Financial Aid Checklist

U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for federal student aid. Follow these steps to apply:

Step One

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Federal Student Aid website. Include the Rice University school code: 003604.

Step Two

Sign the FAFSA electronically using your federal student aid (FSA) ID username and password. If you do not have an FSA ID, you can create it when logging in to the FAFSA, or visit the New FSA ID page on the Federal Student Aid website.

Step Three

Evaluate your need for additional funding sources, such as the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan through the Department of Education or private education loans through various lenders of your choice.

Note: The Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is credit-based. Please visit the Direct PLUS Loan page on the Federal Student Aid website for detailed information regarding PLUS loan credit requirements.

  • While you can apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan within six months of the start of your program, we recommend you wait until you are admitted and have received your award letter for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan.
  • Prior to borrowing through the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan program, you may need to review credit reports for potential issues.
  • The Direct Graduate PLUS Loan credit decision expires within 180 days from applying.

Step Four

Once you have made the decision to apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, visit the Federal Student Aid website to to complete the Direct PLUS Loan Request

  • If approved for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, complete a separate loan agreement master promissory note (MPN) for this loan.
  • If declined for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you can reapply with a co-signer (endorser) or appeal the denial through the Department of Education.

Step Five

If you wish to receive the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, you must complete Entrance Counseling and electronically sign the Loan Agreement Master Promissory Note (MPN) at

  • Both the entrance counseling and MPN must be completed in order for funds to be disbursed to your student account.
  • If you have previously borrowed federal student loans, be sure to update your lender(s) with contact information and enrollment status (for loan deferment purposes). Log in on the homepage to review loan history and loan servicer details.

Step Six

View your Financial Aid To-Do List in Esther, which contains the required forms and documents needed to apply for aid. To sign in to Esther, use your Rice Student ID and PIN. 

For additional information on federal student aid programs, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Please note, based on guidance issued by the Department of Education on July 22, 2019, individuals in California are not eligible to use federal financial aid for this online program. However, private loans or other aid may be available.