Financial Aid

Here are some general requirements pertaining to financial aid. This information is also published in the Financial Aid Guide that accompanies student award letters.


Eligibility for aid is contingent upon meeting several standards. For federal aid, students must submit a FAFSA for each academic year in which they will enroll to be considered. Additionally, students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress towards their degree. For institutional aid, students must maintain specified cumulative GPA standards for their merit scholarships or demonstrate financial need on their FAFSA for need-based grants.

For all types of aid, students must enroll in classes that pertain to the degree program to which they have been admitted, minors to which they have been approved (undergraduates only), and general education requirements (undergraduates only). Federal regulations prohibit the receipt of federal financial aid for classes which do not pertain a student's degree requirements.

Enrollment Information

The amount of financial aid a student can receive depends on the student's level of enrollment. Some forms of aid, such as the University's merit scholarship and grant, require that the student be enrolled full-time. Other types of aid, such as the Stafford Loan, requires that the student be enrolled half-time at minimum. The Office of Financial Aid assumes all Undergraduate Day Program students will enroll full-time while Adult Degree Completion Program and Graduate students must submit a Dominican Financial Aid Application to confirm the number of units they will take. If enrollment plans change, it is the responsibility of the student to let the Office of Financial Aid know the number of units the student will take so that the aid can be updated. Funds may be adjusted, rescinded, or returned depending on the changes.

Students should be aware that by enrolling less-than-half-time, they will enter their 6 month grace period for federal loans, backdated to the last date they were enrolled at least half-time. Once the grace period expires, payments on the loan will be required. Students are encouraged to come speak with the Office of Financial Aid to determine impacts to aid before making changes to enrollment.

Notify the Office of Financial Aid promptly (in writing or via e-mail) of any change in your enrollment status, housing plans, or external resources. 

Undergraduate Day and Adult Degree Completion Program Students

  • Full-time enrollment is at least 12 per semester.
  • Three-quarter-time enrollment is 9 or more units, but less than 12 units per semester.
  • Half-time enrollment is 6 or more units, but less than 9 units per semester.
  • Less-than-half-time enrollment is less than 6 units.

Note: Normally, Undergraduate/ADC students must take between 15-17 units per semester in order to stay on track to graduate within four years.

Graduate Students

  • Full-time status is 9 units for the Fall and Spring Semesters and 6 units for the Summer Semester. 
  • Half-time status is 4.5 or more units, but less than 9 units for the Fall and Spring Semesters and 3 or more units units, but less than 6 units for the Summer Semester.
  • Less-than-half-time enrollment is less than 4.5 units for Fall and Spring and less than 3 units for Summer.

Living Arrangements 

A student's estimated Cost of Attendance depends on whether the student indicates they will live on-campus or off-campus on the FAFSA. If housing plans change, it may impact financial aid eligibility since there are different costs associated with on-campus residence, off-campus apartment, or residing at home with parents. Students are encouraged to speak with the Office of Financial Aid if they are planning on moving off-campus (or moving on-campus) to determine the exact impacts of such a change on their financial aid awards.

Tax Benefits

Students and their families can take advantage of several tax benefits to help offset some of the cost of attending the University. There are two federal tax credits, the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit that helps reduce the amount of income tax a person must pay. Interest paid on student loans can also be used as a deduction on taxes.

There are also Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, Qualified Tuition Programs, and IRA options which have tax implications as well. Please visit Federal Student Aid for additional information.

Other Resources  

If a student will receive additional financial aid resources that are not listed on the financial aid award letter, such as private scholarships, grants, Veterans Benefits, or tuition reimbursement, the student must report those sources to the Office of Financial Aid. Failure to do so can lead to complications as some federal aid may need to be returned to the government as the student is only allowed to receive a certain amount of aid in a given academic year. In such a situation, the student may end up owing a balance to the University.

Aid and Dependent Care Costs

For students with dependents that need care while the student is attending class, the cost of dependent care can be taken into account when determining the maximum capacity for aid the student may receive during a given academic year. Students may submit a Budget Appeal along with documentation of those exact costs to have it taken into account for their maximum total for aid. Note: The Budget Appeal process increases the maximum total a student can receive in aid, submitting a Budget Appeal does not award the student with additional aid.

Timeline for Disbursing Aid

Once a student completes and submits all necessary documents, awarded aid will appear on the student's billing statement and online account statement as anticipated aid. All aid that the student was awarded, but not yet funded are considered anticipated. Once the transfer of funds occur, the aid will no longer be listed as anticipated and will appear as a line item on the billing statement. Most federal and institutional financial aid begin disbursing during the first week of the Fall and Spring semesters. Summer disbursements begin at the end of June. Some types of aid, such as the Federal Pell Grant and Cal Grant disburse in the weeks following the last day to add/drop classes of each semester.

Some types of aid require verification of eligibility and/or additional processing before the funds can be applied to the student bill. These include, but are not limited to, Cal Grants, Federal Pell Grants, Stafford, and Perkins loans. It is important that a student completes and submits all requested items to ensure disbursement of aid is not delayed.


If a student's aid and out-of-pocket payments exceed the direct cost of attendance due to the University, the student will have a credit balance on their billing statement. This credit balance will be refunded to the student (or Parent PLUS Loan borrower) once the aid disburses. This refund can be used by the student to cover any indirect expenses they may incur such as the cost of books, supplies, transportation, etc. Credit balance refunds are processed weekly throughout the semester, upon verification of eligibility. Checks are issued on Fridays and can be picked up directly from Business Services between 12 PM - 3 PM. If the check is not picked up, it will be mailed to the address on record for the student or parent.

Because the student's eligibility for aid and any subsequent refund must be verified, students should be prepared at the start of the semester to pay for any immediate living expenses, books, transportation, and other costs, regardless of any expected credit balance. This is particularly true for students whose credit balance is generated solely by Cal Grant or Pell Grant, as the credit balance refund will not be issued until after those awards disburse (mid-to-late September for Fall, mid-to-late February for Spring).

Federal Return of Funds

If a student leaves school (for instance, withdraws or takes a leave of absence) after the start of classes, their financial aid may be subject to federal return of funds regulations. These regulations specify the percentage of aid that a student is entitled to retain versus the portion that must be returned to the federal student aid programs. The federal refund calculation takes into consideration the number of days the student was enrolled in proportion to the length of the semester. Depending on when the student withdraws or takes the leave, the student may owe a balance to the University after aid is returned. For additional information, please see our Withdrawal/Return of Title IV Funds page. If a student is contemplating a leave of absence or withdrawal and has federal financial aid funds, the student is encouraged to speak with the Office of Financial Aid to determine the amount that the student must return.

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