Higher education is an investment that yields magnificent returns. Every day, Emerson students and faculty come together to create, explore, and advance the future of communication and the arts. Emerson offers students an unparalleled opportunity to leap to the forefront of their fields, and we are committed to making an Emerson education possible for all people of talent and ability. Our professional financial aid staff helps students finance their education by providing support and assistance in navigating an array of financial aid processes, deadlines, and opportunities.

Emerson College requires students to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their federal aid eligibility. A student’s federal aid award amount is determined by the calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC) provided from the FAFSA. Financial need is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) and the EFC, and it helps us determine the final award amount.

Types of Aid

The following is a list of types of assistance provided by Emerson College. Please note that renewal requirements must be met in order to continue annual eligibility.

Gift Aid

Fellowships and Scholarships

These merit awards are awarded by the Office of Graduate Admission, not the Office of Financial Aid. They are awarded based on academic achievement, demonstrated ability, and professional promise. Merit aid cannot be used to cover the cost of seminars. The awarded amount is spread out evenly throughout the duration of the academic program and is based on registered credits per academic term. 

More information on Fellowships & Scholarships 

Private Scholarships

Various organizations, civic groups, and foundations award scholarships to help worthy students meet the cost of attending graduate school. Information regarding these sources is available at local libraries and our website. Emerson College strongly encourages all students to pursue private scholarships through local and national organizations. If a student receives an outside award that increases his or her total aid to more than his or her calculated need, a need–based aid adjustment will be necessary.

More information on Private Scholarships

Self-Help Options

Emerson urges all students to keep careful records of their cumulative educational debt. Please review your total federal educational debt online anytime by visiting the National Student Loan Database Services (NSLDS) at NSLDS.ed.gov.

Federal Direct Loan

The Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan Program: In most instances, a full-time graduate student is eligible to borrow a maximum of $20,500 per academic year. Unsubsidized Direct loans may not exceed the student’s cost of attendance less any other financial assistance. Please note that interest will accumulate while in school. Borrowers have the option of making interest payments while in school or having it accumulate. Repayment of principal begins six months after graduation or when the student is no longer enrolled at least half time. The Direct loan has a current interest rate of 6.08 percent with a 1.059 percent origination fee. Borrowers new to Emerson College will need to complete a Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling prior to disbursement. Our office will make contact with borrowers during the first week of June to explain the requirements and how the process works.

For returning students who have previously received Direct loans through Emerson: Our office only needs to receive confirmation from you regarding the amount of Direct loan that you would like to borrow. A new Master Promissory Note is not required.

More information on Federal Direct Loans

Federal Work-Study

This need-based award consists of federally subsidized part-time employment administered by the College. Earnings are paid directly to students in biweekly paychecks. The number of hours a student may work and his or her hourly wage is determined by the College and limited by fund availability and calculated eligibility. Students are only compensated for hours actually worked.

FWS funds are limited; therefore, fund availability is not guaranteed. If funds are available, graduate students who are enrolled at least half time may request consideration for FWS. Awards are given to eligible students who request FWS at the discretion of the Office of Financial Aid. Please contact the assistant director of student employment for more information.

More information on Federal Work Study

Emerson Employment

This institutional employment program is open to all Emerson College students who are enrolled at least half time in a degree program. Earnings are paid directly to students in biweekly paychecks. The number of hours a student may work and his or her hourly wage is determined by the College. Students are only compensated for hours actually worked. Please contact the assistant director of student employment for more information.

More information on Emerson Employment

Financing Options

Tuition Payment Plan

The Tuition Payment Plan gives students the option to make monthly, no-interest payments. All Tuition Payment Plans must be set up prior to the bill due date. Plan options include a five-month or a four-month semester plan, each with a $50 enrollment fee. Payments are due on the first of each month and are made directly through our bill and payment site. For some students, monthly payments can be easier on the household budget. They can also help save money by reducing the amount students need to borrow and allowing students to retain funds in interest-bearing accounts for longer periods of time.

More information on Tuition Payment Plan

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan

Graduate/Professional Direct PLUS Loans: Graduate students are eligible to borrow under the Grad PLUS Loan Program up to their cost of attendance minus other financial assistance. The terms and conditions applicable to Parent PLUS loans also apply to Graduate/Professional PLUS loans. These requirements include a determination that the applicant does not have an adverse credit history. The Graduate/Professional PLUS loan has a current fixed interest rate of 7.08 percent with a 4.236 percent origination fee. Repayment of principal begins six months after graduation or when the student is no longer enrolled at least half time. Applicants for these loans are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They also must have applied for their annual loan maximum eligibility under the Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan Program before applying for a Grad PLUS loan.

More information on Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loans

Private (Alternative) Loans

Private Alternative Loans: Please consult the Office of Financial Aid before pursuing a private alternative loan. If you borrow the maximum amount of Federal Direct loans ($20,500 per year) and still have unmet need in your financial aid budget, you may be eligible for an alternative loan. Students must have a good credit history and remain within certain debt-to-income ratios, as defined by the lending institution. Some alternative loans require a co-applicant. You can view information about some of these options on our website, ELMSelect, or contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information.

More information on Alternative Loans

Other Considerations

Every student's situation is unique and your situation may change from year  to year. It is important to consider the length of your program when determining how to pay for graduate school, but please keep in mind that what you may do one semester does not mean you need to do it each semester. We do recommend that you plan for annual increases in tuition and fees, pending board approval. Our team can help you figure out what the best options may be. 

Special Programs

Health Insurance

Massachusetts state law requires all students to have health insurance. Please note that if you do not complete an annual insurance waiver, you will be charged for the school-endorsed insurance policy.

More Information on Health Insurance

Tuition Insurance

In an effort to help protect the financial investment of our families, we have partnered with A.W.G Dewar, Inc. to offer the opportunity to purchase elective insurance covered for student’s tuition and room and board charges. The Tuition Refund Plan (TRP) is an insurance plan that minimizes the financial loss a student may experience should they need to leave Emerson after the start of a semester. TRP’s refund covers 80% of tuition for medical and mental health withdrawals. This charge will appear on the billing statement automatically each semester, but can be waived at the start of each academic year.

More Information on Tuition Insurance

Terms and Conditions

Academic Schedule Changes

Enrollment/Credit Changes: Enrollment changes necessitate an adjustment to the cost of attendance, which is used to determine aid eligibility. Students must notify our office in writing (email) if their expected or actual enrollment changes. Actual registered credits are checked at the end of the Add/Drop period, and the award is adjusted accordingly.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress: Federal regulations and Emerson College policy require students to make satisfactory academic progress.

Graduate students who receive federal financial aid must meet qualitative and quantitative requirements each semester. Depending on their major, graduate students must complete at least 75 percent of their attempted courses each semester to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. The percentage is determined by the number of credits required to complete the program. Receiving grades or recorded symbols of C, D, F, W, WF, WP, I, AUD, and DEF does not constitute successfully completing a course.

Students with federal aid must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Students denied need-based aid because of unsatisfactory academic progress may appeal in writing to the Director of Student Success. A financial aid review committee will rule on the appeal and notify the student of its decision within three weeks.

Any student receiving merit assistance must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress. Please see your award letter for value and maximum semester eligibility (fall, spring, summer). No fellowship will be awarded for more than the cost of tuition (if part-time during the semester prior to graduation). 

More Information on Academic Standards

Eligibility for Financial Assistance

Graduation Requirements: When a continuing student re-applies for financial assistance, the Office of Financial Aid reviews the number of credits he or she needs to complete to fulfill his or her degree requirements. Financial assistance is renewable as long as you enroll in a degree-seeking program. If it is determined you will complete your degree earlier than expected, your eligibility will cease. 

For example, if you take additional courses over the summer and you only need 2 master’s thesis/project credits to finish your degree requirements during the fall semester, you will not be eligible for federal or institutional assistance for those credits. You cannot receive assistance for optional elective courses. Federal and institutional financial assistance funds are only to be used for courses required to complete your Emerson degree program.

Withdrawal from Emerson College: When students withdraw or take leaves of absence, their financial assistance is reviewed. Federal funds, or portions thereof, must be returned to federal programs according to a federal formula. All students are eligible for a full refund of tuition and fees, excluding nonrefundable deposits, if they officially withdraw before the first day of classes. Students receiving federal funds receive a refund based on the Federal Return of Title IV Aid policy. This policy determines the percentage of aid that must be returned to the federal government and the percentage of tuition the student owes the College. Fees are not refunded after the first day of classes.

It is the student’s responsibility to pay his or her college expenses before the beginning of each semester. Financial assistance is not automatically renewable, so students who anticipate the need for financial assistance should submit a complete financial aid application every year. When applying for financial assistance in the future, please check the website for priority application deadlines. Students who complete their financial aid application after the priority deadline are awarded on a rolling basis. Late applicants may encounter difficulties settling their tuition bill due to late financial aid notification.

Prerequisite Courses During the Summer Preceding Enrollment at Emerson: When you enroll in required prerequisites, you are not eligible for most educational loan programs because you are not yet matriculated in a degree program. However, there are a limited number of alternative loan options available. Please contact a financial aid representative for more information.

Seminar Courses: Certain majors require students to enroll in seminar courses to complete the program. If you are in one of these programs, you must contact the Office of Financial Aid to inform your financial aid advisor when you will enroll in these courses. Please note that to receive aid for January seminar courses, you must enroll at least part time in the spring semester immediately following that January session.

Renewal Requirements

Please note that all merit aid and loans are based on established renewal requirements. More information can be found on the Financial Aid website.

Financial Assistance for Summer Term

Summer Assistance

Summer starts the financial assistance cycle; therefore, graduate students apply for summer assistance through their second–year financial assistance application. Although summer is treated as two separate academic sessions, it is considered one financial assistance term. That means our office looks at the total number of credits taken during the summer when determining eligibility for summer loan disbursements. Students must be enrolled in at least 4 credits before any loans can be disbursed. For example, if you take 2 credits in Summer 1 term and 2 more in Summer 2 term, your loan disbursement will be in Summer 2 term when you demonstrate enrollment in at least 4 credits. If you enroll in 4 or more credits for Summer 1 term, your loan will be disbursed in  Summer 1 term. There is only one summer loan disbursement for students attending the following fall semester.

Students seeking financial assistance for the summer term should complete a Summer Aid Application available on the Financial Aid Forms & Instructions page.

Payment of Billing Statement

Payment of Bill

Emerson College bills students for tuition once a semester. In late June, an electronic billing statement is made accessible and this statement reflects the fall semester tuition and fees. Payment for this bill is due August 1. In early December, an electronic billing statement is made accessible and this statement reflects the spring semester tuition and fees. Payment for this bill is due December 15. Students are responsible to monitor their account balance regularly via eCommon to ensure all financial obligations are met.

Students with outstanding balances will receive a courtesy email at their Emerson email account. Students are responsible for monitoring this account regularly. If students have an outstanding balance after the due date passes, they must pay it immediately. If you receive financial aid, are on an approved payment plan, or have an approved alternative billing arrangement, you may not be responsible for remitting the entire amount by the dates noted above. Please contact the Office of Student Accounts immediately if you have questions regarding your bill.

More Information on Payment of Bill

How Aid Disbursements Appear on Your Account

After each semester begins and our office determines you are enrolled in the appropriate number of credits, financial assistance disburses in equal installments. Loan proceeds are disbursed equally in fall and spring or summer, fall, and spring for continuing graduate students. The Federal Direct Loan does not appear as a credit on the student’s account until the loan proceeds are actually received by the College. Please note that Federal Work-Study and/or Emerson Employment are not disbursed to your student account.

Payment of Winter Seminar Courses

Before you are allowed to register for seminar courses, you must pay for the credits or provide proof that you have a completed financial assistance award that covers the cost. No loans are available for winter session courses. However, if you have loans that will disburse in the spring semester immediately following the winter session, Emerson will allow you to defer payment and register for the winter session. You can only do this if you have enough spring disbursement funds to cover the cost of your spring courses and the winter session credits. If you do not enroll in the spring semester immediately following the winter session, you will lose all loan eligibility and must pay for the winter session credits out of pocket. If you do not have enough loan funds, you must pay for the winter session when you register.

Payment of Summer Courses

Please adhere to payment deadlines to avoid having your registration canceled.

Many graduate students rely on loan funds to pay for living expenses such as rent and food. Be aware that loan funds are not available at the very beginning of the semester; federal loans are disbursed after verification of enrollment (after Add/ Drop). Graduate students may then apply for refunds from excess disbursements. Please keep in mind that refund request processing takes approximately two weeks.

Please check the website for estimated disbursement dates. It is the students’ responsibility to make arrangements to cover their own living expenses and book costs until their refunds become available.

Refund of Overpayment

How to Request Your Refund: Because the student account belongs to the student, regardless of who makes payments, the student is the only person authorized to request a refund.

More information on Refunds