Frequently Asked Questions
Confused about your financial aid? These are questions that are commonly asked by students and/or parents.
General Financial Aid Questions:
Financial Aid Award Questions (General)
Financial Aid Policy Questions
Refund and Disbursement Questions
What kind of financial aid is available?
The Office of Student Financial Aid participates in Federal TITLE IV programs. These are the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal College Work Study, Federal Stafford Loan, and Federal Parent Loan Programs. In addition we participate in the State of Alaska Supplemental Education Loan (ASEL, formerly Alaska State Student Loan) program. UAA also has a large number of scholarships and tuition waivers each having unique eligibility requirements.
Do I qualify for financial aid?
The basic requirements are to:
Students who meet these basic requirements should qualify for some type of financial aid regardless of income. The type cannot be determined until you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Do I need to report my parents information on the FAFSA?
This question can cause a great deal of confusion. To best answer this question you need to understand that this applies only in determining how to apply for student financial aid. This has no bearing on IRS definitions or whether you physically live with your parent(s). The US Department of Education is using a definition assigned by the Congress of the United States to allocate finite funds to a large population of applicants.
How do I apply for financial aid?
The process of applying for financial aid begins with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This can be done online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You must be admitted to a degree or certificate program at the University in order to qualify for federal and state programs. Once you submit your FAFSA, the Department of Education will process your file and send you a Student Aid Report (SAR). All the schools you have listed on the application will receive the information electronically. Once we receive this we can determine if additional documentation is required. Additional documentation could be proof of citizenship, a copy of a social security card, signed copies of tax returns, or many other items. We will generate a financial aid award letter based upon your eligibility determined by the information submitted on the FAFSA.
When is the best time to fill out my FAFSA?
The best way to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is early and online. The FAFSA is primarily designed to assess eligibility for federal student aid. The state of Alaska uses your FAFSA to determine eligibility for the AlaskAdvantage Education Grant if you submit your FAFSA before April 15th and for the Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) if you submit before June 30th. The University of Alaska also uses the FAFSA to determine eligibility for some institutional scholarships, if you complete it and the UA scholarship application by the February 15th deadline. As you can see, submitting your FAFSA early could earn you limited non-federal aid funds that may not be available if you delay.Completing your taxes early will help you get a jump on the FAFSA because you'll need that information to complete the FAFSA. You can estimate the amounts using data from previous tax years, but you'll need to correct the amounts on the form later by going to the corrections page on the FAFSA Web site. When possible, we recommend using the IRS retrieval when completing your FAFSA as it can help prevent processing delays.
Do you have any tips that can help me avoid making a mistake on my FAFSA?
Making mistakes on your FAFSA could delay your application and possibly make you lose out on some financial aid. The most common errors people make are listed below. As you complete the FAFSA try to avoid these errors.
What is verification?
Verification is a process that the Department of Education uses to ensure that applications are accurate. Approximately 30% of all applications are selected for verification. When you are selected, we must collect a signed, completed verification worksheet, copies of your tax returns transcripts, information related to untaxed benefits such as social security or military housing (for those who are active duty only), documentation of family size, receipt of Food Stamps and child support paid or any other documents that may be needed for your specific situation. We compare this information with the data you reported on the FAFSA. If there are discrepancies, we must then correct the data and transmit it to the Department of Education. It generally takes 3 or 4 working days to get the corrected data back. Click here to view an example of an IRS Tax Return Transcript.
What is the difference between grants, scholarships, and loans?
There are three basic types of financial aid. Grants and scholarships are both “Gift Aid”–money that you do not have to earn by working and it generally does not need to be repaid. The difference is that grants are primarily based on financial need, while a scholarship is usually based, at least in part, on merit. A special type of scholarship is a tuition waiver. It is different because it only pays tuition and not fees or any other student expense. A loan on the other hand, is a type of financial aid that must be repaid with interest by the student. The repayment is usually after the student leaves school or drops below half-time enrollment.
I have my award letter and I have accepted my award, now what?
If you have accepted Federal Stafford loans you will need to go to the Direct Loans website and complete a Master Promissory Note(MPN). You must complete a MPN for subsidized and unsubsidized loans, a separate MPN for the Graduate PLUS loan , and parents must complete a PLUS loan MPN on behalf of their child if they wish to borrow the PLUS loan. An alternative loan can be used once other options have been explored. Check out the Lender List at the financial aid web page for alternative lenders UAA students have used in the past. Be a smart consumer and double check for fees, interest rates, and other requirements. If you need some extra help understanding all the loan lingo, go to our Loan Information webpage.
What is the difference between a federal subsidized loan and an unsubsidized loan?
Both types of loans are federally guaranteed loans, but with a subsidized loan, the federal government pays the interest while you are enrolled in school at least half-time or during other approved deferment periods. An unsubsidized loan begins accumulating interest from the time the loan is disbursed. Students have the option of paying the unsubsidized interest before they enter repayment or the interest will be capitalized.
What is an Entrance Loan Counseling Session?
All first-time student loan borrowers at UAA are required to complete Direct Loan Entrance counseling before their loan can be disbursed. This is completed on-line and takes about 20 minutes. It is a process designed to inform you of the rights and responsibilities associated with your student loan.
How do I transfer financial aid from here to there?
Strictly speaking financial aid does not transfer from one school to another. Federal Pell Grant eligibility should be fairly constant, but all other awards must be re-evaluated at the new school. The first step in the process is to have the information from your FAFSA sent to the new school. If you have your Student Aid Report (SAR) you can call 1-800-4-fed-aid and tell them where you want the information sent. You will need the Data Release Number (DRN) from the upper right corner of the SAR. Alternatively, we can add the school code to your application from our office or your new school can do it. After you have sent your information to them you must contact the new school and find out what other documents they need. Each school may have slightly different requirements and you may need to resubmit copies of the same information you gave to the first school. Make sure you disclose to both schools that you have attended elsewhere, especially if you were disbursed aid during that award year.
What does it mean when the Financial Aid Office has decreased my loan(s) due to grade level?
The Financial Aid Office packages loan amounts/limits based on the grade level you have indicated on your FAFSA (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior & Senior). If it is determined that your grade level differs from what you have reported, the Financial Aid Office must revise your loans accordingly. Students who have a Junior/Senior standing but are admitted into an AA/AAS degree program can only get loans at a Sophomore level.
Where can I get information on scholarships?
The deadline to apply for UAA and UA Statewide Scholarships is February 15th. The main scholarship application is available via UAOnline. Visit the UAA Scholarship website for additional information and instructions. You can also find information on "The University of Alaska Foundation" page. Other scholarship information can be found in a variety of places. If you are an Alaskan Native, check with your corporation. If you are Native American from outside Alaska, check with your Tribal Government. You can also look in the local areas such as your high school counselor, Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs. Be aware of Deadlines when you are applying for scholarships.
My financial aid is more than my tuition bill, what happens to the extra money?
If the total of your financial aid (grants, scholarships, loans, etc.) is greater than the amount of your bill, you will receive a refund. You may enroll to have your refunds sent to your bank account by setting up a direct deposit via UAOnline. If you do not set up direct deposit, a refund check will be mailed to the address you have on file with UAA. It is therefore very important to update your address via UAOnline if and when you move. Just like excess financial aid can not sit in a student's account for use in a future semester, excess financial aid can not typically be used to pay for previous balances, per Federal Regulations, unless that balance occurs within the same award year. If you owe an outstanding balance, contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance for the best advice on available options.
How do I know if my refund has been direct deposited?
You can check to see if your financial aid refund has been directly deposited via UAOnline. To do so:
Where's my refund? I was told my financial aid would disburse today but I don't have my check/direct deposit.
First of all, the disbursement date for financial aid is the date that UAA can request the money and apply it to your student account. It is not the day that you should expect to receive a refund. The earliest UAA can legally request a disbursement of your financial aid is ten days before the start of each semester. UAA then has to process your financial aid and request a paper check be mailed or direct deposit be issued to your bank (if you've set up a direct deposit). This processing generally takes between 5 and 7 business days. Therefore, if you are confident your financial aid is in order before the scheduled and published disbursement date (ex. you have no outstanding paperwork to be completed, you are admitted, in good SAP, etc.), you should expect to see your refund NO EARLIER than the first day of class.
If I withdraw from a class, how will this affect my financial aid?
Financial Aid recipients are required to make Satisfactory Academic Progress. The consequences of dropping a class vary and can only be determined by looking at the student’s current SAP standing and course load. Generally speaking, a student who is currently making satisfactory academic progress must complete at least 67% (rounded to the nearest 1%) of his or her required credits and maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA. So say during your first term of attendance you are enrolled in 12 credits, you would need to complete at least 8 of those credits to have completed the term at 66.6% and have a 2.0 to be in good standing. Say at the end of your second term you are again taking twelve credits and you only complete 6. Your cumulative (all terms combined) completion ratio would be 14 earned credits out of 24 attempted (58%). Because you have dropped below 67% you will be placed on warning. After your first semester of warning, if you do not meet the minimum GPA and completion ratio you will become ineligible for future financial aid. It is therefore very important to pass all the classes you attempt. You can view your current academic progress status by checking your UAOnline account.
What does it mean that I must complete my program in a 150% timeframe?
Another important component of making satisfactory academic progress (SAP) is what's commonly called the "150% rule". When you attempt more than 150% of the credits required for your primary degree program you can no longer receive financial aid. For example, if you are in a baccalaureate program that requires 120 credits, you must complete the program before attempting 180 credits or else your financial aid will be suspended. Many students who return to UAA for a second degree will violate the 150% rule. Students in violation of the 150% rule may appeal the suspension of their financial aid through the SAP appeal process. For more information, visit the Financial Aid Policies website.
What is the difference between financial aid probation and academic probation?
Financial aid probation, under the terms of our Satisfactory Academic Progress policy, refers to students who are on an approved financial aid appeal. A student on probation for financial aid is eligible for financial aid disbursements. A student will continue on academic progress probation until they reinstate their eligiblity by meeting the minimum standards outlined in our policy- unless they fail to complete any of their courses or deviate from their academic plan in which case they will become financial aid ineligible again.
Academic probation, under the terms of UAA's Academic Standing policy, is monitored by the Registrar's office. Students receive an academic standing of probation when their semester and cumulative GPA falls below 2.00. Continuing on probation is the status assigned to students who begin a semester on probation and during that semester earn a semester GPA of 2.00 or higher without raising their cumulative GPA to 2.00. This status may be continued until the student raises their cumulative GPA to 2.00 or loses their certificate or undergraduate degree-seeking status.
I submitted my FAFSA, why haven't I been awarded yet?
This can be a difficult question to answer. Some of the reasons are:
How do I request aid for Summer?
To request summer financial aid, a Summer Revision Request form is made available to students in the Forms section of the Financial Aid page shortly after Summer registration is made available. Do not submit a Summer Revision form if you are not registered in the classes for which you are requesting aid as this can result in unnecessary delays. The amount of aid offered, the budget, and the eligibility for additonal funding is based on the summer credit load, the student's living arrangements, as well as other variables including residency, aggregate loan limits, and grade level.
When most UAA students apply for financial aid, they are awarded financial aid for the fall and spring semesters only.
What if my income has been reduced due to life circumstances or I've lost my job?