Frequently Asked Questions

FAFSA Questions

  1. Where can I get a copy of the FAFSA?
    You can ask your guidance counselor for a copy. You can also get the FAFSA from the financial aid office at a local college, your local public library, or by calling 1-800-4- FED- AID. The online version of the form is available at
  2. How soon after January 1 should the FAFSA form be sent in?
    Is it better to wait until the income tax forms have been completed? Send in the form as soon as possible after January 1. Do not wait until your taxes are done. Although it is better to do your taxes early, it is ok to use estimates of your income, so long as they aren’t very far off from the actual values. You will have an opportunity to correct any errors later. If you wait too long, you might miss the deadline for state aid. Most states require the FAFSA to be submitted by March 1, and some even as early as early or mid-February.

Federal Student Aid Questions

  1. I sent in my FAFSA over four weeks ago but haven’t heard anything. What should I do?
    If you haven’t received a Student Aid Report (SAR), call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (toll free) or 1-319-337-5665. You must provide them with your Social Security number and date of birth as verification.
  2. I probably don’t qualify for aid. Should I apply anyway?
    Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don’t qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free. There is no good excuse for not applying.
  3. Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid at a particular university?
    No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1. To actually receive funds,however, you must be admitted and enrolled at the university.
  4. Why can’t I submit my financial aid application before January 1?
    The need analysis process for financial aid uses the family’s income and tax information from the most recent tax year (the base year) to judge your eligibility for need-based financial aid during the upcoming academic year (the award year). Since the base year ends December 31, you cannot submit a financial aid application until January 1. After all, your parents might earn a year-end bonus or realize capital gains from selling stocks on December 31. If you submit the financial aid application before January 1, it will be rejected.
  5. Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
    Yes. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.
  6. How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?
    Submit a FAFSA. To indicate interest in student employment, student loans and parent loans, you should check the appropriate boxes. Checking these boxes does not commit you to accepting these types of aid. You will have the opportunity to accept or decline each part of your aid package later.
  7. Are my parents responsible for my educational loans?
    No. Parents are, however, responsible for the Federal PLUS loans. Parents will only be responsible for your educational loans if they co-sign your loan. In general you and you alone are responsible for repaying your educational loans.
  8. Why is the family contribution listed on the SAR different from the family contribution expected by the university?
    The federal formula for computing the expected family contribution is different from those used by many universities. In particular, the federal formula does not consider home equity as part of the assets.
  9. If I take a leave of absence, do I have to start repaying my loans?
    Not immediately. The subsidized Stafford loan has a grace period of 6 months and the Perkins loan a grace period of 9 months before the student must begin repaying the loan. When you take a leave of absence you will not have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up.
  10. I got an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?
    Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from university or government sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office. Unfortunately, the university will adjust your financial aid package to compensate. Nevertheless, the outside scholarship will have some beneficial effects. At some universities outside scholarships are used to replace loans instead of grants.