Steps to the Financial Aid Process

College Money Matters

Steps to the Financial Aid Process

  1. Complete the FAFSA each year.
  2. Receive your Student Aid Report, which gives you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid as well as listing your answers to questions on the FAFSA. This is emailed to you for your records.
  3. The financial aid office (FAO) at the schools you choose on the FAFSA will receive an ISIR, an electronic version of the FAFSA.
  4. The FAO(s) will send you an Award Letter (email or snail mail). 
  5. If you choose to accept the school's aid, notify the FAO.
  6. If you accept federal loans, there are a few additional steps.
  7. The bursar (treasury) office of the school will disburse your aid first to pay direct costs, such as tuition, housing, and meal plan.
  8. Additional funds not paid to the school will be disbursed to the student. This is called a “refund.”

The FAFSA is using tax information from two years ago. That can be very old information. What happens if you or your parents’ financial information has changed? It could be there is less income in your household now due to a job loss, death or divorce. Colleges have a process known as Professional Judgment. This allows the FAO to change financial data used to calculate the student’s EFC based on documentation of the life change. Be sure to alert the FAO as soon as possible if something happens that could impact your EFC.