Frequently Asked Questions

Federal Student Aid Information Center
P.O. Box 4038
Washington, DC 52243-4038

 

  1. I probably don't qualify for financial aid. Should I apply for financial 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 needs 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 January 1. After all, your parents might earn a year-end bonus or realize capital gains from selling stocks on December 31. If you submit the financial aid application before January 1, it will be rejected.

     

  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 GPA.

     

  5. How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?
    Submit a FAFSA. To indicate interest in student employment, 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 loans?
    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 service 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 agreement, you will be held responsible for the payments, not them.

     

  7. I got an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?
    Yes, if you are receiving any kind of financial aid from college or government sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office.

     

  8. Where can I get information about Federal student financial aid?
    Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAOC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 1-800-730-8913 (if hearing impaired and ask for a free copy of the Student Guide: Financial Aid from the U.S. Department of Education. This toll free hotline is run by the U.S. Department of Education and can answer questions about federal and state student aid programs and applications. You can also write to:

    Federal Student Aid Information Center
    P.O. Box 84
    Washington, DC 20044

     

  9. Where can I get a copy of my 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.

     

  10. Are photocopies of the FAFSA acceptable?
    No. Only the original FAFSA form produced by the U.S. Department of Education is acceptable. Photocopies, reproductions, facsimiles and electronic versions are not acceptable (See DCL GEN-95-21.)

     

  11. I sent in my FAFSA over four weeks ago but haven’t heard any thing. What should I do?
    If you haven’t received a Student Aid Report (SAR), call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (toll free) or 1-319-337-5665. You must provide them with your Social Security number and date of birth as verification.
    You can also write to:
  12. 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 your step-parent is married to them at the time you filled out the FAFSA, they must report their income and assets even if they weren’t married to them in the previous year.

     

  13. 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 custodial parent must be included on the FAFSA