Special Programs

Some programs on campus (such as the Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice) require additional resources due to greater costs. To assist our students in these programs, the Office of Student Financial Aid is happy to provide this resource page and also answer any questions that these students may have.

What is it Going to Cost? 

Understanding the Cost of Attendance (COA)

The Cost of Attendance, occasionally referred to as COA or budget, is an estimate of a student’s educational expenses for a period of enrollment (typically an academic year). The Department of Education requires that all institutions with students utilizing federal aid, establish a COA prior to awarding and disbursing financial aid funds.

Our COA is determined annually based on average expenses Missouri State students incur while completing their programs of study. Each special program has a different COA. It is important to keep in mind that the COA is not necessarily reflective of how much it will cost you to attend Missouri State. 

The COA is comprised of various estimated components including:

  • Tuition & Fees 
  • Housing & Meals
  • Books & Supplies 
  • Transportation 
  • Personal Expenses 
  • Direct Loan Fees 

Your actual costs at Missouri State will be determined by factors such as: the number of hours enrolled in per semester (tuition), if you take out loans (Direct Loan Fees), and whether you live on-campus or commute from home (housing costs and transportation costs).

How is COA Used?

The COA serves as the ceiling on how much financial aid you are eligible to be awarded. Federal regulations require that a student’s award package not exceed COA (or budget). For this reason, when we are developing your COA we want to make sure it is as comprehensive but accurate as possible.

How do I Pay for It? 

Federal Aid - Unsubsidized Loans

When you are accepted into your program and you fill out your FAFSA, you automatically qualify for a set amount (Graduate students typically qualify for $20,500) of unsubsidized loans. Unsubsidized loans are student loans taken out through the federal government, that has interest accruing while you are in college, but typically has a lower interest rate then loans through private lenders (banks, and companies).

  • You will not have to start paying these backs until after your 6 month grace period has ended (typically 6 months after graduation or if you stop attending).
  • The interest rate for the loan is fixed for the school year (07/1/2023-06/30/2024). The interest rate for the Graduate Direct Unsubsidized Loans for the 2023/2024 school year is 7.05%. 

Additional Aid

Graduate PLUS Loan

Graduate students are initially offered Unsubsidized Stafford Loans up-to their annual cost of attendance. However, for students in these special programs the annual Unsubsidized Loan limit of $20,500 can be insufficient in covering all program costs. To compensate for any funding gaps students may apply for a Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, up-to their annual cost of attendance.

  • Calculate the Amount: Loan amount may not exceed the student’s Cost of Attendance (COA). Students are able to calculate their max amount available by taking the COA minus awarded aid (unsubsidized loans/scholarships).
  • Interest rates: Current interest rates can be found at studentaid.gov. The 2023-2024 interest rate is 8.05%. 
  • Repayment: Interest is charged from the first disbursement date, and repayment on both interest and principal begins 60 days after the final loan disbursement for the academic year. You may defer repayment while you are enrolled at least half-time status.
  • Qualifications: PLUS Loans are granted to graduate and professional degree-seeking students who have good credit history. You must have applied for your annual loan maximum eligibility under the Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Programs before applying for this loan.
  • Application: You must complete your FAFSA, a Direct PLUS Loan Application, Direct PLUS Loan Entrance Counseling, a Master Promissory Note and fill out the MSU Grad PLUS loan form

Alternative Loans

An alternative option to cover any funding gaps between the annual graduate student Direct Unsubsidized Loan limit of $20,500 and program cost of attendance, many students choose to apply for Alternative, or Private, Loans.

  • Amount: Varies. Alternative loans are private loans designed to help student with educational expenses that exceed other available assistance.
  • Interest rates: The interest rate varies by loan provider.
  • Repayment: Varies by loan.
  • Qualifications: Your eligibility is based on credit approval.
  • Application: You can apply online for alternative loans. You should only apply for alternative loans after all federal loan program eligibility has been exhausted.

Budget Adjustments

Adjustments can be made to a student's standard budget if the student's program requires participation in events (i.e. Clinical Rotations) which result in costs not already allocated in the standard budget. Please note that special academic programs such as PA, OT, PT, DSS, and DNAP have additional program expense components already factored into participating students' standard budgets. Common budget adjustments include but are not limited to:

  • Cost of transportation to-and-from clinical sites
  • Cost of child care expenses (i.e. daycare providers)
  • Cost of program books and supplies which exceeds allocation already allowed in standard budget components

To request a budget adjustment students must provide a completed and signed copy of one of the Budget Increase Request Forms accompanied by supporting documentation. Supporting documentation can include receipts, order confirmations, invoice statements, MapQuest mileage printouts, etc.

The Budget Adjustment form will be available for the semester two weeks after the start of the semester. The form (and all correct supporting documents) are due two weeks before the end of the semester. The deadline for the semester is listed at the bottom of the form.

  • Summer 2024 Budget Increase Form (Coming Soon)
  • Summer 2024 Budget Increase Form: Childcare Expenses (Coming Soon)

Frequently Asked Questions


Breanna Scanlon

Relay Missouri
711 or 800-735-2966
Missouri State University
Office of Financial Aid
901 S. National Ave
Springfield, MO 65897