Financial Aid Resources

For Future Students and Families

We want you to be empowered to ask questions about the costs associated with attending college.

Because everybody's situation is different – from first generation to multi-generation and everywhere inbetween – this page contains information we hope you find helpful in navigating this process.

Questions about your financial aid letter? Contact your admissions counselor Current Students: Use Student Financial Services for Account Inquiries


Student in Beehive

We are dedicated to keeping your college experience affordable and accessible. Rest assured we are staying on top of these changes and will continue to update our current and future students on what to expect.


99% Receive Financial Aid


awarded in aid last year

With an array of grants, scholarships, federal aid, and low-interest loans, an SAU education is affordable. Our Financial Aid counselors develop a personalized package that puts a private education well within your reach.

Admissions and Aid

Federal Student Aid Programs

For detailed explanations of available federal programs click here.

Scholarship Search Resources

There are many opportunities to receive scholarships from outside sources. Here are a few websites to begin researching your options:

Next time you're on campus, check out the bulletin board outside Student Financial Services where we post flyers and applications for outside scholarships.

More Information

Contact Us

We want to put you in touch with the right person so you can get the right answers with little hassle.

Look at the categories below to see who you should contact depending on your present stage of college enrollment.

I'm interested in attending St. Ambrose: 
Contact the Admissions Office at 563-333-6300 or
Our admissions staff is here to assist. We'll get you connected with your Admissions Counselor who will have plenty information about the admissions process and help you develop a plan to pay for college.

I'm admitted or have enrolled to attend to St. Ambrose: 
Contact your Admissions Counselor.
Your Admissions Counselor's name can be found on the letter and business card included in your acceptance packet. Or, if you don't remember - we understand! - you can always call 563-333-6300 and we'll look up your name and your counselor. All counselors are also listed in alpha-order with their photos on this page.

I am a current St. Ambrose student: 
Contact Student Financial Services, a help center for students and their families.
Associates in Student Financial Services can help you with student accounts, course registration and financial aid.

Admissions and Aid Deadlines

Get organized to stay on top of deadlines!

You'll receive a lot of information between the time you start your college search to making a final decision. Set aside a container – a folder, tote, or whatever is handy – to keep track of everything you receive in the mail, plus paper copies of any financial/tax information.

In your email account, create a folder to save correspondence related to the college application process. Having a dedicated space – physically and electronically – means you know where to look when trying to find something and it won't get mixed in with other day-to-day information.

Below is a general timeline of what a future college student should be doing to prepare in the 1-2 years before enrolling.

Junior Year – High School

Summer Before Junior Year:

  • Make a list of colleges to visit.


  • Schedule a campus visit; we have virtual and on campus options available all year.
  • Follow some schools on social media where you plan to visit and/or apply. This will give you a feeling of what it's like on campus. Find SAU on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.


  • Save information from your or your parent's filed taxes. This information will be used on the FAFSA.
  • Schedule spring visits (if you didn't visit in the fall) or find a second visit option that fits your schedule.
High School – Senior Year

Summer Before Senior Year:

  • Apply to SAU. We begin admitting first-year students on September 1.



  • Visit SAU. Even if you've already visited, find another option like an Overnight Visit to add to your campus experience.
  • Make your final decision and commit to SAU.
  • Complete your housing contract (May).


  • Attend an Orientation for committed students.
  • Make a checklist and begin packing.
  • Time to move in and enjoy Welcome Week!

Future transfer students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you've already completed a FAFSA, be sure to add St. Ambrose University (code: 001889). Stay on top of 2024-2025 updates on our FAFSA FAQ.

July 1:Deadline to submit your FAFSA to receive institutional aid, including the Iowa Tuition Grant.

Financial Aid Words and Terminology

You'll see these referred to on your financial aid letter so brush up or learn about some financial aid words and terminology.  You can also visit the U.S. Department of Education's website on Understanding Financial Aid.

Academic Scholarships: These merit-based scholarships are calculated based on your unweighted GPA and, if applicable, test scores or college work if you are a transfer student. This scholarship will automatically renew each year of your undergraduate studies – up to four years – as long as you maintain satisfactory progress toward an undergraduate degree, achieve certain GPA requirements, and remain a full-time student.

Enrollment/Enrolled: When a student has registered to take classes.

Full-time: Enrolled in ≥12 credits per semester (undergraduate); enrolled in ≥9 credits per semester (graduate)

Part-time: Enrolled in ≤11 credits per semester (undergraduate); enrolled in ≤8 credits per semester (graduate)

Half-time: Enrolled in 6-8 credits per semester (undergraduate); enrolled in 4.5-6.5 credits per semester (graduate)

Federal Pell Grant: Awarded to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need through the filing of the FAFSA. The maximum award is currently $7,395, determined by your EFC.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): Additional aid awarded to Pell-eligible students with an EFC of $0.

Federal Work Study: This program provides part-time jobs for undergraduate students with financial need while they are enrolled. To qualify, you must file the FAFSA and show financial need. If you qualify, in return for working on campus you'll be awarded $2,560 per year for tuition or living expenses. We have approximately 300 work-study positions across campus and the work study Coordinator located in the Financial Aid office will help you find a position and be successful. Your work hours will be scheduled around your classes and it is a great opportunity to start building your résumé.

Iowa Tuition Grant: Awarded by the state for Iowa residents attending a private institution. The grant is currently $7,500 per year. Eligible students have lived in the state for a minimum of one year without attending college, have filed the FAFSA by July 1 of the award year, and have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $16,000 or less.

Institutional Aid: Free money given to a student by the University that does not get repaid. Additional aid beyond academic scholarships is given to students for a number of different reasons. At St. Ambrose, we offer athletic, fine arts, diversity, Catholic and many other scholarships. These scholarship amounts are based on performance, demographic and financial need.

Grant: Similar to a scholarship, grants do not have to be repaid and are typically awarded by government or private entities based on need.

Loan: This is borrowed money that has to be repaid. Many lenders charge interest, which is a fee calculated by a percentage of the amount due. All Federal Direct Loans require the student to file the FAFSA. Learn more about loans below.

Outside Scholarships: As we work together to develop financial aid plans for your St. Ambrose University education, we highly recommend looking for scholarships within your community. Any scholarships awarded from outside organizations and businesses will not decrease the amount of institutional aid we provide. We simply add them to your financial aid package. These can be a tremendous help in lowering your balance due.

Satisfactory Progress:  Also Satisfactory Academic Progress. Based on a scale of a student's grade point average and number of credits. Read more on the Registrar's Policies page.

Scholarships: A gift of money that does not have to be repaid. Awarding a scholarship can be based on a variety of qualifications, such as merit, financial need, talent, etc.


Financing Your Education

Loans are one way to pay for your degree.

Financial institutions lend money to a person over a set period of time with the legal expectation that the recipient will repay the amount.

As part of learning about loans, read SAU's Financial Aid Policies and use the Net Price Calculator to see how loans affect your budget.

Loan Best Practices and Tips

Here are some important tips to follow when borrowing student loans:

  • As a student loan borrower, be aware of your rights and responsibilities.
  • Be a responsible borrower and only borrow what you need to cover your educational expenses. If you have borrowed more money than you need for the semester, you can always return it. There are no penalties for early repayment.
  • Know your allotted grace period for each loan. If you go below half-time status or withdraw from school, you will enter your grace period. If your grace period elapses and you are not enrolled, you will begin your repayment period.
  • Pay off accruing interest to avoid interest capitalization when entering repayment.
  • Avoid defaulting on your student loan. If you have trouble making monthly payments, contact your student loan provider or school for help and information.
  • If you have any loan funds in excess of your costs, you may receive a refund. If you are a first-time borrower, there is a 30-day hold on your first disbursement.
Federal Loans – For Students and Parents

Federal Student Loans

All students filing a FAFSA are eligible for federal loans.

The SAU Financial Aid Office determines which types of federal loans you are eligible for, and the loans will be listed on your official award letter.

Federal Direct Loans

These are federally guaranteed loans. There are two types of Direct Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. Learn more about these loan types on the federal Student Aid website.

  • A subsidized loan is based on financial need; the government waives the interest accrual while the student is enrolled at least half-time. Repayment on a subsidized loan does not start until 6 months after the student drops below half-time enrollment, graduates, or withdraws.
  • An unsubsidized loan is not based on financial need, and there is no interest payment deferment.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans

This loan is for parents who want to finance their student's remaining balance and expenses. This is a credit-based loan with a fixed interest rate (see the table below). Parents are responsible for the full payment or interest-only payments while their student is enrolled. The loan cannot exceed the cost of attendance that remains once all other institutional and federal aid has been applied.

Loan TypeBorrowerStarting July 1, '23-June 30, '24
Direct Subsidized Undergraduate fixed 5.5%
Direct Unsubsidized Graduate and Undergraduate fixed 5.5% (undergraduate); fixed 7.05% (graduate)
Direct PLUS Graduate or Parents fixed 8.05% 

*See the graduate student loan accordion for more information regarding federal loans available to graduate level students.

Federal loans have an origination fee, which is a one-time cost subtracted from the top of whatever amount they lend you to pay for administration and processing costs. The fees for 23- 24 are 1.057% for subsidized and unsubsidized Direct loans, and 4.228% for Parent PLUS and Graduate PLUS loans.

For information, visit the Federal Direct Loan website.

Quick Facts about the Federal Direct Loan Program

St. Ambrose University undergrad students who take out a federal direct loan* 67%
2020 Cohort default rate for SAU students with a federal direct loan(s)** 0.0%

2020 Cohort default rate national average***


*Borrowing data is for the 2022-2023 academic year. Graduate data available upon request.

**The federally calculated cohort default rate (CDR) measures how many federal student loan borrowers default within a specified period after entering repayment. For the 2020 CDR, students would have went into repayment between October 2019 and September 2022, and defaulted by September 2023.

*** The national cohort default rate has dropped to 0 percent, which reflects the pandemic pause on student loan repayment. This page is updated each year when the Official Cohort Default Rate is released in September.

Private Loans

Private alternative loans are designed to assist students who need additional funding to meet the gap between the cost of attendance and any financial aid they have already received for that year/term.

Private loans are not part of the federal education loan program. Any student with questions or considering a private loan to help cover costs should first speak with the Financial Aid Office.

If you are considering a private educational loan, be aware of the following:

  • As a private loan borrower, it is your responsibility to research which loan will be best for you. You should pay close attention to interest rates, fees, and repayment terms.
  • If a lender approves the loan amount you requested, the University might not approve that same amount. The amount of money you may borrow (your loan) will be determined by both the University and other aid you receive. The loan also must fit within your Cost of Attendance budget set by the University according to Department of Education guidelines.
  • Private/alternative loans are credit-based loans. This means that the company will run your credit history. If your credit does not pass, you may be required to have a co-signer in order to receive that loan. The majority of private educational loan lenders offer a choice of variable or fixed interest rates. Variable means that the rates will fluctuate with the market over the life of the loan. Fixed means your interest rate will stay the same over the life of the loan. This will greatly influence the total cost of the loan over the years of repayment. If you do require a co-signer, most lenders offer a co-signer release option. This means that once you are in repayment and can be approved for credit on your own, your cosigner will be removed from the loan through a refinance process.
  • Many private educational loans also have associated fees. These processing or origination fees are charged to you and taken off the top of your loan. For example, you borrow $1,000 and the loan you chose had a 5 percent origination fee, you would only receive $950 because $50 is deducted for the fee.
  • Once you apply, the Financial Aid office will be notified and we will certify your loan. In most cases, this is done electronically, but you can expect that processing will take several weeks to complete because of the credit underwriting that the lenders perform.

Compare Loans to Make an Informed Decision
This private loan comparison tool empowers you to take control of the process and make an informed decision in selecting the best private loan for your individual situation.

  • FASTChoice, powered by Great Lakes loan guarantor and processor, helps you choose the right loan by presenting you with loan details, including eligibility requirements, interest rates, loan limits and borrower benefits. FASTChoice provides comparison tools for a variety of private educational lenders previously utilized St. Ambrose students.

As required by state and federal law, the preferred lender list has the following disclosures:

  • In conjunction with lenders reviewed and used by our students, the SAU Financial Aid staff generated a list of lenders and compared those lenders' loan product details such as: fees, interest rates, rebates, etc. After evaluating those loan products, the staff generated a list of preferred lenders.
  • Evaluation and Selection Criteria: After compiling a comprehensive list, lenders were evaluated and selected based on interest rates, origination fees, cosigner options, out-of-state borrower options, efficiency of loans processing, customer service, loan limit criteria, non-degree seeking loans options, past due balance options, and repayment options/incentives.
  • Each lender on this preferred lender list is unaffiliated with the other.
  • A student is not required to borrow from a lender on this list and may apply for a private student loan with any lender. 

St. Ambrose University does not endorse any of the lenders included in the links above and cannot recommend specific lenders. Students may also choose to use a loan provider that does not appear in the list of lenders included at either of the links above.

Loan Forgiveness

You may be eligible for a portion or all of your student loan to be forgiven (not repaid) depending on your area of study, how your loan is financed, or where you work.

Information on this page is not exhaustive, so inquire with your loan provider or servicer.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

If you plan to teach, you may qualify for a portion of your loan to be forgiven or completely paid (canceled). 

Loan type: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Working in certain public service jobs and making continuous payments on your Direct Loan may qualify the balance of your loan to be forgiven. Examples of public service include government jobs at any level, attorneys in certain fields, non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, and other non-profit groups. AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and VISTA also count.

Health Care Professionals Loan Repayment

Several programs offer loan repayment or forgiveness to those working in medical professions, usually in low-income or health professional shortage areas (HPSA).

So, what's next?

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