Graduate students enrolled in Master's and PhD level programs may finance their education through a combination of university awards and student loans. University awards are granted by each graduate school.

All federal student loans are awarded and processed by the Financial Aid Office at the Potsdam Campus. US citizens and Permanent Residents who are enrolled on at least a half-time basis are eligible for federal student loans.

Students who wish to apply for student loans please contact the Financial Aid Office at or 315-268-6451.

Graduate students interested in learning more about departmental scholarships, graduate assistantships or teaching assistantships need to contact the appropriate graduate school department.

It is important to note that while international students are eligible for all types of University grants, scholarships and assistantships, federal student loans are available only to students who are US citizens or permanent residents.  Alternative funding may be available to international students via private sources in the form of loans or other awards.  We strongly encourage you to carefully investigate these sources of funding before making a final decision.

After you have been accepted in a program of study, all international students are required to provide a confidential Certification of Finances to identify sufficient funding for your education before an I-20 will be issued.  An I-20 must be obtained from Clarkson University before you may apply for a visa to enter the United States for educational purposes.

Outside Resources

Information on outside scholarships and loans for international students are available at:

All graduate students are considered for University merit-based financial assistance including teachings assistantships, research assistantships, fellowships and scholarships. This aid is awarded by each academic department. Not all types of assistantships are available in all programs. Please visit the financial aid, costs and scholarships page to learn about department-specific assistance.

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching Assistantships (TA) provide a stipend plus full tuition. Duties include an average of 12 hours of work per week for 50 weeks or 20 hours of work per week for 30 weeks. Duties may include assisting in the laboratory or recitation sections and grading of reports or homework.

Research Assistantships

Research Assistantships (RA) require no teaching responsibilities, and provide a standard stipend plus full tuition.

Industrial and Governmental Fellowships

Funding may cover full or partial tuition and/or a stipend.  The stipend must be at least minimum wage and duties may not exceed 40 hours per week including time to attend classes.

Partial Tuition Scholarships/Assistantships

Due to the limited number of TAs and RAs available, partial tuition scholarships and assistantships are also granted on a merit basis.  These assistantships offer a 20%-40% tuition waiver equivalent.  In some departments, a few hours per week of work is required by the student in exchange for the waiver.  There is no stipend associated with this form of aid.

Student loans are available through the Federal Direct Loan Program and alternative student loan lenders.  Most Clarkson graduate students will take federal student loans before considering alternative loans.  Although some alternative lenders advertise low variable interest rates, other considerations such as repayment options, deferment and possible cancellation benefits, interest rates and consolidation options should be included in making loan decisions.

The information contained herein includes changes made by Congress that took effect July 1, 2013 and December 1, 2018. You should always exhaust all of your scholarship, assistantships and federal student loan options before borrowing an alternative loan.

Below are some comparisons to assist you in deciding which loan is best for you.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan vs. Private Loan

Enrollment status for graduate students varies depending upon the program in which the student is enrolled.  Quarter programs are considered half-time at 3 credits per quarter and full-time at 6 credits per quarter.  Graduate semester programs are considered half-time at 4.5 credits per semester and full-time at 9 credits per semester.  In some cases, the Academic Department determines the student’s enrollment status. At least half-time enrollment is required for all federal loan programs and for in-school deferment status on federal loans a student has already borrowed. Contact the Academic Department directly for questions regarding enrollment status.

Students enrolled in doctoral or master’s thesis credits may be considered full time at the discretion of the Academic Department.  If determined to be full time or half time, students who are in residence, external PhD students and students who are not in residence are eligible to apply for federal student loans.  Loan eligibility is determined by subtracting University Awards and other grant and scholarship aid from the cost of tuition, a book allowance and a living allowance. 

View the complete Graduate SAP Policy

Graduate Satisfactory Academic Progress for Federal Aid - Effective July 1, 2016 - Beginning with the Fall 2016 semester and quarter (Revised July 2019; July 2020; July 1, 2021)

Federal regulations require that schools monitor the academic progress of every federal financial aid recipient and certify that the student is making satisfactory academic progress towards earning his/her degree.  This policy governs federal financial aid only. Institutional awards, scholarships and assistantships may have other requirements. Students may only receive federal aid for courses that are required for degree completion.

Satisfactory academic progress is evaluated at the conclusion of each term and includes, per federal regulation both quantitative and qualitative measures. These measures include:

Cumulative Grade Point Average - a cumulative 3.0 is required.  Students with a cumulative GPA less than 2.7 are not eligible for federal aid.

PACE - A minimum percentage of attempted credit hours must be earned every term. PACE is determined by:
Cumulative # of Earned Hours divided by Cumulative # of Attempted Hours
Students must maintain a minimum PACE of 50%.

The maximum time frame for meeting degree requirements.

Students must complete their degree within 150% of the published length of the program. All graduate credits attempted at Clarkson are applied to the maximum time frame. There is no appeal of the maximum time frame standard. Periods of nonattendance do not count toward maximum time frame.

Attempted Credits for PACE and the Maximum Time Frame include:

  • Earned hours – Passed (A-D), Pass (P)
  • Repeated Courses – all attempts – refer to the REPEATED COURSE section for detailed information.
  • Withdrawal (LW) and (W) - Maximum time frame regulations do not allow for the exclusion of courses in which a student has remained past the drop period and earned a grade of "W”.
    • Failure (F)
    • Incomplete (I)
  • All accepted transfer credits (including consortium agreements and Study Abroad courses) and test credit (T)
  • All graduate courses attempted at Clarkson, even if they are not used to meet degree requirements.
  • Earned credit hours for PACE include:
    • Grades of A, B, C, D or P (with credit)
    • All accepted transfer credits (T)

Financial Aid Warning

A student whose cumulative GPA is between 2.700 and 2.999 and/or whose PACE is less than 50% is not making Satisfactory Academic Progress for Federal Financial Aid.  The student is notified by the Financial Aid Office via email to the student’s Clarkson email address that he/she is on Financial Aid Warning for the subsequent term of attendance.  During the Financial Aid Warning term, the student retains eligibility for federal financial aid.

A student who meets both the PACE and GPA standards at the conclusion of the Financial Aid Warning term is again meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress for Federal Financial Aid and is eligible for federal aid for the subsequent term of attendance.

A student who does not meet both the PACE and GPA standards at the conclusion of the Financial Aid Warning term is notified by the Financial Aid Office via email to the student’s Clarkson email address that he/she is not making Satisfactory Academic Progress for Federal Financial Aid and is ineligible for federal aid for subsequent terms.  A student may not have two consecutive Financial Aid Warning terms. 

A student who does not meet the federal financial aid satisfactory academic progress standards at the conclusion of the warning term or a student whose GPA is less than 2.7 may file an appeal based on catastrophic or extraordinary circumstances "beyond the student's control," such as personal illness or injury, or the death, illness or injury of a family member, relative or close personal friend, or other situations specific to the individual student.

Students who have been disqualified from aid and who are eligible to submit an appeal are notified via email at the conclusion of the term or when readmitted to the University regarding how to begin the appeal process. It is recommended that students submit the appeal within 3 weeks of notification of their disqualified status. An appeal must be submitted no later than the 5th class day of the term for which the student is requesting federal aid.

There are 3 required elements of an appeal:

  1. A written statement from the student - Federal regulations require a student who is requesting an appeal to submit a written statement explaining:
    1. Why the student was not able to meet the satisfactory academic progress standards.
    2. What has changed that will allow the student to meet the standards at the conclusion of the academic plan (see #3 below).
  2. Supporting documentation - A student requesting an appeal must submit supporting documentation such as a physician’s written statement to substantiate illness or accident, a copy of a death certificate or newspaper obituary, a written statement from clergy, family member(s), or other third party familiar with the student’s situation, or a written statement from an academic advisor, professor or counselor.
  3. Development of an Academic Plan - As part of the appeal, the student must work with the Financial Aid Office and their Department to develop an academic plan. The academic plan is designed to enable the student to meet both PACE and GPA standards at the conclusion of the plan. An academic plan may entail one or more terms and includes specific requirements the student must achieve. Although the student is not making satisfactory academic progress, federal aid is reinstated on a term-by-term basis.

A student filing an appeal must authorize the release of pertinent information as part of an investigation of the facts concerning the failure to meet satisfactory progress standards.

Each appeal will be investigated and reviewed by the Assistant / Associate Director of Financial Aid in conjunction with faculty members from the student's program of study, as well as other Clarkson University personnel as necessary.

The Office of Financial Aid will notify the student by email of the final decision. If the appeal is approved, the student will work with the Financial Aid Office and their Department to create an academic plan. Once the Academic Plan has been designed and required signatures have been obtained, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Probation and federal aid eligibility will be reinstated for the term.

At the end of the Financial Aid Probationary term, the student will be evaluated according to the requirements specified in the academic plan. Provided that the student is successfully meeting the conditions of the plan, the student may continue to receive federal aid for the subsequent term. For cases in which an academic plan includes more than one term, the student will be evaluated at the end of each term. If the student continues to meet the requirements of the plan, the student remains eligible for financial aid.

A student who does not meet the conditions of the academic plan or whose appeal is denied is no longer eligible for federal and institutional aid at Clarkson until both standards are met. A student who is ineligible for aid may regain eligibility by taking courses at Clarkson without receiving federal  aid that raises their GPA to the minimum standards and/or increases earned hours to meet the minimum PACE requirements.

Repeated Courses

  • Courses in which a grade of "F" or "W" is recorded on a student’s transcript may be repeated a maximum of 2 times.  
  • The earned hours are counted once.
  • The attempted hours are counted each time and may be used to establish full-time enrollment status.  
  • The student may receive financial aid for these course repeats.
  • Courses in which a student has previously earned credit (A, B, C, D)
  • Federal regulations allow a student to repeat a course once if the student previously earned credit for the course.  The repeated course(s) will be used toward full-time enrollment status and are eligible for financial aid.  Courses repeated more than once will not count toward enrollment status and are ineligible for financial aid.  More than one course may be repeated per term. The attempted hours are counted each time.
  • The earned hours are counted once.
  • The grade from the prior completion(s) is excluded from the GPA calculation.

Subsequent Appeals

  • A student who does not meet the requirements of their academic plan is permitted to submit a subsequent appeal. This appeal must be based on new extenuating circumstances that have occurred since the approval of the first appeal and are outside of the student's control.
  • There is a limit of two appeal submissions while a graduate student.

Academic Grade Changes and Incompletes

For purposes of determining satisfactory academic progress for federal financial aid, all grade changes including incompletes must be submitted to Student Achievement Services prior to the 10th day of the subsequent term. This deadline may differ from academic department guidelines.

Readmitted Students

A student who has left the University for one or more terms and has been readmitted will have Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid reviewed at the time of readmission.  Transfer credits must be received prior to the 10th day of the term in order to be included in the SAP determination.

  • If the student is determined to be meeting SAP, federal aid will be offered provided the student meets all other eligibility requirements.
  • If it is determined that the student is not meeting SAP, the student will be notified by email to the student’s Clarkson email address of his/her status and the appeal process.

Can International students get student loans?

Only US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for federal student loans.  It is possible that private companies may offer alternative student loans to international students, but in most cases, a credit worthy US co-signer is required.  Clarkson does not recommend specific alternative lenders.

How much can I borrow in Federal loans as a graduate student?

Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans per aid year.

If the student still has unmet need, they can apply for the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan. This loan is not subject to an annual federal limit. The loan is subject to a soft credit check, which means they will not be approved if the student is past due on other debt. They have the option to request $Max, or a specific amount. The school will calculate the Cost of Attendance (which includes direct costs and indirect costs such as estimates for rent and food, books, and travel). The Graduate PLUS loan can be offered for the difference between the Cost of Attendance less other aid. Students will have an opportunity to reduce the amount offered when they accept the loan via PeopleSoft self-service.

Can federal loans be used to cover living expenses?

Cost of attendance includes non-direct costs such as living expenses.  The amount if based on averages.  Living expenses for students enrolled for less than full-time status will be prorated.

How do I apply?

Students apply for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan by using the “Graduate Federal Loan Application” for the correct aid year found on our internal website page  under “Academic Year” followed by the correct year. Under that section, students will find “Graduate Federal Loan Steps” which explain all the required steps.

When should I start the process for federal loans?

Students should file their FAFSA after October 1 each year, using the prior year's income tax return. Loan applications can be submitted in June or July, but no later than 10 days before the tuition due date, which is typically the first Friday in August.  Students who will start with summer courses will want to submit their loan application as least a week prior to that tuition billing due date.

Do I need parent information when I file the FAFSA?

No, graduate students are independent and do not include parent information.

Do I need to come to campus and meet with a financial aid staff member?

Although many student come to SAS to discuss their financial aid at some point, much of the discussion can take place via email or phone before the student is on campus.

Are graduate students eligible for NYS TAP or the federal Pell grant?

No, graduate student are not eligible for either.

Are graduate students eligible for federal work study?

Graduate students may be eligible for federal work study.  Contact Financial Aid to determine your federal eligibility.  When federal work study is included in your cost of attendance formula, it may reduce your loan eligibility.

Can I defer my undergraduate student loans?

Yes, if you are attending at least half-time. Clarkson’s Registrar’s Office submits a file of registered students approximately the third week of each term to the Student Loan Clearinghouse. Most, but not all, loan servicers will obtain enrollment data and automatically process an in-school deferment. Student borrowers should check the status of their existing student loans for deferment eligibility and processing.

Graduate Student Achievement Specialists
Your Student Achievement Specialist is your first point of contact for financial aid questions and concerns. You may contact your Specialist at 315-268-6451 or

Total Withdrawal from the University - Treatment of Federal Title IV Aid

There are occasions when a student may leave the University prior to the completion of a term. If a student officially withdraws from the University, takes a leave of absence, unofficially withdraws, or is dismissed during the term, for the purposes of financial aid both situations are treated as a withdrawal. When a federal financial aid recipient withdraws during a term, federal regulations require a calculation to determine whether federal aid must be returned. This calculation, called a Return of Title IV Aid (R2T4), is required for official withdrawals, but also in the cases of students who unofficially withdraw by ceasing attendance in their classes. There is no leave of absence policy used in the R2T4 process.

An undergraduate student intending to leave the University must contact Student Achievement Services to being the official withdrawal process. Graduate students must contact their Academic Department.

The R2T4 calculation determines whether financial aid must be repaid to the federal programs. The University's tuition refund policy is independent from this federal R2T4 policy. Federal aid includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Subsidized Federal Direct Loans, Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans, and Federal Direct PLUS Loans.

When a student withdraws from the University during the term, the amount of Title IV program assistance that the student has earned up to that point in time is determined by a specific formula. If the student received less assistance than the amount than was earned, the student may be able to receive those additional funds. If the student received more assistance than earned, the excess funds must be returned to the US Department of Education.

The amount of assistance that the student has earned is determined on a pro rata basis. The formula is based upon the number of days the student has attended as a percentage of the total number of days in the term. For example, if the student completed 30% of the term, the student earns 30% of the assistance originally awarded. Once the student has completed more than 60% of the term, the student has earned all of the assistance awarded for the term. Federal regulations require this calculation if the student officially or unofficially withdraws, is dismissed or otherwise leaves the University during a term.

Student transcripts are reviewed at the conclusion of each term. If a student received all “F” grades during a term, federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid to obtain additional information from the Academic Department(s). If the Academic Department(s) determines that the student completed, yet failed to meet the course objectives in at least one course, no changes to the student's financial aid for that term are required. If however, the Academic Department(s) determines that the student did not complete all courses (i.e. stopped attending all courses); the student is considered to have unofficially withdrawn from the University. In this case, the last date of academic engagement is used to determine the date of the unofficial withdrawal.

Academic engagement includes:

  • Attending asynchronous class, lecture, recitation, or field or laboratory activity physically or online, where there is an opportunity for interaction between the instructor and students
  • Submitting an academic assignment
  • Taking an assessment or exam
  • Participating in an interactive tutorial, webinar, or other interactive computer-assisted instruction
  • Participating in a study group, group project, or an online discussion that is assigned by the institution
  • Interacting with an instructor about academic matters

The definition of academic engagement does not include activities where a student may be present, but not academically engaged, such as:

  • Living in institutional housing
  • Participating in the school's meal plan
  • Logging into an online class or tutorial without any further participation
  • Participating in academic counseling or advising
  • Participating in a student-organized study group

If the last date of academic engagement is after the 60% date of the term, no adjustment to a student's financial aid for that term is required. If however, the date occurs prior to the 60% date, a Title IV refund calculation is required and necessary adjustments to a student's financial aid for the term will be made. In absence of a documented last date of academic engagement, federal regulations require Clarkson to use the midpoint (50%) of the term.

The Federal Title IV Refund Procedure is separate and distinct from the Office of Student Account’s refund policy for tuition, fees and other charges at Clarkson. Therefore, a student may still owe funds to cover unpaid institutional charges.

Clarkson scholarships, grants, and loans may be reduced based on individual circumstances, the date of withdrawal, and the Student Accounts Refund policy.

Satisfactory Academic Progress for students who return to the University for a subsequent term will be reviewed and a determination will be made based on the Maximum Time Frame, PACE and GPA standards as stated above.

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