Graduate aid + opportunities

Student Financial Services is dedicated to helping graduate students understand the financial aid process and how best to finance their education. We encourage students to contact us if they have any additional questions or concerns regarding financial aid.

In this section you'll find information, forms and deadlines for applying for financial aid. Make note of the relevant deadlines, since any financial aid forms submitted after the posted deadlines will be considered in light of available resources.

All admitted graduate students are considered for fellowships and assistantships. There is no application process to be considered for these awards.

US citizens and permanent residents may also apply for federal student loans by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and for financial aid from RISD by completing the CSS Profile Application. You must file these forms each year by the posted deadlines. International students, visiting students, mobility students and students in other special categories are not eligible for financial aid.

Graduate aid deadlines for applicants

Feb 15

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

School code: 003409

The FAFSA is used to award all federal financial aid, including grants, work-study jobs and loans. Applicants wishing to apply for federal student aid exclusively should only complete a FAFSA application.

Please note you cannot complete this application prior to January 1. If you have not filed your taxes, you should complete the FAFSA using estimated information and correct the data once you have filed. (Please note, however, that awards are estimates until complete information is received.) Students who do not apply for financial aid by the deadline but still wish to be considered for federal student loans may still complete the FAFSA application.

Graduate aid deadlines for current students

May 1

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

School code: 003409

The FAFSA is used to award all federal financial aid, including grants, work-study jobs and loans. Applicants wishing to apply for federal student aid exclusively should only complete a FAFSA application.

Please note you cannot complete this application prior to January 1. If you have not filed your taxes, you should complete the FAFSA using estimated information and correct the data once you have filed. (Please note, however, that awards are estimates until complete information is received.) Students who do not apply for financial aid by the deadline but still wish to be considered for federal student loans may still complete the FAFSA application.

Fellowships + assistantships

  1. Graduate fellowships

    Graduate fellowships are awarded by the Student Financial Services office in conjunction with the student’s academic department. Fellowships may be based on financial need as determined by completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), merit or a combination of both (based on departmental preferences). Typically, fellowships are awarded in equal disbursements for fall and spring semesters and paid directly to a student’s tuition account.

  2. Graduate assistantships

    Graduate assistantships are awarded through each graduate program and are assigned by the graduate program director. Assistantships are awarded during the admissions process, but specific positions may not be assigned until the beginning of each semester. International students or any student who does not have a social security number cannot be assigned an assistantship during the first semester.

Loans

  1. Direct Unsubsidized Loan

    Interest does accrue while student is enrolled in school. Repayment begins 6 months after student graduates or ceases attending school at least half-time. For additional information, including rates, please go to this page on the US Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid site.

    To apply for Federal Direct Loans please follow the instructions below:

    ALL borrowers need to complete a Master Promissory Note with the Direct Loan Program. First-time borrowers at RISD will need to complete a loan entrance counseling session, even those who have borrowed at a previous institution.

    Borrowers should go to www.studentloans.gov to complete both steps.

  2. Perkins Loan

    Interest does not accrue while student is enrolled at least half-time. Fixed interest rate of 5% for the life of the loan. Repayment begins 9 months after student graduates or ceases attending school at least half-time. This program has very limited funding.

  3. Direct Subsidized Loan

    Interest does not accrue while the student is enrolled at least half-time. Repayment begins 6 months after student graduates or ceases attending school at least half-time. Graduate students are not eligible for this loan. For additional information, including rates, please go to this page on the US Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid site.

  4. Private loans

    Private student loans are consumer loans that should only be considered after first exhausting your federal loan eligibility. Typically, federal loans provide students with more beneficial terms and conditions. Some of these federal loan benefits may include a lower annual percentage rate, fewer and lower fees, and more favorable repayment options. A number of private educational loans are available to students who need extra funding to assist in managing the expected family contribution. You must apply for private educational loans directly with the lender/agency. Borrowers must be creditworthy to participate in these programs. Students who are not creditworthy by program guidelines may still be eligible to participate IF they can find a creditworthy person to co-sign their loan application. Families are free to choose any lender which best serves their needs.

    You should visit each potential lender's website to fully evaluate the benefits that they offer before making a final choice of a lender for your loans. For more information on private education loans please go to www.elmselect.com.

  5. Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

    GradPLUS loans are intended for graduate students in need of additional resources in order to finance their education. Approval of GradPLUS loans is based in part on the determination that the applicant does not have any adverse credit. Visit the US Department of Education's Federal Student Aid site for rates and additional information.

Work Study

  1. Federal Work Study

    Federal and RISD Work Study programs are for students with financial need who must earn an income to offset educational expenses. Over 1,300 RISD students, more than half the student body, participate in the Work Study Program, which consists of both Federal Work Study (FWS) or RISD Work Study (RWS) and is part of a student’s financial aid package. While priority is given to financial aid recipients for on-campus jobs, RISD also allows non-financial aid students to work, if there are jobs left unfilled by work study students.

    Work study jobs are available to undergraduate and graduate students through the Financial Aid office (located in the Prov-Wash building at 20 Washington Place | call 401 454-6661 | email financialaid@risd.edu). Work study offers five levels of hourly pay rates and students are paid bi-weekly.

    Note: The Graduate Studies office is not able to provide information on the work study program. Please visit the Financial Aid office if you have questions.

    All assistantships and fellowships originate from each graduate program and are assigned by the graduate program director.

  2. Employment

    Both on- and off-campus jobs are posted on the RISD Student Employment website. Off-campus job listings include community service opportunities at nonprofit agencies in the Providence metro area; jobs in the local community (babysitter, waiter/waitress, retail sales, lawn/garden, etc.) and professional opportunities such as freelance art and design jobs.

    To prove eligibility to work, students must provide RISD with documentary evidence of identity (driver’s license, RISD ID or government photo ID) and US citizenship (US passport, social security card or birth certificate with a seal). Copies are not acceptable. You may request a duplicate of your social security card from the Social Security Administration Office. If you plan to work while at RISD, please bring the appropriate documentation with you.

External scholarships

  1. External scholarships

    External/outside scholarships are an excellent way to help reduce your need to work and/or borrow student loans while at RISD. Keep in mind that federal regulations stipulate that an outside scholarship cannot be used to reduce your family's expected contribution. When you receive an outside scholarship, our office is required to reevaluate your financial aid package and account for the additional resource.

    Outside scholarships can be used to reduce the following:

    • Student Loans
    • Federal Work Study

    Listed below are several links to search engines where you can investigate and apply for various outside scholarship opportunities:

    • College Board Online
    • CollegeNet
    • Embark
    • FastWeb Scholarship Source
    • FinAid
    • GoCollege
    • Sallie Mae
    • International Education Financial Aid
    • (International Students Only)

    Download outside scholarship listings