The start of yet another college/training school year is upon us. If you’re one of the many students who have completed your Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) and are anxiously waiting for your federal financial aid funds to be transferred to your student account (to help pay your tuition, fees and books), here’s a little advice – Be patient. There are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your financial aid is moving. First, know that it is your college or training school that distributes your financial aid. They all work a little different but are likely to follow these general guidelines:
When: Disbursements are usually made at the beginning of the fall semester and beginning of the spring semester (trimesters or quarters if you are not on a semester system).
For Grants, Scholarships, and Student Loans: In most cases, the college/training program applies your federal grants, loans, and scholarship money directly toward your tuition, fees, and room and board (if you live on campus.) If any money is left over, it will be disbursed to the student, usually by check or direct deposit if the student is set up for direct deposit. The same applies for money left over if the student is living off campus so that the student can apply it toward other college or living expenses.
If you’ve accepted a federal student loan, remember the following:
- Make sure you’ve completed your entrance loan counseling and signed your master promissory note (MPN). You can do that by clicking on the hyperlinks or going to: www.studentloans.gov. You will need your FSA ID to login.
- If you are a first-year undergraduate and first-time borrower, you may be required to wait 30 days after the enrollment period. Check with your college.
- If you decide you do not want to use your federal loan money, after it’s been disbursed, you can cancel your loan within 120 days and no fees or interest will be charged. Check with your financial aid office for more information.
Some state and private grants, scholarships, and loans may require certification from the college/training program that the student is enrolled and attending. So, its possible funds may not be awarded until after the drop/add deadline.
- If a parent has taken a federal PLUS loan out on behalf of their student, the funds are usually disbursed directly into the student’s account to pay for all authorized charges.
- If money is left over, it will be disbursed to the parent unless permission has been granted to give the leftover money to the student.
- Unless a six month deferment is requested during the application process, and approved, payments for PLUS loans begin shortly after the first disbursement.
Unlike other financial aid, work-study funds are earned through hourly wages as part of employment, just like any other job. Work-study funds come to the student through an employer (almost always on-campus) who hires work-study students. Essentially, work-study offsets the cost for the campus to hire students, making more jobs available to students – and making work-study students an attractive hire! However, just like with a regular job, students still must apply for and be accepted to a work-study position to earn their work-study funds. Students who have been awarded work-study can talk to their financial aid office or career services office to learn more about how to find available positions, how to apply, and how the process works at their school.
If you have any questions about your disbursement or about your financial aid funds, contact your Financial Aid Office.