What is the Student Freedom Agreement? Student Freedom Agreement is an income-contingent funding option that should be considered just one part of a student’s overall financial aid package. It is not intended to replace any state or institutional aid, or any federal grants, work-study, or Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans. Instead, a Student Freedom Agreement is available to cover a student’s remaining cost of attendance after those other aid sources are considered, as a potential alternative to private student loans and Parent PLUS loans.
Who can apply for Student Freedom Agreement? To be eligible to receive funding from us, a student’s school must be a participant in the income-contingent funding alternative component of Student Freedom Initiative's program, and the student must meet all the following criteria immediately prior to the disbursement of funds (as determined and confirmed by student’s school):
(a) Completed a FAFSA or acceptable alternative state aid application that is accepted and approved by student’s school;
(b) A valid Social Security Number;
(c)Not an international student or foreign exchange student authorized
to enter the United States on a non-immigrant visa;
(d)Majority age or older;
(e)Junior or senior for the school year being funded;
(f)Enrolled full-time for the coming academic term (unless we grant
an exception because student requires less than full-time enrollment to complete his/her bachelor’s degree in her/his final year of study);
(g)Working towards a degree in an approved STEM major; and
(h)Meeting satisfactory academic progress as defined by student’s school.
Can parents or guardians apply for the Student Freedom Agreement for their student? No, as a parent or guardian you cannot legally enter into a binding contractual agreement on the behalf of the student, however, a parent or guardian may advise the student of this funding opportunity for their consideration.
Where can eligible students apply for the Student Freedom Agreement? Students can apply for the Student Freedom Agreement through the Student Application Portal:
Are Freshman and Sophomore students eligible to apply for a Student Freedom Agreement? Only juniors and seniors who are pursuing approved STEM degrees at participating schools and who otherwise meet Student Freedom Initiative’s eligibility criteria can receive funding from Student Freedom Initiative.
Why is funding for the Student Freedom Agreement only available to STEM majors? The eligible majors currently include certain majors associated with select Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (or “STEM”) fields, as identified by the National Science Foundation and the participating institution. For a list of majors identified by each of the participating institutions, please see Participating Schools.
The Student Freedom Agreement launched in fall 2021 with an initial focus on STEM majors because statistics show that a STEM education can serve as a pathway to freedom for students — opening the door to the widest array of opportunities in the 21st century economy. According to Science News the growth rate for STEM versus non-STEM fields is 2 times. According to National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), Status and Trends in the education of Racial and Ethnic Groups, there will be 3.5 Million STEM jobs in the US to fill by 2025. The National Association of Manufacturers and Deloitte reported the average difference in salary between STEM and non-STEM is $24,100 for college graduates.
What are the steps in completing the Student Freedom Agreement application? Students can apply for the Student Freedom Agreement through the student application portal:
Students will start by providing information about themselves, their campus and their program.
Students will also see the first of several disclosures.
Students will then create an account and sign a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) consent.
Then the students’ schools will certify their eligibility to participate.
How long does it take to find out if a student is qualified for funding through a Student Freedom Agreement? Students should contact their Financial Aid Office for status updates on their Student Freedom Agreement application.
Then students will see additional disclosures and sign their contract.
How will students be notified of approval for the Student Freedom Agreement? Students will receive an email from Student Freedom Initiative when their application is approved.
How will students be notified that they have been approved for funding under the Student Freedom Agreement? Students will receive communications from Student Freedom Initiative throughout the application process, including notification of funding under the Student Freedom Agreement. While the schedule will vary based on the participating institution’s processes, one should expect a confirmation of funding within 60 days of submission.
I’ve signed up for the Student Freedom Agreement, how long until I get my money? Funding will become available during the school's normal disbursement process at your institutions, in the term in which you have applied. Funding will only be made available to students who have been certified as eligible by your financial aid office.
How much money can I get? Students can receive up to $20,000 per academic year. There is a cap on total funding a student can receive under a Student Freedom Agreement, which is currently $40,000 total.
Can I spend the money on anything? Student Freedom Initiative will disburse an amount of money up to the funding amount that was listed in your Approval Disclosure to cover a portion of your billed tuition and fees in addition to approved educational related expenses as defined by the office of financial aid at your institution.
Who should students contact for status updates on their Student Freedom Agreement application? Students should contact customer support at 833.531.1310 or email@example.com for status updates on their Student Freedom Agreement application. Students can also contact their Financial Aid Office with additional questions.