How and when does a student apply for financial aid?
Beginning in January, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (embed www.fafsa.gov) is available online. Ideally the FAFSA should be completed after you and your parents have each completed the federal income tax returns for the prior year because those figures are needed to answer items on the form. It is best to use the IRS Data Retrieval on the FAFSA to avoid mistakes. Retain a copy of both the parents’ and student’s tax returns for future reference. The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for all federal programs, which include student loans. To be considered for state programs, please fill out the information needed by the State of New York.
In order to complete the FAFSA online you will need a U.S. Department of Education Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you do not already have a PIN apply for one now. Parents of dependent students must apply for a PIN also. The PIN number serves as electronic signatures for the FAFSA.
How is Financial Need Determined?
Each college or university develops an estimate of how much it will cost for you to attend school including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, personal expenses, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. This is called your Cost of Attendance and it will vary from one institution to another. It also varies depending on whether you are a graduate or an undergraduate student.
To determine your financial need, your expected family contribution (EFC), which is calculated by submitting the FAFSA) is subtracted from the cost of attendance.
Your Financial Aid Package
Once we receive the results of your FAFSA we will create your financial aid package based on your financial need. You may receive some types of financial aid in excess of your need up to the Cost of Attendance.
A financial aid award letter outlining the financial aid included in your package will be prepared for you. This notice will include general information about each award offered and instructions for accepting and/rejecting awards. Some awards (e.g., Recommended Parent Plus loans (RPLUS) may require supplemental applications.
Verification is the confirmation through documentation that the information provided on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is correct. The federal government requires colleges and universities to verify or confirm the data reported by students and their parent(s) on the FAFSA. The verification process ensures that eligible students receive all the financial aid to which they are entitled and prevents ineligible students from receiving financial aid to which they are not entitled.
How will I know if I am selected for verification?
You may be selected for verification either by the federal processor or by the Financial Aid Office at Dominican College. If you are selected for verification by the federal processor, there will be an asterisk next to your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on your Student Aid Report (SAR). You will also be informed of having been selected for verification in the SAR acknowledgement letter, which will be included with your SAR documents.
If you are selected for verification by the Financial Aid Office, you will be notified on the first page of your award letter if you are a new student, or an email and missing information letter will be sent to your DC email account if you are a continuing student. Both notifications will inform you of this selection and instruct you with the documents needed. You can be selected for verification at any time during the academic year so it is very important you check your email on a regular basis. If you are a continuing student, you will not be packaged with financial aid until all requested documents have been received and reviewed by the Financial Aid Office.
Why was I selected for verification?
The main reasons for being selected for verification include that you were chosen randomly, the FAFSA you submitted was incomplete, your FAFSA contains estimated information or the data you provided on the FAFSA is inconsistent. Verification is a federal regulation. Students who are selected for verification are not being punished; rather, verification prevents ineligible students from receiving aid by reporting false information and ensures that eligible students receive all of the aid for which they are qualified.
What do I have to submit and where do I send it?
Once you are selected for verification all requirements will be added to your DC account and will be listed in a missing information letter. Please note that additional documentation may be requested from the Financial Aid Office at the counselor’s discretion. If additional documents are requested, an email and missing information letter will be mailed. It is your responsibility to check your requirements and submit all documentation to the Financial Aid Office within 30 days. Failure to complete the verification process may result in cancellation of financial aid. Once verification has been completed, you will receive a revised award letter indicating changes, if any. Revised award letters replace any award letters previously received.
Do not wait to submit your documents.
What happens once I submit my documents?
Once you submit the documents to our office, you can continue to check the status of your documents by going to your MyChecklist at My.UCMerced.edu. If we have received your documents, the status will go from “Unsatisfied” to “Document Received and Not Yet Reviewed.” Once the document is reviewed the status will be updated to the appropriate status: “Received Incomplete” “Waived” or “Received/Reviewed or Processed.” If the requirement is incomplete, you will receive an email explaining what was incomplete and how it can be resolved. It is important you check the status of your requirements on your MyChecklist so you can make sure they all verification documents have been “Received/Reviewed or Processed.”
What if I don’t want to complete the verification process?
The verification process is a federal regulation and must be completed in order for a student to receive federal aid, as well as any state and Institutional aid. If you do not wish to complete the verification process, and therefore not receive financial aid, please notify the Financial Aid Office via email so we can update your status.
Receiving Financial Aid
The Bursar’s Office is responsible for disbursing your financial aid. Your financial aid is applied directly to institutional charges (tuition, fees, room, and board). Any excess funds will be available to you within 14 days of the date the credit balance occurs. Any questions about billing should be directed to them.
Special Circumstances/ Request for Review
While the process of determining your financial aid eligibility is basically the same for all applicants, there is some flexibility for specific circumstances. At Dominican College, a committee determines whether your special circumstances merit changes in the data elements which determine your Expected Family Contribution or your Cost of Attendance. Dominican College uses standards recommended by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Situations which might merit special circumstances include:
- Loss of untaxed benefit (ie: worker’s compensation, child support, pensions and annuities, social security benefits)
- Medical expenses that have been itemized on your Federal tax return
If you feel you have any special circumstances that might affect the amount you and your family are expected to contribute, you must wait until you receive an award letter (or electronic notice) and then submit the Special Circumstances Form from our website.