FAQ’s about Financial Aid
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions aboutfinancial aid.
General Questions about Eligibility and Applying
1. I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply foraid anyway?
Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualifyfor aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to applyfor it. In addition, there are a few source of aid such as unsubsidizedStafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA formis free. There is no good excuse for not applying.
2. Do I need to be admitted before I can apply forfinancial aid at a particular school?
No. You can apply for financial aid any time afterJanuary 1. To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted andenrolled at the school.
3. Why can't I submit my financial aid applicationbefore January 1?
The need analysis process for financial aid uses thefamily's income and tax information from the most recent tax year (the baseyear) to judge your eligibility for need-based financial aid during theupcoming academic year (the award year). Since the base year ends December 31,you cannot submit a financial aid application until January 1. After all, yourparents might earn a year-end bonus or realize capital gains from sellingstocks on December 31. If you submit the financial aid application beforeJanuary 1, it will be rejected.
4. Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
Yes. Most financial aid offices require that you applyfor financial aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you mayget more or less aid. After your first year you will receive a "RenewalApplication" which contains preprinted information from the previousyear's FAFSA. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly,especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Renewalof your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academicprogress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achievinga minimum GPA.
5. How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types ofneed-based aid?
Submit a FAFSA. To indicate interest in student employment,student loans and parent loans, you should check the appropriate boxes. Checkingthese boxes does not commit you to accepting these types of aid. You will havethe opportunity to accept or decline each part of your aid package later.Leaving these boxes unchecked will not increase the amount of grants youreceive.
6. Are my parents responsible for my educational loans?
No. Parents are, however, responsible for the Federal PLUSloans. Parents will only be responsible for your educational loans if theyco-sign your loan. In general you and you alone are responsible for repayingyour educational loans.
You do not need to get your parents to cosign yourfederal student loans, even if you are under age 18, as the 'defense ofinfancy' does not apply to federal student loans. (The defense of infancypresumes that a minor is not able to enter into contracts, and considers anysuch contract to be void. There is an explicit exemption to this principle in theHigher Education Act with regard to federal student loans.) However, lendersmay require a cosigner on private student loans if your credit history isinsufficient or if you are underage. In fact, many private student loan programsare not available to students under age 18 because of the defense of infancy. Ifyour parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can haveyour billing statements sent to their address. Likewise, if your lender or loanservicer provides an electronic payment service, where the monthly payments areautomatically deducted from a bank account, your parents can agree to have thepayments deducted from their account. But your parents are under no obligationto repay your loans. If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancelthe electronic payment agreement, you will be held responsible for thepayments, not them.
7. If I take a leave of absence, do I have to startrepaying my loans?
Not immediately. The subsidized Stafford loan has a graceperiod of 6 months and the Perkins loan a grace period of 9 months before thestudent must begin repaying the loan. When you take a leave of absence you willnot have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you use upthe grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repayingyour loan immediately. It is possible to request an extension to the graceperiod, but this must be done before the grace period is used up. If your graceperiod has run out in the middle of your leave of absence, you will have to startmaking payments on your student loans.
8. I got an outside scholarship. Should I report it tothe financial aid office?
Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid fromgovernment sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aidoffice.