Financial Aid & Fellowships

Student Loans

IU participates in the Direct Loan Program. You therefore do not need to complete a separate loan application. All IU needs is your FAFSA data. There are two types of loans in the Direct Loan Program: Stafford and Graduate PLUS.

Types of loans
  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

    The Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is the first type of loan available to you. Interest does accrue while you are a student, so you may either arrange with Direct Loans to pay the accruing interest quarterly, or have it added to the principal of your loan once you graduate or cease being at least a half-time student. The interest rate for the Unsubsidized Loan is 6.8%. You will automatically be awarded an unsubsidized loan for at least $20,500 every academic year. This loan does not require a credit check.

  • Additional Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

    Because optometry students have higher education costs, another arm of the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Program is extended to you as a health professions student. This allows for additional borrowing, on an as-needed basis, of up to $20,000 during the academic year. The interest rate on this loan is 6.8%. To request this loan, you will need to contact Josie Gingrich, the associate director of financial aid at or 812-855-1917.

  • Graduate PLUS Loans

    Graduate PLUS Loans are the final loans offered to bring a student up to his or her cost of attendance after the maximum of unsubsidized loans have been disbursed. GradPLUS has a 7.9% interest rate, and requires a separate application and credit check. To get more information about this loan, please contact the associate director of financial aid, Josie Gingrich at or 812-855-1917.

  • Federal Perkins Loan Program

    This loan program is for those students who show exceptional financial need. They must file the FAFSA by the priority date of March 1. There are other criteria that are set by the IU Office of Student Financial Assistance and may vary each year. The funds are restricted in this way because they are limited. The amount per year is currently $1,500 and the interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan at 5%. The interest is paid by the federal government while you are at least a half-time student and during a nine-month grace period. The aggregate allowed is $40,000 for all undergraduate and graduate borrowing.

  • Federal Health Professions Loan Program

    This loan program is also for those optometry students who show exceptional financial need. Even though you are technically considered an independent student for general financial aid purposes, parent data is required on the FAFSA for this loan program. This is required because the funds are limited; it does not mean that your parents actually support you. If your parents are deceased, please let us know by emailing Josie Gingrich at Priority is given to students who file the FAFSA by March 1 each year. You may provide income estimates initially if need be to meet the March 1 date and update to actual figures after taxes are filed. The amounts vary from year to year contingent upon available funding. The interest rate is fixed at 5 percent and the grace period after you graduate or leave school is 12 months. Renewal applicants are awarded first. The loan amounts generally range from $1,000 to $3,500.

How to apply for loans

Student loan programs based on financial need are sponsored by the federal government and require an official financial need assessment. These programs are designed for U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens as described on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). International students may borrow private student loans (some of which require a U.S. cosigner), and may obtain more information.

Application for Federal Financial Assistance

To begin the application process for federal student aid, you must first meet these basic eligibility criteria:

  • Be a citizen or eligible noncitizen of the United States with a valid social security number
  • Enroll at least half time in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree
  • Have repaid any financial aid for which you were not eligible
  • Have made satisfactory arrangements to pay off any defaulted student loan
Application Required

To apply for federal student financial aid, the only form you need to file is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. It's best to complete your federal tax return early to have the data handy, but you can file the form before you actually file your taxes. You may then make corrections if necessary. Please apply online. A Federal Personal Identification Number (PIN) will be required as signature. You can obtain your PIN online. Get additional help in completing the FAFSA, or call 800-4-FED-AID (800-433-3243). It’s a good idea to print a copy of the FAFSA for your own records as well as your confirmation page.

Title IV Federal School Code

To get your FAFSA data sent electronically to IU, provide the Federal School Code of 001809 for Indiana University Bloomington in the specified space on the FAFSA. There is no specific code for the School of Optometry.

Filing Priority Date

Each year the ideal time to file the FAFSA is between January 1 and March 1, but you may also file any time after January 1. By filing by March 1, you ensure that your data will be available to be considered for all the financial assistance for which you may qualify. You also will make sure that the money will be available when you need it to pay for your tuition and other expenses.

Student Aid Report

In response to filing the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) summarizing your FAFSA data. Be sure to check your FAFSA to make sure all your information is correct, including that your information was sent to Indiana University Bloomington. If it is not, please follow the directions provided on the SAR to make corrections.

The SAR is for your records. It also contains your previously borrowed federal loan amounts. You do not need to send the SAR to IU since your information will be sent electronically to IU by using the appropriate school code. If you have questions about the status of your FAFSA, please call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243 or 319-337-5665.

Borrowing Student Loans

It is always important to understand the implications of borrowing to finance your education. Loans will become a debt that you will be obligated to repay monthly with interest after you graduate or leave school. As with any type of borrowing, it is wise to be cautious and conservative in the amount you choose to borrow. Student loans can only cover educational expenses that are considered nondiscretionary. For example, while modest living expenses are covered, student loans technically cannot pay for the purchase of a car, car payments, previously incurred credit card debt, or a spring break trip. You can access your federal student loan history with your federal PIN. (You may apply for a PIN online.)

Repaying your student loans

You have many options to choose from in repaying your Stafford loans. There are several different repayment plans ranging from 10 years to 30 years. The shorter the repayment plan, the less interest you pay on your loans. There are also deferment and forbearance options if you are unable to pay on your student loans for a period of time or go on to a residency after you graduate. You can access calculators on the web to see how much you would be paying monthly after your grace period once you graduate or cease being at least a half-time student.

Find information and calculators for the various repayment plans.

Notification of award status

Generally, if you file by March 1, you will be sent a Financial Aid Notification outlining your financial aid (including loans from the central IU Office of Student Financial Assistance) by late June. If you are awarded student loans, you will also receive promissory notes to complete and return or email instructions on how to sign them electronically. At that point we will be in contact with you about the next steps you need to take to request additional money.

Receiving your money

All student financial assistance is credited to your student account through the IU Office of the Bursar. All charges incurred through the university are covered first and the remaining funds are disbursed to you to pay for your books/equipment and living expenses approximately 10 days before classes start each semester. We highly recommend that you set up the direct deposit option offered by the Office of the Bursar for the quickest disbursement. If you choose not to set up direct deposit, a check will be mailed to your permanent address.

Lifetime Learning tax credit

This tax credit is equal to 20 percent of a family’s tuition expenses, up to $10,000 for virtually any postsecondary education and training, including graduate and professional schools. Contact the IRS for more information, call 800-829-3676, or see your tax professional.

International student funding

Students who are not U.S. citizens have funding options available. Visit the IU Office of International Services for more information.

International student fee assistance awards

International optometry students who have completed at least 16 credit hours can apply for a Fee Assistance Award. Preference is given to those entering the final semester of a degree program. The awards are for $500 or $1,000. Contact the IU Office of International Services for more details.

Canadian government loans

Students from Canada can qualify for loans from the Canadian Student Loan Program. For more information please contact your Provincial and Territorial Student Financial Assistance Office, a list of which is available on the Government of Canada website.