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


Dec. 2023

Earliest Date to Submit FAFSA

Federal and state money gets disbursed to students in the order their FAFSA applications were received. And since funds are limited, submitting your completed FAFSA form early gives you the best chance at securing money!

Prepare to file your FAFSA

FAFSA Deadline

Mar. 15

FAFSA Deadline

Complete the FAFSA by March 15 to be considered for SAU scholarships and aid. We disburse funds in the order applications are received.

Complete the FAFSA

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.

Net Price Calculator

For First-Year and Transfer Students

These calculators help estimate your out-of-pocket costs plus financial aid and scholarship figures for attending St. Ambrose University as an undergraduate First Year or transfer student.

Before you begin using one of the calculators below, it's helpful to have your parents' latest tax return (and your own if you have one); that will help you to complete the Financial Aid section of this calculator. The other sections – on scholarships and where you want to live – are self-explanatory.

First-Year Student Calculator

Transfer Student Calculator

After Completing the FAFSA
What happens next?

Each college you listed on the FAFSA will receive your information. It takes a few days for the federal government to process your form. Learn what's next!

Check the Status of your completed FAFSA

Completing the FAFSA
On Desktop or Mobile App

This helpful video walks you through the process of completing the FAFSA form online via your laptop or mobile device.

Start your FAFSA

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.


  • Connect with your admissions counselor, coaches, or faculty from the program of interest.
  • Submit your FAFSA beginning October 1 (using prior-prior year tax information that you or your parents used to file taxes). Be sure to include SAU FAFSA code 001889
  • If you're ready, commit to SAU and pay your one-time enrollment fee.
  • Visit SAU, we have on campus and virtual options available.


  • Priority financial aid deadline is March 15, be sure to be timely in completing your FAFSA
  • 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!

After October 1: 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).

March 15: Priority financial aid deadline.

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 Each Year
Direct Subsidized Undergraduate fixed 3.73%
Direct Unsubsidized Graduate and Undergraduate fixed 3.73% (undergraduate); fixed 5.28% (graduate)
Direct PLUS Graduate or Parents fixed 6.28% 

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

For information on interest rates visit the Federal Direct Loan website.

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
St. Ambrose University has partnered with two private loan comparison tools, Credible and the Great Lakes tool, FASTChoice. These private loan comparison tools empower you to take control of the process and make an informed decision in selecting the best private loan for your individual situation.

  • Credible is an online tool that allows students to compare personalized loans from multiple lenders. Students can analyze prequalified rates, terms, and eligibility rules side-by-side in just a matter of minutes. Credible is not a lender or bank. Credible partners with student loan lenders so that applicants have a variety of competitive options, each addressing their particular needs. Are you looking to refinance your private student loans? Credible has a resource for that too. Click here to visit the list of lenders offering private loan refinancing.
  • 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).

Summer Loans

Summer financial aid is not automatically awarded to students. You must request summer financial aid by completing a Summer Loan Request Form listed under Financial Aid Forms. There is no institutional aid/scholarships for summer sessions. 

However, if you are enrolled during the summer for at least half-time (6 hours for undergraduate or 3 hours for graduate), you may be eligible for Federal Direct Loans.

  • Make sure you have filed your FAFSA for the current academic year. We will need this information to process your loan.
  • The amount of loan you request may not be the amount you are eligible for. Eligibility for an undergraduate student will be determined by the amount of loans borrowed previously in the academic year. Eligibility for the year may have been exhausted.

If you aren't enrolled at least half-time, you may consider taking a Private Alternative Loan to pay for your class. Visit the Private Alternative Loan section above for more information.

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? Click on the visit button below to learn more about our virtual and in-person visit options.