University of Central Florida Financial Aid

University of Central Florida studentAt the University of Central Florida, students pride themselves on high academics and  make up a diverse, energetic and dynamic community that offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs. With over 400 clubs and organizations throughout the campuses in Central Florida, students are connected and active with a wide range of available recreational, athletic, and social opportunities. The main campus sits on a lush landscape in Orlando, Florida. Students are bright and young, most straight out of high school, and come from all 50 states and several countries. The University of Central Florida (UCF) features an open enrollment policy that attracts students from all walks of life.

Calculating Tuition

Almost half of the students who graduate from the UCF do so with debt, according the Project on Student Debt. One way to manage this is to be aware of all of your potential costs ahead of time. By calculating your total cost of attendance (COA), you will have a better idea how to budget your money. The first thing to consider is how much tuition and school fees for your chosen field and degree program will be.

It is most affordable to attend UCF if you are a resident of the state of Florida. In-state residents pay $212.28 per credit hour while out-of-state residents pay $748.89 per credit hour. The University of Central Florida estimates that an undergraduate student who lives in-state and attends both fall and spring semesters full-time, 14 credit hours per term, will pay $5,979 a year in base tuition and fees. Tuition can vary based on the actual classes you take, however. There are additional fees, up to $70 a course for some classes, as well as equipment fees of up to $90 per course and an excess hour fee of $105 for longer classes. If you choose to take any classes online, there is an $18 distance learning fee per hour added on.

Additional Expenses

In addition to paying for the courses, you will need books and supplies for these classes, which may add up to an average $1,146 a year. College may be expensive, but there are several ways to save money as every little bit counts. Consider buying your books used and selling them back at the end of each term, for example. Personal expenses are expected to average around $3,087 a year, although this amount is variable and directly dependent on how much you spend on incidentals.

Another big part of your college expenses will be room and board. Living on the UCF campus may increase your odds of graduating and can save you money in commuting. Housing rates change depending on the term, and rates for the 2016-2017 academic year for on-campus residence at the UCF range from $2,470-$4,400 per term, depending on your choice of location. The University of Central Florida suggests that you plan for an average of $9,764 in room and board costs per year. Of course, if you decide to live at home and commute to school, you can save some of these costs.

Transportation costs are estimated to be around $1,856 per student per year, although carpooling or biking to classes may help lower these costs. Parking on campus is $5 a day, and most students will need to purchase a parking pass each term. Parking passes range from $95.88-$100.68 for the 2016-2017 academic year. Signing up for a carpool service like Zimride can match you up with other commuters and save you money in gas and transportation costs. UCF also has both on- and off-campus shuttle options for students that offer a safe and less expensive way to get to class, home, and even to the store to purchase groceries.

Applying for Financial Aid

Financial aid is a staple for many, allowing more students to afford the rising costs of higher education. The first step in applying for financial aid at the University of Central Florida is to complete and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This form uses your personal information, financial details, and educational goals in order to calculate your expected family contribution (EFC). If you are under age 24, unmarried, and have no dependents, you may be considered a dependent student and will therefore need your parents’ financial and personal information to complete your FAFSA as well. Your EFC is subtracted from your COA to determine how much and what type of financial aid you may qualify for. The FAFSA is used for federal, state, and institutional financial aid eligibility.

In order to successfully complete your FAFSA and receive financial aid at UCF, you will need to meet these requirements:

You also can only receive financial aid up to the cost of your attendance. Additionally, you must agree to use all awards for the purposes of education. Most federal, state, and institutional programs will automatically be considered upon submission of your FAFSA. Be sure to check with your advisor, however, that your aid program does not require additional steps or documentation.

To submit your FAFSA online, you will need to set up a FSA ID, which will grant you access to your federal financial aid information as well as allow you to electronically sign documents. The UCF priority deadline for the FAFSA submission is March 1st, and you should allow two to four weeks for processing. You need to resubmit your FAFSA each year with your most current tax, employment, and financial records. Once you have submitted your FAFSA, you should receive a student aid report (SAR) via email or mail. Check this for veracity, and make sure that UCF has also received this report on your behalf.

You need to accept or deny your financial aid award before you can begin receiving funds. To best keep up with your financial aid awards, you should set up and log into the myUCF Student Center portal with your student information. Your account can then send you a to-do list to ensure that the process of completing your financial aid award application and disbursement run smoothly.

How to Use Financial Aid Funds

Girl with financial aid fundYour financial aid award package may include different types of financial aid. This can come in the form of free money through a scholarship or grant, work-study earned money, or borrowed funds via a student loan. Scholarships and grants are automatically disbursed into your student account at UCF to pay for your tuition, fees, and room and board. You need to be aware of how much your financial aid award is and pay any remaining balance if it doesn’t cover your tuition and school fees. If there are additional funds left over, these amounts may be disbursed to you to cover books and other educational expenses. You can sign up for direct deposit at myUCF Student Center to ensure funds are sent directly to your personal account.You will generally receive your financial aid funds the second week of each semester, which is not in time to pay for books; however, UCF has two programs to assist students in covering these expenses.

The Textbook Purchase Program allows students to use up to $600 on books and supplies at on-campus bookstores as a charge on the student ID. These funds are then paid off when the financial aid disburses. In order to take advantage of this program, you need to “opt-in” on your myUCF Student Center. A Short-Term Advance for Books is also granted to eligible students with financial aid packages. This program will deposit or send you an advance on your financial aid award of up to $600 a term to pay for your books and supplies. There is a $5 service charge for this program, and you must submit an additional application to qualify. Students who qualify for the Federal Work-Study program can work part-time to earn money toward college expenses.

Students apply for jobs directly through UCF Job Connection and employment is not guaranteed. Employment opportunities are often on-campus and community service-based with an effort to work around your class schedules and match you with a job in your field of study or area of interest.If you are borrowing funds to pay your college expenses, through a federal student loan, you will need to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN), which is a legal contract. This details the terms and rates of your loan, including your agreement to repay the funds, and it should be kept in a safe place. First-time borrowers are also often required to complete loan entrance counseling to ensure that they understand all of the responsibilities and rights of becoming a student borrower.

UCF Gift Money Opportunities

Gift money can come in the form of scholarships or grants from a variety of sources. Be sure to look into non-profit and private organizations that may offer gift money. Specific colleges and departments at the University of Central Florida offer scholarships or fellowships on the basis of academic merit and other specific criteria. For a full listing of these offerings, the application process, and details surrounding departmental scholarships, the Office of Student Financial Assistance keeps updated information on the website.

UCF also participates in several scholarship programs for full-time undergraduate students (taking at least 12 credits) on the basis of academic merit. Students enrolling in UCF directly from high school are automatically considered for awards under the Pegasus Scholarship program that includes:

Award amounts and specific requirements may vary for these institutional scholarships.  Transfer students from other universities or students transferring from a Florida public community college with an associate in arts degree may also be considered for Transfer Scholarship awards that may include:

Undergraduate part-time students, taking at least six credits, may also qualify for the Bright Futures Scholarships without a completed FAFSA. These awards are based on your high school academic achievement and for graduates of Florida high schools. There are three award levels: the Florida Academic Scholars Award, Florida Medallion Scholars Award, and the Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars Award. Students receiving the Florida Medallion Scholars Award as well as Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars Award may be awarded up to $77 a credit hour, and Florida Academic Scholars may receive up to $103 per credit hour. There is a bonus award for Academic Top Scholars of $44 a credit as well. Students with high academics while attending UCF, that demonstrate financial need, may qualify for the UCF Scholars Award grant. The University of Central Florida also provides the UCF Grant to eligible students requiring financial assistance. Your academic advisor will have more information on these and more opportunities.

State and Federal Grants

Both the state of Florida and the federal government offer grants to students who require financial assistance as demonstrated by the completed FAFSA. Florida residents may qualify for award amounts between $200-$2,610 during the 2014-2015 academic year through the Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG). Award amounts will depend on your EFC, enrollment status, and COA as well as basic eligibility requirements. Additionally, Florida residents who are the first in their family to seek to complete a bachelor’s degree may be eligible for the First Generation Matching Grant (FGMG) Program that awards eligible students amounts to be set by UCF each year.

UCF also accepts federal grant funding through the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant. The Federal Pell Grant and FSEOG are awarded to students with financial need, and award amounts are based on COA, enrollment status, and your intention to attend school for the whole academic year. Students who qualify for the Pell Grant may receive up to $6,195 for the 2019-2020 academic year. FSEOG awards are slightly different in that the school will receive a set amount of funds to disburse to its eligible students on a first-come, first-served basis. Students may receive between $100-$1,200 a year at UCF, and students who apply early are most likely to receive funds. The TEACH Grant is not based on financial need. Instead, teaching students must enter into a contract, signing an “Agreement to Serve” after completing school. These students may receive up to $4,000 a year if they agree to teach in a low-income and high-need field for at least four years within eight years of graduation.

Borrowing Funds for College

Girl reading syllabus

When you have used up all your free money options and still need assistance paying for the remainder of your college education, you may need to borrow funds. Federal student loans are generally the most favorable option, considering that these loans are low-interest with fixed rates and generous repayment terms and options. To see current list of federal interest rates, check here.

For a federal student loan, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. UCF accepts loans through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and parents of undergraduate students may borrow Federal Direct Loans. Students demonstrating financial need may qualify for subsidized loans, wherein the government helps with interest costs. Students may borrow subsidized and unsubsidized loans simultaneously, not to exceed between $5,500 and $12,500 for undergraduate students and $20,500 for graduate students. Actual amounts you can borrow depend on:

Parents of undergraduate and graduate students may take out Direct PLUS Loans, which are based on a credit check rather than financial need and may cover up to the entire COA minus any other financial aid received.

Another option for student borrowers are private student loans. These loans generally have higher interest rates and less flexible repayment terms and should therefore be your last resort. Private student loans are offered by private financial institutions and organizations. You will apply for a private student loan directly with the lender and a credit check will be run. Often, you will require a co-signer in order to qualify.