Q: What forms do I need to submit to apply for financial aid?

A: If you wish to be considered for all forms of federal and institutional need-based financial aid, you must complete and submit the federal government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA cannot be completed until January 1 prior to the upcoming academic year.

Q: Are there any web tools that can help me with the FAFSA?

A: Yes! Please visit http://www.nerdwallet.com/nerdscholar/fafsa/guide

Q: What is NC State’s school code?

A: The school code to use when submitting your FAFSA is 002972.

Q: How will my eligibility for financial aid be determined?

A: Your financial aid eligibility will be determined by subtracting your family’s ability to pay for your educational expenses for the year (as measured by the FAFSA) from your estimated total costs for the year (including tuition, fees, room, board, books, transportation and miscellaneous/personal expenses). Financial aid eligibility is usually expressed as follows:

Cost of Attendance
- Expected Family Contribution
= Financial Need

Q: What is an “Aid Package”?

A: When you submit the FAFSA, you will automatically be considered for all types of need-based aid offered by NC State. One or more types of aid are usually awarded in combination to make up your financial aid package. If you receive a scholarship from your academic department or from an outside agency, these funds must be included in your total financial aid package. When combined, all sources of aid must not exceed your cost of attendance.

Q: Will my financial aid award vary from year to year?

A: Eligibility for financial aid is based on federal estimates of your family’s ability to contribute to your educational costs. You must reapply for aid each year by submitting a FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA. As your/your parent’s information changes each year, your family’s expected contribution may change. Thus, your award may change each year for one or more of the following reasons:

* The cost of education (tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, miscellaneous/personal expenses) may increase.
* Your family’s income may change.
* Your student loan eligibility may increase as you continue through school.
* The number of children in college may change.
* The amount of available funding changes.
* You may forget to reapply for financial aid and miss the priority filing date.

Q: Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?

A: YES! You must reapply for financial aid each year by completing the Renewal FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. NC State does not mail Renewal FAFSAs, nor do we know who receives them. It is your responsibility to remember to reapply for aid each year.

Q: What and when is the priority filing date?

A: Most institutions establish a financial aid application priority date. Applying for aid by this date usually assures that you will receive the best package of aid available at that institution. At NC State, the priority filing date is March 1. This is the date by which the federal processor must receive your financial aid application. If your FAFSA is received by this date, you will be given first priority for all need-based scholarship and grant funds in addition to other forms of aid to meet as much of your financial need as possible. The March 1 priority date is the same each year.

Q: How and when will my aid be disbursed to me?

A: Financial aid is awarded by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, but is disbursed by the University Cashier’s Office. Financial aid funds cannot be disbursed until the first day of classes each semester/term. Any aid you are awarded must first be used to offset any charges you owe for the semester, and any amount you receive in excess of your charges will be refunded to you. Most financial aid is disbursed electronically by crediting funds to your billing account in the University Cashier’s Office. Once your university charges have been paid in full, any additional money will be refunded to you by check or you may elect to have your refund deposited into your (or your parents’) personal checking account by direct deposit.

Manual checks sent to the University to be disbursed to you (e.g., some alternative loan checks, and private scholarship checks made payable to you) will be mailed to your university correspondence address by University Cashier’s Office.

Your Federal Work-Study wages are paid to you every two weeks by direct deposit into your bank account or by paper check. These funds are not disbursed by the University Cashier’s Office.

Q: How do I know if my FAFSA has been processed by the federal processor? How can I verify that NC State will receive the results?

A: Within four to six weeks after sending in your FAFSA you should receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the federal processor acknowledging that your FAFSA has been processed. Check to make sure NC State is one of the institutions listed in Section H. If so, NC State should receive an electronic record of your FAFSA within days of your receipt of the SAR. Questions about FAFSA processing can be directed to the Federal Student Aid Information Center (1-800-4-FED-AID 1-800-4-FED-AID FREE).

Q: What do I do with my Student Aid Report?

A: Check your Student Aid Report (SAR) carefully for any incorrect information. Make any necessary corrections and mail it back to the processor. If everything is correct, keep the SAR for your own records.

Q: My SAR indicates that I was selected for “Verification.” What does this mean?

A: The federal government randomly selects approximately 30% of all aid applicants for verification. This means the NC State Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid must verify the information on your SAR by collecting tax returns and other documents to confirm the accuracy of the information you submitted. NC State will contact you to tell you the documents you need to provide. You should submit all requested materials promptly to avoid delays in processing your application.

Q: What Makes Me An Independent Student?[1]

A: Being considered an independent student is not merely a matter of being responsible for your own educational expenses. You must be able to answer YES to at least one of the following questions to be declared an independent student for the purposes of the FAFSA:

  • Will you be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year;
  • Are you married as of the date you fill out the FAFSA?
  • Will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (MA, MBA, DVM, PhD, EdD, etc) during the award year?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the US Armed Forces?
  • Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you during the award year?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through the award year?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2008, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2008, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2008, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

Q: What If I Disagree?[2]

A: If you feel that you have unusual circumstances that would justify your being reclassified as an independent student, please see the financial aid counselor in our office for a “professional judgment” review. We are located in 2016 Harris Hall, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.

The Department of Education has identified four conditions that do not qualify as unusual circumstances and do not merit a dependency override. They are as follows:

* Parents refusing to contribute to the student’s education;
* Parents unwilling to provide information on the application or verification;
* Parents not claiming the student as a dependent for income tax purposes;
* Student demonstrating total self-sufficiency.

Generally, the financial aid administrator will require you to submit independent third-party documentation of your situation.

In addition to being genuinely self-supporting with no financial support from your parents, you will have to have been living on your own and be able to document an estranged relationship with your parents (e.g., court protection from abuse orders, social worker reports, etc.) or other equally unusual circumstances (e.g., parents both incarcerated).
[1] From http://www.fastweb.com/fastweb/resources/articles/index/102402.
[2] From http://www.finaid.com/. More information is available at that website.

Q: What if I have special circumstances that are not addressed on the FAFSA?

A: Contact the NC State Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, preferably in writing, to report any changes to your or your family’s financial circumstances. After receiving your letter, the Office may ask for additional information or documentation of the change you have reported. Please respond to such requests promptly. If you are awarded funds based on original FAFSA information and you become eligible for more funding as a result of these reported circumstances, you will receive a revised award notification letter

Q: Can I only accept part of the financial aid I have been awarded? For example, I was awarded grants and loans, but only want the grants. Is that ok?

A: Yes, you may accept or reject all or part of your financial aid award. If you reject aid, however, please understand that you will not be awarded other aid to replace the funds you have rejected.

Q: I have received an additional scholarship after my financial aid award package has been sent to me. How will this additional scholarship impact my aid award?

A: The NC State Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid each year establishes a packaging policy that seeks to assure that all students who apply by the priority filing date receive consideration for need-based scholarships and grants. To provide an equitable distribution of the limited scholarship and grant funds available, the Office generally sets a cap on the amount of such funding a student may receive. If you receive an outside scholarship, or a scholarship from another department within the University, those funds must be considered a part of your total aid package. Depending upon the amount of scholarship assistance you receive, it is possible that your need-based scholarship/grant package from the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid may have to be reduced and some of your funds given to another needy student.

Q: When do I start repaying my student loan(s)?

A: You are responsible for repaying the principal balance of your student loans after you have completed your degree or cease to be enrolled on at least a half-time basis (half-time enrollment for most undergraduates is defined as 6 credit hours per semester). Most federal loans allow you a six month grace period after you cease enrollment on at least a half-time basis before you have to begin repayment. Perkins Loans have a 9 month grace period before you have to begin repayment. Your lender will notify you when repayment is scheduled to begin. Be sure you keep your lender informed of any change in your permanent address so you will not miss this important communication.

Q: What is the difference between a Subsidized and an Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan?

A: A Subsidized Loan is a federal loan awarded to students who demonstrate financial need as a result of filing the FAFSA. Maximum amounts available per student are set by the federal government and are based on the student’s grade level classification at the institution. The government pays the interest on the Subsidized loan while the student is in school, and the student begins repaying the principal of the loan 6 months after graduation or ceasing at least half-time enrollment. The Unsubsidized Direct Loan is identical to the Subsidized loan in terms of annual maximum amounts, interest rates, and application process. The only difference is that interest on the Unsubsidized loan is not paid by the government while the student is enrolled. The student has the choice to either make interest payments while enrolled or defer the interest until repayment of the principal begins.

Q: How do I apply for a Federal Pell Grant?

A: When you complete a FAFSA, you are automatically considered for a Pell Grant. If you meet eligibility guidelines as established by the federal government, a Pell Grant will be included as part of your total need-based aid package.

Q: Can I keep the money I earn through the Federal Work-Study Program?

A: Yes. You will be paid on a bi-weekly basis for the hours you worked during the preceding payroll period. You may use these earnings to pay for personal expenses throughout the year.

Q: Didn’t find the answer to your question or have another student services question? 

A: Try the NC State Student Services Site.