Asked Questions About Financial Aid
1. I probably don't
qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?
Yes. Many families
mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from
receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a
few sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans?that are
available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free. There is no good excuse
for not applying.
2.Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for
financial aid at a particular university? No. You can apply for financial
aid any time after January 1. To actually receive funds, however, you must be
admitted and enrolled at the university.
3. Why can't I submit my
financial aid application before January 1?
The need analysis process
for financial aid uses the family's income and tax information from the most
recent tax year (the base year) to judge your eligibility for need-based
financial aid during the upcoming academic year (the award year). Since the
base year ends December 31, you cannot submit a financial aid application until
4. Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
Yes. Most financial aid offices require that you apply for financial
aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or
less aid. After your first year you will receive a "Renewal Application" which
contains preprinted information from the previous year's FAFSA. Note that your
eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have
a different number of family members in college. Renewal of your financial aid
package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a
degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum
5. How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of Federal
Submit a FAFSA. To indicate interest in student
employent, student loans and parent loans, you should check the appropriate
boxes. Checking these boxes does not commit you to accepting these types of
aid. You will have the opportunity to accept or decline each part of your aid
package later. Leaving these boxes unchecked will not increase the amount of
grants you receive.
6. Are my parents responsible for my educational
No. Parents are, however, responsible for the Federal PLUS
loans. Parents will only be responsible for your educational loans if you are
under 18 and they co-sign your loan. In general you and you alone are
responsible for repaying your educational loans. On the other hand, if your
parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can have your
billing statements sent to their address. Likewise, if your lender or loan
servicer provides an electronic payment service, where the monthly payments are
automatically deducted from a bank account, your parents can agree to have the
payments deducted from their account. But your parents are under no obligation
to repay your loans. If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancel
the electronic payment ag! reement, you will be held responsible for the
payments, not them.
7. Why is the family contribution listed on the
SAR different from the family contribution expected by the university?
The federal formula for computing the expected family contribution is different
from those used by many universities. In particular, the federal formula does
not consider home equity as part of the assets, yet many private colleges will
take home equity into consideration for their institutional funds.
8. If I take a leave of absence, do I have to start repaying my
Not immediately. The subsidized Stafford loan has a grace period
of 6 months and the Perkins loan has a grace period of 9 months before the
student must begin repaying the loan. When you take a leave of absence you will
not have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you use up
the grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repaying
your loan immediately. It is possible to request an extension to the grace
period, but this must be done before the grace period is used up. If your grace
period has run out in the middle of your leave of absence, you will have to
start making payments on your student loans.
9. I got an outside
scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?
you are receiving any kind of financial aid from university or government
sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office.
Unfortunately, the university will adjust your financial aid package to
compensate. Nevertheless, the outside scholarship will have some beneficial
effects. At some universities outside scholarships are used to reduce the
student loan level.
10. Are work-study earnings taxable?
Yes, the money earned from Federal Work-Study is generally subject to federal
and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled
full time and work less than half-time). The student should be careful to
report amounts based on the calendar year, not the school year.
Is it legal for a 17-year-old student to sign a promissory note for a student
loan, even though the student has not yet reached the age of majority?
Normally, a minor cannot be held liable for a contract that they sign. However,
in 1992 the Higher Education Act was amended to permit eligible students,
defined as per Title IV regulations, to sign promissory notes for their own
student loans. As such, student loans represent one of the few exceptions to
the so-called "defense of infancy".
1. Where can I get a
copy of the FAFSA?
You can ask your guidance counselor for a copy. You
can also get the FAFSA from the financial aid office at a local college, your
local public library, or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID. The online version of the
form is available at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov .
2. Are photocopies of
the FAFSA acceptable?
No. Only the original FAFSA form produced by the
US Department of Education is acceptable. Photocopies, reproductions,
facsimiles and electronic versions are all not acceptable.
soon after January 1 should the FAFSA form be sent in?
Is it better to
wait until the income tax forms have been completed? ? Send in the form as soon
as possible after January 1. Do not wait until your taxes are done. Although it
is better to do your taxes early, it is ok to use estimates of your income, so
long as they aren't very far off from the actual values. You will have an
opportunity to correct any errors later on the Student Aid Report. If you wait
too long, you might miss the deadline for state aid. Most states require the
FAFSA to be submitted by March 1, and some even as early as early or
4. My parents are separated or divorced. Which parent
is responsible for filling out the FAFSA?
If your parents are
separated or divorced, the custodial parent is responsible for filling out the
FAFSA. The custodial parent is the parent with whom you lived the most during
the past 12 months. Note that this is not necessarily the same as the parent
who has legal custody. If you did not live with one parent more than the other,
the parent who provided you with the most financial support during the past
twelve months should fill out the FAFSA. This is probably the parent who
claimed you as a dependent on their tax return. If you have not received any
support from either parent during the past 12 months, use the most recent
calendar year for which you received some support from a parent. Note, however,
that any child support and/or alimony received from the non-cus! todial parent
must be included on the FAFSA.
5. My parents are divorced, and the
parent I'm living with has remarried. Does my step-parent have to report his or
her income and assets on the FAFSA?
Yes, provided that the parent
you're living with is the one filling out the FAFSA (your custodial parent).
If?the step-parent is married to?your custodial parent?at the time you fill out
the FAFSA, they must report their income and assets, even if they weren't
married to them in the previous year.
6. My custodial parent
remarried and signed a prenuptial agreement that absolves the step-parent from
financial responsibility for my education. Why does my step-parent have to
provide financial information on the FAFSA?
Prenuptial agreements are
ignored by the federal need analysis process. After all, two individuals
(parent and step-parent) cannot make an agreement between them that is binding
on a third party (the federal government). The federal government considers the
step-parent a source of support regardless of any prenuptial agreements to the
contrary. If a step-parent marries the parent, he or she is considered
responsible for supporting the parent and children, even if he or she is
unwilling to do so.
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