Financial Aid

Financial Aid - Scholarships

 Q:   Scholarships - I received a scholarship from a private donor. Should I report it to the Office of Student Financial Aid?  

A:   If you are receiving scholarships from federal, state, university or private donor sources, you MUST report the scholarship to the Office of Student Financial Aid.

 Q:   Scholarships - When will I see the AIMS Scholarship posted?  

A:   NAU receives notification of AIMS awards from the Arizona Board of Regents by the end of July each year. If there are questions regarding eligibility, please contact your High School guidance counselor who certifies the information to the Arizona Board of Regents.

 Q:   Scholarships - I am a student with a scholarship check from a private donor, or I am a private donor; how do I have my scholarship applied?  

A:   Please send all checks, made payable to Northern Arizona University, to the Scholarship Office, PO Box 4108 Flagstaff, AZ 86011 with an award letter detailing who is to receive the check (NAU ID# or SSN) and how the check is to be applied (Fall only, Spring only, full year, etc.). If no information is provided checks will automatically be split; half applied for the Fall and half applied for the Spring.

 Q:   Scholarships - Why do the AIMS and NAU Merit based Scholarships not work in conjunction with other waivers, such as the EARP?  

A:   AIMS and the NAU Merit based Scholarships (President, Dean, and NAU Merit) are all waivers and as such can only be applied up to the amount of tuition. NAU automatically applies the award that is of the most benefit to the student since the various scholarships all have the same renewal criteria. These awards do not waive fees or other charges.

 Q:   Scholarships - What scholarships are available and how can I get more?  

A:   Scholarships are awarded based on academic merit, financial need, and/or personal background. Some have specific requirements or conditions that must be met, and many awards are renewable each year. Incoming freshmen are automatically considered for some academic scholarships once they are accepted to NAU. The Office of Student Financial Aid has a Scholarship Application (available January of each year) that is reviewed by most NAU departments and many private donors. This enables students to submit their information for many scholarships in one place. We also recommend that students look at NAU's scholarship webpage, nau.edu/finaid/scholarships, for additional scholarship opportunities.

 Q:   Scholarships - I received a private or department scholarship. Why isn't it showing up on my account?  

A:   Scholarships are posted to students' accounts once the award letter and check have been received by the donor. Students are encouraged to follow up with the donor to see when the check was or will be sent to NAU. Once received, the scholarship should be on the account in a couple days.

Financial Aid - Loans

 Q:   Loans - I cannot accept the PLUS loan or private loan online in LOUIE the way I can accept my other awards. How do I get these loans?  

A:   The Parent PLUS Loan for Undergraduate Students is available to parents of dependent undergraduate students to assist in paying for educational costs after other financial aid has been awarded. The funds are borrowed directly from the Department of Education. Students will see an award named 'PLUS Loan - Offered' on his/her Award Letter. To apply, parents complete the online Parent PLUS Loan Application at studentloans.gov. A credit check is done by the Department of Education and the parent is notified immediately of the result. If approved, parents must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at www.studentloans.gov. If denied, the parent can appeal the decision or seek an endorser. The Private/Alternative Loan offer is the maximum amount that students could receive through a private loan, usually obtained through their bank or other lender. Students apply through the lender, which then works with NAU to transfer the funds.

 Q:   Loans - I completed my MPN and Entrance Counseling this morning. Why are they still on my LOUIE To Do List?  

A:   MPNs and Entrance Counseling are done through Department of Education at studentloans.gov. Schools receive this completed information regularly, however, it may take 3-5 days to show as a completed item in a student's LOUIE account.

Financial Aid - General

 Q:   General - How does Financial Aid work?  

A:   The key to financing your education is to plan early and keep your options open. The more you know about how financial aid works, the better prepared you will be to pay for college. There are many different programs available to assist families in meeting the cost of higher education, and students may qualify based on a combination of programs. Basically, parents and students contribute to the cost of college to the extent possible and if unable to contribute the entire amount, financial aid may be available to help meet the remaining costs. The following types of funding are available: Scholarships Federal Pell Grant Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Federal ACG and SMART Grants Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Grant Federal TEACH Grant Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) Federal Direct PLUS for Graduate Students Perkins Loans Arizona Financial Aid Trust Alternative Loans   

 Q:   General - How Do I apply for financial aid?  

A:   Start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is available starting January 1st each year at fafsa.gov.   

 Q:   General - Why Should I Apply for Financial Aid?  

A:   The cost of a college education is expensive and becoming more so every year. It is worth your time and effort to find out if you qualify for aid. The formula for financial aid takes into consideration such factors as income, size of family, other children in college and other expenses you might have. Therefore, you should always make the effort to see if you are eligible for help in financing your education. You can access NAU's Cost of Attendance figures via our web site.        

 Q:   General - Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid?  

A:   No. You can apply for financial aid as early as January 1 for the upcoming academic year. To actually be awarded, however, you must be admitted by the NAU Office of Admissions if you are an undergraduate or by the Graduate College if you plan to be enrolled in a graduate program.

 Q:   General - My parents are divorced, and the parent I'm living with has remarried. Does my step-parent have to report his or her income and assets on the FAFSA?  

A:   Yes, provided that the parent you're living with is the one filling out the FAFSA (your custodial parent). The custodial parent is the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months. This is not necessarily the same as the parent who has legal custody. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, the parent who provided you with the most financial support should fill out the FAFSA. Note, however, that any child support and/or alimony received from the non-custodial parent must be included on the FAFSA.           

 Q:   General - How is my financial need determined?  

A:   The federal processor considers all of the information that you provided on the FAFSA and applies their formula, called the Federal Methodology. This formula takes into account the income, size of family, number in college and other expenses to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The school will subtract the EFC from the Cost of Attendance to establish your financial need.

 Q:   General - I applied for financial aid over four weeks ago, but haven't received the results. What should I do?  

A:   If you haven't received a Student Aid Report (SAR), call the Federal Processor at 1-800-433-3243 (TTY users may call 1-800-730-8913). You must provide them with your Social Security number and date of birth as verification. If you applied online and obtained a federal PIN number, you can print a SAR online. You can also write to: Federal Student Aid Programs PO Box 4001 Mt. Vernon, IL 62864-8601 .

 Q:   General - I see the Estimated Cost of Attendance on my award letter; is there any way to cut some of these costs?  

A:   Focus on the 'Total Direct Costs' (tuition, meals, housing and books/supplies). These are the costs that need to be covered each semester. Other costs, such as transportation and personal expenses may not even be necessary and those that are can be covered with a part-time job on campus.     

 Q:   General - How do I become an independent student for federal financial aid purposes?  

A:   You are automatically considered independent if you meet one of the following: were born before January 1 of the year specified for independency on the FAFSA are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces are married are a Ward of the Court have no living parents and have no legal guardian have a legal dependent who gets more than half of their support from you The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has more details about these categories.

 Q:   General - If I live off-campus is my financial aid affected?  

A:   Maybe. The Office of Student Financial Aid establishes a budget of annual costs for all students that includes housing. Living off-campus may affect a student's budget and, therefore, affect financial aid.       

 Q:   General - If I participate in the Federal Work Study Program, do the earnings affect my future financial aid eligibility?  

A:   The earnings from Federal Work Study should be reported as income on the FAFSA; however, you are given the opportunity to exclude that amount from your earnings in another section of the application.

 Q:   General - What if my family's financial circumstances change? How does that affect my financial aid award?  

A:   The financial aid application bases your eligibility on the previous year's tax information. If circumstances change, such as loss of income, loss of employment, divorce or death in the family, you may have your eligibility reevaluated. Contact the Office of Student Financial Aid for more information.

 Q:   General - Why hasn't my aid disbursed?  

A:   There are many factors that can hold up the release of your financial aid. Check your LOUIE account for any holds or To Do List items. The most common holds are "Too Few Hours" or "Past Due Charges". "Too Few Hours" means you were funded for a certain number of credits but are not enrolled in that number. For instance, if you are funded as full-time, you need to have 12 credits for an undergraduate or 9 units for graduate. "Past Due Charges" means that you have a balance of $200 or more from a previous term. You must pay this down below $200 for the next semester's aid to release. Items on your To Do List, like Direct Loan MPN or Entrance Counseling, will prevent disbursement of your loan funds only. Check your LOUIE account frequently to make sure everything is in order. Financial Aid holds only prevent aid from disbursing. There is not a financial aid hold that will ever prevent a student from registering for classes.            

 Q:   General - Am I eligible for Federal Work Study (FWS)?  

A:   Federal Work Study is a need-based award and requires that you have a FAFSA on file with our office. If it was not awarded to you on your award letter you may contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to check your eligibility.          

 Q:   General - How will my financial aid be affected if I drop any of my classes?  

A:   Depending on when you drop your classes, you may or may not need to return some of your financial aid to the university. If aid disburses/releases and you drop all of your classes before the start of the term, you will be required to return all of your financial aid. Any point after the start of classes requires the Office of Financial Aid to calculate the percentage of aid you owe back. You may also have a Satisfactory Academic Progress hold on the next semesters aid, so check your LOUIE account frequently to avoid delays in your disbursement.           

 Q:   General - What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and why do I have a SAP hold?  

A:   If you've received aid and dropped your classes or withdrew, you will most likely find a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) hold on your account for the next semester. When you receive financial aid funding from federal or state resources, there are "a few strings attached" in order to maintain eligibility. 1.) You must complete 75% of the credits for which you were funded. If you complete 25-75% of your courses in one semester, you will be placed on probation. You will have two semesters to bring that percentage up to 75% or higher. If you fail to do so, you will be placed on SAP suspension. You will then need to fund 9 credits in one semester on your own, without financial aid, and successfully complete those credits or submit an Appeal to Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress form. If you fall below 25% at any time, you will be placed on suspension. 2.) The maximum time frame for the completion of a degree is limited by federal regulations to 150% of the published length of the degree program and includes transfer credits and all attempted credit hours including completed credits, audits, incompletes, withdrawals and repeated or failed classes. The NAU Office of Student Financial Aid monitors your number of credit hours at the end of every semester. Once you exceed this maximum time frame for your program, you will no longer be eligible for federal or state financial aid for any future semester. This may also be appealed with the form mentioned above.    

 Q:   General - Does my financial aid cover my books?  

A:   Books do not appear as a charge on a student's account that will be paid by financial aid. When aid disburses, it pays charges like tuition, fees, housing, and meals. Any aid left over comes to the student as a refund. That refund can be used at the NAU Bookstore for their textbooks and supplies. The extra money is not kept on a student's account, but is refunded to them to use as needed.    

 Q:   General - I was told financial aid disbursed on the 15th, so where is my refund?  

A:   Financial aid starts disbursing nine days before the start of the term. The Office of the Bursar, who manages charges, processes that aid to pay all charges on the account. If there is any aid left over, it goes to students in the form of a refund. If students have signed up for Direct Deposit, the refund will be in their bank account 48-72 business hours later. If they are getting a paper check, they should expect it in 5-7 business days. Students can sign up for Direct Deposit through their LOUIE account.

 Q:   General - My family's income has changed. What can we do to get more aid?  

A:   A student's financial aid is based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which uses the prior year's taxes. If a family's income has changed, the student and parents can file a Contribution Appeal with the Office of Student Financial Aid. This is found at nau.edu/finaid. With the appeal, the Office of Student Financial Aid may be able to adjust the student's FAFSA to include more current numbers, which may mean additional aid for the student.

 Q:   General - Can I make an appointment to speak with someone in Financial Aid?  

A:   Students are assigned to specific Program Coordinator, based on their last name. Each coordinator has walk-in and appointment times each week and students are welcome to come during walk-in times or make an appointment. The alphabet break-down and schedule are available online at nau.edu/finaid/About Us.

 Q:   General - I am transferring from another school. Does my aid transfer?  

A:   Financial aid is student and institution specific. All schools have varying levels of funding. Students who transfer to another institution should have their FAFSA sent to the new school so that a new award package can be built. The new school will evaluate the student's eligibility for federal and state grant grants and loans. Loans have annual limits, regardless of the institution, so if the full year's amount was taken out at the first school, there will be nothing left for the second semester at the new school. Students are advised to speak with the Office of Student Financial Aid to ensure a smooth transition.            

 Q:   General - How can I get aid for summer classes?  

A:   Summer aid requires the same FAFSA as the previous Fall and Spring term. For instance, the 2010-2011 FAFSA covers Fall 2010, Spring 2011, and Summer 2011. At NAU, there is a separate, online application for Summer aid. This is found on students' LOUIE accounts beginning in late March or early April. Students indicate the number of credits they anticipate taking and the types of aid they would like to be considered for over all Summer sessions. They are then automatically evaluated and will receive a list of Summer aid available to them. There are two disbursement dates, depending on when the students' classes begin.

 Q:   General - How can I get aid for winter classes?  

A:   Students can receive aid for winter classes if they have enough Spring aid to cover both Spring and Winter charges. The Winter application is available online at nau.edu/finaid when students are able to register for Spring and Winter classes. If students register for winter classes but do not complete the winter application or pay out-of-pocket, they will be dropped for non-payment. This application is due approximately one week before winter classes begin.    

 Q:   General - What is Verification and what do I need to submit? 

A:   Schools are required to verify a certain percentage of the FAFSAs they receive, to make sure that the application was completed correctly. Students are notified via mail that they have been selected and that they need to submit a few documents as soon as possible. Dependent students will need to submit the Dependent Student Verification form, student tax return, parent tax return, and parent W2(s). Independent students will need to submit the Independent Student Verification form, student tax return, student W2(s), spouse tax return, and spouse W2(s). All of these forms are available at nau.edu/finaid/forms . Once received, the Office of Student Financial Aid will review the information, make any necessary changes to the FAFSA, and set the file ready for awarding. If additional information is needed, the student will be contacted. 

 Q:   General - What does Possible Financial Assistance mean on my LOUIE account?  

A:   After a FAFSA is received and before a student is awarded, a placeholder can be seen on their account. Possible Financial Assistance is the total amount of aid (need and non-need based) aid that a student is able to receive assuming they complete the application. It is not an award and will not disburse or release to a student's account. Financial aid awards have specific names and amounts.    

 Q:   General - What is the FAFSA deadline?  

A:   NAU's FAFSA priority date is February 14th. Students can start filing January 1 for the following Fall term. Each school has a different priority date, so it is important to check with each institution. FAFSAs can be filed all year long, but the earlier a student submits their FAFSA, the better their chances for need-based state grant funding.  

 Q:   General - When will I know what I have been awarded for the upcoming academic year?  

A:   Awarding starts mid-to-late-March and continues each week throughout the year for the new academic year, which begins in August. As files are completed they are put in line for awarding. One paper award letter is sent to the student's mailing address. If there are any changes to the awards (i.e. scholarship/grant added, loan increased), a notification email is sent, advising students to check their awards on LOUIE.

 Q:   General - I received a letter that says I am ineligible for financial aid due to my admission status. What does this mean?  

A:   Students who file the FAFSA before gaining admission to the university will get this letter. There is nothing the student needs to do beyond ensuring that Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation has everything they need to make a decision. Once the admission goes through the student will be evaluated for financial aid.