Financial Aid Introduction

Go on line to complete the FAFSA after January 1 each year

AVAILABLE AID

Grants:  Awards that you do not have to pay back.

Work-Study:  Job that allows you the opportunity to earn money to help pay for school the following semester.

Loans:  Money borrowed that you must repay with interest.

Scholarships:  Awards based on academic excellence, merit, and talent.

Deadlines:  GSW Scholarship Application - March 1st;  Other – May 15th

ELIGIBILITY

Basically, you are eligible for some type of aid if you are a classified student enrolled at least half-time in a degree seeking program, are a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, are making satisfactory academic progress, and are not in default on an educational loan or owe a refund on an educational grant.

HOW FINANCIAL AID IS AWARDED

Most student aid is awarded based on financial need. Need is the difference between your budgeted cost of attendance (educational expenses such as tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, and other related expenses) and an amount you and your family are expected to contribute toward your education (EFC – expected family contribution – is determined by the central processor based on a national standard formula).

KINDS OF DOCUMENTATION

In order to process a financial aid offer, various documents are required to verify the information stated on the Student Aid Report (SAR). The previous year’s FEDERAL INCOME TAX RETURN (not an electronic form) is required in some cases. You should have a copy available if it is needed. If you are a Dependent student, you may be asked to provide a signed copy of your tax return as well as a signed copy of your parent’s tax return. A particular item you reported on your SAR might need verification or documentation. Additional documents may be requested by the financial aid office after receipt of the electronic SAR (see Verification Policies).

If a change is made subsequent to the award, the student will receive a revised award or an adjusted bill via the Registration & Academic Information Network (R.A.I.N), depending on the timeframe of the adjustment.

Students are responsible for making corrections to their application unless student has been selected for verification. During the verification process, all corrections will be made electronically by the financial aid office, based on the documentation received.

In the event an award must be reduced because of subsequent verification, the student is responsible for repayment of any funds disbursed in error due to incorrect information. If funds are not repaid, the overpayment must be reported to the Department

WHAT IS VERIFICATION

Verification is the process by which schools review student financial aid applications for accuracy. Institutions that participate in Federal Title IV aid programs are required to perform verification on a selection of students. Verification is done by collecting the documents the student used to complete the FAFSA and comparing them with the information the student provided on the FAFSA. You will not be able to receive financial aid until the verification process is complete. To receive maximum consideration as quickly as possible for aid such as grants, work study, and loans you must turn in all documents.

Submit all verification paperwork directly to the Financial Aid Office for processing. If you wish, you may fax information to our office. Fax Number: (229-931-2061). If you do not turn in the required information, your file will be held until all unsatisfied requirements are met and/or the information has been received.

Who is selected for verification?

Approximately 30% of financial aid applications are selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education. Georgia Southwestern State University also reserves the right to select a student for verification. Students typically are selected for verification for the following reasons: FAFSA appears to contain inconsistent information, student used estimated tax return information, or the student was randomly selected.

If I am selected for verification, how will I know?

When you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the U.S. Department of Education, you will see a comment stating "Your FAFSA has been selected for a review process called verification. Your school has the authority to collect certain financial documents from you.”

Once our financial aid office receives your processed FAFSA, Unsatisfied Requirements will be posted to your ‘RAIN’ account indicating what information and documents are needed. After all requested information is submitted to the financial aid office, your file will be reviewed. If you are an independent student, you will need to complete the independent verification form, and submit signed copies of your and your spouse’s current tax form. If you are a dependent student, you will need to complete the dependent verification form and submit signed copies of your and your parent’s current tax form.

If the financial aid office has further questions regarding your file, you will be contacted for additional clarification or document requests. It is your responsibility to respond to these requests. You are encouraged to contact the financial aid office at any time.

Tips for saving time with verification processing?

During the verification process, the financial aid office compares information you submitted on the FAFSA to information you provided on the verification worksheet and financial documents. It is important to know that if the information you provided on the FAFSA is accurate. If the information on the FAFSA does not match the verification documents, a correction must be processed. This will delay the processing of your financial aid. You can view the information you put on the FAFSA by retrieving your Student Aid Report (SAR) from www.fafsa.ed.gov.

1. Complete all sections of the Verification Worksheet

2. Sign the Verification Worksheet

3. Sign all tax returns being submitted (Student, Spouse, Parent)

4. Keep copies of all documents you turn into the financial aid office

5. Include your GSW student id or social security number on all forms you turn in to the financial aid office

CONSEQUENCES OF DROPPING/ADDING CLASSES

Enrollment is not finalized until the end of Drop/Add in each term

Classes dropped or added during Drop/Add will be adjusted accordingly. For example: If a part-time Pell recipient goes through Drop/Add to either add or drop a class, the Pell will be adjusted according to the number of remaining or additional hours.

Classes dropped or added after Drop/Add will not be adjusted to increase or decrease the level of aid. For example: If a three-quarter-time student manages to add a class after Drop/Add is over, the student would be full time by university standards, but for financial aid standards, the student remains at three-quarter-time. No additional funds will be added to the account unless it was an institutional error that caused the late addition.

Classes dropped after Drop/Add do not go unnoticed. Students receive a grade of W if the withdrawal occurs after Drop/Add. The W will come into consideration when students are checked for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). The course the student withdraws from has a direct affect on passage percentage rate. This rate must be 67% of all hour attempted toward the degree. The student is not penalized academically when the withdrawal occurs. For example: A student signs up for four classes. After Drop/Add is over, the student drops all but one class. The student has retained an A in the one remaining class. Academically, the student will have a term GPA of 4.00 but will not have passed 67% of what was attempted for the term. If this is the second or greater term for the student, the student will lose aid eligibility.

Always check with the school to make sure there were no problems encountered that prevented the school from receiving your SAR information electronically. (RECEIVING YOUR COPY OF THE SAR DOES NOT MEAN THE SCHOOL RECEIVED ITS COPY)

Please feel free to call or write to the Financial Aid Office if you have additional questions. If you would like to schedule a conference, please call for an appointment to be sure someone is available to talk with you.

CONSEQUENCES OF NOT ATTENDING CLASSES

During the first two weeks of school your instructors must report your attendance. If it is reported that you have not attended class during this period your financial aid will be adjusted. Financial Aid is disbursed according to attending not just registering for classes.

For example: Two instructors say you attended and two say you did not attend. Although your award shows $2000 in Pell for that semester, you will only receive $1000. If your hours attended reflect enrollment below 6 hours, your loan will also be returned to the Department of Education. You will be responsible for your payment due.

Your ATTENDANCE will be checked. Reporting to class after the attendance period will not be considered for financial aid purposes unless it was an institutional error.