Frequently Asked Questions
Applying For Aid
- How can I learn more about the Hope Scholarship and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit?
The Hope Scholarship is a tax credit for eligible first- or second-year undergraduates or their parents; it is for certain educational expenses paid on or after January 1, 1998. The Lifetime Learning Credit is for eligible students who are beyond their second year of college, or their parents; it is for certain educational expenses paid on or after July 1, 1998.
To take advantage of the tax credits, taxpayers must submit IRS form 8863, Education Credits (Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits), with their federal tax returns to the IRS. The University will supply students with Form 1098-T, which lists all dollar information relating to the provisions of the Taxpayer Relief Act. Form 1098-T also shows the student's demographic information (name, Social Security number, etc.) that the University provides to the IRS. (The University does not supply dollar amount information to the IRS.) For more information about the tax credits and these forms, visit the following Web sites:
- IRS information on the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, including information about the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit
- IRS publication Tax Benefits for Higher Education
- U.S. Department of Education
- National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
- IRS toll-free telephone number: 1-800-829-1040
- What if my family's financial circumstances change during the year?
If you have any special circumstances that you feel were not considered when you filled out your FAFSA, please contact our office to see if you are eligible to process an appeal.
Possible special circumstances include:
- Loss of income or benefits
- Death of parent or spouse
- Divorce or separation of parents (or student from spouse)
- Excessive medical or dental out of pocket expenses
- Change in assets (other than cash or savings)
- Secondary or elementary tuition
- One-time income
- How do I apply for summer financial assistance?
You must submit a FAFSA application for the academic year prior to the summer session you will attend. In addition, you must submit the Summer Application for Financial Assistance along with a copy of your Summer schedule. The Summer Application will be available in the Office of Student Financial Assistance and on our web site around April 1st. After processing your file, you will receive a new award letter for summer aid, if you are eligible.
- Where can I find additional scholarship funding?
You can find scholarship search engines on our web site under Related Sites.
- Where can I find information on the Bureau of Indian Affairs?
You can find a link to the Bureau of Indian Affairs on our web site under Related Sites.
- Are there special guidelines regarding the treatment of federal aid for military personnel who are activated or reassigned, as a result of the terrorist attack?
As a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., President Bush authorized, on September 14, 2001, the call-up of members of the National Guard and the Ready Reserves to active duty. Regular active duty members of the Armed Forces may also be reassigned to other duty stations. It is likely that there will be students and Title IV (federal) loan borrowers who will be ordered to military duty as part of the military mobilization. The Department of Education has established the following guidelines regarding the treatment of military personnel who are activated or reassigned for a period of more than 30 days. The Secretary of Education will treat borrowers who are ordered to active duty and who have loans held by the Department of Education (Perkins, Health Professions and Nursing Student Loans) in accordance with this guidance. The following is taken from the September 2001 Department of Education's Letter GEN-01-13 from Deputy Secretary William D. Hansen.
Borrowers Whose Title IV (Federal) Loans are in an In-School, In-School Deferment, or Grace Period status:
If a borrower's loans are in an in-school status, an in-school deferment status, or in a grace period status when the borrower is ordered to active duty or reassigned, the loans must remain in that status during the period of the borrower's active duty service or reassignment, plus the time necessary for the borrower to resume enrollment in the next regular enrollment period that is reasonably available to the borrower, if the borrower wishes to go back to school. However, this maintenance of loan status may not exceed a total of three years including the period of time necessary for the borrower to resume enrollment. Additionally, if the loan was in a grace period status at the time the borrower was ordered to active duty, the period of time during which the borrower was serving on active duty is excluded and the borrower would receive the full grace period in the future.
Borrowers Whose Title IV (Federal) Loans are in Repayment (Other than in an In-School Deferment status):
For borrowers whose loans are in repayment (other than those in an in-school deferment status), a forbearance must be granted for the expected period of the borrower's active duty service, beginning on the first day of active duty, not to exceed one year (Forbearance is an arrangement to postpone or reduce a borrower's monthly payment amount for a limited and specified period. Interest is charged during a forbearance period, regardless of the loan type.) The forbearance must be granted based upon the request of the borrower, the borrower's family or another reliable source. The request need not be in writing and the forbearance can be granted without supporting documentation and without a written forbearance agreement. The reasons for granting the forbearance must be documented in the borrower's loan records. Forbearance beyond the initial period will require supporting documentation and a written agreement with the borrower, unless the Department of Education provides guidance extending the one-year limitation. During the initial forbearance process, lenders are encouraged to examine the borrower's eligibility for a military or other deferment.
Borrowers Whose Loans are in a Default status:
If a borrower is in default on a loan, schools must, upon being notified that the borrower has been called to active duty, cease all collection activities for the expected period of the borrower's military service, through September 14, 2002, unless the Department of Education provides guidance extending this period. Collection activities must resume no later than 30 days after the end of the borrower's military service or September 14, 2002, whichever is earlier. Borrowers with defaulted loans held by the Department will be treated the same way.
- I have already completed my first bachelor's degree, and I'm taking classes toward my next bachelor's degree. What aid is available to me?
Undergraduate students who have already received a bachelor's degree will only be eligible for loans, work-study and/or scholarships while pursuing additional bachelor degrees. This includes students in dual-degree programs who have already met the requirements for one of their degrees and are continuing their education toward the additional degree.
- Will my financial aid be renewed after my freshman year?
No. You are required to complete a FAFSA and submit all other requested documents each academic year.
It is likely that you will receive similar financial aid packages (awards) throughout your degree program, IF the following remain true:
- A scholarship or award received is not limited to only one year;
- Your family's financial situation remains similar - dramatic changes in income, marital status, or a change in the number of family members in college will affect Expected Family Contribution and, therefore, the amount of financial aid eligibility;
- The federal, state, and institutional funding of financial aid programs remains similar;
- You submit the appropriate application materials by the required deadlines;
- You continue to meet the enrollment level and Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements. The Office of Student Financial Assistance monitors enrollment levels (the number of credit hours you take) during each term. If you drop courses and fall below the minimum credit hour requirements, you may be required to repay all or part of the aid you received; and
- You report accurate information (income, assets, etc.) on your financial aid application(s).
- If I have a parent who is enrolled in a college or university, can this parent be counted as a family member in college when calculating my financial aid?
Federal regulations, effective July 1, 2001, no longer allow parents to automatically be included in the number in college on the FAFSA. The Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) will reduce the number of family members in college if you include a parent in this number in the initial FAFSA submission; only the student and the student's siblings may be included. A reduction in the number of family members in college may significantly reduce your financial aid eligibility.
If you wish to have a parent counted as attending college, you must request a Professional Judgment review at the OSFA.
- Do I make too much money to get any financial aid?
Every student, regardless of income, can be eligible for a student loan. We advise every student to complete the FAFSA early each year so we can review all available options for funding college expenses, including grants, student loans, and work-study employment. You have the right to accept or reject what is being offered when you receive an award letter. You might be surprised what you qualify for!
- What can I do to speed up processing of my file if it is selected for Verification?
- Use the Date Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA when available for both you and your parents (when required).
- Make sure that all of the requested documents include your name and PSU Student ID# at the top of each page, are fully legible, and are signed by you and your parent/spouse (when required).
- Turn in all requested documents at the same time if possible.
- Be patient. Realize that a large number of students are selected for Verification, and it takes time for our office to process everything.
- Periodically check the status of your file.
- What will happen if I am selected for Verification?
If your FAFSA is selected for verification, the Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) will notify you by email that more information is needed to complete your file. You are required to submit certain documents in order to verify the information provided on the FAFSA no later than two weeks prior to the end of the semester(s) of attendance at PSU. However, aid cannot be awarded until all documents are submitted and the verification process completed.
Students selected for Verification will be required to submit various documents, depending on the student's individual file.
Once all required documents have been submitted to OSFA, the information on the documents is compared to the FAFSA application we received from the Department of Education. If errors are found on your financial aid application, corrections will be made electronically. You will receive a revised Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education showing the corrections made to your application. Further, the OSFA will award financial aid based on the corrected FASFA information.
- When and how often can I be verified?
Usually, you will be notified that you are selected for Verification after PSU receives your FASFA, prior to disbursement of funds. However, it is possible that you could be selected for Verification at any time throughout the financial aid year (fall, spring, or summer semesters), even if aid has been disbursed. It is very important to have timely access to the documents you used to complete the FAFSA.
- What is Verification?
The U.S. Department of Education requires schools, including Pittsburg State University, to verify the accuracy of data submitted on the FAFSA form. Therefore, we may ask you to submit various documents, such as a federal income tax return transcripts, to our office. Disbursement of financial aid will be held until all requested documents have been received and processed by OSFA. Participation is mandatory for students selected for Verification, and non-compliance can result in cancellation of financial aid.
- Why is my file being verified?
There are several possibilities:
- Some students are selected by the U.S. Department of Education through a series of edits. Nationally, at least 30% of all FAFSAs are selected.
- Some students are selected by Pittsburg State University if the FAFSA appears to have incomplete or inconsistent information, or if the data indicates a high probability for error. Verification is likely for students who provided estimated tax information, negative income, or very low income on the FAFSA.
- Other possibilities exist, but the purpose of Verification is to prevent Student Financial Assistance from disbursing inaccurate amounts of financial aid to students.
- Do I need to pick up a check for my financial aid?
Grants, scholarships, and loans administered by the Office of Student Financial Assistance are first applied directly to your University account to pay charges for tuition, fees, book voucher (optional), University housing, and any other University charges.
If your total aid package exceeds the amount of charges for the above-stated items, remaining funds will either be direct deposited to the bank account that you submitted through GUS, or if you opt out of ACH, a check will be mailed to your permanent address.
- What will happen to my financial aid awards if I move to off-campus housing?
You will need to see a financial aid counselor to determine if your awards need to be revised.
- Am I allowed to receive financial aid from more than one institution at the same time?
No. If you are enrolled at more than one college or university at the same time, you may receive financial aid from only one of the institutions, not both. Contact OSFA for more information.
- Is my Financial Aid Award Letter the same as my University Fee Statement?
No. The Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) sends you a Financial Aid Award Letter listing any scholarships, grants, loans, and/or Work-Study that you are eligible to receive. Your PSU Fee Statement can be accessed online through the GUS Student Accounts. This statement is the actual amount you owe PSU. Financial aid administered by the OSFA is applied directly to the charges listed on your Account Statement, and you are responsible for paying any amount not covered by these awards.
- Do I have to report any grants or scholarships to the IRS as income?
Part or all of a grant or scholarship may be taxable even if you do not receive a W-2 form. If you are enrolled in a degree program, amounts you use for expenses other than tuition and course-related expenses (e.g. amounts used for room, board, and travel) are taxable. To determine this taxable amount, add up all grant and scholarship awards received in a calendar year, then subtract expenses for tuition, fees, books, and course supplies. If the remaining amount is a positive number, it must be reported as income. If you are not in a degree program, the full amount of the grant or scholarship is taxable.
- What is college work-study? Is this taxable income?
Yes. Any money received as a result of work (Work-Study employment, temporary employment on- or off-campus, etc.) is considered taxable income. You will be asked to file a withholding (W-4) form, and you will receive a statement of income and taxes withheld (W-2) form each calendar year.
The Federal Work-Study program is awarded based on financial need. Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for work-study. To enable your work-study amount, you must find a job on campus. You will be paid from the total amount of work-study awarded; you will not receive it in one lump sum. You will be paid by stipend or hourly, usually minimum wage, and receive a paycheck bi-weekly. You cannot work more than 20 hours per week when school is in session, and no more than 40 hours per week when school is not in session. The actual number of hours worked depends on the department in which you are employed. Contact Student Employment for available positions.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
- How am I notified when I fail to achieve Satisfactory Academic Progress?
At the end of each semester, the OSFA will review the progress of each student. If you have not met all Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards, you will be notified in writing via U.S. Mail and by email.
- What if special circumstances exist that prevented me from making Satisfactory Academic Progress?
If you feel that unique circumstances exist, you may appeal the decision in writing to the Financial Assistance Appeals Committee. This appeal requires a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form, a copy of your unofficial transcript, as well as supporting documentation. Special deadlines do apply, so please visit the OSFA for more information.
- What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to denote a student's successful completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree. Federal regulations require the Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) to monitor the progress of each student toward certificate/degree completion. Students who fall behind in their coursework, or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes, may lose their eligibility for all types of federal and state aid, and University aid administered by OSFA.
- What is required to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress?
Maintain the minimum cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)
Attempted Hours Minimum GPA 0-29 1.4 30-59 1.6 60-89 1.8 90+ 2.0
Entire Program 3.0
Maintain a minimum cumulative Financial Aid Completion Rate
All students receiving Title IV Federal Aid must complete a minimum of 67% of all credit hours attempted. All hours attempted are included in the completion rate, regardless of whether they were taken at PSU or if federal aid was received.
Complete program within the Maximum Timeframe
Students must complete their degree within 150% of the published length of the program. There is no limit to the number of times a student can change his/her degree, major or minor; however, all attempted hours will count toward the maximum timeframe calculation.
Complete at least one class while receiving aid
Students must complete and pass one class in a semester for which Title IV Federal Aid is received.
- How do Academic Holds affect my financial aid?
A "hold" on your student account will prevent your financial assistance from crediting; therefore, your tuition and/or housing charges will not be paid, nor will a refund be processed for you. In other words, all "holds" must be taken care of prior to receiving financial assistance. Examples of student holds are parking tickets, library fines, transcript fees, past-due tuition, insufficient enrollment hours, etc.
- How do incomplete courses, poor grades, and withdrawal from classes affect my SAP status?
Any one of the above reasons may affect your financial aid eligibility for the next semester if it does not fulfill Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards (SAP). Incomplete courses do not count as a completed course until you receive a final grade for that course. Poor grades (such as an F or NC) or withdrawal of courses will not count as successfully completing a course. Please see the Satisfactory Progress Policy or visit with a financial aid counselor for more specific information regarding your situation.
- Athletic Scholarship Appeal Policy/Procedure
A student who wishes to appeal any decision related to his/her athletic scholarship shall submit a written request (Student Appeal Form for Athletic Aid) that includes the following information:
- the student's name, student identification number, year in school and sport;
- the type and amount of the aid that has been/will be canceled or reduced;
- the reason(s) for believing that the decision was unfair, including names of institutional staff members (e.g., coach, financial aid officer) with whom the student has discussed the aid; and
- copies of any relevant documents regarding the athletic aid.
The student should submit these materials to the Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) within 14 days of receipt of the notification letter that specifies the award is being canceled, reduced or not renewed.
The student may request an in-person hearing before the PSU Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee (also referred to as the Appeals Committee). The appeal is reviewed by the Appeals Committee, and its decision is final. There is no appeal beyond the Appeals Committee. The student shall receive a written response within three weeks after the appeal has been submitted.
The Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee consists of four faculty members and the Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Auxiliary Services. The Committee Chairperson is selected from the membership of the Appeals Committee; the faculty members are selected from the University colleges they represent.
In addition, the Athletic Faculty Representative, the Assistant Director/Academics and Compliance, the Athletic Director, the OSFA Director, and the Financial Aid Counselor responsible for NCAA Compliance may attend, as non-voting members, to provide regulatory information to the Appeals Committee.
The student submits the Student Appeal Form for Athletic Aid to the Director of Student Financial Assistance as his/her request for a hearing before the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee. A hearing is scheduled, and the student-athlete and the coach, or Athletic Director, are notified of the time and place. Each side presents their argument to the Appeals Committee.
- If the Appeals Committee finds that the decision to reduce, cancel, or not renew aid is not a violation of laws, regulations or institutional policies, and no extenuating circumstances are present, the appeal is immediately denied.
- If the Appeal Committee finds that the decision to reduce, cancel, or not renew aid is a violation of laws, regulations or institutional policies, the appeal is immediately approved. The financial aid is then made available to the student as soon as possible.
In either case, the Director of Student Financial Assistance shall notify each party, in writing, within ten working days of the appeal hearing. If the student wishes to discuss the result of the appeal, a meeting will be arranged with the Director of Student Financial Assistance or a designated member of the Appeals Committee.
- Reference Information for Student-Athletes Receiving Federal Aid and Scholarships
Accreditation: Information regarding the associations, agencies, and/or governmental bodies that accredit, approve, or license the school and its programs can be found in the University Catalog.
Facilities: Information regarding the special facilities and services available to disabled students can be found in the Office of Equal Opportunity.
Cost of Attending: Information regarding the costs of attending the school (tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and applicable transportation costs, such as commuting) and any additional costs of the program in which the student is enrolled, or has expressed an interest, can be found in the Office of Student Financial Assistance.
Degree Programs, Training, and Personnel: The academic degree programs, training, availability of a GED program, instructional, laboratory, and physical plant facilities associated with the academic programs and other education offered, as well as a list of faculty and other instructional personnel can be found in the University Catalog.
Financial Assistance, Satisfactory Academic Progress, FFEL/Direct Loan Deferments: Information regarding student financial assistance available, including the rights and responsibilities of receiving Title IV and other financial aid, the different types of financial aid available among different departmental programs, awarding policies, and the satisfactory academic progress standards that must be maintained, can be found in the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Also found within the OSFA are the terms and conditions of FFEL and Direct Loan deferments for those in the Peace Corps, Domestic Volunteer Service, or comparable volunteer services.
Withdrawing From School: A statement of the requirements for the return of student financial assistance program funds when a student totally withdraws from school, information about any refund policy with which the school must comply, and the requirements for officially withdrawing from the school can be found in each University Semester Class Schedule under General Information.
FERPA: The rights under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which includes the right to and procedures for reviewing student's education records, can be found in the Office of the Registrar.
Completion/Graduation Rates: Detailed information regarding the completion or graduation rate of full-time undergraduates who graduated or completed their program within 150% of the normal time for graduation/completion, as well as the transfer-out rate, can be found in the Office of the Registrar.
Crime Report: The school's campus crime report, which includes statistics of offenses reported to campus security for the three most recent calendar years, can be found in the Office of University Police.
Athletic Participation: A report on the campus athletic program participation rates, including the number and gender of participants that compete in intercollegiate athletic competitions for each semester as well as campus coaching staff information, can be found in the Athletic Department.
*NOTE: Students who totally withdraw from PSU after receiving financial assistance need to be strongly cautioned that, in the majority of cases, they will have to repay at least a portion of the funds they have received.
- Steps Required to Receive Your Athletic Scholarship
Steps the Student-Athlete MUST complete to receive Athletic Scholarships for tuition/fees and on-campus housing:
Return the Athletic Financial Aid Agreement by the date indicated.
Make sure you are enrolled in 12 credit hours or more. Full-time enrollment for financial aid purposes, including athletic scholarships, is 12 or more credit hours (although full-time tuition and fees are assessed for 10 or more credit hours).
Verify your enrollment online. Verification of enrollment is available as early as two weeks prior to the start of each semester. Verification must be completed before tuition and/or on-campus housing aid will credit to your student account.
Go to the Pitt State home page. Select "Login" (located at the top of page), then select "GUS" and sign in using your PSU Student ID number and your GUS password. If you do not have a GUS password, you can obtain one at 109 Whitesitt Hall with a photo ID, such as a driver's license, or a PSU ID card.
Select "VERIFICATION OF ENROLLMENT FOR DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS". ALL HOLDS MUST BE RESOLVED, or you will need to allow your financial aid funds to pay your holds through the verification process (allowable up to a certain amount).
Select the semester you are verifying and read the regulations listed.
Review your class schedule to make sure you are enrolled in the correct courses. Make any changes as needed.
Update your email address and other personal information, then select "End Verification".
- Compliance Guidelines for Outside Scholarships
All athletes receiving scholarships from sources outside Pittsburg State University must abide by the following guidelines to ensure eligibility for athletic participation.
For ALL athletes (whether or not applying for federal financial aid), all scholarship donors must provide written notification to the Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) of the amount to be given to the recipient for both the Fall and Spring semesters, as well as certification of the criteria for awarding the scholarship. If the scholarship is renewable (for future academic terms), that should also be stated within the notification letter.
If your donor does not provide a notification letter with the scholarship funds, you may provide a blank criteria form for your scholarship donor(s). Donors may mail or fax the signed, completed form to the OSFA. Contact information is listed on the form.
The scholarship funds should be payable to both the University and the student-athlete, or to the University, and may be included with the notification letter and/or criteria documentation. However, if the scholarship is made payable to only the student and mailed directly to the student, the student must bring the check to the OSFA, along with the criteria documentation; then the student may sign the check and allow Financial Assistance personnel to deposit the funds directly to the student's University account.
When a student-athlete receives a renewal scholarship, the criteria provided during the first year of receipt will suffice and further documentation will not be necessary unless the criteria for the initial scholarship have been revised.
Outside scholarships will not be applied to the student-athlete's University account until all criteria information is received by the University as outlined above. If scholarship funds are sent directly to the University without adequate documentation regarding criteria for awarding the scholarship, these funds will be held until said documentation is received at the OSFA.
If you have questions or require clarification of these guidelines, please contact Angela Ashmore at the Office of Student Financial Assistance, 620-235-4241; or submit an email to email@example.com.