Frequently Asked Financial Aid Questions

  • While some federal funds such as Pell Grant and Direct Loan are generally available year round, there are other funds which are awarded on a first-come first-served basis. It is therefore recommended that you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1, 2018 for the 2019-2020 academic year.

  • Every student should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year they attend college. Not only will this make you eligible for the federal programs that are available, it can also make you eligible for state and institutional aid programs as well as for some scholarship opportunities.

  • Your FAFSA for 2019-2020 will be based on 2017 tax data. Because the tax data should be available when you file your FAFSA, it is recommended that you file as soon after October 1 as possible and use the IRS Data Retrieval tool to ensure the accuracy of your FAFSA.

  • If a student and/or parent is eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, they will be prompted to provide their tax data by linking directly to the Internal Revenue Service’s Database. This process is called IRS Data Retrieval. Using this tool will reduce paperwork required later in the financial aid process.

  • There are three basic indicators in the FAFSA that must be met in order for the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to be offered:

    1. You (and/or your parents)must have a valid social security number.
    2. You (and/or your parents) must indicate that you have already completed your tax return(s).
    3. Your (and/or your parent's) marital status in the FAFSA must match the marital status reported on your tax return.
  • Thirty percent of all submitted FAFSA applications submitted are selected for an audit process called verification. Initial notification of verification will be on your Student Aid Report (SAR.) You will be instructed by the University on what you need to supply for documentation. Generally, this consists of a verification worksheet and confirmation of your federal tax data either through IRS Data Retrieval or transcripts of your federal tax returns. Occasionally additional documents must be submitted to resolve discrepancies. Delays in submitting requested documentation may result in a reduced financial aid award.

  • Per federal regulations in filling out a FAFSA, you are dependent upon your parents until the age of 24. You must therefore use your parents' information on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even if your parents do not claim you on their income taxes or you do not live in their home, you are considered dependent for the purposes of financial aid unless you meet one of the requirements below:

    1. Were you born before January 1, 1996? (for the 2019-20 FAFSA)
    2. At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program?
    3. As of today, are you married?
    4. Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you?
    5. Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you now and through June 30, 2020?
    6. At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
    7. Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
    8. Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
    9. Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
    10. Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
    11. At any time on or after July 1, 2018, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
    12. At any time on or after July 1, 2018, did the director of an emergency shelter program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
    13. At any time on or after July 1, 2018, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
  • A student budget is the average cost of attendance for one year at Ferris State University. The budget includes the following expenses: tuition/fees, room and board, books, travel, loan fees, and miscellaneous expenses. The budget can also include program-specific tool costs identified by the different colleges, and daycare expenses for children of independent students. A student cannot receive more financial aid than the student budget.

  • The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a summary of the information that you provided on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If all the information is correct, you retain the SAR for your files. Please contact your Financial Aid Office for assistance if corrections are needed on your FAFSA.

    The following calculation determines what types of financial aid students are eligible to receive:

    In general, the higher your financial need, the greater your eligibility for gift aid, which is money that you do not have to pay back, or other need-based aid. Even if you have no financial need, you are still able to receive non-need based aid, such as certain scholarships or Unsubsidized Direct Loans.

  • You will be notified on your Student Aid Report (SAR) whether or not you are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. If you are not eligible for the Federal Pell Grant, you may still be able to receive other types of financial aid consisting of institutional grants, low-interest federal student loans, scholarships and student employment.

  • The primary responsibility for paying for your educational expenses rests with you and your family. Financial aid programs are intended to assist students and families with their college costs.

  • There are alternative loan options available to assist you and your family in covering your expenses. Choosing a private loan lender is a very big decision - one that you may have to live with for many years. We encourage you to make that decision wisely. Ferris State University publishes a list of private lenders that help you begin the lender search process. Please refer to our Alternative Loan webpage for details.

  • An award notice is your notification of your financial aid package.

    Your award notice will provide you with the average cost of attendance at your university, including room and board, books, tuition and personal expenses. Your actual expenses may vary according to your personal needs and choices.

    The term "financial aid" refers to loans, grants, work-study (student employment) and scholarship funds. Your award notice will inform you of the type(s) and amount(s) of financial aid you are being offered for the semester(s) or term(s) designated.

    Financial aid awards may change for many different reasons. For instance, financial aid offices may be notified of scholarship awards after your initial award. Every time a change to your financial aid award is processed you will be notified via your Ferris email account. Each award notice supersedes the previous award notice.

    It is important that you review and take action (if required) on every award notice by the date specified. Failure to do so could result in a loss of financial aid.

  • Yes. At Ferris State University, summer semester ends an award year. Make sure that you have filed the correct Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Keep in mind, you are allotted a specific amount of financial aid per academic/award year. The amount of loan and grant monies you were awarded during your first two semesters will affect eligibility for the remaining semester.

  • There are private alternative loans (loans that you must qualify for) available to students and/or parents, which can help bridge the gap between college costs and traditional financial aid resources (e.g. scholarships, grants, federal student loans). These loans are not guaranteed by the federal government and therefore require the student to apply with a credit-worthy cosigner.

  • FILE EARLY. There are many benefits for filing early. Extra grant money and other funds may be available for qualified early filers. Filing early may also qualify you for state-sponsored scholarships. We strongly recommend that you file your FAFSA on-line at The student and parent will need to obtain an FSA ID to electronically sign the FAFSA. Filing on-line reduces FAFSA processing time from approximately 6 weeks to less than 3 days.

  • Yes, Pell Grant has both annual and lifetime limits. The amount you receive annually can vary between zero and $6,095 per academic year. In addition, Pell Grant is limited to the equivalent of twelve full-time semesters.

  • Yes. You may cancel or reduce any federal loans that you have previously accepted at any time during the semester in which the money pays to your account. All we need from you is an email request (send to [email protected]) indicating exactly what you want us to do. (Example, "Please reduce my subsidized loan from $3500 to $2000 for 2019/20" or "Please cancel my $2,000 unsubsidized loan").

    You may also cancel or reduce private alternative loans for a minimum of thirty days after the funds have applied to your account. Please send an email to [email protected] including very specific instructions for reducing or canceling your private loans or you may contact your lender directly.

  • We have compiled a list of common financial aid terms that can help you navigate the financial aid process. Please click here for financial aid terminology.