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Financial Aid Programs

Sources of Financial Aid

Detailed information on the sources listed is available from the Office of Student Financial Aid, or in certain cases, from the department or office noted with the entry. Note that almost all forms of student financial aid, including federal student loans, require at least half-time enrollment as a matriculated student in a degree-granting program to qualify. Half-time enrollment is defined as six credits for undergraduates and 4.5 credits for graduate students. Some programs below require full-time enrollment. This list is subject to change.

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Federal Pell Grants

These are federal entitlement grants ranging from $657 to $6,195 annually for the 2020-2021 award year. Eligibility is determined by the United States Department of Education, using a national formula. Actual awards vary according to the cost of attendance, the student's enrollment status (full, three-quarters, half, or less-than-half time), and a family's expected contribution.

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Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants

These federal grants are awarded directly by the Office of Student Financial Aid on the basis of financial need as determined from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Awards may range from $100 to $500 per year depending on funding and student need. Priority for funding is given to students who are eligible to receive Federal Pell Grants.

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Federal DIRECT Parental Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

Federal Direct PLUS Loans allow parents of dependent undergraduate students to borrow up to the full cost of college less other student aid. There is no need requirement for the PLUS loan, but parents must pass a credit review in order to qualify for the loan. Repayment may be deferred for up to six months after the student is no longer enrolled at least half time. However, interest does accrue on the loan and is capitalized into the loan principal before repayment begins.

Effective July 1, 2021 the interest rate on these loans is fixed at 5.30 percent.

Effective October 1st, 2020 Federal Direct PLUS Loans have an origination fee of 4.236 percent.

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Federal DIRECT Loans

Eligibility for subsidized Federal Direct Loans is based upon financial need as determined by the Office of Student Financial Aid, using information from the FAFSA. Subsidized loans are interest free during the student's period of enrollment. Students have a six-month grace period after leaving school or dropping below half-time status before repayment begins, but interest will accrue during this period. Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans, which do not require financial need, have an interest charge during both the in-school and grace periods. Subsidized loans are limited to undergraduate students.

Effective July 1, 2021, both subsidized and unsubsidized loans for undergraduate students have a fixed interest rate of 2.75 percent. For graduate students, the unsubsidized loan interest rate as of July 1, 2021 is 4.30 percent.

Effective October 1, 2020 both subsidized and unsubsidized loans for both undergraduate and graduate students also carry a 1.059 percent origination fee.

Annual Loan limits are as follows:

  • $5,500 for freshmen, but only $3,500 can be subsidized
  • $6,500 for sophomores, but only $4,500 can be subsidized
  • $7,500 for upper-class undergraduates, but only $5,500 can be subsidized
  • $20,500 for graduate students

Undergraduate students determined to be independent by their responses on the FAFSA may apply for an additional unsubsidized loan of up to $4,000 in the freshman and sophomore years and $5,000 in the junior and senior years..

Aggregate Loan Limits:

  • $31,000 for undergraduate dependent students, but no more than $23,000 can be subsidized
  • $57,500 for undergraduate independent students, but no more than $23,000 can be subsidized
  • $138,500 for graduate students

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Federal Work-Study Program

This is a part-time employment program based upon financial need. A work-study award is paid biweekly at an hourly rate, based on hours worked.  Eligibility is determined by the Office of Student Financial Aid, using information from the FAFSA. The Career Development Center assists work-study students with job placement on or off campus. While work-study students receive priority for job placement, the College cannot guarantee placement in a position.

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Other State Financial Aid Programs

Guidelines for applying for state scholarship/grant programs vary, so students should inquire at the appropriate agency in their state of legal residence regarding application procedures.

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RIC Scholars Program

This program provides scholarships of $2,500 to upperclass students with exceptional financial need and academic promise. These need-based renewable awards require continuous fulltime enrollment and a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5. Eligibility is determined by the Office of Student Financial Aid, using information from your academic record and the FAFSA.

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Rhode Island College Grants

These need-based grants are available to both new and continuing undergraduate students enrolled at least half time. Grants may range from $200 to $10,000 depending upon need and cost of attendance. Interested applicants are required to file the FAFSA as early as possible after October 1st and before the published deadline. Funding is limited.

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Rhode Island College Transfer Scholar Awards

These awards range from $2,500 to $5,000 and are based on academic achievement as well as financial need.  To be considered, an entering transfer student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 as determined by the college Office of Undergraduate Admissions at the time of acceptance.  Eligibility is determined by the Office of Student Financial Aid, using information from the FAFSA.  Awards may be renewed for up to three years of study based on need and maintenance of a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Continuous, full-time enrollment is required. 

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Merit-based Scholarships

Rhode Island College recognizes superior academic achievement through the awarding of scholarships. There are several merit-based scholarship programs available to students at the College. These programs fall into four general categories:

  • Presidential Scholarships
  • Honors Scholarships
  • Special Talent Awards
  • Alumni Scholarships

Presidential Scholarships

These merit-based scholarships are awarded to entering freshmen for up to eight standard semesters. The scholarships are awarded to RI residents based on the admissions application, but awards are considered as part of the financial aid package and may be offset by federal and other merit-based scholarship aid. The minimum academic requirements needed to be considered for a Presidential Scholarship as an entering freshman are a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5/4.0; and a complete application for admission received by January 15. Continuous enrollment in at least 15 credits per semester and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for renewal of the scholarship after the end of each spring semester. Note that other programming participation requirements exist.

Honors Scholarships

Entering freshmen who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement are invited to join the College Honors Program. Honors students are considered for scholarships from the Presidential Scholarship Program, Faculty Honors Scholarship Program and the Rhode Island College Foundation. These scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to students with the highest academic profiles. Awards typically range between $500 and $1,500 per year. Honors scholarships are renewable for up to four years, as long as a student maintains a B average and full-time status. If you are interested in the College Honors Program, remember to indicate this interest on your admissions application form.​

Special Talent Awards

Special Talent Awards were established to recognize and encourage students who have exceptional talent or skill in the visual and performing arts, areas of intercollegiate competition (other than athletics), or similar fields. Currently, the College offers Special Talent Awards in the following areas: art, communications, dance, film studies, music, and theatre. While the requirements for these awards vary by department, award competition is open to entering freshmen and transfer students. Awards range from $100 to $2,500. Applicants should contact the academic department or club advisor in their area of interest.

Alumni Scholarships

The Rhode Island College Alumni Association offers a number of scholarships, both merit- and need-based, to new and advanced students. In addition, the association offers several scholarships each year to children and grandchildren of College alumni. An alumni scholarship application is available directly from the Alumni Office.

Academic Program Scholarships

Students intending to major in a specific major should contact the academic department associated with it to inquire about potential scholarship opportunities. For students interested in studying abroad, merit-based scholarship assistance is also available.

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Additional Scholarships from the College

Individuals, organizations, and endowments provide funds to the College through the Rhode Island College Foundation. The eligibility criteria for these awards vary according to the wishes of each donor. In some cases, financial need is a requirement and award recipients are selected from the pool of financial aid applicants at the College. In other cases, awards are made directly by the academic departments of the College.​

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Tuition Waivers

The college offers in-state tuition waivers for certain unemployed individuals, senior citizens and disabled veterans.  Waiver programs are administered by the Bursar’s Office.  Details on eligibility, course restrictions and application procedures may be found at this link:

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Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense

If you served on Active Duty, you might be eligible for education benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. For example, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for educational and housing expenses to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service after September 10, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

If you are currently serving in the military, you may be eligible for funding offered through the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance program. Check your eligibility status and the amount for which you qualify with your Service prior to enrolling. 

If you are the spouse or child of a service member who is serving on active duty Title 10 orders in the paygrades of E1-E5, O1-O2, or W1-W2, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the Department of Defense for education, training, and/or the occupational license and credentials necessary for a portable career.

If you are the spouse or child of a service member, you may be eligible for transfer of the service member’s Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to you.​

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Private Agencies and Organizations

Additional sources of financial aid include employers, unions, and community organizations. Information on private scholarship programs may be obtained from high school guidance counselors and through reference publications in many local libraries. Scholarship search database programs are also available for free use on the Internet. A good web site to start with is the FinAid Page at

The College encourages students to take the initiative in applying for outside financial assistance. Whenever possible, outside assistance will be first used to reduce the loan and/or student employment components of the College financial aid package if adjustment is necessary.

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Short-Term Loans

  • Students with financial aid that exceeds direct charges (i.e. tuition, fees, room and board) may be eligible to receive a line of credit towards purchases in the Rhode Island College Bookstore.
  • Applications must be submitted on-line using the student self-service section of their MyRIC account.

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Page last updated: January 06, 2021