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Understanding Financial Aid

We hope this information will be helpful to you as you apply for financial aid at URI.

What is the FAFSA?

FAFSA is the acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The government expects all college students to contribute financially toward their education. The amount that the government estimates that each student and family can pay is called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and varies depending on individual financial circumstances.

The FAFSA is the basis for how the U.S. Department of Education (ED) determines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The government conducts a "need analysis" based on financial information, such as income, assets, and other family information, which you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) will be asked to provide. Your application is examined by a federal processor and the results are sent electronically to the financial aid offices of the colleges you've chosen (to select URI, you must use the URI Code 003414).  The application is online at

What Financial Aid is available through the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is the application most colleges use to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs. 

Financial aid is completely separate from merit scholarships, which are awarded based on academic achievement and not on financial need. Need-based aid, which at URI is only available to students who file the FAFSA, includes a variety of types of assistance.


Grants are a preferred method of financing your education because they typically do not have to be repaid. 

Federal Pell Grants
These federally funded grants are currently awarded to exceptionally needy students. The amount varies due to federal funding levels. The amount of your Pell Grant is based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) noted on your Student Aid Report, the cost of attendance, and your enrollment status.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
These grants are for undergraduates who are enrolled at least half-time with exceptional financial need. Priority is given to students who receive Federal Pell Grants.

University Grant
The University provides funds for grants to several hundred students who are enrolled at least half-time. Awards are made to students with a satisfactory academic record and demonstrated financial need.

Click here to learn more about grants.


There are numerous types of education loans:

  1. Federal Stafford Loans
    Federal Stafford Loans are fixed-rate student loans for undergraduate and graduate students. They are funded, guaranteed or insured by the federal government, the most common loan, and one of the lowest-cost ways to pay for school. They can be used to pay for tuition and other eligible school expenses and there are no payments due until after graduation. There are subsidized Stafford Loans for which the federal government pays the interest that accrues on these loans while you are in school and there are unsubsidized Stafford Loans, which are based on choice rather than need and the student is responsible for paying the interest that accrues. The interest may be paid while the student is in school, or it may be capitalized and added to the principal loan amount to be paid later.

  2. Private Student Loans
    Private student education Loans, also known as Alternative Education Loans, help bridge the gap between the actual cost of your education and the limited amount the federal government allows you to borrow through its loan programs. Private alternative loans are managed through private lenders, issued in the student's name, and require a co-signer. Eligibility, rates, terms, and conditions vary. Approval and interest rates are based on the borrower's and co-signer's credit scores. You should carefully review the interest rates and fees charged by the alternative loan program you are considering, in order to find the one that best fits your needs.

  3. Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
    PLUS loans are guaranteed by the government, feature a fixed rate, and are not based on need. Parents may choose to borrow up to the full cost of their child's tuition and related educational expenses, less any federal grant aid the student may receive.

  4. Federal Perkins Loans
    Perkins Loans feature a low, fixed interest rate, and are subsidized and awarded based on need. These loans are administered by the Department of Education through colleges and universities. The federal government pays the interest that accrues while you are in school and offers a 9-month grace period after you graduate. Perkins Loans also offer a variety of deferment and loan forgiveness options, depending on personal circumstances.

Click here to learn more about loans.


Work-Study Programs
This federally supported program provides part-time employment during the academic year. The jobs may either be with University departments or with off-campus nonprofit, nonsectarian, nonpolitical agencies; federal, state, or local public agencies. Your Federal Work Study need- based award represents the maximum amount you are allowed to earn during the academic year. These awards are not applied to your bill. You will receive your earnings in a bi-weekly paycheck.



1. Financial Aid is part of the Office of

    Enrollment Services.

2. We recommend that everyone file

    the FAFSA. If your financial

    circumstances change due to loss of

    employment or other hardship, the

    only way that we can help is to adjust

    your FAFSA award. If you never filed

    the FAFSA, we have nothing to adjust.

3. The earlier you file the FAFSA the

    better. You can file between

    January 1 and March 1.

    March 1 is the "Priority Deadline." 

4. You do not need to wait until you file

    your taxes to file the FAFSA.  You can
    estimate your income based on last

    year and any differences will be

    adjusted after you file your taxes for

    the current year.

5. Financial Aid packages are not sent

    until after you receive an admission

    decision.  Your acceptance letter will

    therefore not include information about

    need-based aid.

6. If you filed the FAFSA and have not

    received a Financial Aid package from

    URI by the end of March, call

    Enrollment Services immediately

    at 401-874-9500.

7. Financial aid is awarded annually,

    and you must reapply each year.

    The amount you receive each year

    can vary according to your financial

    need, the number of students with

    need, and the availability of funds in

    your family.

8. URI offers payment plans.  Click here

    to learn more.

9. Fees may vary and some are optional. 

    To learn more about fees, which are

    separate from tuition, room, and board,

    click here.

10.Because government programs

     change, please check here for the

     most recent Financial Aid updates.


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