Financial Aid: Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply for financial assistance?
The first step in applying for financial assistance is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) electronically at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Does everyone have to complete a FAFSA?
Everyone is suggested to complete a FAFSA. The FAFSA mandates all aid, institutional, GA State aid, and Federal Aid.
When should I apply?
Students must apply each academic year and should begin the application process in October using the previous year’s tax information (example – 2017/2018 FAFSA; use 2015 taxes, 2018/2019 FAFSA use 2016 taxes). The FAFSA should be submitted to your school of choice at least 90 days prior to the date that funds are needed. At Point University, the academic year runs as follows: Fall Term (August – December), Spring Term (January – May), Summer Term (May-August).
What documents will I need to complete my financial aid application?
- Federal Student ID (Parent FSA ID are required for dependent students)
- Social Security Number
- Date of Birth
- Drivers’ License – if you have one
- Federal income Tax Returns and W2’s
- Parent Information for dependent students
When can I charge books in the Campus Shop using my financial aid?
Please contact Financial.firstname.lastname@example.org – and request a book voucher. Financial Aid will let you know if you qualify and the process of ordering books.
What is a Federal Subsidized Direct Loan?
A loan in which the federal government pays the interest (subsidizes the interest) while the borrower is enrolled in at least half-time status (6 hours). The borrower only pays the interest that accrues once enrollment drops below half-time. A first-year student may borrow up to $3500 per academic year and a second-year student may borrow up to $4500 per academic year. A third and fourth year borrower may borrow up to $5500 a year.
What is a Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan?
A loan in which the borrower is responsible for paying the interest that begins accruing as soon as the lending agency releases the funds. A dependent student may borrow up to $2000 per academic year while an Independent student may borrow up to $ 6000 per academic year for first- and second-year and $7000 for third- and fourth-year students.
What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?
Students who are receiving federal and state financial aid must be making measurable progress toward completion of a degree program in a reasonable period of time. Federal regulations restrict the awarding of financial assistance beyond 150% of the published program length. To maintain SAP, a student must complete at least 67% of all hours attempted and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.
What is my student budget or cost of attendance (COA)?
The student’s cost of attendance or budget is an estimated cost that a student may incur while attending college during an academic year which includes, tuition/ fees, books/supplies, transportation, room and board, and miscellaneous charges. The COA is determined by the student’s residency, dependency status (dependent or independent), and their enrollment status. This COA is not the actual amount that the student has to pay to the college for tuition, fees, and books.
If I do not have a high school diploma or GED, can I still qualify for financial aid?
In order to be eligible for Federal financial aid, a student must have a high diploma, a GED, or meet the minimum previous college requirements.
What does it mean if my FAFSA is selected for verification?
The Department of Education randomly selects applications for a review process called verification. The Financial Aid Office is required to review the FAFSA results for accuracy. You will receive an email concerning being selected for Verification. The verification forms are located at: https://point.edu/financialaidforms/
Please print the document needed and follow instructions on the form. Once you have all documents send them to email@example.com.
If a student is selected one year, will they automatically be selected the next year?
Not necessarily. Verification is selected by a random process.
Is there anything a student can do to minimize his/her chances of being selected?
If a student completes the FAFSA correctly, he or she is less likely to be selected for verification. This means using the data retrieval tool for transmitting tax information from the IRS database.
How long does verification typically take, once all of the documents have been received (peak time vs. non-peak time)?
If it’s peak time, meaning times that are close to the beginning of an academic year, it could take up to 2 weeks. Once the documents are reviewed, if changes are required, it usually takes about 4 days for everything to process. Non peak time, it could take approximately 1 week.
Does verification have to be finalized before a financial aid award is posted?
Yes, if a student is selected for verification, the process must be complete before the aid will be posted.
What is dependent verification vs. independent verification?
A dependent student must provide parent information as well as student information. An independent student provides their information and spouse information if they are married.
What is the criteria to be considered “independent” for FA purposes?
An independent student is someone who meets at least one of the following criteria: 24 years or older, married or separated, has a child or other dependent that he or she supports, an orphan, homeless, or a veteran. (Documentation will be required for the following statuses: orphan, homeless, ward of the court).
How are students notified that they have been chosen for verification?
They receive notification from Point University Financial Aid informing them of required documents and where to obtain them. They also receive a Student Aid Report from the Department of Education that indicates that they are selected and will need to provide the school with additional documents. Students should check their Point email account periodically for document requirements needed to complete their award.
What documents are typically needed?
When a student is selected for verification, they must complete a verification (dependent or independent) worksheet, which is provided by the school, and a copy of parent (if dependent) and student tax returns and W-2s. A student will never submit someone else’s tax returns (i.e. grandparent), even if that person claimed them.
Aside from tax forms, W-2’s and the dependent or independent worksheet, what are some other types of documents that you may need to complete the verification process?
If the student or parent has no income, they will need to provide a declaration of low income as well as documentation to support how they lived. This does include any assistance received from the Federal government (SNAP, food stamps, SSI, IRA roll-over).
What if a student &/or his/her parents did not file taxes?
They need to provide how they are supported for the previous year – disability, Social Security, etc. If they have no income and are living with family members, they need to complete a declaration of low income and/or IRS non-filer form. There may be additional information needed.
What if a student’s income is dramatically different now than it was in the last tax year?
If a student or parent has been laid off or terminated, the student can complete a Professional Judgment Request Form and provide proper documentation which will be reviewed for possible adjustments. Otherwise, the student information would stay the same. These requests should be addressed through the Director of Financial Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are there “typical” FAFSA errors that could be easily avoided?
The student needs to apply for a FSA ID and use it to complete the FAFSA. If a student does not complete the signature page, it is more likely to be selected for verification. Make sure you enter your taxes paid correctly. It is a common error to enter the adjusted gross income for taxes paid. There are helpful hints on the FAFSA to assist with getting tax information from the correct line off of the tax forms. For details on applying for a FSA ID and tips on completing the FAFSA, see fafsa.ed.gov.
Will a student get dropped from classes (non-payment) if they are waiting on verification to be completed?
Yes. When the drop for non-payment is processed by the Business Office, any student with a balance will be dropped from classes. This includes students waiting for verification to be completed. However, the student can complete a Payment Plan in lieu of being dropped. When the Financial Aid comes in, the student may be reimbursed.