Federal Student Aid (FSA) FAQ


We’re here to help you understand your student loans and grants

To provide as much information as possible about FSA, we’ve compiled answers to a range of questions we hear frequently. For answers to specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Financial Services.

Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need as determined by their completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest while you attend school at least half time, as long as you complete your program on time.

As of July 1, 2013, first-time borrowers are only eligible to borrow Direct Subsidized Loans for up to 150 percent of the published length of the program in which they’re enrolled.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need. With an unsubsidized loan, you are responsible for paying the interest during all grace, deferment or forbearance periods. If you do not pay the interest during these periods, the interest will be added to the principal balance.

For more information, please see Federal Student Aid.

Pell Grants are awarded to eligible undergraduate students who have not previously earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. Maximum Pell Grant awards can vary from year to year and may be higher or lower in future award years. In addition to a maximum yearly amount, there is also a limit to the amount of Pell Grant you can receive over your lifetime.

FSA loan eligibility varies by grade level and dependency status.

Grade level is determined by the number of credits applied to your primary program. For new students, grade level is determined by applied transfer credits. For continuing students, grade level is determined by the total number of credits applied to your primary program at the start of the academic year.

Dependency status is determined by a variety of factors. A “yes” answer to any of the dependency questions on the FAFSA will classify you as independent; a “no” answer to all of the dependency questions on the FAFSA will classify you as dependent.

There are aggregate eligibility limits to the amount of FSA loans you may borrow for undergraduate and graduate study as well.  

As of July 1, 2013, first-time borrowers are only eligible to borrow Direct Subsidized Loans for up to 150 percent of the published length of the program in which they’re enrolled.  

This limit does not apply to Direct Unsubsidized Loans or Direct PLUS Loans. 

Processing times for awarding FSA can vary from student to student, depending on individual situations and documentation requirements. On average, the financial aid award is completed within 90 days. If you have questions or concerns about the timeliness of the award process, please contact Financial Services.

If you are experiencing difficulty with the FAFSA website, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800.433.3243. There is also a Live Help button located within the FAFSA application you can use to contact the Information Center live and online.

Award letters are generated after FSA is awarded. Your letter will be available in your Letter Center on the student website, or it will be mailed to you at the address on file.

FSA loan and Pell Grant disbursement dates are based on each student’s individual schedule, successful completion of credit hours, and weeks of instructional time — therefore, the dates can vary greatly from one student to the next. Refer to your award letter or contact Financial Services for specific disbursement dates.

Typically, disbursements are scheduled the day after the start of the payment period. If you are a first-time borrower, first-year undergraduate student, however, your first disbursement will be scheduled 30 days after the start of your first payment period. Funds should post to your student account 3-5 days after the scheduled date. If a delay occurs, Financial Services will work to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

FSA loans and Pell Grants disburse twice during your academic year, at the beginning of each payment period. Generally speaking, disbursements are scheduled at the beginning of each 12-credit payment period. Scheduling will be different if an academic year is fewer than 24 credits. Refer to your award letter or contact Financial Services for specific disbursement dates.

Although FSA funds can be rescheduled for a number of reasons, the most common is a change in your schedule. Because eligibility for FSA disbursements depends on successful completion of credits and weeks of instruction, a schedule change may create delays. For answers to specific questions on scheduling delays, please contact Financial Services.

Generally, Pell Grant and loan funds are scheduled to disburse around the same time. However, they are two different types of aid, and the disbursements actually come in at different times. Make sure you refer to your award letter, or contact Financial Services for specific disbursement dates.

When an Authorization to Apply for Future Charges form is canceled or modified, any retained funds in excess of allowable charges will be sent to you within 14 days. Elections will remain in place until you choose to change those elections by completing another form.

A debit memo is the transaction you will see processed on your account summary when a credit balance is about to be sent to you or returned to the FSA fund. Your account summary can be accessed on the student website (eCampus) by navigating to Account > Billing History, or to Account > Account Summary > Pay Bills.

Elections for receiving a credit balance can be changed anytime by navigating to Account > Awards & Disbursements and scrolling to Credit Balance Options, or by clicking on the Credit Balance/Direct Deposit link on the Financial Aid Web. An election to receive funds by direct deposit must be on file prior to the completion of any refund calculation to ensure funds will be electronically transmitted to your designated bank account.

Any federal or state funds received in excess of the future allowable charges within each payment period will be sent no later than 14 days after the disbursement has been applied to your school account. Once the debit memo process is completed, direct deposits should appear in your designated account within 3–5 business days, and paper checks should be received within 3–10 business days. Please remember that processing times can vary, and the University cannot be held responsible for delays in mail delivery.

You can view your account summary to see when a debit memo has posted by navigating to Account > Billing History, or to Account > Account Summary > Pay Bills.

Financial Services can give details on the status of any credit balance.

When authorized, the school will retain funds on your account up to the total cost of tuition and fees for the applicable courses in the payment period. As attendance is posted in new courses and those courses are invoiced, retained funds will automatically be used to pay the tuition and course materials fees. If the amount of FSA awarded exceeds the amount needed to pay tuition and course materials fees for the payment period, the excess funds will be returned to you within 14 days of the funds posting to your student account.

Once funds are posted to your account, the University will pay any existing balances for applicable courses in the current payment period. All other funds will be sent to you to pay for tuition, fees and other educational expenses. You will be responsible for paying tuition and course materials fees two weeks prior to each course in the payment period for which those funds were awarded.

Please be advised that not paying for courses in a timely manner may have negative academic and financial repercussions.

Accounts can show a balance due for any number of reasons. For answers to specific questions, contact Financial Services.

The University participates in the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) program, which electronically provides enrollment status and attendance data to loan servicers and the U.S. Department of Education. The Office of Admissions and Records reports attendance data on all students once per week. If your servicer participates in the NSC program, you do not need to take any action to put your loans into a deferred status; if not, you can fill out and fax your servicer’s in-school deferment form to the Office of Admissions and Records at 480.643.1040. The Office of Admissions and Records will then verify attendance and forward the form for processing.

Once a graduation application is submitted, several financial and academic audits must be completed before the diploma can be released. Typical processing time for these audits is 1–3 weeks.

FSA awards are based on a combination of student eligibility criteria, program of study and grade level. If your cost of tuition and fees for the academic year is greater than your financial aid award, a shortfall of funds will exist. There are many sources of funding for educational purposes. Please see our Financial options page for further information, or contact Financial Services for additional resources.

If you are concerned that your invoices are not reflecting all expenses for a course, please contact Financial Services for assistance.

Schools are only permitted to retain up to $200 of the current academic year’s FSA funds to satisfy prior academic year charges for tuition and fees. Refer to your award letter or contact Financial Services for specific academic year and payment period dates.

It is possible to transfer FSA between online and local campus programs. However, FSA may be impacted if you change your schedule or degree program. There is a defined process for switching from one campus to another, and you should contact Financial Services if you’re considering a transfer.

Always consult a tax professional with questions about education tax credits.

The 1098-T form will be available to students no later than January 31st of each year for the recently ended tax year. You can consent to electronic delivery of this form or receive a paper form in the mail. Delivery options can be selected by logging in to eCampus and navigating to Account > Tax Forms > 1098-T. The 1098-T statement will be available 3–7 days earlier if the electronic delivery option is chosen.

Be advised that the University reports qualified tuition and related expenses by payments received, so not all students will receive a 1098-T. If no payments posted to your student account within the 1098-T reporting year, you may not receive one.

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