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Financial Aid 101

Types of Aid Available

University of Denver Financial Aid

In general, the types of financial aid available to students—regardless of where they attend college—fall into three categories: grants/scholarships, loans, and student work opportunities. This email specifically addresses the most common opportunities you may have to finance your education at the University of Denver.

Grants and Scholarships

All types of grants and scholarships are considered "gift aid," which means they do not have to be repaid. Gift aid comes from four sources:

  • the University of Denver
  • the State of Colorado
  • the U.S. Department of Education
  • private organizations

Your financial aid offer will likely contain a combination of aid from the first three sources. Let's look at them in more detail.

Aid from the University of Denver:
There are two kinds of institutional aid available at DU: merit-based and need-based. All students are considered for merit-based scholarships when they apply for admission. To be considered for need-based institutional grants and scholarships, a FAFSA and CSS Profile must be submitted. Here's a quick overview of the most common types of aid offered to DU students:

  • Merit scholarships are the most commonly awarded scholarship. Amounts range from $10,000 to $28,000, and you will be notified in your admission letter if you've been offered a merit scholarship (no separate application is required). Eligibility is determined by your academic profile.
  • If you are offered a merit scholarship and live on campus, you will also receive the Residence Hall Grant. This $3,000 grant will pay directly toward your tuition bill, as long as you continue to live on campus.
  • The DU Educational Grant is need-based; eligibility is determined by the information reported on your CSS Profile. Amounts vary from student to student, and that amount may change each year if there are changes to your family's financial situation.
  • Some students may be eligible for Talent Scholarships based on achievements in athletics, music, theater, art, etc. Eligibility and amounts are determined by individual athletic or academic departments.
  • Once you have taken a few classes in your major, you may be eligible for Endowed Scholarships in your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year at DU. Generally, however, first-year students are not eligible for this type of aid.

Aid from the State of Colorado:
Colorado residents may be eligible for two types of need-based aid:

Aid from the U.S. Department of Education:
The two most common types of federal grants are the Pell Grant and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG). Both are need-based; you must submit a FAFSA to be considered.

  • The amount you may receive through the Pell Grant will change annually and depends on financial need and full- or part-time enrollment. For the 2021-22 academic year, eligible students were awarded up to $6,495.
  • Students with exceptional financial need may receive SEOG for between $100 and $4,000 annually. That amount depends on your financial need and available funding.

Private Scholarships:
Scholarship opportunities are available through various entities not affiliated with DU and can come from a variety of sources, including community organizations and women's, ethnic, or religious organizations. Generally, these opportunities are called private scholarships. We'll provide tips for finding these scholarships in a future Financial Aid 101 email.

Student Loans

As you might expect, all student loans must be repaid. These loans are available through either the U.S. Department of Education (which means a FAFSA must be submitted to be eligible) or a private lending institution such as a bank or credit union. Students who apply for aid will have at least one federal loan included in their financial aid offer. We'll give you a brief overview now; future 101 emails will provide much more detail about each type of loan.

  • Federal Direct loans have a 3.73% fixed interest rate, and first-year students are offered up to $5,500. Some students will have both Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct loans in their aid offer. Subsidized loans are need-based, and the government pays the interest while you're in school. Up to $3,500 of the $5,500 can be subsidized. Unsubsidized loans are available to students regardless of financial need. 
  • The Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (commonly known as "Parent PLUS" loans) are available to credit-worthy parents of dependent undergraduate students. It has a 6.28% fixed interest rate, and parents can borrow up to the student's full cost of attendance, less all other financial aid. DU does not automatically include this loan in financial aid offers; parents must apply for it separately.
  • Private education loans are available from a variety of lending institutions. While no FAFSA is required for these loans, eligibility varies among lenders, and usually, a credit check and/or debt-to-income ratio is required. Many have variable interest rates.

Student Work Opportunities

Some students will see work-study listed on their financial aid offer. This is a need-based type of aid that allows students to work on campus to earn money to help pay for college expenses. It's not a grant (because you must work to earn it), and it's not a loan (because you don't have to repay it). Work-study funding is limited, so not all students who would otherwise be eligible will receive it. In the first year at DU, students with this type of aid can earn up to $2,500.


That's it for this week! Want to review past Financial Aid 101 emails? Check out the archives.

Up next week: Understanding Cost of Attendance


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