Graduate Financial Planning

Graduate Financial Planning


Converse seeks to make education possible for graduate students through federal and state loan programs and assistantships. The return on investment is clear, with graduates telling us: “Attending Converse and earning my graduate degree was one of the best decisions I have made, personally  and professionally,” and “It was a privilege to attend Converse College. I will always be grateful for that opportunity.”

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available to assist students with educational costs. Assistantships require at least 20 hours of work each week in a specified campus office. Compensation for the assistantship is equal to the tuition of one graduate course per semester. Contact the graduate admission office of your intended program for more information.

Music students: learn about music graduate assistantships.

MFA students: learn about graduate assistantships, fellowships, and work scholarships.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Program: Graduate students are eligible for financial assistance through the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan program.  Under the unsubsidized program, interest begins accruing while the student is enrolled. Interest may either be paid during the enrollment period or may be capitalized on a quarterly basis; in which case the interest will be added to the principal amount of the loan. All degree-seeking graduate students who are enrolled at least half-time are eligible for this loan, however, you must file the FAFSA to qualify. The amount you may borrow will be determined by the Financial Planning Office and is based on your total educational costs for the academic year.

South Carolina Teachers Loan Program: To encourage talented and qualified South Carolina students to enter the teaching profession, the State of South Carolina developed the Teachers Loan Program to assist students with college expenses. The loans can be canceled at the rate of 20% per year by teaching in South Carolina public schools in state-designated areas of critical need. Applications are available in the Office of Financial Assistance beginning in February for the following academic year. The deadline for applying is April 30.

Alternative Loan Programs: Alternative educational loans are available from private lenders and offer additional financial assistance to students who have exhausted all other sources of funding for their education. These programs are meant to supplement federal, state, institutional and private aid when the cost of attendance (COA) is not fully covered by these programs.

We strongly encourage you to review all financial aid you have been offered to accurately determine the amount of alternative/private loan funds that you may need to borrow. Your financial aid information is available at

To better estimate your expenses, and to accurately complete self-certification information (part of the alternative loan application process), please consider your cost of attendance to include tuition, room and board, books and other incidental expenses.

Before You Apply…

Before you apply for an alternative private loan, it is important for you to realize that if you proceed with the alternative loan application process that you are making a financial decision that will impact your life well after graduation. Some of the factors you should consider are:

  • What are realistic projections of your starting salary as well as future earnings potential in your field?
  • What other loan obligations do you/will you have and how much of your future income is already committed to those debts? You can view your cumulative Direct Student Loan debt at National Student Loan Data System under “Financial Aid Review”.
  • What are your lifestyle needs/desires after graduation? Can you afford to decrease your projected monthly net income by additional loan obligations?
  • Can any changes be made to your current/future lifestyle needs/wants that would eliminate/reduce the need for an alternative loan?

 Applying for an Alternative Educational Loan

If an alternative loan is the only financial aid you desire, the submission of a FAFSA is not required.  It is highly encouraged, however, that a FAFSA be submitted in order to be considered for the most favorable aid for the student.

When you apply for an alternative loan, you must also complete a loan application, a promissory note, a self-certification form, and accepting all loan terms with the lender before the loan funds will be disbursed to the institution.

Choosing a Lender

We encourage you to contact a variety of established lenders about their alternative educational loan product(s). You have the right to select any lender you wish to use for an alternative loan. It is the responsibility of the student to thoroughly evaluate each lender before choosing the one that is right for you.

Converse College does not endorse any particular alternative student loan lender. For your convenience, lenders that have provided alternative loans to Converse students within the past three years can be found online by utilizing ELM Select.

The TEACH Grant is a federally funded program for students who plan to teach in both a critical subject and critical geographic area. This grant converts to a loan with accrued interest if certain conditions are not met. Please refer to the
TEACH Grant Checklist (PDF)
for more information including eligibility criteria.

Additional scholarship programs exist through external organizations. For additional information, view our list of scholarship search resources.