American Public University System Student Loans

Concentrating students at the lecture hallThe American Public University System (APUS) is an online education community offering certificate programs as well as associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs through the American Public University and American Military University. The average APUS student age is 31, and most students are male adult continuing education learners who work full-time, with 85 percent being active or reserve military personnel. APUS students are balancing family life, work, and education, and they are committed to learning and enhancing their careers through higher and continuing educational opportunities.

Students complete their degrees or certificates entirely online, meaning students attend classes from computers all around the world. APUS students can still enjoy a range of student activities and organizations as well as a comprehensive virtual network with other students via the Quad. Students can join online forums, discussions, and study groups in a diverse online academic community.

Federal Student Aid

Federal financial aid for students comes either in the form of a grant that doesn’t have to be paid back, or a loan that does. APUS currently accepts three different federal grants: the Federal Pell Grant, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.

The Federal Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduate students demonstrating financial need. You may qualify for up to $5,815 for the 2016-2017 academic year, depending on your cost of attendance, enrollment status, and intention to remain in school for the entire academic year. TEACH Grants are for students pursuing teaching degrees. These students sign an “Agreement to Serve” stating that after graduation, they will teach in a low-income and high-need field. TEACH Grant students may qualify for up to $4,000 a year. If the service terms are not fulfilled, TEACH Grant funds roll over into loan funds that do have to be repaid. Students who were under age 24 or enrolled in college when a parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11 may qualify for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant equal to the amount of a Federal Pell Grant minus 7.3 percent.

Additionally, you may borrow funds from the U.S. Department of Education with a federal student loan under the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. Federal student loans accepted at APUS are Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans. Subsidized loans are based on financial need and the government pays your interest, while you are responsible to pay all interest with unsubsidized loans. Undergraduate students can borrow between $5,500 and $12,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized loans a year, depending on several factors, including year in school and dependent student status. Dependent students are under age 24 and have no spouse or dependents of their own. Graduate students may borrow up $20,500 in unsubsidized loans per year. Direct PLUS loans are offered to parents of undergraduate students and not based on financial need. Parents will undergo a credit check and may be able to borrow the entire cost of attendance minus any other financial aid they are already receiving.

Higher One

Federal financial aid awards are paid directly to APUS to cover your tuition and fees on a twice-a-year schedule based on a two-semester academic year. Since APUS courses run monthly, the academic semester dates may vary. Any remaining financial aid funds are disbursed directly to you via an access card from Higher One, which is a higher education financial services company. You will receive a green envelope from Higher One with an access card that is similar to a credit or debit card in the mail. Make sure APUS has your current address and contact information on file and keep your access card in a safe place.

Once received, it is then your responsibility to activate your Higher One card in order to access your refunded funds. You have the choice of linking your card with a OneAccount banking account through Higher One or requesting the funds be deposited into a different account of your choice. This second option takes two to three days for you to receive your refund, while using a OneAccount account gives you same-day access to the funds.

Military Tuition Aid and Veterans Benefits

Active duty members, spouses, dependents and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces have access to various types of tuition assistance and benefits. The Military Tuition Assistance program offers active duty Armed Forces personnel in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines up to 100 percent of tuition coverage for college. Each branch sets its own terms and conditions as well as maximum amounts per credit hour and fiscal year. Military Tuition Assistance is not a loan, but rather should be considered earned through service, and these funds are paid directly to APUS on your behalf. For higher-cost courses, active duty members  may elect to use their GI Bill benefits “Top-Up” program to cover any remaining expenses not covered by Military Tuition Assistance. Your education services officer will have more information on these programs. Veterans, survivors, and their dependents may be eligible for a number of veterans tuition assistance benefits as well. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is the best resource for comparing the different benefits and GI Bill programs that you may be eligible for and how to use them effectively toward your pursuit of higher education at APUS.

Employer Benefits and Other Forms of Aid

Many employers today value education and offer tuition reimbursement for their employees seeking to enhance their skill sets. These programs may vary depending on the employer. Some employers may require certain academic standards, for example, and if this is the case, you are generally required to pay your tuition out-of-pocket and then be reimbursed after showing proof of grades. Others may pay your expenses with an employer voucher that you are required to obtain and submit for the payment of your tuition. Still others may reimburse for certain fields of study or programs and not others.

Federal government employees may receive 100 percent of their tuition for job-related studies. Your immediate supervisor and your local civilian training director are required to approve and confirm that your courses are directly related to your professional development and/or job requirements. Check with your human resources department in order to determine if your employer participates in tuition reimbursement.

Many scholarships exist through private and non-profit organizations for a variety of reasons. Some may be on the basis of academics or merit, while others may provide funds for specific fields of study or courses. Clubs and organizations may provide gift money to minorities or gender-specific scholarships also. You should exhaust all forms of free money and federal financial aid before turning to private student loans.

Private student loans are offered by financial institutions and organizations and generally have higher and variable interest rates that can change throughout your loan term. If you do decide to seek a private student loan, you will likely need to use a cosigner in order to be eligible for the most favorable terms. Private student loans use banks and credit unions as lenders, and each one sets their own rates and terms, and has a unique application process. If you use a private lender, you will need to inform the APUS financial aid office of the details.

Self-Pay Options

Girls talking in classIf you are not using any financial aid or tuition assistance, or you have out-of-pocket expenses left after using your aid funding, you will need to pay for your tuition and fees at the time of registration for your courses. There are three main methods to self-pay:  e-check, automatic debit, or credit card. APUS accepts payments in the form of an e-check from an U.S.-based bank. These payments are routed as an electronic debit from your account. APUS also accepts Visa, Mastercard, and Discover as forms of credit card payments.

If you set up the Automatic Debit Plan, your tuition can be spread out into four payments if you are taking a 16-week course and two payments if taking an 8-week course. This plan automatically charges your credit card on a pre-set schedule. The first payment will reflect the school fees, and the remaining payments will be the remaining tuition expenses.

While American Public University System is a relatively affordable and flexible option, budgeting for college in its entirety is an important skill and tool that should not be overlooked in order to ensure success. We have additional resources on budgeting for higher education and all of your potential financial aid opportunities. Keep reading to learn more.

 
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Types of Student Loans