Federal & State Grants

Federal Pell Grant

A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. It’s designed to provide financial assistance to undergraduate students with exceptional need who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) resulting from the FAFSA determines the amount of the award.

Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

Federal SEOG awards are restricted to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need, and Pell grant recipients have first priority. Awards can range from $100 to $4,000 per year and are dependent on the allocation the school receives from the federal government.

California State Grant

All California residents who have not earned a bachelor’s degree are encouraged to apply for the California State Grant. This can be done by having your high school registrar, or your current college registrar if you’re transferring to SFCM, submit a verification of your GPA by March 2. You must also submit the FAFSA prior to March 2 in order to be eligible for the Cal Grant.

California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) awards these grants based on residency, enrollment status, and cumulative GPA. We estimate your Cal Grant based on preliminary eligibility information from CSAC. If you have been notified by CSAC that you are eligible for a Cal Grant award and it does not appear on your award letter, please contact the Financial Aid Office immediately so that we can adjust your award accordingly. Awards are applied directly to tuition and fee costs. Cal Grant B access awards will be applied to your account unless otherwise indicated by the student.

For further information, please see www.csac.ca.gov.

Federal & State Loans

Federal Educational Loans

SFCM participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Under this program, the lender is the U.S. Department of Education.   

Benefits of Direct Loans

You borrow directly from the federal government and you have online access to Direct Loan account information via the servicer's website. Federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options, including, but not limited to, income-based repayment and income-contingent repayment plans, and loan forgiveness benefits, which other student loans are not required to provide.

You can switch repayment plans as your financial needs change. Please see www.studentloans.gov for additional information. Federal direct student loans are available to students regardless of income.

Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans

A Federal Direct Subsidized loan is awarded based on financial need. Principal and interest are deferred as long as a student maintains at least half-time enrollment and for the first six months after the student leaves school or drops below half-time enrollment. After this six-month grace period, the student is required to make payments on the loan including interest.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

Eligibility for the Unsubsidized loans is not based on a family’s demonstrated financial need. Interest begins accruing immediately, even while the student is in school, in a grace period, or in deferment. Repayment of the principal begins six months after you are no longer enrolled at least half-time, though interest payments begin 30 days after the first disbursement.

The U.S. Government has origination fees that apply to both the Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans. For loans disbursed on or after 10/1/2017 and before 10/1/18, the origination fee is 1.066% of the total amount of the loan. For loans disbursed on or after 10/1/18 and before 10/1/19, the origination fee is 1.062% of the total amount of the loan. This percentage will be deducted from your loan automatically by the federal government before the loan  funds are released to SFCM. Students accepting their Federal Direct Loan(s) on their Financial Aid Award Letter will have their loan data electronically transmitted to their billing account.

All first-time SFCM borrowers are required to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete entrance counseling online at studentloans.gov before any loan funds can be released.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans are federal loans designed to assist parents with the educational expenses for dependent undergraduate students. This loan is in the parent’s name specifically for their student's educational costs. Graduate students may also apply for the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan in their own name. PLUS Loans are available up to the Cost of Attendance (COA) minus any financial aid received. The maximum amount is determined by SFCM. A credit check determines eligibility. The financial aid office will initiate the certification process for all accepted PLUS loans after July 1. Both the loan applicant and the Office of Financial Aid will be notified of the credit check results. Applicants will have their loan data electronically transmitted to SFCM. The U.S. Government charges origination fees that apply to these loans. For loans disbursed on or after 10/1/17 and before 10/1/18, the origination fee is 4.264% of the total amount of the loan. For loans disbursed on or after 10/1/18 and before 10/1/19, the origination fee is 4.248% of the total amount of the loan. The federal government will deduct this percentage from your loan automatically before releasing the loan funds to SFCM. A separate Master Promissory note is required for the PLUS loans.

Direct Annual Loan Limits

Grade Level Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan Total Federal Stafford Loan
Freshman $3,500 Dependent = $2,000 Independent = $6,000 Dependent = $5,500 Independent = $9,500
Sophomore $4,500 Dependent = $2,000 Independent = $6,000 Dependent = $6,500 Independent = $10,500
Junior/Senior $5,500 Dependent = $2,000 Independent = $7,000 Dependent = $7,500
Independent = $12,500
Aggregate Loan Limits $23,000   Dependent = $31,000 Independent = $57,500
Graduate and Professional $0 $20,500 $20,500
Aggregate Loan Limits $65,500   Total Undergraduate, Graduate and Professional = $138,500

Private Alternative Loans for Education

Parents and students sometimes inquire about other loans that can meet educational costs not covered by institutional and federal financial aid. Most of these alternative loans are credit-based; more information about them is available in the Office of Financial Aid.

The Office of Financial Aid encourages students who are eligible for federal student aid to complete the FAFSA and exhaust all federal and state options, including federal loans, before applying for a private loan. Federal student loans generally have more favorable terms and conditions than private loans. Before borrowing a private loan:

  • Compare it to the Federal Direct PLUS Loan.
  • Ask questions of your lender.
  • Borrow only what you absolutely need.
  • Calculate your estimated monthly payment and total repayment amount.

An alternative loan is an agreement between the borrower, co-signer (if required), and the lender. The Conservatory cannot in any way be held liable in the event the borrower is dissatisfied with the rates, terms, or service provided by any lender, nor is the Conservatory responsible for any damages incurred by the student as a result of the student’s choice of lender. You have the right to select the alternative lender of your choice.


Get in touch.

Doris Howard
Director of Financial Aid


Connor Callaghan
Financial Aid Associate