Understanding Financial Aid
A lot goes into a typical financial aid package. This guide explains key terms that will help you understand your aid award and how best to finance the most important investment you’ll ever make.
How Financial Aid Awards Are Determined
Cost of Attendance (COA)
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
= Financial Need
Cost of Attendance (COA): Direct expenses (tuition, fees and on-campus room and board) and indirect expenses (books and supplies, transportation, and other personal and living expenses).
Expected Family Contribution (EFC): An estimate of your family’s financial strength used to calculate your financial need. It’s determined through an objective need analysis formula developed by the federal government, and is based on information reported on your FAFSA.
Net Price: The amount you ultimately pay after subtracting all financial aid from your direct costs. Our Net Price Calculator lets you estimate what you will end up paying (entering freshmen only).
Types of Financial Aid Explained
Grants and Scholarships: Sometimes called “free money,” these funds do not need to be repaid.
Scholarships are generally based on academic merit or enrollment in a specific major:
Institutional scholarships are awarded through Dominican. You are automatically considered for most of these awards when you apply to Dominican.
External scholarships outside of Dominican are another option for many students. These require a separate application process.
Grants are typically awarded on the basis of financial need. You are considered for the following most common types of grants when you fill out the FAFSA:
Federal Pell Grant: This grant from the federal government is awarded only to students who demonstrate financial need. Award amounts are determined by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and enrollment status. Students continue to receive the Pell Grant as long as they still demonstrate financial need levels that make them eligible and do not reach their Pell lifetime limit award amount.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) Program. Awarded to undergraduate students who demonstrate the most significant financial need, typically students with a $0 EFC. Awards are subject to availability of funds and range from $300–$1,600 per year.
MAP Grant: The state of Illinois’ Monetary Award Program (MAP) provides grants to Illinois residents attending colleges in the state. The maximum grant is currently $8,400. State of Illinois MAP Grant Policies
Student Loans: Loans are an important part of financial aid packages. Students must be enrolled at least half time to be eligible for federal student loans. Half-time enrollment for undergraduate students is 6 credit hours in a term. Half-time enrollment for graduate students in the Master of Arts in Mediation and Conflict Resolution and Master of Arts in Trauma-informed Leadership is 3 credit hours in a term. For all other graduate programs half-time enrollment is 4.5 credit hours in a term.
Yes, they must be repaid, but there are smart ways to borrow. For starters, the federal government student loans included in many aid package come with many benefits not typically offered with private bank loans:
You don’t have to repay any of it until six months after you leave school.
The interest rate is often lower. It’s also fixed; it will never rise.
The government pays the interest for you on subsidized loans while you’re in school. (With unsubsidized loans, you may want to consider making interest payments while still in school).
Take only what you need. You can cancel all or part of your loan if you don't need it.
- Review the many loan repayment plans available including income-based repayment.
Check out this sample loan repayment schedule.
Parent Loans: Parents of dependent students can also borrow from the federal government’s Parent PLUS Loan program.
Private Loans: Borrowed funds typically offered by private lenders that can help with educational and living expenses not covered by other financial aid. Learn more about private loans.
How to Avoid Default: Default is the failure to repay a loan according to its terms. For most federal student loans, you will default if you fail to make a required payment for more than 270 days. You can lose eligibility for federal student aid and may face legal consequences. There are many repayment plans available including ones based on your income that can help you avoid defaulting on your student loans. Learn about steps to avoid default.
Where to See Your Loan History: All federal loans are reported to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and this information can be accessed by loan servicers, schools and other authorized entities. Students can view their loan history at studentaid.gov.
Work-Study: Students who have Federal Work-Study (determined by financial need) or Dominican Employment included in their financial aid award letter are eligible to apply for student employment. Resident students are given priority. You receive these funds in the form of a paycheck; they’re not applied directly to your tuition bill. Dominican employs hundreds of students, many of them in jobs that align with their major. Besides the paycheck, these positions offer valuable experience—and a great start to building a resume.
Veterans Benefits: The federal government offers educational benefits to current service members, veterans and their families. Dominican accepts all forms of GI Bill® and is an active participant in the Yellow Ribbon initiative through the Post 9/11 GI Bill®. Learn more.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.
Additional Sources of Aid
AmeriCorps: The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is a post-service benefit received by participants who complete a term of national service in an approved AmeriCorps program. Please visit AmeriCorps for more details on how you can use your AmeriCorps award to help pay educational expenses.
State of Illinois Teaching Scholarships: The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) administers the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program and the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) program, which provide financial resources for students studying to become teachers. Information on eligibility requirements and application deadlines can be found on the commission's website.
Loans for Study Abroad: Students or their parents may apply to borrow additional loan funds to cover the costs of their study abroad program. Learn more.
Tuition Exchange: Dominican University participates in three tuition exchange programs based on a parent’s employment at participating institutions.
Student Loan Checklist (This is super important. Don’t skip this!)
STEP ONE: Fill out the loan confirmation form
If you were awarded a Federal Direct Loan you must complete the Loan Confirmation Form even if you are declining the loan. Go to dom.edu/financialaid > Forms > Student Loan Confirmation Form .
STEP TWO: Complete a counseling session
Before receiving a student loan, borrowers must complete an online counseling session at studentaid.gov. It only takes 20-30 minutes.
STEP THREE: Sign your promissory note
The Master Promissory Note is a legal and binding agreement between you and the U.S. Department of Education—it’s your promise to repay your loan. Sign it electronically at studentaid.gov. You’ll need:
Your FSA ID
Your driver’s license or state ID number (if you have one)
Names, addresses and telephone numbers of two references who live in the United States. References must live at two different postal addresses.
Things to Remember
Complete the FAFSA … Again?
Yes. You need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year to be considered for financial aid. Fill it out as soon as it becomes available (currently October 1) to receive the best possible aid package. Dominican University's code is 001750.
Before You Go Part-Time…
Changes in status, like dropping below a full-time or part-time course load can affect your financial aid package. Talk to a financial aid counselor first!
Where’s My Bill? Check Your Email!
Before the start of each semester, the university publishes bills that itemize charges. Please contact Stars Connect at (708) 524-6809 if you have questions about your bill.
What’s a Loan Origination Fee?
In addition to interest, you pay a loan origination fee on each Federal Direct Loan that you receive. The U.S. Department of Education deducts this fee before you receive any loan money so that the loan amount you actually receive will be less than the amount you have to repay. The current loan origination fee for federal student loans is 1.057%. This fee is valid on loans disbursed before October 1, 2023. The origination fee will change on loans disbursed after that date.
Financial Aid Disbursement
For most aid programs, the amount you have been awarded for a semester will be credited to your account after the start of the semester. The MAP funds are credited at the time we receive payment from the state of Illinois, usually a few months after the term has begun. Federal Direct Stafford loan funds are credited directly to the student’s account.
According to federal regulations, a financial aid package may need to be revised if additional aid is received. Changes in enrollment and/or housing may also result in a revision. Any changes must be reported to the Office of Financial Aid.
Funds remaining in your account after all charges have been paid will be refunded. Refunds will be processed by the Office of Student Accounts after the add/drop period, and are based upon funds actually received and credited to your account.
Tuition Refunds for Withdrawal
The schedule for tuition refunds based on withdrawal from courses is published at dom.edu/MyDU.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Students who do not continue to make satisfactory academic progress toward their degree risk losing their financial aid. All students must comply with the federally mandated Satisfactory Academic Progress standards to remain eligible for federal, state and institutional financial aid.
Questions, Concerns, Appeals
If you have questions about your financial aid award, we hope you will take advantage of the help provided by the Office of Financial Aid. Please call (708) 524-6809 or email us at email@example.com.