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 for more information.
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, not to exceed $20,500 in an academic year.
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan program: Graduate students are eligible to apply for a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan up to the annual cost of attendance minus any other financial assistance. Like 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 to apply 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 minus any other financial assistance you may be receiving. The Graduate PLUS Loan is a credit-based loan subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Education. In order to qualify, you must not have any adverse credit history, must not have defaulted on any federal student loan, or owe an overpayment on any federal student aid grant. Students must apply online at studentloans.gov. For more detailed information, please visit StudentAid.Gov
All graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of six (6) credit hours per term in order to be eligible for any federal direct loan.
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 my.converse.edu.
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.
Federal TEACH Grant Program
Converse College participates in the Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program.
The TEACH Grant is available to students who plan to begin a career in teaching and are enrolled in a Converse approved major, completing coursework at the professional level of their education curriculum and meet the minimum GPA, testing and application requirements. Recipients must agree to serve as a full-time teacher in a low-income school, as a highly qualified teacher, and in a high-need field for at least four years within eight calendar years of leaving the program for which they received the TEACH Grant. Recipients that fail to complete the four years of qualified teaching service a within eight years of completing the course of study for which the TEACH Grant was received, or otherwise fail to meet any other requirement of the grant, will have their Teach Grant converted to an unsubsidized loan. Accrued and capitalized interest is effective from the date of the original grant disbursement. Once a Teach Grant converts to a loan, it is not reversible.
The Teach Grant provides up to $4,000.00 per academic year in grant assistance. The aggregate limit for undergraduates cannot exceed $16,000.00 and the aggregate limit for graduate students cannot exceed $8,000.00. If a student is eligible to receive the TEACH Grant, the student will be awarded an estimated amount that assumes full-time enrollment and is adjusted based on the current year sequester (required federal reductions). Example: For any TEACH Grant first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2019, and before Oct. 1, 2020, the maximum award of $4,000 is reduced by 5.9 percent ($236), resulting in a maximum award of $3,764. If a student enrolls less than full-time, the amount of the annual TEACH Grant that he or she receives will be adjusted accordingly.
Students must be degree-seeking and in a major Converse has approved as Teach Grant eligible. Converse has approved the following majors as Teach Grant eligible based on the federal list provided by the Department of Education and the National List applicable to the state of South Carolina:
Approved Graduate Programs
- Special Education
- Learning Disabilities
- Intellectual Disabilities
- Middle Level Science
- Middle Level Math
- Secondary Program – Mathematics
- Art Education
- Music Education
- To receive a TEACH Grant, students must meet the following criteria:
- Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year;
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen;
- Be enrolled as a degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate student in an eligible Converse major with a GPA of 3.25 or above at the end of each term in which the grant is received;
- Be taking coursework necessary to complete teacher certification in a high-need field;
- Annually, students must sign a new TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve and complete a new Teach Grant Counseling;
- Each academic year, for consideration of TEACH Grant, submit the required application materials to Student Financial Aid. Submit the completed forms at least 30 days before the end of the term of enrollment for which the TEACH Grant funding is being requested;
- Complete the annual TEACH Grant Application
- Complete TEACH Grant Exit Counseling in your final term (30-60 days) before graduation.
Requirements for Maintaining Grant Status After Graduation
To avoid repaying the TEACH Grant after graduation, you must serve as a full-time teacher in a low-income school, as a highly-qualified teacher, and in a high-need field for at least four years within eight calendar years of leaving the program for which you received the TEACH Grant. For a listing of schools and teaching fields that qualify, visit the Nationwide List for the state in which you intend to teach.
Initial 120-Day Certification Requirement
As explained in your TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve, you are expected to confirm for the TEACH Grant servicer, FedLoan Servicing, in writing within 120 days of the date when you ceased to be enrolled (graduated or withdrew) from the school where you received a TEACH Grant that you are:
- employed as a full-time teacher in accordance with the terms and conditions described in the Agreement to Serve; or
- not yet employed as a full-time teacher but intend to meet the TEACH Grant service obligation.
- FedLoan Servicing will notify you when your initial 120-day certification is due.
Note: If you withdraw from school before completing the program of study for which you received a TEACH Grant, and you do not submit this initial certification to FedLoan Servicing within 120 days from the date of your withdrawal, all TEACH Grants you received will be converted to Direct Unsubsidized Loans. You must then repay these loans to ED, with interest charged from the date the TEACH Grants were disbursed. FedLoan Servicing will notify you if your TEACH Grants are converted to Direct Unsubsidized Loans.
Annual Certification Requirement
As explained in your Agreement to Serve, each year you must provide ED’s TEACH Grant servicer, FedLoan Servicing, with (1) documentation showing that you have completed a full school year of qualifying teaching service, or (2) a certification that you intend to satisfy the terms and conditions of your TEACH Grant service obligation. The documentation of teaching or certification of intent must be submitted to FedLoan Servicing by an annual certification date. Before Nov. 1, 2018, your annual certification date was based on the date when you ceased to be enrolled (graduated or withdrew) from the school where you received a TEACH Grant.
Therefore, annual certification dates varied among TEACH Grant recipients. To make it easier for TEACH Grant recipients to remember the annual certification date, ED has adopted a standardized annual certification date for all current and future TEACH Grant recipients.
Starting in 2019, the new annual certification date that will apply to you and all TEACH Grant recipients is Oct. 31. Each year at the beginning of October, the TEACH Grant servicer, FedLoan Servicing, will notify you and tell you how to submit your documentation of progress towards completing your TEACH Grant service obligation, or your certification of intent to satisfy the service obligation.
If you do not submit your documentation of progress or certification of intent by Oct. 31 and do not respond to reminder notices from FedLoan Servicing, all TEACH Grants you received will be converted to Direct Unsubsidized Loans. You must then repay these loans to ED, with interest charged from the date the TEACH Grants were disbursed (paid to you). FedLoan Servicing will notify you if your TEACH Grants are converted to Direct Unsubsidized Loans.
To avoid repaying the TEACH Grant with interest, you must be a highly-qualified, full-time teacher in a high-need subject area for at least four years at a school serving low-income students. You must complete the four years of teaching within eight years of finishing the program for which you received the grant. You incur a four-year teaching obligation for each educational program for which you received TEACH Grant funds; however, you may work off multiple four-year obligations simultaneously under certain circumstances.
Schools serving low-income students include any elementary or secondary school that is listed in the Department of Education’s Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.
Highly-Qualified, Full-Time Teacher
You must perform your teaching service as a highly-qualified teacher, which is defined in federal law in section 9101(23) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, or, for special education teachers, in section 602(10) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. To find out if you meet the requirements to be considered “highly qualified,” check with the Chief Administrative Officer at the school or educational service agency where you are teaching. You must meet the state’s definition of a full-time teacher and spend the majority (at least 51 percent) of your time teaching one of the high-need subject areas. Elementary teachers who teach many subjects would not be able to fulfill their service agreement.
High-Need Subject Areas
The Department of ED lists the following as high-need fields:
- Bilingual Education and English Language Acquisition
- Foreign Language
- Reading Specialist
- Special Education
- Any other field listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s Annual Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/pol/tsa.html.
A field listed in the Nationwide List will satisfy a recipient’s service obligation if:
- The field is designated by a state as high-need at the time the recipient begins qualifying teaching in that field in that state (even if that field subsequently loses its high-need designation for that state); or
- The recipient is teaching in the field during or after the 2010-2011 school year, and the field was considered high-need by the state in which the grant recipient is teaching during any award year the student received a TEACH Grant. (Even if the high-need field is no longer designated as high-need for that state when the grant recipient begins qualifying teaching service).
You can also learn more information about the Federal TEACH Grant online at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/teach#what-is-teach.