FAQs: Financial Aid

» What is the FAFSA?
» How will I know my FAFSA has been processed?
» What happens once the school receives my FAFSA information?
» Since I have yet to file my federal income taxes, should I still complete the FAFSA?
» Once I receive my financial aid award letter, is there any reason it could change later on?
» Can I borrow less on my Stafford Loan than the amount listed on the award letter?
» My parents don't claim me on their tax return and they don't give me money. Can I file my financial aid application as “Independent”?
» I’m going to be married during school year. Can I fill out the FAFSA as “married” now, since I will be in a few months?
» My parents are divorced. My father claims me on his taxes, but I live with my mother. Whose information should I use when completing the FAFSA
» I have been told that I will not qualify for financial aid if my parents earn more than $30,000 (or $40,000 or $50, 000 etc.) Is this true?

Q: What is the FAFSA?

The federal government's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides us with complete, consistent financial data analyzed within policy established by the federal government. Although the federal government does not award financial aid, we will base your award on the analysis of information provided on this form.

Q: How will I know my FAFSA has been processed?

You will receive from the processor a Student Aid Report (SAR) generated from the information you provide on your FAFSA. Within seven to ten days after your receipt of the SAR, we will receive the same information electronically. Keep the SAR for your records. To check on the status of your application, you may call (800) 433-3243.

Q: What happens once the school receives my FAFSA information?

Upon receipt of the FAFSA data, you may receive an award letter from the financial aid office. Your award letter will list all estimated financial aid eligible to you from Federal, State, and Institutional sources. You must sign and return your award letter to the financial aid office. When the financial aid office receives your signed award letter, we will process your Federal Stafford Loans. You will also receive additional information in your award package regarding how to apply for a Parent PLUS Loan and Alternative Loans for students. These loans should be applied for in May and June for September entrants.

Q: Since I have yet to file my federal income taxes, should I still complete the FAFSA?

If you have not filed your taxes and the FAFSA deadline is approaching, you need to submit your best estimates and complete the FAFSA. Failing to meet the deadline could disqualify you from consideration for grant aid. If you are selected for verification you may need to provide copies of your tax records at a later date.

Q: Once I receive my financial aid award letter, is there any reason it could change later on?

There are a number of circumstances that could have an effect on your original award letter. Verification of your application, change in your family financial situation, failure to maintain academic progress, housing selection, notification after your award of outside aid such as a scholarship, or not enrolling for the required number of hours to receive aid through programs awarded you are all examples of things that could change your award letter.

Q: Can I borrow less on my Stafford Loan than the amount listed on the award letter?

Yes. You can borrow up to the amount listed on your award letter.

Q: My parents don't claim me on their tax return and they don't give me money. Can I file my financial aid application as “Independent”?

According to federal regulations, you must answer “yes” to one of the following questions to be considered “Independent” for financial aid purposes:

  • Will you be 24 before January 1st?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Will you be enrolled in a graduate or professional program?
  • Are you married?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • Do you have legal dependents other than a spouse or child?
  • Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you?
  • Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • At any time on or after July 1 did your high school, director of an emergency shelter, or director of a transitional housing program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

Q: I'm going to be married during school year. Can I fill out the FAFSA as “married” now, since I will be in a few months?

You must indicate your marital status as of the date you are completing the FAFSA. You cannot update your marital status once you have filed your application.

Q: My parents are divorced. My father claims me on his taxes, but I live with my mother. Whose information should I use when completing the FAFSA?

If your parents have divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent you lived with more during the past 12 months. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the last 12 months, or during the most recent year that you were supported by a parent. (You will be providing information about one person). If this parent has remarried as of the day you complete your FAFSA form, answer the questions about that parent and his/her spouse. (You will be providing information on two people).

Q: I have been told that I will not qualify for financial aid if my parents earn more than $30,000 (or $40,000 or $50, 000 etc.) Is this true?

There is no income at which a student will not qualify for financial aid. The need analysis procedure determines each student's financial need based upon a number of variables: income, family size, number in college, assets, etc. All students are urged to apply for financial aid for an accurate and professional evaluation, regardless of parents' income level, because income is only one consideration. At the very least, every student may be eligible for an unsubsidized Stafford Loan.

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