Types of Financial Aid for Optometry School
Approximately 83% of the students enrolled at the Southern College of Optometry receive some type of financial aid. Many but not all forms of financial aid are need-based.
Schedule a tour today, apply online, or request more information on optometry programs at SCO to help you make your decision.
Deadlines. FAQs. Resources
Emergency Financial Aid Loans
Our Randolph Gilbert Student Emergency Loan Fund offers short-term loans to students experiencing temporary financial difficulty.
A loan from this fund can make it possible for you to register on time when one of your student loan checks is delayed for reasons beyond your control. This is not a long-term financing program, and the loan must be repaid on or before the due date. Loans are normally due by the end of the semester in which the loan is made. An extension may be requested for mitigating circumstances.
The loan limit is $8,000. Interest is charged on the unpaid principal balance at an annual percentage rate of 8%. Failure to repay the principal and interest when due may result in a $25 late fee and other penalties at the discretion of the College. A creditworthy cosigner other than a spouse may be required in some cases, and always for a first-year, first-semester student. Emergency loans are not made to students on probation.
Emergency loan checks are disbursed on Friday mornings, for applications received by noon on Wednesdays.
Federal Stafford Unsubsidized Student Loans
Another type of financial aid available to graduate students is non-need-based. This type includes various unsubsidized loans that can be used to replace the "expected family contribution" (EFC).
The Financial Aid Office certifies these loans because they cannot exceed the cost of attendance minus any need-based aid received by the student. The recommended maximum amount is $20,000 per year. You may borrow more if needed.
Interest is fixed. The current interest rate (in-school & grace) for loans disbursed after July 1, 2022 and before July 1, 2023 is 6.54%.
Interest is not subsidized (paid) by the federal government and begins accruing upon disbursement; the borrower has the option to pay the interest during enrollment or allow it to accrue.
Unpaid interest will be capitalized by the lender and added to the principal of the loan upon graduation.
Maximum annual loan of $40,500 (1st years), $43,833 (2nd years), and $47,167 (3rd and 4th years) (unsubsidized loans cannot exceed the Cost of Attendance); aggregate total (undergraduate and graduate) of $224,000.
Financial need not required.
Student borrows directly from the Department of Education's Direct Loan Program.
A 1.057% origination fee will be deducted from the loan proceeds before disbursement.
A grace period of 6 months after enrollment ceases.
Deferment and Forbearance options are available.
Standard 10-year repayment schedule; extended repayment schedule available to some borrowers with large debts; minimum $50/month payment.
Additional information can be found at https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidized
Federal Work-Study Programs
Approximately 160 part-time jobs were awarded last year to students who requested work-study on their financial aid applications.
Work-study funds are limited, so preference is given to eligible students in the order that their financial aid applications are completed. If you would like to know if you are eligible for FWS, please call or come by our office. If you have been awarded FWS funds, you must work to earn the funds in order to receive them. If you are looking for a job, we have a list of departments allocated FWS funds for the current year. Just call or come by if you are interested in one. If you have been awarded FWS funds and are unable to earn the total amount, you may turn your FWS funds into loans.
A limited number of off-campus community service jobs are available in our FWS program. These positions are at a higher wage rate than on-campus jobs and involve work that benefits the community rather than the College. We select applicants on a first-come, first-served basis, giving preference to first-year students who have past experience in a community service program, or in other volunteer work, or who can otherwise demonstrate a commitment to community service. These positions involve tutoring elementary and middle school children.
The work-study wage rate is currently $13 - $17 per hour. During the school year, you may average no more than 20 hours of work per week. Most students work less than 10 hours per week. You will be paid by check at the end of each month for work actually performed during the month.
Our Financial Aid Office staff will help you with the work-study procedures. If interested, please email Financial Aid at [email protected] or call the FA office at (901) 722-3207 or (800) 238-0180, #3.
Graduate Plus Loans
After the maximum in Stafford loans is awarded, graduate students have access to the Graduate PLUS loan for amounts up to the cost of education minus other financial aid.
This loan requires a credit evaluation that is less stringent than a private loan.
Students in an in-school status at least half-time will automatically receive an in-school deferment.
There is a 4.236% origination fee.
For Direct PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2022, and before July 1, 2023, the interest rate is 7.54%. This is a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan.
Payments begin 30-60 days after enrollment ceases.
Additional information can be found at https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/plus/grad
Health Profession Student Loans
- 5% fixed interest rate.
- Must provide parental income information on FAFSA and copy of parent's tax return.
- Interest is subsidized (paid) by the federal government during in-school, grace, and approved deferment periods.
- The maximum annual loan can be equal to the cost of education (the actual loan will be dependent upon available funds), usually $5,000 per year.
- Need-based eligibility determined by the results of FAFSA. Determination of need must also include an analysis of parental financial information.
- Student borrows through the school.
- There are no loan fees.
- A grace period of 12 months after enrollment ceases.
- Deferment and Forbearance options are available.
- Standard 10-year repayment schedule; minimum $40/month payment.
The federal government requires parental financial information for all students who receive the HPSL. Students cannot be considered for the HPSL unless they have provided complete parental information on the FAFSA.
Private Student Loans
Private lenders, usually banks, offer a variety of loans, often referred to as private loans, to graduate students.
Because future Optometrists are seen as good financial risks, banks are willing to loan money for your educational expenses even though the loans are not guaranteed by the federal government. These are the most expensive loans available to graduate students. Private alternative loans must be certified by the Financial Aid Office. The amount borrowed must fit within the cost of attendance established by the school.
Even though the terms and conditions of private loans will vary by program, the following information applies to all programs:
- Interest is based on credit score.
- Interest is not subsidized and begins accruing upon disbursement; borrower has the option to pay the interest during enrollment or to allow it to accrue.
- Unpaid interest will be capitalized by the lender and added to the principal of the loan.
- The loan amount may be up to the cost of attendance.
- Not need-based.
- The student borrows directly from a private lender.
- Usually provides deferment for residency (approximately 3 to 4 years).
- Dependent on the total borrowed, repayment may extend up to 25 years.
- Borrowers must be credit-worthy to be approved for these loans; lenders will not approve a loan if the borrower has a poor credit history or excessive consumer debt; the absence of a credit history is not viewed as negative.
The participants in these programs and their terms change frequently, so it is wise to get up-to-date information and read it carefully.
Private Loan Options
The Army, Navy, and Air Force offer HPSP scholarship programs. The scholarship includes the payment of tuition, authorized fees and reimbursement for required books and equipment. In addition, students receive a monthly stipend while in school and active duty pay during the summers. In return, recipients agree to practice optometry in a specific branch of the military. Further information about the programs can be obtained by contacting regional health professions recruiters for each of the branches.
Arkansas offers a $5,000 forgivable loan to students who agree to return to the state to practice optometry one year for each year that they receive the loan. You must be a recipient of the ARHEG. Click here for more information or email Jonathan Coleman as soon as possible at [email protected] or call her at 501-371-2058 or toll-free at 1-800-547-8839. The deadline is Oct 1.
North Carolina offers the Forgivable Education Loan for Service(FELS). It was established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011 and the first loans available for the 2012-13 academic year. The loan provides financial assistance to qualified students who are committed to working in North Carolina in fields designated as critical employment shortage areas. Doctoral degree-seeking students are eligible for$14,000 per year. Required GPA of 3.20 and must be a NC resident. For further information regarding the application process or this forgivable loan, please call CFNC at 866-866-2362.
Veterans Benefits for College
Veterans of the United States armed forces may be eligible for a broad range of programs and services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These benefits are legislated in Title 38 of the United States Code. Visit the VA web page at www.va.gov.