Financial Aid Q&A
Many students at Angelo State University receive some sort of financial aid, and it comes in many shapes and forms. Financial aid can be scholarships, grants, work study awards and student loans.
Grants, work study and student loans are awarded based on one application, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), while scholarships each have their own deadlines.
ASU’s Carr Scholarship, awarded primarily to incoming freshmen, is based on student test scores and high school GPA and does not require a separate application. Additionally, ASU has a general scholarship application that helps students be considered for various other scholarships.
I asked both William Bloom, ASU director of financial aid, and Michelle Norris, ASU director of scholarship programs, some questions about financial aid and how to prevent and solve the problems that can, unfortunately, arise at times. Here is their advice:
What are some important deadlines to keep in mind when filling out forms and applying for financial aid?
Bloom: The FAFSA really has no hard deadline. You simply have to have it completed and awarded before the last day of the semester. There is, however, a March 15 priority filing date. Those who fill out the FAFSA online and have their files complete and ready to package with us prior to that date get awarded first. For the Pell grant and student loans, it doesn’t make a difference, but there are other federal, state and institutional grants that have limited amounts. Those who file early snag these grants.
Norris: Deadlines for scholarships vary. Institutions have deadlines for their endowed scholarships, and scholarships outside of the institution have theirs. Typically, applications for the fall semester will open as early as the October before the fall semester that you will be attending, and deadlines can be as early as January. Most scholarships are awarded for the academic year (fall and spring semesters), therefore scholarships for the spring semester are pretty scarce. Should there be scholarship applications for the spring, those applications open around October and have a December deadline.
What can students do if they miss a deadline?
Bloom: If you miss the March 15 FAFSA filing date, you are still not out of the running for these extra awards. Not everyone who is awarded ends up attending here. Unused money gets rolled back into the fund and can be awarded to other students.
We can award the Pell grant and student loans regardless of the date of application. This can help students pay for their college if they miss the March 15 priority date. Scholarships most always have deadlines, and they vary from scholarship to scholarship.
What can students do if their financial aid did not come in properly?
Bloom: Even being as careful as possible, there may still be a holdup for any number of reasons. Contact us right away so we can determine what is causing the issue with the aid disbursement and resolve it as quickly as possible. Stay diligent until the funds are in your account.
Have a bad semester? Check with us to be sure that your academic progress won’t prohibit your aid from crediting. Making a change to your FAFSA? Often, these changes can add additional requirements that can affect your aid from disbursing.
Just stay up with your email and call us with any questions, and a lot of heartburn can be resolved in time for aid disbursement when it should. Drop a class? Let us know to prevent further issues.
Norris: When a student is awarded a scholarship that will be sent to the institution, many times the donor of that scholarships will not send the check until a student has provided “proof of enrollment.” That term seems to cause some confusion but, in most cases, all the donor needs is a copy of the student’s class schedule or a copy of the tuition bill.
Providing the donor proof of enrollment is the responsibility of the student. If the donor has already sent the check and you do not see the check has been applied or if you cannot tell which check has been posted, contact the Scholarship Programs Office. Here at ASU, we perform data entry for each check we receive so that students can see the checks we have received on RamPort.
Is there anything a student can do to help prevent problems from arising?
Norris: The easiest thing a student can do to ensure scholarship money comes in on time is provide the proper documents to the donor. If the donor needs a copy of the bill, class schedule or transcripts, etc., get the donor those documents as soon as you can.
Most donors will send a letter with the check telling us how the check is to be applied. Some donors specify exactly what term the check is for, others only say it is for the academic year. Should the donor specify fall, we will apply the entire check toward the fall semester. When the donor says the check is for the academic year, the check will be split between the fall and spring semester.
Bloom: I would recommend to all students to stay on top of your applications until the funds are in your account.
File the FAFSA as early as possible, because waiting until the last minute causes delays. Once submitted, check your email frequently, as we communicate by email. Any additional forms, missing documents or any sort of issues that will prevent your aid from posting and crediting will be communicated by email. Stay current with your email, get us the documents that are requested and confirm with the office that they have been received, processed and you have been awarded.
Once awarded, go to RamPort and accept the aid you want. If loans are part of the aid, be sure to complete any additional application information, such as loan entrance counseling and signing Master Promissory Notes (MPN). If you have any questions at all, contact the Financial Aid Office and we can check your application.