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Financial Aid For Parents

Financial Aid News and Updates for Parents

Over the course of the past year, our office has made some changes to the financial aid application process. As a result, our office has designed this page to help parents track any changes in the financial aid application process. Please keep reading for information on any recent or upcoming financial aid changes.

Financial Aid Timeline

After October 1st; Before March 1st

Any student who wishes to apply for financial aid should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) prior to March 1 of each calendar year.

The Financial Aid Office strongly suggests filing the FAFSA no later than February 15th to ensure that the form is successfully completed before the March 1 priority deadline. You may begin filling out the FAFSA form as soon as October 1. FSU's school code is 002072.

Mid March

The Financial Aid Office typically begins mailing out electronic award notification instructions to incoming freshman and transfer students the second week of March of each calendar year.

The Financial Aid Office also begins mailing out "Missing Information Letters" to all students who have been selected for the verification process. "Missing Information Letters" tell the students what documents need to be turned in to the Financial Aid Office. About 1/3 of all students who file a FAFSA are selected for the process. While not all students are selected for verification, all awards are considered tentative until the verification process is complete. The Financial Aid Office will not award any financial aid to returning students until it has received all items required for the verification process. All returning students who are selected for verification must turn in all items by May 1, in addition to completing the FAFSA by March 1, in order to be considered for priority funding.

Mid June

The Financial Aid Office typically begins emailing electronic award notification instructions to returning students the second week of June of each calendar year. These instructions are sent to students via their official FSU email account.

It is very important that each student check their FSU email account regularly for important announcements and updates.

After July 1st

Instructions on how to accept a Stafford Loan, and information on how to apply for a Parent PLUS Loan, are available on the Loans page after July 1.

Summer

Instructions on how to accept Federal Work-Study that may be listed as part of the financial aid package are mailed out to students under separate cover during the summer.


Make a selection below for more information.

  • Financial Planning and Tax Benefits for Education
    While our office encourages every student to apply for financial aid, we realize that not every student will qualify for need-based grant or academic scholarship funding. FSU understands both the value of higher education and the financial burden placed on families as a result of shouldering the primary responsibility of paying for college. Below you will find resources to help you understand how to save for college, understand the costs associated with college attendance, as well as how to take advantage of any tax incentives offered to parents or students who must pay qualified tuition expenses out-of-pocket.

    Prepare for College (with checklists and tips for budgeting)


    Understanding College Costs

    College Savings Plans

    IRS Benefits for Education Center

  • FERPA

    FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974). This law was designed to protect the privacy of the educational records of students. Due to FERPA regulations, we cannot release any information to anyone other than the student unless the student has completed FSU's Release of Information form giving us permission to release his or her information to that specific individual. This means that in order for a parent to call and ask questions about a student's financial aid that parent must be listed on that student's Release of Information form. A student can complete this form by logging into their PAWS account, selecting "Student Services Center", and completing the Release of Information under the drop down box listed in the "Academics" section of the web page. This Release of Information form expires each June 30, and must be completed again July 1 of every year.

  • Aid Application & Estimation Tools -FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS

    All prospective students who are offered admission to FSU are screened for academic scholarships (funds based on merit and are not based on financial need) by the Office of Admissions at the time of application. These awards are determined by a student's high school GPA and SAT scores and there is no separate application required for the majority of these awards. All students wishing to apply for financial aid, which includes need-based federal and state grant funding, federal work-study programs, student loans, parent loans, and the Frostburg Grant (FSU's only institutional grant program), must complete the FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) online. While Pell Grants, federal student, and federal parent loans are always available to those who qualify, any student who wishes to be screened for additional federal, state, or institutional grants, as well as federal work-study, must have their FAFSA successfully processed (with FSU's school code included on it) before the March 1 deadline. Any student wishing to apply for FSU's institutional scholarship funding, which includes scholarships that are based on a combination of factors that include, but not limited to, merit, financial need, school and community involvement, must complete the Institutional Scholarship Application online by March 1 of every year. This application must be completed in addition to the FAFSA form in order to apply for these awards. In certain cases, students and their parents will be required to submit additional documentation to the Office of Financial Aid before financial aid can be awarded or disbursed. This process is called verification and must be completed by about 1/3 of all financial aid applicants. Below you fill find links to resources that can help explain how these financial aid programs are screened for, as well as tips on how to complete them.

  • Financial Aid Deadlines

    The priority deadline for financial aid at FSU is March 1. This means that students wishing to apply for all types of financial aid should file their FAFSA no later than February 15. Our office recommends filing the FAFSA in early January in order to receive the best financial aid package available. Your taxes do not need to be filed in order to complete the FAFSA. Using estimated tax figures from the prior year is acceptable and recommended.

  • IRS Data Retrieval Tool

    The IRS Date Retrieval is a tool that was introduced last year via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). When completing the FAFSA, you may use the IRS Data Retrieval tool to populate the FAFSA form with the income information recorded on your federal tax forms (1040 or 1040 equivalent) and submitted to the IRS. The IRS Data Retrieval tool is not available until February 1 of each year. In order to utilize this tool your tax forms must have been received by the IRS at least 2 weeks prior to using the tool if you filed your federal tax forms electronically or at least 8 weeks prior to using the tool if you filed your federal tax forms via paper.

    Because of the amount of time a student and parent must wait before using the IRS Data Retrieval tool we strongly recommend that you do not use this tool when filing your original FAFSA form. The priority deadline for financial aid is March 1. The Financial Aid Office recommends that you file your FAFSA as soon after October 1 as possible by using estimated figures. At a later time the student and/or parent will receive a reminder from the U.S. Department of Education via email to correct the FAFSA with updated figures after tax forms have been filed. We recommend using the IRS Data Retrieval tool for your FAFSA corrections only. Email reminders will be sent to parents and students March 15 and May 15 by the U.S. Department of Education. In order to retrieve these emails your spam or junk filters must be turned off. If you are selected for a process called verification and you do not update your FAFSA form at a later time by using the IRS Data Retrieval system, you will be required to submit a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS to our office. You may request a Tax Return Transcript online at www.irs.gov or by calling 1-800-908-9946. This is not the same thing as an Account Transcript. Account Transcripts cannot be accepted in lieu of a Tax Return Transcripts. No one should need to request an Account Transcript unless they have filed an amended tax return (1040x), in which case they should submit BOTH an Account Transcript and a Tax Return Transcript to our office. You can request to have the IRS send the transcript directly to our office by filling out and submitting Form 4506-T to the IRS. This form is available on their website.

    View an instructional video about the IRS Data Retrieval.

  • Read Your SAR Comments

    Every student who files a FAFSA form receives a Student Aid Report (SAR). Any student who files his or her FAFSA electronically via FAFSA on the web will receive an email from the U.S. Department of Education notifying him or her that the FAFSA has been processed. The same email will include information on how a student may view his or her SAR. It is important that every student view the SAR, and pay particular attention to the section entitled "SAR Comments." The SAR comments section will tell a student if his or her FAFSA has any errors that need corrected, or if the student is selected for verification. Reading the SAR comments immediately after processing a FAFSA is a good way to ensure that the financial aid process runs smoothly.

  • Financial Aid Award Information for Returning Students

    The Financial Aid Office sends all financial aid notifications to returning students via email. As a result, students should check their official FSU email account on a regular basis. It is especially important that students check their emails during the summer months so that they may receive all financial aid information in a timely manner.

    Students may also log into their PAWS (student services) account anytime to find out if our office requires any additional information from them before we may finish processing their financial aid. Students may simply log into PAWS, select "Personal Portfolio," and then "To Do List." Students are also encouraged to check their PAWS account and review this information on a regular basis.

  • Parent PLUS vs. Student Alternative Loans

    Our office recommends that parents borrow through the Parent PLUS Loan Program instead of having students borrowing an Alternative Loan, if possible. Please click the following link for more information on the differences between the Parent PLUS Loan program and the Student Alternative Loan program.

    Parent PLUS Loan vs. Alternative Loan Comparison Chart