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How Does Financial Aid Work?

  • Application: Student completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submits it to the U.S. Department of Education. Student must include school code on FAFSA. FSU’s code is 002928 FSU cannot access student data if this code is not on the FAFSA. Filing the FAFSA is a requirement for all students receiving financial aid, including scholarships (regardless of the source), grants, loans, and/or work-study. Please allow six-to eight weeks for complete processing of financial aid.
  • Application deadline: Students seeking aid for the fall semester should file the FAFSA by March 1. Students may file the FAFSA after March 1, but the Financial Aid Office cannot guarantee that the application will be processed by the beginning of the fall semester.
  • Federal Processor - The Department of Education Federal Processor evaluates the data and calculates the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for the student’s education. The EFC is the number that determines student’s eligibility for federal grants (Pell and SEOG).
  • Calculating Financial Aid Award - The university’s Financial Aid Office receives FAFSA data and compares the student’s EFC to the total cost of education.
  • Cost of Education - The total cost of education is NOT the same amount as the student’s bill. The total cost of education includes direct costs paid to the university, such as tuition, fees, room, and board, but also indirect costs such as books, supplies, transportation, and other miscellaneous costs. In the student’s Banner account, the cost of education is delineated under “Budget.”
  • Financial Aid Award - The FAO develops a financial aid package that covers the difference between the student’s EFC and the total cost of education. The financial aid package is communicated in the Award Letter. The same information is available in the student’s web account. The package may contain Pell Grants, SEOG grants, work-study, scholarships, and loans for students and parents.
  • Loans: There are four major loans offered most often:
    • Stafford Student Loan – subsidized – student begins repayment after graduation; interest does not begin to accrue until after graduation. Limits to these loans are set by the Department of Education. ($2,625 for freshmen; $3,500 for sophomores; $5,500 for juniors and seniors; Graduate students can borrow up to estimated cost of education)
    • Stafford Student Loan – unsubsidized – student begins repayment after graduation; interest begins to accrue as soon as loan is disbursed. Interest may be paid as it is charged or deferred and added to the loan. Limits to these loans are set by the Department of Education
    • Parent Plus loans – available to parents of students. Repayment begins after funds are disbursed in the second semester.
    • Perkins Loans – Funds provided by the Federal Government, but managed by the university.
    • Students and parents may choose to accept or reject loans. Grants and scholarships are applied automatically.
  • Verification: The federal processor will select some student’s FAFSA’s for verification. (Verification can be compared loosely to having income taxes audited.) Approximately one-third of applicants will be selected. If selected, students must bring in all appropriate documents to document accuracy of FAFSA data. Students are generally required to submit income tax forms or other documents that show income (social security, disability, child support, alimony, etc.) If a student is selected for verification, financial aid cannot be awarded until the verification process is complete.
  • Siblings/other family members in college – If a student’s FAFSA shows other family members in college, this will affect the student’s Pell eligibility significantly. The student must present documentation of the other student’s enrollment before financial aid can be disbursed.
  • Refunds – After Financial Aid is awarded, it is applied to pay the student’s charges for tuition, fees, room, and board. Financial aid funds in excess of charges for tuition, fees, room, and board will be refunded to the student. Please note: if you are eligible for an early refund, the Business Office will place a hold on your student account.
  • On-line access - Much of the student’s financial aid information is available through Banner. They may check the status of their financial aid awards, outstanding requirements, and account summary in the Banner system. See instructions on the web.
  • Satisfactory Academic Progress – To maintain eligibility for financial aid, students must remain in good academic standing, as defined by the “Scholastic Standards.” In addition, financial aid recipients must earn 67% of their attempted hours. Students, who withdraw excessively from classes, even if they have good GPAs, jeopardize financial aid eligibility.
  • FSU’s Financial Aid Office:
    Phone: 910-672-1325
    Toll free: 800-368-4210
    FAX: 910-672-1423
    Please allow 6-8 weeks for financial aid from the time the FAFSA is filed.

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