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What You Need to Know about Financial Aid

What You Need to Know about Financial Aid

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What You Need to Know about Financial Aid

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  1. What You Need to Know about Financial Aid This presentation was developed and provided for free by MASFAA – The Montana Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

  2. Overview Know Your Timelines and Deadlines Admissions Applications & Requirements College Bound – Helpful Tips About the FAFSA, FAFSA PIN Types of Financial Aid Resources

  3. Know Your Timelines & Deadlines

  4. Know Your Timelines & Deadlines The FAFSA process is repeated each year - beginning in January – for the following academic year.

  5. Know Your Timelines & Deadlines Pay attention to all important dates and deadlines: Priority date for filing FAFSA UM – February 15 Most other Montana Schools – March 1 Check with YOUR school for priority filing deadline NOTE: You still need to file the FAFSA even if you don’t make the priority date Admissions application deadline Scholarship application deadline Award acceptance deadline Dorm Room reservation, deposit deadlines

  6. Admissions Applications& Requirements Some schools require a completed Admissions file before awarding student aid. Items that may be required: Current transcript through most recent grading period Follow-up transcript upon graduation Caution: Preliminary Acceptance letter may be with-drawn based on final transcripts - No Senior-itis allowed SAT/ACT test scores, college-specific placement tests (Compass, etc.) – Check your school’s requirements Repeat scores – most schools use highest score Immunization records – MMR Standard, others Essays for admission?

  7. Admissions Applications & Requirements • Eligible studentsget reduced out-of-state tuition rate of 150% of resident tuition at participating two- and four-year college programs outside of their home state. • Reduced tuition rate is not automatically awarded. • Many institutions limit the number of new WUE/WICHE awards each academic year, so apply early! Western Undergraduate Exchange Program – WUE Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education - WICHE

  8. Admissions Applications & Requirements WUE/WICHE states include: Alaska Arizona California Colorado Hawaii Idaho Montana Nevada New Mexico North Dakota Oregon South Dakota Utah Washington Wyoming

  9. Admissions Applications & Requirements Admissions Common Application “Search for Colleges” to identify a participating school Click on “Member Colleges” (all) for comprehensive list In Montana: Carroll, University of Great Falls Used by private, out-of-state, prestigious colleges Whitman, Whitworth, PLU, Puget Sound, Harvard etc. Usually for high achieving students Provides an online application process – students enter information; counselors enter recommendation information; schools retrieve for evaluation

  10. Admissions Applications & Requirements Also used in Admissions Process: Online services that provide secure electronic transcript transfer exchange between schools Used to send high school transcripts and school records to colleges Student, schools, counselors log into account, request, upload, confirm receipt of supporting application documents to colleges and universities Check with high school counselor for information

  11. Admissions Applications & Requirements Keep track of your paperwork Create a file for each college you apply to Separate by categories – Admissions, Financial Aid, Scholarship Apps, Housing, etc. Get a calendar for your due dates and deadlines Keep copies of everything you send

  12. College Bound – Helpful Tips Tour several campuses if possible – onsite tours highly recommended Find the right fit for you Virtual tours are better than no tours Attend earliest new student orientation possible (work-study opportunities, class selection) Be aware of your timeslot for registration (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) Introduce yourself to your instructors/aides Attend class! Ask questions, be prepared

  13. College Bound – Helpful Tips FERPA (Fer-pa what?!) Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Federal law that protects privacy of student education records. Gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches 18 or attends school beyond high school level Schools must have written permission from the eligible student in order to release information Students can sign a release form giving their parents access to their records.

  14. College Bound – Helpful Tips • Student portal • Colleges communicate with students via a secure portal • Financial aid • Business office (your bill!) • Class Schedule • Register for classes • Student email • Campus events

  15. College Bound – Helpful Tips Know your school calendar of important dates Last day to drop or add a class, last day to withdraw without penalty/without grade, last day for full or partial refund Know about Financial aid policies – “SAP” Satisfactory Academic Progress Know how dropping or withdrawal from class will affect you Talk to your advisor, Financial Aid, instructors first Is there an alternative to withdrawing? Tutoring Study group Financial, mental, emotional help?

  16. College Bound – Helpful Tips If there are circumstances beyond your control and you must withdraw from all classes: Always go through official drop/withdrawal process – don’t just stop going to class Federal regulations may require repayment of some or ALL financial aid if you drop classes or “unofficially” withdraw “I” Incomplete and “W” Withdrawal grades MAY affect future Financial Aid eligibility Academic and financial aid appeal processes may be available

  17. College Bound – Helpful Tips Most schools require freshmen to live on campus Dorm room deposits are due the spring before fall semester Reserve early; avoid overflow housing! Make arrangements to meet your new roommate Agree to bring things you’ll need: Many dorms now have microwave and refrigerator Share a printer? Toaster? What food plan do you need? Be sure you understand how your food plan works! If your school does not have a food plan, how will you budget for meals?

  18. College Bound – Helpful Tips Get your ID Card – may be dining hall access card Use your Student ID# instead of SSN Get your dining card loaded with extra funds Off campus restaurants, pizza, businesses School grocery store, bookstore, library, etc. Don’t come to school empty-handed – have some cash (a month’s worth of living expenses) Start saving $50 a month now – by next fall, you’ll have a cushion of about $500 for the unexpected Expect the Unexpected

  19. College Bound – Helpful Tips Book reservations – online, early; check options Purchase used textbooks when possible Some schools offer online textbook purchases and reservations Can you charge your books to your financial aid? Can you rent textbooks? Are they available in the campus library? E-textbooks are usually much cheaper Amazon,, etc. Pros – cheaper, selection Cons - shipping times and costs , must pay in advance; financial aid not available for off-site bookstores.

  20. College Bound – Helpful Tips Most schools require degree-seeking students to meet with an advisor before registering for classes If possible, meet with your advisor before new student orientation Get your class schedule early before all popular classes/time slots are full Look for programs that emphasize timely degree completion UM Four-Bear Program MSU Degree Works Check to see if your school has a program

  21. College Bound – Helpful Hints A Campus Parking Pass does not guarantee you a parking spot. It does guarantee you the right to search for a spot. Most campuses have a very swift, active & unforgiving towing & fine assessment policy. Get to class early to avoid a parking dilemma. No place to park + a swift and unforgiving towing program + parking fines that double if unpaid = “A Parking Dilemma” Moral of Story: Do you really need a car at school? No car = $avings – no gas, no maintenance, no insurance, no parking permits, no parking fines!

  22. College Bound – Helpful Hints How to succeed in college: Be excited about dorm life! Get to know your room and dorm-mates Take part in “welcome” activities Have fun! Be prepared - don’t wait until the last minute to finalize your aid, accept awards, etc. Be willing to ask for help: Academics, personal, financial Be involved - Participate! Involved students are more likely to be successful and stay in school - clubs, Greek activities, work, community service, athletics Be brave! Stick it out that first semester – don’t give up!

  23. About the FAFSA – What is it? FAFSA = Free Application For Federal Student Aid Emphasis on the “FREE” Part

  24. About the FAFSA

  25. About the FAFSAApplying for Different Types of Aid USE THE FAFSA FOR : Grants – Free or “gift” aid Work Study – Self- help – must be earned Loans – Self-help – must be repaid USE SEPARATE APPLICATION FOR: Scholarships Waivers Follow the process at your school

  26. About the FAFSA – Federal Financial Aid Eligibility Requirements Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen Have a valid Social Security number Males 18 years and older must register with Selective Service (see for more information) Can register for Selective Service on the FAFSA

  27. About the FAFSA – Eligibility Requirements, continued High school diploma, General Education Development (GED), HiSet, or other accepted graduation equivalency Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program at a school that participates in the federal student aid programs

  28. About the FAFSA - Eligibility Requirements, Continued You must not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal student loan You must show financial need (except for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Parent and Grad PLUS Loans, and TEACH Grants) You must not have certain drug convictions

  29. About the FAFSA The Philosophy The Form The Formulas COA, EFC, NEED

  30. About the FAFSA -The Philosophy(Why Is All This Information Needed?) Parents and students are primarily responsible for paying for higher education. Families are evaluated in their present financial condition. A family’s ability to pay is evaluated in an equitable and consistent manner. Special situations can be considered

  31. Federal processor will determine Expected Family Contribution Fill out and submit FAFSA School receives FAFSA info (Verification) School determines need School creates Financial Aid Award Package Student receives Award Letter Student responds to Award Letter About the FAFSA -The Process

  32. About the FAFSA - The Process

  33. About the FAFSAVerification & IRS Data Retrieval System Retrieves federal tax data directly from IRS; loads directly into FAFSA Results show school that tax data was imported from IRS and whether it was updated after loading Information imported from IRS needs no further verification Voluntary, but if you don’t use IRS data retrieval and are selected for verification, you must provide tax transcript Approximately 3 weeks after you electronically file taxes First date available ___________________________?

  34. About the FAFSA How to Obtain a Tax Transcript For verification purposes, a photocopy of your Federal tax return cannot be accepted. Obtain an official tax transcript through the IRS: By Computer: online@ By Phone: 1.800.908.9946; follow voice prompts By Mail: Complete and mail Form 4506-T or 4506-T-EZ (forms available at By Foot: Your local IRS office – bring photo id and get in line IMPORTANT: A tax transcript AND an account transcript are required if you filed an amended return (Form 1040X)

  35. About the FAFSA PIN Registration PIN numbers can be obtained while completing FAFSA on-line and are real time Web site: Both student and one parent need a PIN PIN is used for FAFSA, MPN, NSLDS access – legal, electronic online signature Used every year in Financial Aid process

  36. About the FAFSA PIN Help • • Video instruction available • Who needs a PIN? • Steps to apply for your PIN

  37. About the FAFSAFAFSA Options Complete online @ Use this FREE site ONLY! (Did we mention that already?) May complete the FOTW worksheet first to use as “cheat sheet” when completing the on-line application. Students may call 1-800-4FEDAID (1-800-433-3243) to request a paper application or can print the pdf at FAFSA4caster provides an estimate of eligibility for federal aid (Juniors and younger)

  38. About the FAFSAWe are here to HELP! Many communities will host College Goal Montana FAFSA filing events – check your local college or high school for dates and times Come get one-on-one assistance filing the FAFSA FAFSA “How to” videos available online 24/7 to help you file your FAFSA Online chat, toll-free number, extra resources for advanced help for FAFSA help!

  39. About the FAFSA Help at To find an event in your area, click on the “College Goal Montana” logo @ (877) COLG4ME

  40. About the FAFSA –Tax/Income Information Tax information Use 2013 federal tax information 2013 W-2s Follow instructions for each question on right of screen Untaxed income – Report child support received, untaxed portions of IRA distributions, worker’s compensation Do NOT report SSI, student aid, EIC, Welfare, Untaxed SS benefits Student and Parent Information Use correct SSNs Use Correct LEGAL NAME from Social Security Card Accurate date of birth

  41. About the FAFSA School information List at least one school Up to ten schools can be listed to receive FAFSA information when using the on-line application Assets & Business Information An asset is property the family owns and that has an exchange value. If required, report the net worth the asset holds the day you complete the FAFSA. Stocks, bonds, money market accounts, rental or recreational (second home) property, mineral rights, etc. Do you include family home, family farm, family business?

  42. About the FAFSADependent or Independent? Criteria to be independent: Born before Jan. 1, 1991 (age 24) Married Working on a master’s or doctorate program Serving Active Duty Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces Have children who receive more than half their support from you or Have dependents other than a spouse that live with you and receive more than half their support from you

  43. About the FAFSADependent or Independent? • At any time since student turned age 13, both of student’s parents were deceased, (orphan), student was in foster care, or the student was a dependent of/ward of the court. • As determined by student’s state of legal residence, the student is now or was upon reaching the age of majority, an emancipated minor (released from control by his or her parent or guardian). • As determined by the student’s state of legal residence, the student is now or was upon reaching the age of majority, in legal guardianship.

  44. About the FAFSADependent or Independent? At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did your high school or school district liaison determine you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless? At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional living program funded by US Dept of Housing & Urban Development determine you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless? At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

  45. About the FAFSASpecial Circumstances Exceptions to dependency criteria: Abandonment Abuse Neglect Where safety of student would be compromised by contacting parents Contact your financial aid officer for help in these situations. Documentation is required.

  46. About the FAFSAOther Special Situations A special conditions appeal may be filed when your income has changed due to: Loss of job Death of wage earner Divorce Unusually high medical bills In most cases, special conditions are considered only after initial awards have been determined.

  47. About the FAFSAWhose Income is Reported? Dependent students will report income and other information about both legal parents (biological or adopted) if the parents live together, regardless of parents’ marital status or gender. Ensures that limited taxpayer resources are directed to students with the most need, regardless of the student’s parents’ marital status or gender, when those parents reside in the same household. Recognizes the diversity of American families

  48. About the FAFSAWhose Income is Reported? Divorced/Separated Parents 1. Who did student live with most in last 12 months? 2. If #1 is not clear, who provided the most financial support in the last 12 months? 3. If neither #1 or #2 clarifies it, choose the parent from whom the student most recently received the most support. Stepparent’s information is ALWAYS included!

  49. About the FAFSA

  50. About the FAFSAThe Formula Cost of Attendance (COA) -Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Need