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Equivalency Status

Equivalency Status


New York University defines "full time" status as taking a minimum of 12 credits in one semester, and "half-time" status as taking a minimum of 6 credits in one semester. Your enrollment status each semester determines your eligibility for financial aid, student visas, veteran’s benefits, and student health insurance. 

Students who are not at least half-time are generally ineligible for federal aid. Under certain circumstances, students enrolled for fewer than the required number of credits for financial aid may be granted an equivalency. Equivalency is a special academic status that is granted to graduate students who would like to receive financial aid but would otherwise not qualify based on their enrollment level. The MSGA grants equivalency status only in the thesis semester.

Your equivalency status is an academic distinction and DOES NOT determine the amount of financial aid you will receive.

Financial aid awards are determined by your actual enrolled credits. The amount of aid you will qualify for is determined by the Financial Aid office on an individualized basis, and is calculated based on the actual cost of your tuition and fees.

In some cases, students can petition for their actual cost to be increased via consideration of living expenses. This involves a written Budget Appeal made to the Financial Aid office early in the semester.


While financial aid awards are generated before the start of each semester, calculation of awards is not finalized until the drop/add period has ended. This means a student may be over-awarded at the start of the semester based on anticipated enrollment, and will be required to return a portion of their estimated award once calculation is finalized.

MSGA enables students to choose individually which level of equivalency (half-time or full-time) they would prefer. Students taking 3 credits can request half-time or full-time equivalency. Students taking 6 credits already qualify for half-time aid, but can request full-time equivalency. 


There are three important considerations in deciding your equivalency status: 

  • Equivalency only applies to federal aid. This means students receiving the SPS Dean's Fellowship, which is awarded to half-time or full-time students only, will lose the Fellowship if they are only enrolled for 3 credits.
  • International students MUST have full-time equivalency status to meet student visa requirements.
  • You can request equivalency only once and only in your thesis semester - if you have one leftover class after your thesis, you will not qualify for University financial aid in that semester.

How to request an Equivalency status

Students can request financial aid equivalency status by indicating their preferred level, full-time or half-time, on their Thesis Agreement Form and online Enrollment Request form.