Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Aid

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Read below to find answers to many commonly asked questions about Financial Aid!

What is the income cutoff to receive financial aid?

There are many factors that figure into the formula for eligibility for federal programs. These factors include:

  • income from the year prior to the award or school year,
  • whether the income was taxed or untaxed,
  • amount of federal taxes paid,
  • amount of income which came directly from work, farm, or business income,
  • the student's state of residence,
  • whether child support was paid,
  • whether the student earned income from the Federal Work Study program during the year,
  • whether the student received funds in excess of educational expenses in the previous year,
  • whether the family has one parent or two working,
  • number of family members,
  • number of family members attending college,
  • asset information,
  • and even what kind of tax return was filed.

With so many factors involved in the computation, it is impossible to say at what income level a student will or will not receive a Pell grant, Stafford Loan, etc. Since there is no fee for applying for federal aid, it is best for the student to complete the FAFSA and let the Federal Processor compute the eligibility.

Do I have to re-apply for financial aid next semester? Next year?

Application for federal aid is good for the entire school year - from fall to spring to summer. Students must re-apply for federal aid for each school year because the factors that figure into the eligibility must be updated to reflect an accurate picture of the student's situation.

I quit my job so my income is reduced. How do I show that on the FAFSA?

The Department of Education gives institutions the authority to make adjustments to a student's income or cost of attendance budget on a case-by-case basis for students who have special circumstances. This authority is called "professional judgment" and must be administered by a prescribed policy that is developed by the institution. At Barton, the Financial Aid Office will consider making an adjustment for extremely high medical expenses, tuition paid to a parochial school, and the loss or reduction of work income due to a termination or lay off. The condition must be substantiated by documentation submitted by the student. The Financial Aid Office does not usually make adjustments for reduction or cessation of employment when it has been a voluntary act on the student's part. The Financial Aid Office will also allow an adjustment to the student's cost of attendance budget to include additional educational expenses due to a disability. In any of these cases, the student needs to contact the Financial Aid Office and speak to one of the counselors.

May I file as an independent student since I am living on my own?

The Department of Education has established a unique definition for "independent status" for federal financial aid programs. For 2014-15 any student who meets at least one of the following conditions is automatically classified as independent, and therefore, not required to provide parent information.

  1. Were you born before January 1, 1991?
  2. Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  3. Will you be enrolled in a program beyond a bachelor's degree?
  4. Are you married?
  5. Are you an orphan or ward of the court?
  6. Do you have children that you provide more than 50% support for?
  7. 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 June 30, 2015?
  8. Are you an emancipated minor?
  9. Are you in legal guardianship?
  10. Have you been declared an unaccompanied youth who is homeless?

Maybe you do not meet one of these criteria but your situation is such that neither of your parents should be considered a resource for your education. The Financial Aid Office has the authority to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. If you want to apply for a dependency override, you will need to complete an override request form as well as provide other documentation proving your self-supporting status. You may request an application from the Financial Aid Office.

Please keep in mind that the government is very explicit about the parents' obligation to contribute to their child's education. The unwillingness of a parent to provide support or the choice of a student not to accept support are unacceptable reasons to override dependency. Also, although a myth continues that an independent student is eligible for more financial aid, in many instances that is simply not the case.

Why do I have to use the income of my stepfather (or stepmother)? They aren't my biological parent.

Once again, the federal government is very explicit that parents have an obligation to contribute to their child's education, and they do not view a distinction between a parent and a stepparent. Federal regulations state that a parent's (or stepparent's) unwillingness to contribute to a child's educational expenses does not obligate the government to make allowances for the child or allow for greater eligibility for federal aid.

Will I have to repay my Pell grant if I withdraw from classes?

You may be responsible to reimburse the federal program if you withdraw from any or all of their classes after you have received your financial aid. Refunds and repayments are calculated at the end of each semester. The Business Office will notify you if you are required to repay any of your financial aid.

May I pick up my books early?

If you want to charge your books to a promissory note, you will have to wait until final enrollment. Of course, if you are paying cash, you may buy your books whenever you want to.

Is my Pell grant in? When will I get my money?

Pell grant money is not transferred to the College on an account-by-account basis. Initially, the College requests a portion of the annual Pell grant money based upon Pell payments of the previous year. Then, as Pell grants are paid throughout the year, requests are sent to the Department of Education to replace what has been paid out to students above the previous allotment sent to the College. The College is required to reconcile with the Department of Education's records periodically throughout the year and again to close out the award year.

Your award letter will list the payout dates for financial aid.

What is full-time enrollment?

Full-time enrollment is 12 or more credit hours, three-quarter enrollment is 9-11 credit hours, half-time enrollment is 6-8 credit hours, and less than half-time is less than 6 credit hours.

Do I have to pay at final enrollment if I am getting financial aid?

If your financial aid file is completed and awarded, a memo is put on your account for the amount you are eligible for. At final enrollment you will then need to pay the difference between the amount of the bill and the financial aid. If your financial aid file has not been completed by the time of final enrollment, but you have a file "in process," you will be allowed to defer payment on your account until your financial aid is processed.

Any previous balance that you owe will need to be paid before you will be allowed to final enroll for a current term.

Why do I have to go through loan counseling if I went through it last year or at the college I attended previously?

Every institution that certifies student loans is required to inform the borrower of their rights and responsibilities through entrance and exit loan counseling. Since borrowing money is a great responsibility that you assume and defaulted student loans can jeopardize the entire Title IV programs for an institution, it is a federal mandate to advise students of the obligations they have regarding the student loan. In accordance with federal regulations and as part of Barton's default management policy, the College does loan counseling for every loan that is certified.

How will it effect my financial aid if I drop a class?

Barton's satisfactory academic progress standards state that a student must successfully complete 67% of the courses that they are taking during one semester.  If the student does not complete 67% or more of their classes, they will be placed on either financial aid probation or suspension.

May I still have my student loan if I am placed on financial aid suspension? After all, it is a loan and I repay it. Will I lose my athletic scholarship if I am placed on financial aid suspension?

Suspension of financial aid includes all forms of financial assistance including grants, scholarships, loans, performance awards, and books and tuition scholarships. A student loan is part of the federal Title IV funding and the Department of Education requires monitoring of satisfactory academic progress for all students who benefit from federal funding.

How do I get a job through the work study program?

To apply for Federal Work Study, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility. If you show unmet need and there are funds available, Federal Work Study will be offered to you on your award letter. If you are eligible for Federal Work Study, but all funds have been exhausted, there will be a notice in the award letter asking if you want to be placed on a waiting list for Federal Work Study. Once funds become available, the Office of Human Resources will contact you.

What is the deadline to apply for federal financial aid?

As is stated on the front of the FAFSA, a student may apply for federal aid from January 1st prior to the award year to June 30th of the award year. Therefore, a student actually has eighteen months to apply for financial aid for any award year. Within that time frame, the Financial Aid Office must set deadlines each semester to allow for ample time for loans to be processed since the student must be enrolled when the funds are disbursed. Time must be allowed for lenders and guarantee agencies to process promissory notes and send funds to the College. Therefore, the Financial Aid Office has set November 15th for the Fall semester and April 15th for the Spring semester for loan counseling to be completed. Loans are not certified for the Summer session. For Pell grants, student files can be processed up until the last date of enrollment within the award period.