FAQ’s about Eligibility and Applying for Financial Aid
When is the Earliest I can file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
The FAFSA application can now be filed as early as October 1st each year and can be done online by visiting https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.
What tax year information is required on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
The FAFSA application now looks for Prior Year Income (PPY). For example, when filing the 2021/2022 FAFSA application, 2019 income will be reported.
Do I need to update my FAFSA once my 2020 income taxes are filed?
No. As a result of the Prior, Prior Year Changes, the FAFSA will always ask for income looking back two years.
I probably don’t qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid 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 Federal Student Loans and Parent (PLUS) Loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free and students can apply at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa. There is no good excuse for not applying.
If I take a leave of absence, do I have to start repaying my loans?
Not immediately. The subsidized/unsubsidized federal loan has a grace period of 6 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. If you use up the grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repaying your loan immediately. It is possible to request an extension to the grace period, but this must be done before the grace period is used up.
If your grace period has run out in the middle of your leave of absence, you will have to start making payments on your student loans or submit a request for deferment directly with the loan servicer.
I received an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?
Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from Dominican University, government sources, or an outside party, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office.
Dominican University may adjust your financial aid package to abide by federal guidelines. The outside scholarship is first applied to reducing the self-help level, and only when the scholarship exceeds self-help does it replace institutional grants. Some outside scholarships state “for tuition only” others state “for expenses.” The scholarship guidelines will determine if a college award will change or not.
Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
Yes. Dominican University’s Policy requests every student to apply for financial aid (FAFSA) every academic year. After your first year you can apply for a “Renewal Application” which contains preprinted information from the previous year’s FAFSA. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. 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.
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 and parent loans, you should check the appropriate boxes. Simply 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 financial aid award package later. Leaving these boxes unchecked will not increase the amount of grants you receive.
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 an alternative (private) loan for you. You and you alone are responsible for repaying your federal educational loans.
You do not need to get your parents to cosign your federal student loans, even if you are under age 18, as the ‘defense of infancy’ does not apply to federal student loans. (The defense of infancy presumes that a minor is not able to enter into contracts, and considers any such contract to be void. There is an explicit exemption to this principle in the Higher Education Act with regard to federal student loans.) However, lenders may require a cosigner on alternative private student loans if your credit history is insufficient or if you are underage. In fact, many private student loan programs are not available to students under age 18 because of the defense of infancy. To apply for a private alternative loan you must contact the Office Financial Aid for information.
If your parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can have your billing statements sent to their address. This request MUST be done through the federal government’s Direct Loan website: www.direct.ed.gov. Likewise, if your lender or loan servicer provides an electronic payment service, where the monthly payments are automatically deducted from a bank account, your parents can agree in writing to have the payments deducted from their account. But your parents are under no obligation to repay your loans. If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancel the electronic payment agreement, you will be held responsible for the payments, not them.
Where can I get information about Federal student financial aid?
Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC)
1-800-730-8913 (if hearing impaired)
This toll free hotline is run by the US Department of Education and can answer questions about federal and state student aid programs and applications. You can also go to the FAFSA website at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa and print specific information you are looking for.
You can also stop by the Office of Financial Aid in Cooke Hall for assistance Monday – Friday 9:00am-5:00pm.