[Webinar] UMD Online Financial Aid & Military Benefits

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In this webinar, we review the resources available to Smith online students to help fund their degree. 

This session will cover:

  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Military Benefits
  • Smith Vet Student & Alumni Life
  • Admission Requirements & Important Dates
  • Live Q&A session


  • Samantha Hanssen, Program Coordinator Billing & Financial Aid
  • Jacques Avery, Senior Enrollment Advisor
  • Frank Goertner, Director of Military & Veteran Affairs

Originally presented on May 29, 2019


– [Christina] Hello, and welcome to the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business online MBA and MSBA Financing Your Education and Military Benefits Information Session. My name is Christina Walsh, and I’ll be your host today. I’d like to thank you for joining us, and taking time out of your busy schedule. Before we begin, I’d like to review what you can expect during the presentation. First of all, if you have questions during the session, please submit your questions using the Q and A widget located on your audience console, at the bottom of your screen. Feel free to enter our questions as you think of them, and we’ll answer as many as time allows at the end of the session. If you have any technical difficulties, the help widget provides answers to common technical issues. And also, and on-demand version of the webcast will be available tomorrow afternoon. A link to the recording will be sent via email if you’d like to view the presentation again, or share with others.

Joining us today, we have Samantha Hanssen, Jacques Avery, and Frank Goertner. Samantha joined the masters program office in January of 2017, and served as the program coordinator of billing and financial aid. Her responsibilities include advising students on billing and financial aid related questions, that include FAFSA, grants, loans, and documents needed for disbursement and providing support to the masters programs office. Jacques Avery has been a Smith team advisor for two years and in higher education as an admission advisor for over seven years. As an advisor he supports and coaches Smith’s incoming students as they progress through the admissions process. And Frank is a military Smith MBA, and their director of military and veteran affairs. A retired Navy Commander, he grew up not far from College Park, graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, and spend more than 20 years on active duty as a pilot and foreign area officer. Now he enjoys coaching other military professionals through career transitions, promoting U.S. Vets as strategic assets for a united economy and keeping Maryland’s old line legacy of civil military service strong.

In today’s session, we will begin with Jacques who will review our scholarships and merit-based awards. Samantha will then go over federal student aide and student loan options. And then she will hand it over to Frank, who will present on the military benefits. We will hand it back to Jacques after that to review the steps for applying to the Smith program, including some helpful tips and also review tuition. Following our speakers, will have a Q and A session to answer any of your outstanding questions. Now I’d like to turn it over to Jacques.

– [Jacques] Hi everyone. As Christina mentioned, I am an enrollment advisor. And as a part of getting prepared for admissions to the program, a piece that comes along with admission to the program, actually is the feedback that our accepted applicants have with the scholarship awards, financial awards, with becoming involved in the program. With those scholarships and financial awards, each accepted student is considered for awards that are up to 30% of tuition. As you can see on screen, with those financial awards they may have different eligibility criteria. However, with each and every applicant that comes in to the program, with your affiliations that may provide you with eligibility for certain awards, you are also going to have a merit-based review that primarily considers your prior educational outcomes, your clarity of your goals with your desired graduate level Smith program and also your career trajectory and your prior professional experience. With many students that are involved in the program, they do have different affiliations which may create that eligibility for these different awards and as you can see on the screen, that eligibility may come from your employer, your service in the military, being an alum of the University of Maryland College Park and of course, we have those merit-based awards as well. Also, external to the scholarships that may be provided by the business school, with the Smith financial awards may be opportunities for external scholarships through third-party organizations which may include professional organizations that you belong to. Or other organizations that provide scholarships with different eligibility and qualification requirements. I do encourage you to conduct your own Google search or look into different scholarship databases for these types of third-party opportunities. However, I do want to recommend that you exercise caution with the personal information that you may provide with these different databases as you may want to keep some of that personal information private. Moving on to other sources for funding the program, I’ll turn things over to Samantha and she can talk about some of the funding sources that she helps students with being able to explore.

– [Samantha] Thanks Jacques, so as Jacques mentioned, scholarships and financial awards are offered up to 30%. So how do you finance the other 70%? And this is where the financial aid office here at UMD comes into play. Many students find it necessary to take out student loans provided through the federal government and even alternative or private loaned lender options. So to be considered for federal financial aid through the department of education, the first step is to complete your FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The web address indicated on the slide will take you directly to the FAFSA website, where you can begin your application.

You’ll wanna make sure that if you’re incoming for fall that you complete the 2019/2020 application. And you make sure to incorporate the University of Maryland College Park school code of 002103. I wanted to pay particular attention to our school code because there are several schools in the Maryland system and many students sometimes send their application to the incorrect school. So make sure to be careful of what information you’re actually entering. The FAFSA is going to cover the fall semester, the preceding spring and then summer semester. So it falls over two calendar years. For instance, this next calendar year, 2019/2020, it’s gonna cover fall 2019, spring 2020 and summer 2020. Each application is released October 1st. So this upcoming October 1st, you’ll be able to complete the FAFSA for the following aid year beginning in 2020/2021. Once you apply for the FAFSA, you will be awarded two different loan types through the University of Maryland’s financial aid office. The first is going to be the unsubsidized Stafford loan. You have an annual maximum borrowing allowance of $20,500.

In order to receive this funding over the course of your semesters, you’ll have to maintain a minimum of four graduate credits per semester. So just as long as you don’t fall below that, you will maintain those eligibility standards. I currently have listed here on this slide the interest rates for 2018/2019, just because the department of education has not yet released the new rates for 2019/2020. However, if you are interested in getting those, you can feel free to review these on the financial aid website at here at UMD, as this will be updated upon its release in July. The current interest rate is 6.6% fixed. Meaning that’s going to stay the same over the life of your loan. And there is a processing fee associated with this. Just over 1%. It’s charged at each disbursement. So as an example, if you’re awarded $10,250 in the fall, what actually disburses to your account is a going to be a little less than that. Interest begins accruing after each disbursement and repayment begins six months after graduating or falling below half time. And what that means is your not taking the minimum requirements of four credits.

The next loan type is the graduate plus loan. So if you notice, that unsubsidized loan has a restriction on how much you can borrow in any aid year, that fall, spring, summer timeline. So a lot of students find the need to supplement this funding with the graduate plus loan. You can actually borrow up to the cost of attendance budget that’s determined by the department of education and the University of Maryland, minus any other financial aid. This includes those financial awards that Jacques was speaking to, as well as the unsubsidized loan. Again, with this loan you need to maintain a minimum of four graduate credits per semester. This current interest rate is 7.6% fixed. Again, with that processing fee of just over 4%. So it’s quite a large difference when comparing the two loans with the rates and processing fees. The fees are also charged at each disbursement. And just like the unsubsidized loan, it accrues interest after each disbursement and you will begin repayment six months after graduating or falling below half time. Again, these rates should be updated in July.

So a lot of students sometimes may not want to take out the federal options for loans, just because they may think that they can get a lower rate elsewhere. If you have good credit, absolutely take advantage of that. You want to spend as less as possible on interest when paying back your education. So you can find alternative means to fund your education through private loans. That’s gonna be through any personal bank or credit union of your choosing. They are based on credit and they typically do have higher interest rates in comparison to the federal loans, just because some of those rates aren’t fixed. They might be a variable rate, so they can change at the discretion of the bank. So it’s very important to point that out. And just like the graduate plus loan, you can borrow up to the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid awards and you may actually require a co-signer if your credit history is not as good as the bank would like it.

A lot of students who do choose the private loan route need to really make sure that they give enough time for processing. So once you complete your applications, it will be sent electronically from the lender to the financial aid office here at UMD through their ELM, which is their electronic loan system. And they will receive the loan, certify your eligibility and then after the current processing time, which is about three to four weeks, the school will send a notification to the lender saying that the loan has been certified and then the lender will schedule an electronic transfer of those funds to UMD. And then once they are allowed to disburse those funds the financial aid office will do so towards your bill. So we just ask that you continue to monitor your account once you have access to it, to make sure that everything goes through smoothly and there weren’t any hiccups in the road.

So I wanna go over a few important deadlines and timelines for completing your financial aid. As I just mentioned, with private loans, there is currently up to a four week processing time for loans. It’s actually going to be the financial aid office’s timeline for anything just because we are such a large university that it does take some time to get this aid squared away for you guys. So there isn’t necessarily a hard deadline for the FAFSA. I always suggest that you complete your FAFSA with enough processing time so that your funds are available before your first billing deadline. As the school does charge late fees for accounts that have balances past their deadline.

Once you submit your federal loan documents, federal loan documents are needed for you to accept the loan. So you’ll fill out your FAFSA, you will be packaged with an award from UMD and then you’ll have several loan documents you’ll need to complete. Basically, it’s a loan agreement between you and the department of education. And these documents can take anywhere from seven to 10 business days to fully process from your submission, to the department of education, to the reception from UMD. And the loan document, like I said, the loan document completion is required before your loans can disburse. So at this time, I’m going to give this over to Frank who will discuss with you guys the military benefits portion.

– Right, thanks Sam. So my charge here at Smith is to keep Smith the premiere B school for military veterans and family members in the mid-atlantic. And the direct programs that make every phase of the Smith Vet journey qualitative like better than other top-ranked MBA programs. And so how do we do that? Well, we start by waiving application deposit fees for veteran and military or military family members. We then also run programs, I direct programs, for military and veteran students that we term Smith Vets that take you from that basically span all of our programs, say online programs, along with all of our other MBA programs and specialty master programs, and ensure that every program is getting the same high-quality level of support. And then I also serve as your personal liaison for every military or veteran or military family student from the time that they are in every phase of their student journey. So from the time that they are just thinking about the programs, or the time they’re applying, through their application to enrollment. From the time that they are here, studying, or online studying, and then as they transition out to become a member of our alumni network. I’m here, I’m here to support you and I’m here to connect you also to other members of that network of both applicants, students and alumni.

One of the biggest things that of course that entails is helping you through understanding your GI Bill benefits or your veterans benefits. For most people, that means the Post-9/11 GI Bill. And the program is just a tremendous, delivers a tremendous bang for the buck when it comes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It covers full course tuition and fees if you’re at 100% certificate eligibility from the VA. That means that the sole remaining responsibilities for somebody at 100% is a small room and board fee, that the VA does not allow coverage of for the residencies at the beginning and end of the program. And that is because the VA affords every veteran, under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, their military housing allowance. So for the online population, the current rate for that military housing allowance is $825 a month. That’s a fixed rate, regardless of where you’re studying in the region.

And then in addition to that, the VA grants you a book stipend at just over $41 per credit. And so for the entirety of the program, you receive tax-free direct benefits from the VA between the MHA and the book stipend of just over $19,000, at current rates. Most people then use that money, as it’s intended, to offset the small fee that you’re required or that the GI bill does not cover for those residency periods. Right now, we’re still updating the numbers, the cost figures, for that residency room and board fee. But it generally comes out to be between $1,500-$2,000. So you can see that the MHA that the VA compensates well above any amount that you’ll have to pay out of pocket. And the GI bill, as I said, for Post-9/11 covers full tuition and fees outside of that.

If you’re under the Montgomery GI Bill, I recommend that you give a call to your admissions advisor. And if you can refer you to me and we can talk through what that looks like. It’s a little bit different cost structure. For those not on the GI Bill, or not using the GI Bill, there are scholarships available. There are scholarships both from the school or financial awards from the school, which are merit-based, as well as scholarships available, which are competitive, from the university and some other programs that we’re affiliated with. So it can be found on the website, the University of Maryland’s website, or we can talk through them as well if you wanna have a conversation directly about what’s available.

There are also some select scholarships that the school manages for professional development, once you’re in the program. And those are for basically professional development opportunities for veterans outside of their course curriculum. And it’s kind of a unique scholarship opportunity that Maryland’s pretty proud of, thanks to a generous donor who is very committed to professional development of veterans.

We often times get questions about being a state institution, what the difference is for out of state versus in state and for the online MBA program, there is no distinction in the cost structure for out of state or in state. And that means that while we are a Yellow Ribbon school, there really is no requirement for you to apply for Yellow Ribbon funds if you’re using GI Bill benefits.

Finally, the University of Maryland is committed to supporting active duty military and Reservists, as well as National Guards, as they continue to serve. Maryland as a whole, at the university, as well as Smith, is dedicated to working with any military members who get called up, either to continue their studies or to remain in an inactive status and come back and resume their studies once they come back from deployment or detachment for military purposes. And the next slide here is a little bit of an introduction into something else that we’re really proud of which is the fact that we’re a very very active veteran student and alumni community. And that starts with the fact that we are one of just 15 centers of excellence for veteran student success, as designated by the department of education and the VA. And that includes support to a community of both the University of Maryland Terp Vets, as well as the smaller community here in the school of Maryland’s Smith vets. We’ve got in Smith alone, over 160 Smith vets across all of our programs. The online program has over 60 veterans.

And one of the things that I try to do across all of those programs, as well as within the programs, is to link up veterans who have synergies of interests. Both veterans who are studying here as well as with alumni network. And some really really interesting things can happen when we’re able to identify those and link them up in terms of professional development as well as just pursuing things beyond sometimes what their professional interests are, of the individuals. We’re also the Smith Vets Club is an affiliate of the Student Veterans of America Organization.

We also provide, through the online MBA program, access to career support and I am personally here, available for any discussions that military veterans, or military veterans are gonna have with regards to transition support to supplement the career advising services that are also career services offers. Entrepreneurship resources, Maryland is an incredible state when it comes to investing in entrepreneurs. And a lot of that is being funneled right now through the University of Maryland. We actually have here at the university the first university-affiliated WeWork in the country. We also a number of other programs that offer free resources for startups here at the university. And all of those are acceptable to you as a student and then as you move out to alumni status.

And finally, we have a very very active veteran alumni network and so some of the pictures that are represented there are just some of the activities that both our alumni, as well as current students, are involved in each year. Every Veteran’s Day, for example, there is a veteran’s appreciation football game that you can go to and veterans are recognized, as well as a reception. We have active sporting events. You see there the veterans Terp Vets Club at a skating event. Families are included in that for fully funded tickets to some of those activities. We have professional networking opportunities and events for our veterans to get to know each other across the programs, as well as with veteran-friendly employers. That’s the picture on the lower right. And then finally, the picture with some words on it, which is the final picture if you go clockwise on the slide, is an example of some of our alumni who are deployed and still plug in. We’ve got one particular who’s over in Afghanistan right now and every chance he gets, he raises our Fear the Turtle flag up on his battalion headquarters flagpole and sends us pictures and tries to get more vets to join us here as part of our Smith Vets, as part of our Smith Vet community. That’s all I have and I will turn it back over to Christina, I believe, right?

– [Christina] Sure. All right and so now Jacques is going to review the admissions requirements and tuition information.

– [Jacques] Sure, thank you. And with getting involved in the program that step for many of you may be applying to the program for admission. And each one of you will work with an enrollment advisor to ensure you’re able to complete the application process painlessly. There are a few requirements for applying to the online MBA and online master of science and business analytics program. With completing the online application, it is the same application platform for the MBA program, as well as the master of science and business analytics program. Through the online application, you would need to provide a copy of your official transcripts. And what we mean by official is a transcript that actually has the signature or seal of the office of the registrar or records office for the institution that you have completed your credit or your degree with. We do need transcripts from each institution that has provided credit towards your undergraduate degree. You would also provide a copy of your resume with the online application. You can upload that directly into the online application.

You would self-report the GMAT or GRE score, as well as the testing date that you have completed GMAT or GRE. And you would then request that your scored report from GMAT or ETS for GRE, be sent to the graduate school at University of Maryland. Once you have done that, then when we receive your score and report, it’ll be added to your admissions packet to then be reviewed for admission when you have submitted your application. For applicants that are applying for a GMAT waiver, instead of self-reporting a score and testing date, you would upload a GMAT waiver request statement. And if you want to know if you are qualified for GMAT waiver, or if it may be a good idea for you to apply for a GMAT waiver, do connect with your enrollment advisor to explore your background and your experience to see if that’s something that may be something that you’re eligible for.

Also, with applying for the program, you would provide one letter of recommendation. In the application, you are providing the name and email address of the individual who is going to provide your recommendation. That person would then be invited to complete an online recommendation form or to upload a drafted letter of recommendation. There is also a MBA goals essay, or the business analytics goals essay that you would upload to the online application as well. With applying to the programs, the application fee is $75. If you do have any of the affiliations that we briefly spoke about, with the scholarship, the financial awards through the program, then you may have a waived application fee.

For international applicants to the program, you may also provide, just as you would with the GMAT or GRE score, your TOEFL or IELTS score, self-reported in the online application. And have your score and report sent to the graduate school at University of Maryland. You may be asked to be interviewed by the admissions committee at their discretion, although this does rarely occur, as your relationship with your enrollment advisor may be a stand-in for that interview. There is a link to the online application available in the resources widget on your screen, if you’d like to begin your online application. And as you can see, upcoming is the entry point and the application deadline for the fall 2019 term. The application deadline is June 24th for the MBA program and July 15th for the online master of science and business analytics program. The start date for the programs is the same. The August 26th, 2019 date is the start date for the fall semester. The MBA program does have an opening residency and you can see the date on screen there, August 15th, 16th and 17th will be dates for that opening weekend event. Below there are also the important dates for the upcoming spring term as well. If you have not connected with an enrollment advisor, do also take note of the contact information in the bottom portion of the slide, and take down that info to be able to connect with an enrollment advisor who can assist you through the application process and also with addressing questions that you may have about entering the program.

With financing your education, on the screen, is a tuition and fees for both the MBA and master of science and business analytics programs for the 2019-2020 academic year. You can see that there is a difference in the number of credits that would attempt with each program, with the MBA program having 54 credits and the master of science and business analytics program having 30 credits. Both programs do have a cost for credit of $1,644 per credit. This does not include minimal university fees with the technology fee, or your course materials. As Frank did speak to, when you are utilizing GI Bill benefits, you may have a book stipend as you do utilize those benefits, progressing through the program. Through the duration of the program, it is spread through at least two academic years.

So coming back to what Samantha had mentioned about the eligibility with federal student aid, that may be something that you discuss with your enrollment advisor and financial aid advisor about how you would structure your plan to fund the MBA or the masters of science and business analytics program as well. The MBA tuition includes room and board accommodations for the required three day residency periods that book in the program, transportation to and from the Smith school for the residencies, as well as course books, materials, not covered in tuition fees And tuition fees are subject to change. A university-mandated technology fee is charged twice a year during the spring and fall semesters. Admitted students are required to submit a $1,000 non-refundable enrollment deposit to reserve a space in the class. Enrollment deposits are applied as credit toward the first term tuition. Corporate partnerships and military personnel using their Post-9/11 GI Bill may request to have their enrollment deposits waived.

– [Christina] All right that closes out the presentation portion of our session today. We will now move into the Q and A portion. If you haven’t already done so, please go ahead and submit your questions using the Q and A widget on your screen. I’d first like to start off with the following questions. This one’s for Samantha. Can you just verify for the federal student loans is it $20,500 per academic year or total?

– [Samantha] It’s per academic year. Typically, you’ll use the unsubsidized loan in the fall and spring. The financial aid office will break it up as $10,250 for fall and then $10,250 for spring. Summer uses graduate plus loan primarily. Unless you forgo the use of your unsubsidized loans in either fall or spring, then it can be used during the summer.

– [Christina] Great, the next question that I have is for probably Jacques or Samantha. Applying for the fall semester, when should they complete the FAFSA for fall? You know those dates are?

– I would say, yeah, there’s no date. But in order to make sure you get in before the, in order for everything to process on time, I’m currently telling students the end of May. So obviously you haven’t applied yet, however you can always fill out the FAFSA now and add our school to it. It does not mean that you have to take, you’re not obligated to attend Smith, even though we would love to have you. But it just means that our school has your application, so whenever that admissions comes through or you submit your application, the financial aid office is already armed and ready to package you for your aid. So as soon as possible is really going to be my answer. When you get into the middle to end of June, it does sometimes make you a little bit liable for your aid not to be ready in time for your first disbursement. But we can always work with you one on one to kind of figure that out for you.

– [Christina] Wonderful, thank you Samantha. This next question is probably for Jacques. Can you talk about the enrollment deposit again? You said it goes towards tuition?

– [Jacques] Yes, the enrollment deposit is something that you would fund when you are accepting your offer for admission to the program. So if you have already applied to the program for admission, and you are accepted for admission to the program, what you’ll receive is a letter and offer for admission to the program from the graduate school. And as a part of that communication, is a link for you to identify whether or not you are accepting or rejecting your offer for admission to the program. So with accepting that offer for admission to the program, you would provide the funding for that enrollment deposit, the $1,000, and what you would see as you prepare to enter the first semester of the program, that $1,000 is credited back to your first term’s tuition.

– [Christina] Great, thank you. Next question is about the professional development scholarship, I think Frank, you had mentioned that. Can you talk about that a little bit more? Is that specific for military?

– [Frank] Yes, so there’s a specific scholarship fund that the University of Maryland’s Veteran Student Life Committee manages, which is available for veteran students across the university who find professional development opportunities that they want to pursue but they’re not covered by their curriculum. They can apply for that once they’re enrolled and it goes through the committee and then they’re awarded for specific opportunities. But it is veterans and military student specific.

– [Christina] Great, thank you for clarifying that. Next question, if you applied for fall and were accepted, she’s asking can you change to spring instead of fall, if needed? Jacques?

– [Jacques] I would recommend that you do communicate with your enrollment advisor about your admission to the program. If you have inability to join the program for the term that you have applied to, there may be opportunity for you to begin the program in a term within the academic year. But you do need to communicate the options that you are looking to explore with your enrollment advisor and they can communicate to you what steps that you made need to take in order to explore those options.

– [Christina] All right, so the next question, what is the process for applying for scholarships for non-military?

– [Jacques] There actually is not a separate step that you would take for the awards that we talked about earlier in the presentation through the Smith school. There’s not a separate application. This is then a consideration that you have for the awards that we mentioned, if that comes along with the result of the admissions review. So that should be something that you are communicating with your enrollment advisor about, your eligibility for, and they can explore with you what you have been awarded, if you have been admitted to the program.

– [Christina] That’s currently all the questions that we’ve received so far. We can hang out for another couple minutes and see if any of the other questions come through and if not, we will close out the session. All right, we received another question, what scholarships are available for international students for the online MBA? Jacques?

– [Jacques] Within the business school, there is not a distinction that’s made in terms of tuition for international students. And there is no distinction in terms of the merit-based review and eligibility for awards for international students. So the same as every other student in the program, you would have a merit-based review, with applying to and becoming accepted to the online MBA program.

– [Samantha] Everybody gets the same consideration.

– [Jacques] Mm-hmm.

– [Christina] All right, I think that’s gonna be it for now. If there was anything that we didn’t cover off on that you would like answers to, please feel free to reach out to your enrollment advisor and they can kind of walk through those answers to those questions. On the screen, you will find the contact information, again, for the enrollment office and also Samantha Hanssen and Frank Goertner, if you have additional questions for each of them. Thank you to everyone who attended today. We hope this session was helpful for you. And thank you to each of our presenters for their expertise today. I’d like to just kind of throw it out to the panel for any closing comments. Samantha, do you wanna start with any closing thoughts?

– [Samantha] No, not really. I know once you get involved in the process and you do become accepted, there’s a lot of follow up questions, specifically regarding the financial aid and billing process. So please feel free to use me a resource. I’m here to help you and make this process as smooth as possible.

– [Christina] Wonderful. Frank do you have any closing words?

– [Frank] If you’re a military or vet, come join us, we’d love to have you.

– [Christina] Awesome. And Jacques?

– [Jacques] Just wanna thank everyone for jumping onto the session today and taking time out of your day. We certainly do appreciate that and it shows that you are seriously planning on getting involved in a high-quality MBA program. So we certainly do appreciate you jumping in today. Also want to invite all of you to ask your questions with the enrollment advisor that you are connected to. It really is going to help you to plan out what your steps are going to be, not only in terms of admission to the program and preparing the enter the program, but also can lead to having a tremendous amount of clarity around how you plan to fund your program. So we invite those questions. You’re not asking silly questions or taking too much of our time, so we certainly do appreciate your emails, your phone calls, your chat messages. They certainly help us to be able to help you.

– [Christina] Wonderful. Well, thank you again everybody for attending today and enjoy the rest of your day.