Frequently Asked Questions
The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis awards interest-free loans and grants to help qualifying students overcome financial barriers to higher education. Through its Student Advocate and Advising Program, the Foundation also assists students and families through the complex process of applying for postsecondary admission and financial aid and familiarizes them with economic factors that affect students’ educational options and decisions.
What does “interest-free” mean?
“Interest-free” means that recipients pay no additional charges in connection with the amounts they borrow from The Scholarship Foundation for higher education. There are no interest charges, no fees, and no origination or servicing costs added to the amount of the loan.
Other providers of education loans, whether government sources or private companies, add interest charges and various fees to the amount borrowed.
What is need-based financial aid?
Need-based aid is any kind of financial assistance that considers an individual’s or family’s financial circumstances in determining whether to award aid and how much to award. The Scholarship Foundation’s interest-free loans and grants are need-based financial aid.
Does The Scholarship Foundation have more than one financial aid program?
Yes. The Foundation administers many different interest-free loan funds and grant programs.
Do I have to submit different applications for each program?
Most students will only need to file one application to The Scholarship Foundation to be automatically considered for all of The Scholarship Foundation’s financial aid programs. However, nursing students can apply for both a Scholarship Foundation loan and a Deaconess Foundation Nursing Scholarship. In this case, students will need to complete applications for each of these opportunities.
Where does The Scholarship Foundation get the money for its interest-free loans and grants for students?
Three main sources of revenue support the educational mission of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis:
- Repayments of student loans by previous borrowers, which are recycled into new loans to new students who qualify for need-based financial aid.
- Private contributions from individuals, corporations, and other philanthropic organizations.
- Net proceeds from the operations of two ScholarShop retail stores.
There are two application cycles each year:
- Applications are accepted from January 1 through April 15 for funding for the subsequent fall and spring semesters of a full academic year.
- Applications are accepted from August 1 through November 15 for funding for the upcoming spring semester only.
How much money will the Foundation lend me?
The maximum interest-free loan that qualifying students may receive is $9,000 per academic year. The amount of an individual’s award depends on his or her particular financial need. The average annual loan award is $5,400. There is a lifetime maximum loan limit of $40,000.
How does The Scholarship Foundation evaluate my need for financial assistance?
First, the Foundation looks at the total cost of education at the institutions listed on a student’s application. This includes tuition, fees, room and board, and personal expenses such as transportation and clothing.
Then the Foundation subtracts any grants or scholarships the applicant will receive from other sources.
Finally, the Foundation subtracts the Expected Family Contribution figure calculated for the student by the U.S. Department of Education (see EFC below).
The remainder represents the amount the student needs in order to attend the schools cited on his or her Scholarship Foundation application.
In the majority of cases, the applicants who receive financial aid awards from The Scholarship Foundation will have an EFC of $3,100 or less, which indicates profound financial need.
What is a conditional denial for too much need?
Students applying for Scholarship Foundation funding need to be aware of one possible outcome: a conditional denial for too much financial need. This letter is sent to applicants for whom there is concern about significant debt. When reviewing applications and making awards, The Scholarship Foundation expects a student will borrow no more than $12,500-$14,500 per year and that this debt will be covered by a combination of the subsidized direct (Stafford) loan and The Scholarship Foundation’s interest-free, fee-free loan. Students who receive this letter are able to appeal this decision if they are able to secure additional grant or scholarship aid, have other resources available to help reduce their costs, or are willing to consider a college or university that is more affordable to minimize debt burden.
The Foundation notifies applicants of its decision via emails and letters mailed to the permanent address listed on a student’s application. Please check your email regularly.
Do I have to begin repaying my loan as soon as I graduate?
No. Borrowers who complete their studies and receive a degree earn a one-year grace period and do not have to start repaying their loans until the grace period ends. Students are assured of their one-year grace period when they sign their final promissory notes with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis.
Students who stop attending school before receiving a degree must start repaying their loans immediately.
How does The Scholarship Foundation calculate the amount of my loan payment?
The Foundation takes the total amount the student has borrowed and divides it into 60 equal monthly payments to be paid over five years.
If I qualify for a Scholarship Foundation interest-free loan, will I have to have a co-signer?
No. The Scholarship Foundation awards its loans directly to students. Students are selected on the basis of their personal character, academic potential, and financial need. The loans are renewable each year based on the student’s continuing financial need and academic progress. Parents are not responsible for repayment of a student’s interest-free loan from The Scholarship Foundation. Nor may parents borrow from the Foundation on behalf of a student.
Do I have to begin repaying my Scholarship Foundation loan while I’m still in school?
No. A loan recipient who takes at least six credit hours of course work each semester receives a repayment deferment. A student must verify eligibility for the deferment at the end of each semester by submitting to the Foundation one of the following three documents: a paid tuition receipt for the current semester, a letter from the institution’s registrar’s office confirming the student’s enrollment for the necessary number of hours, or an academic transcript.
Do I need to submit my parents’ tax records with my application for financial aid?
Generally, yes. In most cases, parents’ tax records contain information that helps establish a student’s financial circumstances and his or her need for financial aid.
However, an applicant who is legally independent does not have to submit parents’ tax records. There are several definitions of “independent” in this context. They are: a person who will be 24 years old by December 31 of the year in which he or she applies for financial aid; a person whose parents are deceased; a person who is a ward of a court; a parent with legal dependents; a person who is married; someone who has earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited postsecondary institution; or a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States.
What is a FAFSA?
FAFSA is an abbreviation for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the general application that students must submit in order to be considered for educational financial aid from the United States government. Federal financial aid programs include Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and others.
All students who need financial assistance for higher education should complete and submit this form to the U.S. Department of Education as soon as possible after January 1 of every year in which they want to receive financial assistance. The form may be submitted by mail or online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
The FAFSA is required by most state need-based financial aid programs and by most financial aid offices with need-based aid to award students.
What is a PIN?
A PIN is a Personal Identification Number. Both student and a parent (biological or adoptive) must register at www.pin.ed.gov for a four-digit PIN. This number will be used to electronically sign the FAFSA. This can be done at any point prior to completing the FAFSA. (NOTE: If a parent already has a PIN from another student or because they have recently been a student themselves, they do not need to request a new PIN).
What is a SAR?
SAR stands for Student Aid Report. It is an analysis of an applicant’s financial situation produced by the U.S. Department of Education. The SAR contains information that helps financial aid professionals, including those at The Scholarship Foundation, assess an applicant’s financial situation. Students applying for a Scholarship Foundation interest-free loan must include a copy of their SAR with their application.
EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution. As part of their review of a person’s FAFSA, the Department of Education uses a mathematical formula established by Congress to determine the amount that an individual or family should be able to pay toward annual higher education costs. The EFC is a key piece of information included on the SAR. It is not the amount that a person must pay to the school he or she will attend, but it is crucial in determining a person’s financial need.
Yes. The borrower must fill out an Authorization Form for Direct Payments (ACH/Debit) and submit it to the Foundation, along with a voided check from the relevant bank account. Payments will be deducted from the account automatically on the 15th day of each month, or the first business day after the 15th if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday.
Can loan repayments be reduced or deferred if an unforeseen financial problem develops?
Possibly. The Foundation sometimes authorizes reduced payments to help a borrower maintain a good payment history while working through a temporary financial problem. The Foundation defers loan payments only in cases of extreme financial hardship. To request either form of financial relief, the borrower must complete a Repayment Assessment Form for consideration by the Foundation.
Fill out the Change of Information form.
ScholarShop is the name of two upscale resale stores that are operated by The Scholarship Foundation for the benefit of its financial aid programs. The merchandise consists of high quality donated clothing and accessories. There are two ScholarShop locations in the St. Louis area, one in Clayton and one in Webster Groves. For more information visit our ScholarShop website.