Financial Aid: Federal Aid

The US Department of Education provides aid to citizens (and eligible non-citizens) of the US to pursue higher education. Federal aid typically includes federal Direct, grants and work-study funds. Subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loans are federal, low-interest loans. Subsidized loans are need-based and the federal government pays the interest while you are enrolled at least half-time.

Federal grants are awarded on the basis of financial need and do not require repayment. Federal Work-Study provides work opportunities, typically on campus, based on financial need. Pay rates vary depending upon the position.



In order to be considered eligible for federal financial aid, you must meet the following criteria:
  • Be a US citizen or permanent resident of the US.
  • Be a permanent resident of any state except the following: Alabama, Arkansas, D.C., Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island or Wisconsin. GGU is not authorized to offer online education to students who reside in these states. Therefore GGU is not able to offer Federal Financial Aid and / or GGU scholarships, grants or discounts to students who reside in these states.
  • Have earned a high school diploma, GED or state certificate, or have completed homeschooling at the secondary level as defined by state law.
  • Be admitted (subject to Documentation status) and matriculated in a degree program at GGU; certificate programs and open enrollment are ineligible.
  • Be enrolled in courses with at least half-time enrollment status at GGU per trimester (minimum 15-week period); exception: Eligible undergraduate students may receive the Federal Pell Grant with less than half-time enrollment status; if repeating a course (which the student previously passed) in order to earn a better grade, the students first repeat attempt only may be included in the enrollment status calculation.
  • Be registered to earn a letter grade (unless letter-grading is not an option) in each course; Audit statuses are not eligible for financial aid.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) as required by the Financial Aid policy. See the SAP Policy page for more information.
  • Not be in default on a federal student loan or owe a federal grant overpayment.
  • Disclose to the Financial Aid Office if you plan to receive financial aid at another institution at the same time.


All students must complete the following applications:


In order to receive federal financial aid, please note the following:
  • In order for GGU to disburse federal title IV funds to your account, you must sign the loan master promissory note and complete an online entrance counseling session at Upon ceasing to be enrolled half-time or upon graduating, you must also complete exit counseling.



Federal Direct Loans are available in two types, subsidized and unsubsidized:

The type of Direct Loan a student is awarded is based on the FAFSA information and determined by U.S. Department of Education calculations and Cost of Attendance at the educational institution.

  • Subsidized Federal Direct Loans have their interest subsidized (paid for) by the federal government while you are enrolled at least half time. For loan periods that start on or after July 1, 2012, there are no subsidized loan awards for graduate students.
  • If you borrow an Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan, you are responsible for paying the accrued interest from the beginning of the loan, even during periods of enrollment.

For both loans, the federal government may deduct up to 4 percent total fees from the total amount borrowed. For example, if you borrow $5,500, you may receive only $5,280, or 96 percent of the amount borrowed. However, the full $5,500 must be repaid. Six months after you graduate or cease to be enrolled half time, you enter repayment with monthly payments of interest and principle. Interest rates on loans vary depending on when a student received the loans and whether they are subsidized or unsubsidized. Interest rates are subject to change on July 1st each year. See the website for more information. The minimum monthly payment is $50 with a maximum repayment term of 10 years. The number of years of repayment may be extended depending on the amount of loan debt. You may visit the Website to calculate what your monthly payment will be if you are able to extend the number of repayment years. Please keep in mind the longer the payment plan the more interest you will pay on your loan debt.

Federal Direct Loan Annual Borrowing Limits:*

Grade Level

Dependent Students

Independent Students

Freshmen $5,500 $9,500
Sophomores $6,500 $10,500
Juniors/Seniors $7,500 $12,500
Graduate/Professional not applicable $20,500

*The amounts shown represent the total combined eligibility for subsidized and unsubsidized Direct loans.

Federal Direct PLUS Loan (parents)

Federal PLUS loans enable parents or step-parents to borrow up to the total cost of their dependent child's education, minus any other aid he or she may receive. PLUS loans are for undergraduate student only and are not based on the family's income or assets. These loans are always unsubsidized. Interest rates are subject to change on July 1st each year. See the website for more information. A separate loan application is required and credit worthiness check will be completed by the U.S. Department of Education.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan or G-PLUS loan

Federal Graduate PLUS loans are for graduate students who have educational expenses in excess of the Federal Direct loans and/or other financial aid. Interest rates are subject to change on July 1st each year. See the website for more information. The Cost of Attendance (COA) minus awarded financial aid equals the amount of a potential Federal Graduate PLUS loan. COA includes actual tuition plus general budgets for Books, Supplies, Room/Board, Transportation and Personal expenses. A separate loan application is required and credit worthiness check will be completed by the U.S. Department of Education.For further information contact Student Financial Planning at or call 415-442-7270.

Determining Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan amounts*

COA $25,000
Minus Federal Stafford Loans $20,500
Minus GGU Scholarship $500
Amount of Potential Direct Graduate PLUS Loan $4,000

*The amounts used above are for illustration only



Federal Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students with very low family contributions (high need) and can range from $329 to $6195 per 2019-2020 academic year based upon the student's financial need and enrollment status. Federal Pell Grants are the only form of aid available to students enrolled less than half time. Department of Education requires that institutions provide demographics of the full - time Pell Grant recipients. For the fall 2014 semester full-time Pell Grant recipients: 48% were female, 52% were male, 0% were Pacific Islander, 3% were Black, 21% were Hispanic, 7% were Asian, 52% were Caucasian and 17% were of unknown ethnicity.

Federal SEOG Grants

FSEOG awards are offered to undergraduate students with the greatest need, typically as a supplement to the Federal Pell Grant. Amounts may vary from school to school, based upon available funding. GGU typically offers FSEOG awards of up to $750 per trimester, depending on enrollment status.


Federal Work-Study (FWS) provides federally subsidized work opportunities. FWS jobs typically are on-campus, but some off-campus positions may be available in nonprofit community service agencies. Students must demonstrate financial need according to the FAFSA and be enrolled at least half-time. In order to be considered for FWS, please indicate your interest when completing the FAFSA. The Financial Aid Office will contact all eligible candidates. Pay rates are competitive and vary depending on the position. A student worker will be paid twice a month.


Federal regulations specify the method that Golden Gate University must use to determine the amount of Federal Student Aid assistance you have earned if you withdraw completely from the payment period (typically a trimester term). You are deemed to have "withdrawn completely" from the payment period if you withdraw from all courses by the "Last Day to Withdraw" as specified in the Academic Calendar, or if you receive "F" grades for all courses in which you were enrolled, and your last date of attendance is earlier than the term's end date.

The amount of assistance earned is determined on a pro-rata basis. For example, if you complete 30% of the payment period, you have earned 30% of the assistance you were originally scheduled to receive. Once you have completed 60% or more of the payment period, you have earned all the assistance that you were scheduled to receive for that period. If you withdraw completely before 60% of the payment period has elapsed, then some or all of your Federal Student Aid funds will be returned to the Department of Education. This may leave you owing a balance to Golden Gate University. For additional information regarding the return of Federal Student Aid, see the "Return of Federal Student Aid Policy" in the catalog.

Financial aid recipients should consult with the Financial Aid Office at 415-442-7270 or email before making schedule changes after financial aid has been disbursed to their accounts. You must consult with a Financial Aid advisor BEFORE dropping/withdrawing if:

  • You intend to withdraw completely from the academic period by dropping (or withdrawing from) all courses; OR
  • Less than 60% of the payment period (trimester) has elapsed.

60% of a trimester is approximately ten weeks; 60% of an 7.5-week term is approximately five weeks. Please refer to the Academic Calendar to determine the "Last Day to Withdraw" from a course for a given term.


If you stop attending a course in which you are enrolled and do not officially withdraw from the course by withdrawing from it before the applicable withdrawal deadline published in the academic calendar, then your instructor will assign you an "F" (failing) grade. The instructor will also record your last date of attendance. If you receive "F" grades for all courses in which you enrolled for the payment period, and your "last dates of attendance" for each course is prior to the payment period's end date, then you will be considered to have "withdrawn completely" for Federal Student Aid purposes. See Return of Federal Financial Aid above for more information.


If you drop below half-time enrollment status during the fall or spring trimester or upon graduation, you must complete loan exit counseling: