If you’re expecting to take loans to pay for graduate school, in particular if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident planning to take federal loans, here’s an important bit of information to keep in mind.
After Fletcher makes a scholarship award (and notifies an admitted student of both the admission decision and the award amount), we provide that information to the University’s Student Financial Services office. There, using information from the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the SFS staff “packages” each student for scholarship and loans, based on the University’s calculation of a budget for Fletcher study. The budget includes tuition, fees, health insurance, room and board, books, and incidental expenses. The budget is standard for all students, though it can be adjusted slightly if a student has an unusual expense related to study (such as the need to replace a broken computer).
What the budget cannot be enlarged to include is repayment of consumer or credit card debt. These expenses can’t be financed through scholarships or U.S. government loans. So, as part of the process of preparing for graduate school, you should be paying off your debt now, with the goal of starting your studies debt free (and preferably with some cash in the bank).
As a final note, though different schools will approach the process differently, the general story is the same. Monthly repayment of consumer debt or credit card debt cannot be included in the budget for study.