Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply for federal student aid?
To apply for federal financial aid, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is used to determine which federal aid programs you will be awarded. You can apply online at www.fafsa.gov.
Why am I still considered a “dependent” student?
Federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily your and your family’s responsibility to pay for your education. Because a dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, the parents’ information has to be assessed along with the student’s, in order to get a full picture of the family’s financial strength. If you are a dependent student, it does not mean that your parents are required to pay anything toward your education, including their information is simply the method The Department of Education uses to look at everyone in a consistent manner.
Determining a student’s dependency status is important in determining a student’s eligibility for federal aid programs. Your answers to questions on the FAFSA determine whether you are considered a dependent or independent student. An applicant is considered to be a dependent student unless he or she can answer “Yes” to one of the dependency status questions on the application and are able to provide supporting documentation. If student applicant answers “No” to all of the dependency status questions then he or she is considered to be a dependent student for federal student aid purposes and must provide parental information.
Please be aware that not living with your parents or not being claimed by them on tax forms does not make you an independent student for purposes of applying for federal student aid. Occasionally, unusual circumstances may exist that warrant a review of a student’s dependency status. If you feel that you have a special circumstance that prevents you from including your parent’s information on your application, contact the student financial aid office for more information.
What can I do if I have accepted all of my financial aid and it is still not enough to pay for school? How do I get more financial aid?
We always award students with their maximum eligibility in federal aid based on availability of funding. However, because of federal loan limits, students may not have enough federal funds to cover all of their educational costs. If you are in need of additional funding beyond the federal aid you were awarded, you could consider a Parent PLUS Loan or a private student loan. Only the parents of dependent students may apply for a PLUS loan to offset costs.
What happens to my financial aid if I drop a class or withdraw completely from school?
Withdrawing from all classes or dropping a class at any point after the drop/add period will negatively impact your completion rate and possibly affect your eligibility for future aid. Additionally, if you drop a course or withdraw from the semester, you may be required to return some of your financial aid. (More information about how funds are returned)
What is the difference between a subsidized loan and an unsubsidized loan?
After you apply for federal aid you may be offered either a subsidized or unsubsidized loan, or a combination of both. The primary difference between the two is the interest rate and when the interest begins to accrue.
- Subsidized Loans are awarded on the basis of financial need. You will not be charged any interest while the loan is in deferment status, such as while you are enrolled, as the federal government subsidizes or pays the interest.
- Unsubsidized Loans charge interest from the time the money is first disbursed until it is paid in full. The interest is capitalized, meaning that you pay interest on any interest that has already accrued. One way to minimize how much interest accrues is to pay the interest as it accumulates.
Only undergraduates with demonstrated financial need are eligible for Subsidized Loans. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need. The student financial aid office uses federal regulations to determine the amounts each student may borrow by considering the cost of attendance and other financial aid.
To find out more about the differences between Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, visit the Department of Education’s Direct Loan comparison website.
Why am I considered not to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) when I have no failing grades? I was advised to drop the class rather than receive a low grade.
Even though dropping a class may help your GPA, the SAP policy considers hours dropped with a “W” as “attempted but not successfully completed.” You are only negatively affected if the total number of hours you drop places you under the required 67% completion rate.
When can I expect my loan refund? Can I get my aid early?
Financial aid is disbursed at the beginning of each semester, a few days prior to the first day of class. Only students who have completed all requirements necessary to disburse funds can expect to receive an aid disbursement during the week that classes begin. Generally, the semester’s full amount of aid is disbursed at one time. A refund is issued only for student’s whose financial aid exceeds their bill.
Please note: Parent PLUS or Graduate PLUS loan applications that did not select the option to authorize loan proceeds to pay of all charges on the student account will not be disbursed until all charges other than tuition, room, and meal plan charges are paid. (More information)
Federal regulations dictate when aid can be disbursed. All financial aid refunds are issued by the Student Account Services Office; you may check their website for more detailed information.
What is verification and why was I selected?
Verification is a process mandated by the US Department of Education to confirm the accuracy of the information provided on the FAFSA via submission of specific documentation and forms by the selected student and/or parent. All requested documentation must be provided before a student’s financial aid eligibility will be determined.
Is it too late to file my application for federal aid, FAFSA? Is there a deadline for applying for federal aid?
You should complete and submit your FAFSA application as soon as possible after October 1. We encourage all students to apply by the December 1 priority date, as some resources are limited and may run out. However, if you miss the December 1 priority date this does not mean you are disqualified for financial aid. You should submit your FAFSA as soon as possible so your aid eligibility may be determined.
How do I view my UA financial aid account to accept or decline my award offer?
Follow the steps below if you have received notification of your financial aid award. If you have not received an award notification, log into myBama and check the status of your application. Returning students with complete applications will be awarded at the end of June.
- Access your myBama account at mybama.ua.edu using your username and password
- Click the Student tab
- Select the Financial Aid Awards link
- Select an aid year and Submit
- Review the General Information and Award Overview tabs
- Select the Resources/Additional Information tab, read carefully and respond accordingly.
- Read and Accept the Terms and Conditions which will activate the Accept Award Offer tab. You must complete the process on the Accept Award Offer tab for your financial aid to disburse to your University of Alabama student account.
- First time borrowers are required to complete a Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling at studentaid.gov/myDirectLoan/index.action. Follow instructions on your Accept Award Offer tab. Failure to do so will prevent the disbursement of your award
Costs, Billing, and Financial Aid
What is financial aid?
Financial aid is financial assistance from all sources that can be used to help pay for your educational expenses. The Student Financial Aid Office is responsible for administering federal aid such as grants (need-based aid that doesn’t have to be paid back), work-study (a part-time job), and federal direct student loans (money you borrow and must pay back with interest when you leave school).
How much will school cost?
Please visit our Cost of Attendance page for in-state and out-of-state tuition and fees for the current academic year. All students are encouraged to use the Net Price Calculator for more detailed information.
Are there payment plans available?
Yes. Payment plans are offered through the Student Account Services Office, click here for more information.
To whom do I speak with about a question or problem with my bill?
The Student Account Services Office administers billing transactions and can address any concerns you may have regarding your student account. You can find contact information for Student Account Services on their website.
Should I apply for aid even if I probably will not qualify?
Yes. The application is free, and some sources of aid (Federal Unsubsidized Loans and Parent PLUS Loans) are available regardless of need. There are no penalties in applying for federal aid; any loan offers that result from completing the FAFSA may be declined.
How do I make a correction to my financial aid application?
If you need to make a correction to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before you receive your award notification, you may do so on the FAFSA website. If you have already received your award notification or if your application has already been verified, contact the Student Financial Aid office to determine if the correction is appropriate.
Do I have to apply for aid every year? What is a renewal FAFSA?
If you have applied for financial aid in the past year, you may be able to fill out a renewal FAFSA, rather than a new FAFSA. You just need to update your (and your family’s) income information and any data that has changed. If you have a FSA ID, you can access your renewal FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov.
If I plan to get married when should I file my FAFSA?
The FAFSA is a “snap shot” of your status on the day you submit it. Therefore, you should report your marital status as of the day you submit the FAFSA. If you marry after filing the FAFSA you will have the opportunity to update your marital status later. However, you will not be able to make this change by submitting a correction to the FAFSA. If your marital status needs to be updated after filing the FAFSA contact the Student Financial Aid Office for further guidance.
Does the FAFSA consider me an independent student if I am expecting a child during the academic year for which I will receive financial aid?
Yes. You are considered an independent if your unborn child will be born during the academic year and your household will provide more than half of the child’s support from the projected date of birth through the end of the academic year. If you are expecting a child when you fill out your FAFSA you should answer yes to the applicable dependency status question and include the unborn child in your household size. If you have already filed a FAFSA and did not include an unborn child on your application, you should contact the Student Financial Aid Office for further guidance on how to process an update to your FAFSA. In either situation you will most likely be required to provide documentation from a physician regarding the expected child to our office.
FAFSA and Award Processing
What happens after I submit my application for federal student aid?
After receiving your completed application, the FAFSA processor will analyze your information and, using a formula established into law by Congress, calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The results of your application will be sent UA and to you in the form of a Student Aid Report (SAR) by mail or email (if you provided an email address) within 3-5 business days. This report details the information that you provided and informs you of any corrections that are needed to complete the application. Carefully review the SAR to make sure that all the information is accurate, as The University of Alabama will receive the same information.
What happens after UA receives my FAFSA?
Once your FAFSA is received it will be processed for a financial aid award or we may request additional information or documentation. It is important to monitor your myBama account and check your Crimson email for updates. Once your financial aid file is complete, you will receive an award notification. Please be aware that awarding for new students does not begin until the December before the fall semester begins and returning students are awarded in June/July.
What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and how does it affect financial aid?
The EFC, derived from information on the FAFSA, represents the amount that the federal government expects a student’s family should be able to pay towards the student’s education. The EFC is an indicator of your family’s financial strength to pay for educational expenses and is not the amount of money that your family must provide. Rather the EFC is a tool, which, when subtracted from the Cost of Attendance, determines a student’s need and therefore the type of aid for which a student is eligible.
What is the Cost of Attendance?
The Cost of Attendance (COA) is a student’s estimated budget, including direct and indirect costs. The COA includes tuition and fees; room and board; allowances for books and supplies; transportation; loan fees; and miscellaneous/personal expenses. Aid cannot be awarded above a student’s cost of attendance, but if you have an unusual expense that might affect your COA you may contact our office to determine if an increase to your budget is appropriate.
What is financial need?
Financial need is the difference between your cost of attendance, as determined by our office, and your expected family contribution. Many federal student aid programs require applicants to demonstrate a financial need to be considered eligible for that program. The amount of your financial aid award will be affected by whether you are a full time or part time student and whether you attend school for a full academic year or less.
What is an additional resource and how do I report it or an outside scholarship?
Generally, scholarships, departmental funding, assistantships or any other types of funding applied to your student account to pay for tuition or fees are considered to be additional resources. Any additional resource that is available to you is taken into consideration when calculating your aid eligibility. If you should receive an additional resource after you have been awarded you should report it to our office immediately. According to federal regulations the Student Financial Aid Office is required to adjust your award if changes in your eligibility occur due receipt of an additional resource.
I signed a promissory note last year. Why don’t I have to sign one this year?
The Master Promissory Note is a binding legal document that you must sign when you get a federal student loan. The MPN can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic year (up to 10 years). Since it lists the terms and conditions under which you agree to repay the loan and explains your rights and responsibilities as a borrower, it is important to read it carefully before signing and to save a copy for your records.
Can I reject all or part of my loan? Can my direct loan be adjusted or cancelled?
Yes. If you have applied for aid with a FAFSA then you may receive a loan offer. However, you are not required to accept the full amount of the offer. You can borrow less than what is offered or you can decline the full offer through your myBama account. You should only borrow what you need, therefore if you accept a loan but determine that you do not need the full amount contact our office to make an adjustment or to cancel your loan. If your loan has already disbursed to your student account our office can process any requested adjustment within 30 days at which point you may return the funds to the Department of Education.
Can I transfer my financial aid to another school?
If you transfer from UA to another institution within an academic year, you must check with your new school’s financial aid office about how you will receive your aid. Due to availability and other factors such as cost, you may not be able to receive the same amounts and types of aid. However, you will not have to complete a new FAFSA again, but you would have to send your information to your other school by adding their school code to your application.
Federal Aid Programs
What types of federal aid programs are available?
Your financial aid package may include funds from any of the following major federal student aid programs:
- Federal Pell Grants – are available to undergraduate students only. Grants do not have to be repaid. Pell Grant awards are based on the federally calculated Expected Family Contribution.
- William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans – are student loans that must be repaid and are available to both undergraduate and graduate students. First-year dependent undergraduates are eligible for a subsidized loan up to $3,500 and an additional unsubsidized amount of up to $2,000 for a total of up to $5,500. A subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. If you’re eligible for a subsidized loan, the government will pay (subsidize) the interest on your loan while you’re in school, for the first six months after you leave school, and during any periods when your payments are deferred (postponed). For an unsubsidized loan, you are responsible for the interest from the time the unsubsidized loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. Annual maximum loan amounts increase for subsequent years of study, with even higher amounts for graduate students.
- Direct PLUS loans – are loans made to parents of dependent undergraduate students and to graduate students. All students must complete a FAFSA for our office to determine their Direct Loan eligibility before a PLUS loan can be processed on the account. The amount of the PLUS award is the difference in the Cost of Attendance and any other financial aid. Eligibility for the PLUS is based on credit, however, dependent undergraduate students whose parent is unable to obtain a PLUS loan may borrow additional unsubsidized loans at the higher loan limits otherwise available only to independent undergraduates.
Other aid programs that are awarded based on need and availability:
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants – are grants available for undergraduates only.
- Federal Work Study – provides jobs to undergraduate and graduate students, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.
What is the interest rate on my Federal Direct Loan?
Interest rates on federal student loans are determined by Congress. Visit the Federal Student Aid website for the most recently published interest and fee rates.
When do I begin to repay my Federal Direct Loans?
You do not have to begin repaying Federal Direct Student Loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time enrollment. Direct loans have a grace period or a period of time after students graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment before repayment begins. Note that for many loans interest will accrue during the grace period.
However, PLUS loans enter repayment once your loan is fully disbursed (paid out). Your loan servicer or lender must provide you with a loan repayment schedule that states when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment.
Are there any fees for federal student loans?
Yes. Federal student loans have origination fees that are deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow. Check on the current loan fees for federal student loans at studentaid.gov.
Can my loans be forgiven, canceled or discharged?
In certain situations you can have your federal student loan forgiven, canceled or discharged. To find out if you qualify due to your job, disability, or other circumstances you must contact your loan servicer. If you have received a Federal Perkins Loan from UA you must contact the Student Account Services to apply for forgiveness, cancellation or discharge. You can view your loan information including the types of loans you have and your loan servicer at the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).
Am I eligible to receive federal aid?
To apply for federal aid you must meet general eligibility requirements. A list of eligibility criteria is available on the Federal Student Aid website. Once you become a recipient you are responsible for continuing to meet basic eligibility criteria, meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress standards, and completing the FAFSA every year.
How much federal funding is available?
Eligibility for aid depends upon your Expected Family Contribution, grade level, enrollment status, dependency status, availability, and the Cost of Attendance. When your FAFSA information is reviewed and a financial aid award is constructed for you, your award will include the maximum amount of federal aid you may be eligible for at that time. If your FAFSA information or other educational information changes, your aid eligibility may also be adjusted.
|Federal Pell Grant||Students working on their first undergraduate degree with an EFC in qualifying range. Pays out based on enrollment hours per semester.||$636 – $6345|
|Federal SEOG (Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant)||Students with high financial need working on their first undergraduate degree.||$1,500|
|Federal Direct Stafford Student Loan||Eligible undergraduate and graduate students.||Amount determined by FAFSA data and student’s classification|
|Federal Direct PLUS Loan||Eligible graduate students and parents of dependent undergraduate students. A credit check is required.||Maximum amount is cost of attendance minus any other aid. FAFSA is required.|
Keep in mind that award amounts vary and depend upon your financial need (as determined by the federal government). Direct Loan funding eligibility is based on your grade level and dependency status and are subjected to yearly loan limits and aggregate lifetime loan limits.
Yearly loan limits:
|$5,500||Freshmen (0-31 hours)||$9,500|
|$6,500||Sophomore (31-60 hours)||$10,500|
|$7,500||Junior (61-90) / Senior (91+ hours)||$12,500|
Aggregate loan limits:
- As a dependent undergraduate student you may borrow up to $31,000 in direct loans
- As an independent undergraduate student you may borrow up to $57,500 in direct loans
- As a graduate or professional student you may borrow up to $138,500 in direct loans
If I am in default on an educational loan, can I still receive financial aid?
No. Students who are currently in default on educational loans are not eligible to receive federal financial aid. The Student Financial Aid Office recommends that you contact your lender and attempt to make a satisfactory payment arrangement with them.
Once your default status is resolved, you must provide a letter from your loan servicer(s) stating that the default status has been cleared and that you are again eligible to receive federal financial aid.
If you have questions regarding your eligibility, contact the financial aid office.
How does withdrawing from a class affect my federal aid eligibility?
Withdrawing from a class or all classes at any point after the drop/add period will negatively affect a student’s completion rate or pace towards degree completion and future financial aid eligibility. If you withdraw from one or all of your classes, you may be required to return some of your financial aid. You can find more information about how funds are returned at Student Account Services.
Is there aid available for summer school?
The availability of summer aid is dependent upon how much aid the student used during the school year. Any portion of the yearly loan eligibility that was not utilized during the fall and spring semester may be awarded in the summer semester. If the student’s eligibility changes due to progression in grade level, they may contact our office to review their account. Undergraduate students must enroll for at least 6 credit hours and graduate students must be enrolled in 4.5 hours to be considered half-time for loan eligibility.
If you were eligible for a Federal Pell Grant in the fall and/or spring, then you may qualify for a Pell Grant in the summer term. If you were enrolled full-time in the fall and/or spring then you must enroll at least half-time in the summer to be eligible for the Pell Grant. If you were part-time in the fall and/or spring then there is no requirement to receive a Pell Grant (unless required by your EFC).
Summer federal aid awards are made in April after registration opens for the summer term. Students will receive notification via their Crimson email address regarding their eligibility status for summer. If you are in need of additional funding for summer, then you may consider a Federal Direct PLUS Loan or a loan through a private lender.
Can I be ruled ineligible for aid because of a drug offense?
Possibly. If you have previously received federal student aid, you may not be eligible to receive additional federal aid if while you were enrolled and receiving federal student aid you had a drug offense for selling or possessing illegal drugs and that offense led to a conviction under federal or state law. If you are concerned about your eligibility because of a drug offense, you should contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 for assistance. (More information)
Are there regulations or limitations on repeating courses and receipt of financial aid?
Yes. Federal regulations limit the number of times a student may repeat a course and receive financial aid for that course.
- A student may receive aid when repeating a course, if all previous attempts at the course were failures. The determination of a failing grade is according to UA policy.
- A student may receive aid to repeat a previously passed course one additional time.
- Withdrawals do not count as a repeat attempt.
- Once a student has completed any course twice after receiving a passing grade in the same course, he/she is no longer eligible to receive aid for that course.
- If a student retakes a course that is not aid eligible, a recalculation of aid is done to exclude the credits for the repeated course.
- This rule applies whether or not the student received aid for earlier enrollment in the course.
- Not all aid will require adjustment.
- Students will receive notification if they are aid applicants and attempt to repeat coursework beyond the limits.
Are students who are pursuing prerequisite courses for graduate school eligible to receive federal student aid?
No. A student must be enrolled as a regular student in an eligible program in order to receive federal student aid. A regular student is someone who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a degree or certificate program. A student enrolled only in prerequisite classes is not considered to be in an eligible program, this usually occurs when acceptance into an eligible program is contingent on completing the prerequisite coursework. However, if a student is admitted into an eligible program and takes preparatory coursework within that program, they can be considered a regular student.
Is financial aid available to students who are only pursuing a teacher’s certification?
Yes. A student may receive federal student aid if they are enrolled at least half time in required teacher certification coursework, even if it does not lead to a degree or certificate awarded by the school. To qualify, the coursework must be required for elementary or secondary teacher certification or recertification in the state where the student plans to teach. Optional courses you elect to take for professional recognition or advancement, and courses not required for certification, do not qualify.
Does living on or off campus or being an in-state or out-of-state resident affect my financial aid eligibility?
How much financial aid you receive depends on a number of factors: whether you are classified as an in-state resident or an out-of-state resident will directly affect your budget – which may affect your total amount of financial aid eligibility.
My enrollment hours and/or housing status have changed. What do I need to do?
Notify Student Financial Aid if any of the conditions of your initial award have changed. Depending on the changes, your aid may or may not be affected, but it is always better to inform Student Financial Aid of your plans so adjustments can be made, if necessary, early in the semester. If you do not inform Student Financial Aid about the changes yourself, then any credit hour discrepancies between anticipated and actual registered hours will appear during an enrollment audit and adjustments will be made at that time. It is the obligation of Student Financial Aid to adjust aid according to University policy and federal regulations. You may notify our office of any changes in your enrollment status.
Example: Kate enrolled in 12 hours at the beginning of the Fall semester. She was awarded a Federal Pell Grant based on her enrollment in these courses. After attending classes for three weeks, Kate decided to withdraw from a 3-hour history course. Even though Kate earned a “WP” (withdraw – passing) for this course, she will not receive credit for the course.
When Student Financial Aid audits students to determine their current enrollment status, it is shown that Kate is enrolled in 9 hours, not the 12 hours upon which her financial aid award was originally based. Her Federal Pell Grant is subsequently reduced and the amount that she owes is charged to her student bill. If you have any questions about how your financial aid award might be affected by your change in enrollment status, please contact our office via this web form or via phone at (205) 348-6756.
My grade level is going to change; will I be eligible for more aid?
You might be eligible for more Federal Subsidized Student Stafford or Unsubsidized Stafford loans. Once your Fall/Spring grades have been posted on the Student Information System, if your grade level has increased from a Freshman level to a Sophomore level (31 credit hours earned), or has changed from the Sophomore level to a Junior level (61 credit hours earned) you may be eligible for more Federal Student Stafford Loan or Federal Student Unsubsidized Stafford loan. This depends on your Cost of Attendance and the amount of your initial financial aid award.
If you would like your eligibility for a loan increase to be reviewed, contact us with your specific request. If you are eligible, the loan amount will be increased and you will receive a disbursement as scheduled. (A new loan application is not needed). Direct Loans will mail a disclosure statement to you reflecting the award increase. The increase could affect your loan eligibility for the upcoming summer if you plan on attending and receiving federal loans.
Receipt of Aid
How long will it take to get an award after I fill out my FAFSA?
This really depends on when you fill out the FAFSA. Awarding for new students does not begin until the April before the fall semester begins and returning students are awarded in June/July. During other times of the year, the turnaround varies. For planning purposes, we recommend that you plan for a minimum of six weeks from submission of the FAFSA to receipt of an award notification from our office.
Will I need to fill out forms in addition to the FAFSA to receive a financial aid award?
If you are selected for a process called verification the Financial Aid Office may need you to fill out additional forms to receive financial aid. The Financial Aid Office will inform you of any documentation you need to submit. Students can also go to their MyBama account and check their financial aid status under their student tab. Some of the financial aid forms requested can be located at financialaid.ua.edu.
How do I accept the money I have been offered?
Once you have received an award notification, you must go to MyBama and accept your award under the financial aid awards link. Grants are automatically accepted for you. If you accept the student loan and you are a first time borrower, you must complete the Master Promissory Note and Entrance Loan Counseling online at studentaid.gov.
Have I done everything I need to do in order to receive my federal aid on time?
If the FAFSA information is at the University of Alabama and has been for over three weeks but you did not receive a financial aid award, you should contact Student Financial Aid. The delay could be caused by other circumstances concerning your aid eligibility. For example, you may not be meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards required to maintain aid, or further documents may be required of you before the University of Alabama is able to process your award. Please respond promptly to any requests for further documents, as aid cannot be awarded until your file is complete.
If you have already received an award notification, you should check your myBama financial aid account to ensure you have completed all necessary requirements of the acceptance process. The acceptance process includes accepting your award offer through your myBama account and for first time loan borrowers completing the Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling at studentaid.gov.
Once you complete the acceptance process and you are enrolled for the minimum number of required credits, your financial aid will be applied to your student account. According to UA policy you must complete payment for your schedule prior to the start of each semester. All funding will pay out to your account a few days before the first day of scheduled classes. Your tuition and fees are then paid, and a refund (the difference between your financial aid credits and bill), is issued to you according to the Student Account Services’ refund policy.
Can I have my Spring award applied to my Fall account?
No. Federal aid awards are based on your expected attendance for the full academic year. Therefore, if you are only enrolled for one semester or intend only to attend one semester, you are only eligible for a one semester award amount or half of an academic year’s eligibility.
NOTE: One exception applies to graduating seniors who will complete their academic program of study in the fall semester. These students may be eligible to receive a prorated portion of their Stafford loan funding for the fall semester. If you are interested and qualify for proration due to graduation, contact the Student Financial Aid Office for more information.
Private or Alternative Loans
What are private or alternative loans?
Alternative loans are private (non-federal) loans. The terms vary widely as do the eligibility criteria.
You (and your co-borrower, if applicable) should carefully research the options and apply for the alternative loan that best suits your needs. Keep in mind that usually your best option is to pursue federal loans. Be sure you have applied for all of the federal loans you are eligible for before you consider private loans. If you do wish to take out a private educational loan, you need to provide any documentation requested by the sponsor of the loan and follow the application procedure that is specific to that loan.
What is a loan certification?
In most cases, our office must certify your private loan. Certification means that we verify that you are enrolled in school and that the loan you requested is within the allowable Cost of Attendance established by the Student Financial Aid Office.
Example 1: A student with an $11,500 cost of attendance who has received $5,500 in financial aid (grants, scholarships, loans, VA benefits, etc.) has $6,000 in remaining eligibility that could be funded through an alternative loan. Our office could certify an alternative loan application for the student’s requested amount, not to exceed $6,000.
Example 2: A student with an $11,500 cost of attendance who has received $11,500 in financial aid (grants, scholarships, loans, VA benefits, etc.) has no remaining eligibility. Our office could not certify an alternative loan application for this student.
If you have any questions about your remaining loan eligibility, please contact our office.
Can you contact my lender to release my private loan money early?
No. When we certify a private loan, we set the disbursement date to the earliest the lender allows funds to be released. To ensure there are no delays you should check with your lender for any outstanding requirements that would prevent funds being sent to UA after certification.
Why do I have to sign new disclosures for my private loan?
Provisions in the Truth in Lending Act, implemented in February 2010, require lenders to provide these disclosures to borrowers at three separate times; at the point of application, when the loan is approved, and before the loan disburses.
I applied for a private loan. Has it been certified by UA yet?
Once a private loan has been certified by UA, it will appear as a part of your overall financial aid package accessible through your myBama account. Please allow several weeks for a private loan certification to be completely processed.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
What financial aid programs are affected by Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?
Programs governed by the policy include the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Alabama State Grant, Federal Work Study (FWS), the Federal Direct Student Loans, Federal Direct Parent PLUS loans and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loans.
How is my “completion rate” determined?
Your total number of hours passed is divided by your total number of hours attempted. You must successfully complete 67% of your hours attempted. Transfer credits are counted.
Why am I considered not to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) when I have no failing grades? I was advised to drop the class rather than receive a low grade.
Even though dropping a class may help your GPA, the SAP policy considers hours dropped with a “W” as “attempted not successfully completed”. You are only negatively affected if the total number of hours you drop places you under the required 67% completion rate.
Why do all classes count towards my attempted hours even when I was not receiving financial aid at the time?
Federal guidelines require that we count all classes even though you did not receive financial aid.
I have transferred from another university. My transfer credits have caused me to reach my maximum time frame. Can I appeal?
Yes, you may appeal. In your appeal, you will need to address issues that may have resulted in a significant number of credits (credits accepted for general credit, change in major, etc.) appearing on your university academic record.
Once I submit my appeal, how long is the typical review process?
Typically, turnaround is 10 business days. If an appeal is submitted near the deadline, it could take two weeks.
Why do I have to submit supporting documentation?
Documentation is required as proof of the circumstances that prevented you from being successful.
What is considered “supporting documentation” for a SAP appeal?
This is dependent upon the student’s reason(s) for not meeting SAP. Supporting documentation could include letters from doctors, court documents, letters from employers, death certificates, obituaries, funeral programs, etc.
Why are letters from a friend and/or family member not accepted?
A friend or family member’s opinion can be very subjective. A SAP appeal needs to be supported by an objective, “third party” opinion. Typically, third party documentation would be a doctor (medical issues), lawyer (legal issues) or a counselor (personal issues).
Where do I go to check my status after I submit an appeal?
After the committee has made a determination, your results are e-mailed to your Crimson account.
If my appeal is approved what will I have to do next?
Once you receive an e-mail that your appeal is approved, you will need to set up an appointment to sign a SAP contract. During the appointment, you will be informed of the progress you need to make to continue to receive aid on a probationary basis. You must complete 100% of your classes (no withdrawals, incompletes, or failed classes) with the proper GPA for your aid to be continued.
If my appeal is denied what other options do I have?
You may contact a private alternative lender. The loan will require that you or your co-signer complete a credit check. You also have the option of the use of general deferments with Student Account Services. Federal financial aid can be awarded when you are meeting all of the overall progress standards again.
Where may I locate additional resources of information?
For information on any federal student financial aid programs, you may call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at: 1-800-4-FED-AID or 1-800-433-3243. You may also find general information about federal student aid by going to studentaid.ed.gov.
Where can I go to get assistance if I have questions while completing the FAFSA?
On the home page, fafsa.gov, go to the Contact Us link at the top of the page. This page lists all of the available options for getting additional assistance. You can also get live help through a secure online chat session with one of federal aid’s customer service representatives, and by phone at 1-800-433-3243.
What should I do if my family has unusual circumstances that are not mentioned in the application?
If your family has unusual circumstances (such as a loss of employment, loss of benefits, death or divorce), complete the FAFSA to the extent that you can and submit it for processing as instructed. Once the FAFSA has been submitted you may submit an income reduction form to our office for a professional judgment review (see the Forms section of our website).
Who is considered a parent?
The term “parent” is not restricted to biological parents. There are instances (such as when a grandparent legally adopts the applicant) in which a person other than a biological parent is treated as a parent, and in these instances, the parental questions on the application must be answered, since they apply to such an individual (or individuals). A foster parent, legal guardian, or a grandparent or other relative is not treated as a parent for the purposes of filing a FAFSA unless that person has legally adopted the applicant. An adoptive parent is treated in the same manner as a biological parent on the FAFSA.
If the applicant’s parents are both living and married to each other, FAFSA is completed by answering questions about both parents.
A stepparent is treated in the same manner as a biological parent if the stepparent is married, as of the date of application, to the biological parent whose information will be reported on the FAFSA, or if the stepparent has legally adopted the applicant. There are no exceptions. Prenuptial agreements do not exempt the stepparent from providing required data on the FAFSA. NOTE: The stepparent’s income information for the entire year prior to filing the application must be reported even if the biological parent and stepparent were not married until after the start of the year, but were married prior to the date the FAFSA was completed.
I am divorced; whose information does my student use on the FAFSA?
The information of the parent with whom the student has lived with the most during the past 12 months preceding the date the FAFSA is completed should be the only parent on the application. It does not matter which parent claims the student as a dependent for tax purposes. If the student did not live with either parent or lived equally with each parent, then the parental information for whom the student received the most financial support from during the preceding 12 months or the parent from whom the student received the most support the last time support was given should be on the application.
I am divorced from my student’s biological parent, however I am now remarried. Should I give my student’s stepparents information on the FAFSA?
If you are the parent that is required to report financial information on the FAFSA and you are remarried, then the stepparent’s information must be included on the application or that student will not be considered for federal student financial aid. If you believe that your situation is unique or unusual other than the stepparent’s simple refusal to provide the requested information, you should contact our office to discuss the matter further.
How does a family decide who should be counted in the household size?
Anyone in the immediate family who receives more than 50% support from a dependent student’s parents or an independent student and spouse may be counted in the household size. For example, a sibling who is over 24 but still receives the majority of his/her support from the parents can be included. Sibling who are dependent (as defined by FAFSA) as of the date the application is completed are also included, regardless of whether they receive more than 50% of their support from the parents. Any other person who resides in the household and receives more than 50% support from the parents may also be counted, as long as they will continue to reside within the parent’s household and the support is expected to continue through the academic year. An unborn child who will be born during the academic year may also be counted in the household size if the parents, or independent student and spouse, will provide more than half of the child’s support through the end of the year.
NOTE: Household size and tax exemptions are not necessarily the same. Exemptions look at the previous year or tax year and household size refers to the school year for which the student is applying for aid.
When does interest on a PLUS Loan begin to accrue?
Because a PLUS Loan is a type of Unsubsidized Loan, interest on a PLUS Loan starts to accrue the day the loan is disbursed. Even though the account may not be in repayment, interest is still accruing.
If I am planning to receive merit-based aid, do I need to fill out the FAFSA?
Only graduate students who wish to receive federal student loans are required to complete the FAFSA application. However, we encourage all students to apply for aid in the event that you do not qualify for scholarships, assistantships, or fellowships or if these funds are not enough to cover all of your expenses you may decide to use student loan options available through FAFSA.
I was denied a Grad PLUS loan. What are my options?
Students who are denied a Graduate PLUS loan can either appeal the decision with the Department of Education or seek an endorser (co-signer) for the loan.
Are there academic requirements for graduate students to meet in order to maintain eligibility for financial aid?
Yes. In order to keep receiving any federal aid you must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). The minimum standards of SAP for graduate/law students are:
- Maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0.
- Complete and pass a minimum of 67% of all the courses you attempt.
- Complete your degree requirements within 150% of the minimum credits required to graduate.
What is the estimated cost of attendance for graduate students?
|Direct Cost||Direct Cost|
|$9,950||Tuition and Fees||$23,700|
|$11,850||Room and Board||$11,850|
|$21,800||Total Direct Cost||$35,550|
|Indirect Cost||Indirect Cost|
|$5,522||Total Indirect Cost||$6,852|
|$27,322||TOTAL (Direct + Indirect)||$42,402|
What is available if my financial aid does not cover enough of my education expenses?
Graduate students may apply for federal assistance through fafsa.gov for an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. Graduate/Law students are eligible for $20,500 per year in a federal student loan.
Additionally, graduate and law students may apply for a Graduate PLUS Federal Direct Loan or for a private alternative loan, each are credit based loans to help with educational costs. These loans may not exceed the cost of attendance minus any other financial assistance, including Stafford Loans and tuition assistance.
Can international students apply for federal assistance?
The Department of Education does not offer financial assistance directly to international students. International students are not eligible for federal financial aid, unless the student is an eligible non-citizen as defined by federal regulations.
Where do I take my loan deferment form to be filled out?
All loan deferment or in-school deferment forms should be taken directly to the Registrar’s Office in 206 Student Services Center.
Can I make payments, even if I’m in school, in grace, have a deferment or have a forbearance?
Yes. Payments can be made at any time. If you are in school, or your loan is in a grace period, deferment, or forbearance, you will not receive monthly bills. (More information on repayment)
Can federal financial aid be used for a study abroad program?
Federal financial aid may be used toward an approved study abroad program. Students may use federal aid for a study abroad program if it applies to their degree. If you are participating in a study abroad program AND will receive federal financial aid; obtain a budget sheet for your study abroad program from Education Abroad, submit it to an advisor in Student Financial Aid. This will ensure that your cost of attendance accurately reflects your enrollment in the study abroad program. If you fail to meet with an advisor, your cost of attendance and award will reflect on-campus attendance.
How do you apply for federal financial aid?
Federal Financial Aid is awarded based on the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and availability of federal funding. For consideration, students submit the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov. Current federal aid recipients may review their federal aid award and eligibility online by accessing their myBama account.
Note: Federal financial aid is awarded to eligible students for the fall and spring semesters initially. Eligibility for summer federal aid is based on remaining eligibility for the year that was not used during the previous fall and spring semesters.
Will my financial aid be enough to cover my study abroad expenses?
While the cost of attendance used to determine eligibility can be increased due to the additional costs involved in study abroad, there is no guarantee that you will receive enough federal aid to cover the study abroad program. Students who apply for private loans or Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students for additional funding should apply at least two months prior to their departure date.
Does the number of registered credit hours affect eligibility to receive financial aid?
Yes, the total number of hours required to receive federal loans for each semester must be at least half time; 6 hours for undergraduate students and 4.5 hours for graduate students. The Federal Pell Grant is prorated based on actual hours of enrollment. Graduate students are not eligible for Pell.
Will financial aid cover my deposit and airfare?
If the airfare is not included in the study abroad costs that are charged to the student account, the student is responsible for buying their airplane ticket. Student Financial Aid cannot disburse funds early to cover airfare or program expenses. Generally, you will need to plan to pay for these expenses from your own resources.
When will I get my financial aid refund?
All federal aid is disbursed to the student’s account a few days prior to the program start date. Financial aid may not be available when the bill is due with the host school or program provider. You are encouraged to make payment or payment arrangements with your host school or program provider.
What about UA scholarships?
Students receiving institutional scholarships should contact Undergraduate Scholarships at 1-205-348-8201 for questions regarding scholarship eligibility for study abroad enrollment. Contact the awarding academic department for their scholarships.
What about refund processing?
Students must receive any refunds of credit balances via direct deposit. Students may direct their funds via direct deposit to the account of their choice by logging into their student account and providing their direct deposit information. Contact Student Account Services at 205-348-5350 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.