U.S citizens or eligible non-citizens.  
    • Awards vary from $346 to $6,895 for the 2022-2023 academic year.
    • Awards are based on eligibility criteria which includes the family's Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and the student's enrollment status (credit hours of enrollment).  Please Note:  Federal Pell Grant awards are generally awarded based on full-time enrollment and will be adjusted if the student is less than full-time. 


Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

  • Students eligible for the Federal Pell Grant Program are given priority.
  • This is a Need Based grant awarded to students with a Pell Eligible Expected Family Contribution (EFC) - Priority is given to students with lower EFCs.
  • Must be enrolled at least half time.
  • Funds are limited, must meet financial aid priority deadline of March 1st.




Federal Direct Subsidized Loan 

  • Need-based loan in which interest does not accrue while the borrower is enrolled at least half-time.
  • Interest rates are fixed. The Interest rate for the 2022-2023 year is 4.99 percent. The Federal Law determines the new rates which are effective July 1st of each award year.  The rate is based on the U.S. Treasury Note/Bill.
  • The maximum annual loan amounts are based on classification, Freshman: $3,500, Sophomore: $4500, Juniors & Seniors: $5500.
  • First-time borrowers must complete a Master Promissory Note and an Entrance Counseling session before receiving loan proceeds.
  • Borrowers are required to complete an Exit Counseling shortly before graduation or upon ceasing enrollment on at least a half-time basis.
  • Repayment begins six months after the student graduates or is enrolled less than half time.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

  • Non need-based loan that accrues interest while the borrower in enrolled. The borrower may choose to repay the interest as it accrues while enrolled, or defer the interest to be repaid with the principal balance.
  • 2020-2021 Interest Rate is fixed at 2.75 percent.
  • Interest begins accruing while the student is in school. If interest payment is deferred, the interest will capitalize onto the principal.
  • Repayment begins six months after the student graduates or is enrolled less than half time.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan

  • Low-interest loan made to Parents of Undergraduate Dependent Students. The lender is the federal government.
  • 2022-2023 the fixed interest rate is 7.54% which applies to all Direct Parent PLUS loans.  
  • Available to creditworthy parents regardless of financial need. A credit check will be performed by the government.
  • Amount borrowed may be up to the cost of education as determined by the school, less any other financial aid and resources.  
  • Loan origination fees are charged.  Repayment begins 60 days after loan is disbursed.
  • Students whose parents’ credit is denied for a PLUS loan may be eligible for additional unsubsidized Stafford loans

Federal Nursing Loan:  This is a Federal Loan awarded to eligible students enrolled in the Nursing Program.



  • Must be enrolled at least half-time as an undergraduate student in the Nursing Program at Dillard University.
  • Low interest loan based upon financial need which is determined by results of FAFSA
  • Submit a copy of federal tax return(s) if requested by the Financial Aid Office


Promissory Note

  • Requires a separate master promissory note (MPN)
  • The MPN cannot be completed until the loan has been certified by Dillard University
  • Students will meet with the Nursing Loan representative in the Office of Business and Finance


Additional Information

The Nursing Student Loan is a federal loan available to undergraduate nursing students demonstrating financial need. Nursing students who want to be considered for the loan must meet the FAFSA priority deadline for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  • Fixed interest rate of 5 percent
  • No interest accrues while you are in school at least half-time
  • Repayment begins nine months after graduation or withdrawal from the University
  • Deferment during periods of at least half-time enrollment while pursuing an undergraduate degree or advanced professional (graduate) training in nursing.



Income-Contingent Funding Alternative

Student Freedom Initiative, a single-purpose nonprofit organization focused on serving students at Minority Serving Institutions, including Dillard University, offers student academic support programs as well as an income-contingent funding alternative, the Student Freedom Agreement, for eligible juniors and seniors in STEM majors. Learn more about Student Freedom Initiative at Dillard. 



Logo of Student Freedom Initiative, a single-purpose nonprofit organization


Student Freedom Initiative


A ​​single purpose nonprofit organization, Student Freedom Initiative, the organization strives to be a catalyst for freedom in professional and life choices for students attending Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). They hope to do this by increasing their social and economic mobility using a student-centric, evidence-based, holistic, and collaborative approach. In simpler terms, Student Freedom Initiative hopes to provide students with the academic skills and career opportunities they need to succeed after graduation, including:  


  •     •  Tutoring and mentoring 
  •     •  Internships
  •     •  Targeted capacity-building 


Student Freedom Initiative also offers an income-contingent funding alternative to eligible students at participating schools, including Dillard University.  


Are You Eligible for Student Freedom Initiative Programs?


All Dillard University students can take advantage of Student Freedom Initiative’s academic and career support programs, from tutoring and mentoring opportunities to paid internships facilitated through the internX platform, which helps place students at leading companies as interns.  


In addition, Student Freedom Initiative offers targeted capacity-building programs to support our institution’s needs. Details on participation in these programs will be provided on this page as the program rolls out in the coming months. 


The income contingent alternative to fixed payment loans component of Student Freedom Initiative’s program is limited at this time to rising junior and senior students in approved STEM majors. This financial program is called Student Freedom Agreement. The administration at Dillard University, has approved the following majors for participation in the initiative’s Student Freedom Agreement component: 


  •     •  Biology 
  •     •  Chemistry 

    •  Computer Science 

  •     •  Mathematics 
  •     •  Physics 

It’s also important to note that juniors and seniors majoring in any of the approved STEM programs must also meet specific eligibility criteria to receive funding under a Student Freedom Agreement (SFA). The current eligibility criteria includes: 


  •     •  Completed a FAFSA or acceptable alternative state aid application that is accepted and approved by student’s school; 
  •     •  A valid Social Security Number; 
  •     •  Not an international student or foreign exchange student authorized to enter the United States on a non-immigrant visa; 
  •     •  Majority age or older; 
  •     •  Junior or senior for the school year being funded; 
  •     •  Enrolled full-time for the coming academic term (unless we grant an exception because student requires less than full-time enrollment to complete his/her bachelor’s degree in her/his final year of study); 
  •     •  Working towards a degree in an approved STEM major; and 
  •     •  Meeting satisfactory academic progress as defined by the student’s school. 

To learn more about Student Freedom Initiative and the Student Freedom  Agreement, please contact Dillard’s Office of Financial Aid, review the eligibility page on the Student Freedom Initiative’s website or check this page for future updates. 


Details on the Student Freedom Agreement


The Student Freedom Agreement is an income-contingent funding alternative available to rising junior and senior students in approved STEM majors at participating schools.  


Additional Student Freedom Agreement details: 


  •     •  Funding for each student will be capped at $20,000 per academic year and $40,000 total for junior and senior year. 
  •     •  Payment term is 20 years,  or until the Termination Amount is zero.  After which time the SFA will be declared null and void. 
  •     •  Payment can be deferred for up to 12 months for any reason. Once all deferrals have been paid in full, participants can take up to 12 more deferrals. This cycle continues throughout the payment period of the SFA. 
  •     •  The payment amounts are not fixed, and are income-contingent. Participants incur no obligation in years where they make less than 225% of the Federal Poverty Level for an individual in the 48 contiguous states and District of Columbia – currently $28,980 per year. 
  •     •  If a student  is permanently disabled, or dies, the obligation is terminated.   
  •     •  If a participant files for bankruptcy, we will at no time assert that the SFA is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.
  • It’s important to note that if you are interested in participating in this program, you should read all Student Freedom Agreement related documents carefully, and review materials with your financial aid counselor and other qualified professionals before entering into a SFA. While the SFA is meant to support students at HBCUs avoid high-interest loans to pay for their education, it may not be the right choice for all eligible students.  


If a student has applied for the Student Freedom Agreement and would like status updates on their Student Freedom Agreement application, students should contact customer support at 833.531.1310 or for status updates on their Student Freedom Agreement application. Students can also contact their Financial Aid Office with additional questions. 


To learn more about the Student Freedom Agreement, applying for the program and entering into an Agreement, visit the Student Freedom Initiative website


The History of Student Freedom Initiative


Robert F. Smith, entrepreneur, philanthropist and Founder, Chairman and CEO of global investment firm Vista Equity Partners, is the visionary behind Student Freedom Initiative. After Smith’s newsworthy gift of nearly $34 million to pay off the undergraduate student loans of the Morehouse College class of 2019, Smith labored to create more opportunities for lasting, generational change when it came to lessening student debt for students of color. The result of several years of careful study and collaboration was Student Freedom Initiative. Initially endowed with a $50 million donation by Fund II Foundation, of which Smith is also founding director and President, Smith later matched the amount with his own $50 personal gift, and the Initiative was born. 


While Smith was named Chairman of Student Freedom Initiative, a growing number of organizations have offered their support. Some groups will provide financial assistance, while others are offering their expertise by way of training or growing university capacity-building programs.  


For more information, follow Student Freedom Initiative on social media, including their FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts, and check their website for new information and developments.  






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