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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 First What is the “FAFSA?” Timelines, Deadlines and Priority Dates Admissions applications & requirements All about the FAFSA, FAFSA PIN Types of Financial Aid Additional Resources Common Mistakes to Avoid

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

  4. Timelines

  5. Timelines • The FAFSA process is repeated each year – • beginning in January – for the following academic year • File as soon as possible after January 1 each year

  6. Deadlines Deadlines - the latest date by which something can be submitted Create a calendar for deadlines and meet them Admissions Scholarship Award acceptance Dorm application; dorm deposit Deadlines for dropping classes, withdrawing

  7. Deadlines Know your school calendar Last day to drop or add a class Last day to withdraw without penalty/without grade Last day for full or partial refund First day to register for the upcoming semester Finals week, exam schedules Financial Aid disbursement dates And of course, holidays and breaks!

  8. PRIORITY DATES Submit information on or before this date to gain advantage • Meeting a priority date for financial aid means you may receive additional funding • Important if your family is considered high need • Additional “priority” funds are limited & include grants, low-interest loans, work-study funds • Generally awarded to the neediest students and earliest applicants first – and awarded until gone • First come, first served - if you miss the priority date, you may miss out on aid you would have been eligible to receive

  9. PRIORITY DATES Prioritydate for filing the FAFSA • UM – February 15 • Most other Montana Schools – March 1 • Check with YOUR school for priority filing date or check priority dates @ • Some schools have priority dates for scholarship funds or other applications as well Nice to know: Pell Grant, Federal Direct Student Loans, Parent PLUS Loans – are not affected by priority dates. Bottom Line: Even if you miss a priority date, you still need to submit your FAFSA to qualify for other aid.

  10. Admissions Applications& Requirements Many schools require that you apply for admission before they will consider you for scholarships or aid Apply for admission; complete the financial aid AND scholarship applications for each of your top schools you are considering – it’s all about choices! Once you make your decision, notify the other schools you will not attend – so funds can be awarded to other students. Items that may be required – current and final grade transcripts from high school, immunization records, fees, admissions essays, paperwork for financial aid 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?

  11. Admissions Applications& Requirements Common Application Anot-for-profit membership organization that provides online admissions services Often used by private, prestigious colleges such as Whitman, Whitworth, PLU, Purdue, Harvard Not common in Montana: Carroll, University of Great Falls utilize this service Usually for high achieving students Search for Colleges” feature identifies participating schools

  12. Admissions Applications& Requirements Keep track of your paperwork – you’ll get a LOT of it! Set up an email account just for scholarships, college correspondence, etc. Create a file for each college you are considering Separate each file into categories – Admissions, Financial Aid, Scholarship Apps, Housing, etc. Return forms, applications, payments to the correct office Keep copies of everything you send – electronic or paper

  13. About the FAFSA

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. About the FAFSA - Eligibility Withdrawing from School vs. Dropping Out 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 Check with Financial Aid office before dropping or withdrawing so you know how it will affect you

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. About the FAFSA - The Process

  21. About the FAFSA PIN Registration PIN numbers can be obtained anytime – even while completing the FAFSA online Web site: Both student and one parent need a PIN PIN is used for FAFSA, MPN, NSLDS access – legal, electronic online signature Do not share your PIN with anyone Last year the PIN will be used – changes coming April 2015

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

  23. About the FAFSAFAFSA Options Complete online @ Use this FREE site ONLY! 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– NOT RECOMMENDED FAFSA4caster provides an estimate of eligibility for federal aid (Juniors and younger)

  24. • You’ll need the following to fill out the FAFSA:(for both students and parents): • •Federal Student Aid PIN — to obtain PIN, log on to • • Correct Social Security numbers • • Federal tax returns • • W-2s, tribal income, other aid information (TANF, child support, other benefits) • • Additional asset information (money market funds, stocks, other investments) • • Early application deadline is March 1* for Montana colleges and universities • * The University of Montana early FAFSA deadline is Feb. 15. Get FREE help completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)! Step-by-step videos Questions answered by FAFSA experts | FAFSA-What’s in it for me? Web | Call | (877) COLG4ME Email | Text | FAFSAHELP to 41411 | @GetFAFSAHelp

  25. College Goal Montana DATE: TIME:PLACE:For more information, contact: Coming soon to a school near you!

  26. About the FAFSA –Demographic Information Student/Parent Accuracy = Faster FAFSA processing Use accurate SSN & legal name from Social Security Card List accurate date of birth Information is matched with Social Security Administration database; if any data elements are incorrect, your FAFSA will be rejected Males – register for Selective Search when you turn 18. You can register on the FAFSA Check box for male or female; “Register Me” if you are an unregistered male age 18 – 25. Unregistered males age 18 – 25 are not eligible to receive federal financial aid funds

  27. About the FAFSASchool Information School information You must list at least one school you’d like to attend Up to ten schools can be listed to receive FAFSA information when using the on-line application Your FAFSA results will be sent to each school you list Follow up with any requests from the school’s financial aid office to complete your file and receive an award notice. Notify schools you won’t attend so aid can be distributed to other students.

  28. About the FAFSA –Tax and Income Information Tax information Use your 2014 Federal tax return if complete All taxed income is reported - wages, salaries, tips, etc. See FAFSA instructions If you have not filed your 2014 returns, you can estimate income using 2014 W-2s, final 2014paystubs showing YTD earnings, or last year’s completed federal return; Update your FAFSA information once taxes are filed. Use the IRS Data Retrieval tool to guarantee accuracy of information reported.

  29. 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 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 ___________________________?

  30. About the FAFSA –Tax and Income Information Untaxed income Report total amounts received in 2014 for: Child support received Worker’s compensation Untaxed portions of IRA or pension distributions Pre-tax or tax-deferred pension & retirement contributions (totals found on W-2 boxes 12a – 12d) Do NOT report SSI, student aid, EIC, Additional Child tax credit, Welfare payments, untaxed SS benefits, combat pay, value of military housing or BAQ housing allowances See FAFSA instructions for more information

  31. 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)

  32. About the FAFSAAssets & Investments 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. Net worth means current value minus current debt Include: Net worth of stocks, bonds, money market accounts, rental or recreational property other than the home you live in, other land/real estate, trust funds, UGMA and UTMA accounts (if you are the owner of the accounts), mineral rights, installment and land sale contracts, including mortgages held, commodities, etc. qualified educational benefits or savings accounts . . . .

  33. About the FAFSAAssets & Investments Very Important: For a dependent student, accounts such as Coverdell, 529 College Savings plans, & refund value of 529 pre-paid tuition plans – these accounts are recorded as PARENTAL assets, not students – including all accounts owned by the student and all accounts owned by the parents for any member of the household. Investments/assets do NOT Include: The value of life insurance, balance in your retirement plans (401k), pension funds, annuities, non-educational IRAs, Keogh plans, or UGMA/UTMA accounts for which you are the custodian but not the owner.

  34. About the FAFSAAssets & Investments Investments/assets do NOT Include: Your home The value of your small business – if you own more than 50% of the business and employ 100 or fewer employees; The value of a family farm that you live on and operate (“materially participate in,” file a Schedule F, etc.) Your personal property such as cars, etc. Important: These items are never reported on the FAFSA. For some private schools who use CSS data, the value of these items may be required to award non-federal aid.

  35. About the FAFSADependent or Independent? Criteria to be independent: Born before Jan. 1, 1992 (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

  36. 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.

  37. About the FAFSADependent or Independent? At any time on or after July 1, 2014, 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, 2014,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, 2014, 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?

  38. About the FAFSAWhose Income is Reported? Dependent students 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 parents’ marital status or gender, when those parents reside in the same household. Recognizes the diversity of American families Note: Be consistent throughout FAFSA on which parent you designate as Parent #1, Parent #2

  39. About the FAFSA

  40. 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!

  41. 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.

  42. About the FAFSAOther Special Situations A special conditions appeal may be filed when your income has changed. 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. Contact your financial aid officer for help. Documentation is required.

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

  44. About the FAFSA “Cost Of Attendance” NOTE: Amount of financial aid received cannot exceed the total cost of attendance

  45. About the FAFSA“EFC” “Expected Family Contribution” – calculated using FAFSA data and a federal formula A financial index that determines student’s financial need and eligibility (or ineligibility) for need-based aid The same regardless of what college the student attends The EFC comes from two sources: Parents’ contribution + Student’s contribution = Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

  46. About the FAFSA - EFCProtection Allowances The “contribution” part of “Expected Family Contribution” comes from students’ and parents’ income and assets. A formula is applied to protect a portion of income and assets. For parents, this protection formula considers support of other family members, number of students in college, age of parent closer to retirement, and much more.

  47. About the FAFSA – EFC Parent Income Protection Allowance

  48. About the FAFSA – EFCParent Asset Protection/Conversion Rate Like income, parents’ assets are also protected – (some are excluded as discussed - home, family farm, etc.) A formula determines discretionary net worth of reportable assets An “asset conversion rate” is applied to that adjusted net worth – so only a portion is considered – for parents, 12% Final amount is divided by number of children in college: Total parent contribution/ # attending college = Total Parental contribution

  49. About the FAFSA – EFCDependent Student Income Protection Allowance $6,310 The amount a dependent student may earn in 2014 without affecting the student contribution from earnings

  50. About the FAFSA – EFCDependent Student Contribution from Income Example of how Student Contribution from Income is calculated: Student earned $7,310 (after exclusions and taxes) Of this amount, $6,310 is “protected” (not considered) $1,000 remaining income 50% of this amount is the contribution from income Student contribution from income = $500