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Funding Options

Financial aid is money used to pay for your education and associated expenses. The best way to finance your education is through money you don’t have to repay, such as grants and scholarships. If you can’t get enough free money to pay for college and you aren’t able to cover your costs with savings or other resources, student loans are another option.  Below financial aid options for graduate and undergraduate students.

Types of Financial Aid Available

Types of Financial Aid (See Below for Descriptions)

Undergraduate Students

Graduate Students 

International Students
Federal Pell Grant  X    
Cal Grants A & B    
Federal Work Study FWS  
Federal Direct Subsidized Loan    
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan X X  
Private Loans X X X
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans   X  
Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans X    
Palo Alto University Graduate Scholarship   X X
Palo Alto University Undergraduate Scholarship X   X


Federal Pell Grant:

The Federal Pell Grant is awarded to students based upon the information the student and parent(s), if dependent, provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Pell Grant is based on need as assessed by the U.S. Department of Education. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the Pell Grant can pay up to $6195.


The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is awarded to students based upon the information the students and their parent(s) provided on the FAFSA. Funds are awarded to students who have been awarded Pell Grant and have the lowest Expected Family Contributions. Award range varies from year to year based on school funding.

Cal Grants A & B

The Cal Grant is a California state scholarship program that is dependent on the California State Budget and is available only to students who are residents or children of taxpayers in California. Eligibility for Cal A or B is determined by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) based upon family income, assets and the academic record of the student. Awards are scheduled to be $9084. Cal Grant B also carries a stipend of an additional $1656 that is credited to your student account.

Federal Work-Study (FWS)

Federal Work-Study is part of the financial aid package providing jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay educational expenses. Students must file a FAFSA, be enrolled at least half-time, maintain a 2.0 GPA for undergraduate and 3.0 GPA for graduate students, and cannot work more than 20 hours per week.

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan:

Awards are based on need and only available to undergraduate students. On the subsidized loan, the federal government is paying the interest for you while you’re in school. Repayment begins six months after you graduate or drop below half-time status. Loans disbursed in the 2020-2021 academic year have a fixed interest rate at 2.75% and is paid for the student while in school. Maximum award amounts depend on your year in school and range from $3500 to $5500 for undergraduates.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan:

These loans are not based on financial need. Interest is accruing on the loan while you are in school. Repayment begins six months after you graduate or drop below half-time status. Loans disbursed in the 2020-2021 academic year have a fixed interest rate of 2.75% for undergraduate students and 4.30% for graduate students. Independent students and undergraduate students whose parents do not qualify for the PLUS Loan program (see below) may also apply for additional Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan funds. (Parents of independent undergraduate students cannot apply for PLUS loans). The maximum unsubsidized loan amount for 3rd and 4th year undergraduate students is $7000. The maximum loan amount for masters students is $20500 and $33,000 for doctoral students.

Federal Direct Parent or Graduate PLUS Loans:

These loans are available to parents of dependent undergraduate students or graduate students enrolled at least half time and who have satisfactory credit histories. PLUS loans are not based on financial need. The maximum loan is based on the Cost of Attendance minus other financial aid. The 2020-2021 academic year interest rate for the PLUS loan is 5.03%. Interest accrues and repayment begins 60 days after the final disbursement for the year; however, if requested, loans can be deferred until the student graduates.

Private Loans

Private loans may be available to help bridge the gap between financial aid and the cost of education. The terms of these loans differ according to the lender and you should compare the information to determine which loan best suits your needs. For more information or to see a list private student loan lenders, see: PAU Lender List.

Palo Alto Institutional Aid

All admitted Undergraduate and PhD students are automatically reviewed for scholarship eligibility. There is no separate application, however students are still required to complete the FAFSA or Dream Act Application. International students are considered for scholarship awards as well. Awards are based on academic merit and financial need.