NAU financial aid: frequently asked questions
Answers to your financial aid questions
When should I complete my FAFSA? Do taxes need to be filed first? Accordion Closed
Our priority date for all students is April 1. We encourage you to submit your financial aid FAFSA by the priority date to be considered for grants with limited funding (e.g., University Grant). The priority date is not the deadline. Each year’s FAFSA is available 21 months: October 1 – June 30 the following year.
What happens when taxes are filed? What if I need to make corrections to my FAFSA? Accordion Closed
Simply log in to your FAFSA to make necessary corrections. You may use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for accuracy and simplicity. If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, manually input figures from your tax return. The NAU financial aid office will contact you via email only if your corrections have impacted your eligibility. If you don’t hear back from us within 3-4 weeks, your corrections had no impact on your eligibility. As always, monitor your NAU email for communications from our office.
Am I dependent or independent? Accordion Closed
Based on FAFSA information, you will be considered either “dependent” or “independent.” Be aware that “dependent” has a different definition for financial aid purposes than it does for tax purposes. The official determination is made when your FAFSA is processed, but by answering a few questions, you can get a good idea of which category you fit into:
- Will you be 24 or older by Dec. 31 of the school year for which you are applying for financial aid?
- Will you be working toward a master’s or doctoral degree (such as M.A., M.B.A., Ph.D., Ed.D.)?
- Are you married or separated but not divorced?
- Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you?
- Do you have dependents (other than children or a spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you?
- At any time since you turned age 13, were both of your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a ward or dependent of the court?
- Are you an emancipated minor or are you in a legal guardianship as determined by a court?
- Are you an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
If none of the criteria listed above apply to you, you may be considered a dependent student. If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be an independent student.
When will I be awarded financial aid? Accordion Closed
Students new to NAU are awarded financial aid in December for the following academic year. Continuing students are awarded beginning late May for the following academic year. We award continuing or returning students after they are evaluated for and meet satisfactory academic progress.
When will my financial aid be applied to my tuition and charges? Accordion Closed
NAU will begin disbursing students’ financial aid approximately 10 days prior to the first day of each 16-week semester or summer session. This applies to all students including those with early-start classes. Disbursement means your financial aid is sent to your student account and applied to your tuition and other charges. Log in to LOUIE regularly to check for To Do List items or Holds. Several items can cause disbursement to be held up. With this in mind, it is best to take care of requirements as soon as possible. We disburse available funds Monday-Saturday evenings for the current academic term. If you’ve been awarded aid for an upcoming academic term, funds will not disburse until 10 days before the start of that term.
What happens if I have financial aid left over after all my charges have been paid? Accordion Closed
If your financial aid is greater than your account balance you will receive a refund. All excess financial aid will be sent via electronic funds transfer to your direct deposit bank account listed in LOUIE. Allow 3-5 business days for funds to transfer. If you do not sign up for direct deposit, the refund check will be mailed to your refund address listed in LOUIE.
What steps do I take to accept my student loans? Accordion Closed
- Log in to LOUIE to accept and/or adjust your loan amounts.
- If you are a new borrower at NAU, go to StudentLoans.gov to complete Entrance Counseling and sign a Master Promissory Note. You can complete these two steps even if these items are not listed on your LOUIE To Do List. Your loan(s) will not disburse until these steps are completed.
- New and continuing borrowers should monitor LOUIE and their NAU email for required items that might prevent financial aid disbursement.
- Half-time enrollment is required in order for your loan(s) to disburse.
How do you determine my student loan amount? Accordion Closed
Your academic level (total credit hours earned) determines federal subsidized and/or unsubsidized loan totals:
- Freshman: 0-29 hours earned
- Sophomore: 30-59
- Junior: 60-89
- Senior: 90-120+
See your loan type for specific amounts.
Who can apply for the Federal Parent PLUS loan? Accordion Closed
Completing the FAFSA is a prerequisite for the Federal Parent PLUS loan to ensure that you are applying for and possibly receiving grants and other need-based student aid before relying on loans. Total financial aid limits are determined by your financial aid Cost of Attendance. Your financial aid (including PLUS) cannot exceed your total Cost of Attendance.
If you are a dependent undergraduate student, those who are eligible to apply are:
- your biological or adoptive parent(s)
- a stepparent only if he/she is married to your parent whose income and assets were reported on your FAFSA
- If your parents are divorced, both may apply but the combined loan amounts cannot exceed your cost of attendance.
Those not eligible include:
- other family members unless the relative has legally adopted you
- legal guardians
- parent(s) of independent undergraduate student
Is the Federal PLUS loan available to me as a graduate/doctoral student? Accordion Closed
Yes. Complete the FAFSA to determine if you are eligible for an unsubsidized loan. Remember, interest rates for an unsubsidized loan are lower than the PLUS. Apply for the Federal PLUS loan only if you need additional funds to cover your educational expenses. NOTE: Total financial aid limits are determined by your financial aid Cost of Attendance. Your financial aid (including PLUS) cannot exceed your total Cost of Attendance.
I’ve been offered Federal Work-Study. What are my next steps? Accordion Closed
Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a federally funded, need-based aid program where students earn funding via part-time work either on campus or with an off-campus FWS employer. It is not a “traditional” financial aid award that disburses to your student account; it’s a paycheck. You are paid every other Friday for the hours you work.
First, accept your award – even if you’ve not been hired or you’re not sure if you’re going to take advantage of the program. You’ll lose your FWS award if you don’t accept it by mid-September. Next, find a job. Also consider contacting your ideal NAU department(s) directly to discover possible open student staff positions. Don’t give up! Jobs open all the time.
NOTE: Once you find a job, be sure to let your supervisor know you’ve been awarded Federal Work-Study. It will be in their favor and yours.
Why was I not awarded Federal Work-Study? Accordion Closed
Federal Work-Study is a need-based financial aid program with limited funds each year. Criteria are based on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and financial aid you’ve already been awarded. We encourage you to contact us if you’ve submitted your FAFSA and your EFC is not larger than your total Cost of Attendance. If you’re eligible for FWS, you’ll be placed on a waiting list. The waiting list is monitored throughout the academic year and additional students are awarded if funding becomes available.
Can I still get a job on campus if I was not awarded and/or I’m not eligible for Federal Work-Study? Accordion Closed
Is financial aid available for summer classes? Accordion Closed
Yes. Eligibility is based on your financial aid “left over” from fall and spring semesters. You are not eligible for summer financial aid if you have already been awarded the maximum amount of federal financial aid (i.e., Pell Grant and subsidized/unsubsidized loans) for the aid year, which includes fall, spring, and summer. No application is required to request summer aid. Enroll at least half-time in summer classes as soon as possible. We begin reviewing student eligibility in mid-April.
Can I receive financial aid to take a winter class? Accordion Closed
Submit an Application for Deferment of Winter charges for consideration which becomes available in September. Eligibility is based on how much aid you have for the spring semester. If you will receive enough to cover both winter and spring tuition, you might be eligible to have your spring financial aid pay your winter tuition. How it works: If approved, your winter tuition and fees will be paid when your spring aid is disbursed in January. You will not be dropped from your winter class; however, make sure you have budgeted for your class text and supplies since you will not receive a financial aid disbursement in December.
I have additional educational expenses this year. Can these expenses increase my financial aid? Accordion Closed
If your additional expenses fall into a category listed on the Budget Appeal form which can be found on the forms page, you can request a review of your expenses. If your appeal is approved, your total cost of attendance will increase by the amount of the expenses incurred. Approval of your Budget Appeal is not a guarantee of an increase in your financial aid. You might already be awarded the maximum amount of aid we can offer. Carefully read the Budget Appeal form for acceptable scenarios.
My family’s income has changed considerably since I submitted my FAFSA. Is there a way it can be reviewed to see if I qualify for more aid now? Accordion Closed
Your parent(s) can complete a Contribution Appeal if you are a dependent student. Students considered independent need to complete a Student Contribution Appeal. When all information and documentation are provided, we will review and make a decision based upon your situation. Carefully read the Contribution Appeal paying close attention to acceptable scenarios and requirements prior to submitting. In order to submit an appeal, make an appointment with a financial aid advisor to determine if your situation warrants and appeal. Submit your Contribution Appeal by April 15 for review and decision to be made by the end of May. All appeals submitted after April 15 will be reviewed beginning September 1.
My family makes too much money for me to be eligible for financial aid. What are my options? Accordion Closed
You should always complete the FAFSA for each year you plan to attend college. There’s no income cut-off – regardless of your family’s finances. By submitting the FAFSA, you are applying for federal and state grants, Federal Work-Study, and student loans. Your family’s finances and other factors reported on the FAFSA determine which types of financial aid you qualify for. Those types may be different next year if changes are made at the federal level or to your family’s finances. If you discover you’re not eligible for a grant (free money), you don’t have to accept your student loan if you find it unnecessary to borrow.
NOTE: Many scholarship applications require you to complete the FAFSA. Complete the FAFSA now to save time when you’re applying for scholarships.