Missouri State University
Office of Student Financial Aid News

It’s Baaaaaaack!!!

The IRS just made many people’s lives a little bit easier. You don’t read that every day.

The ability to download your tax transcript is once again an available on IRS.gov. For many students and parents this means no more waiting for a transcript to be mailed, no more trips to the IRS office, and no more paper tax forms. Best of all, your financial aid can be finalized quicker.

16c2ccThe new request system uses far more security measures than the old system that was breached in early 2015. In exchange for amped up security there is one possible drawback: Anyone requesting a transcript must have a cell phone number directly linked to their name. In other words, the name of the tax filer requesting their transcript must be the primary account holder of a phone plan, and anyone who is not the primary account holder of the phone plan may not be eligible for this IRS tool. To students this means that if you are on your parents’ cell phone plan you may not be able to request a transcript online.

If you are successful in accessing your transcripts you will see different types available, and they all show different information so it is critical that you download the right one. The only transcript we can use for financial aid purposes is the “Tax Return Transcript,” NOT the Account transcript or Account Summary. If we are requesting your W-2s or a 1099, a Wage & Income Transcript will have all of those listed and can be used to verify individual sources of income.

Our office understands the frustration not having this online feature has caused in the past year. I’m not sure who is more thrilled that it’s back, you or us.

 

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Alternative/Private Loan Policy Reminder

If you owe a past balance to the institution that is preventing you from registering for current/future terms or is preventing you from receiving copies of your transcripts a Retroactive Alternative Loan may be something to consider. Some lenders allow loans to be certified up-to 365 calendar days from the last day of enrollment in order to pay past-due balances. To qualify for retroactive loans borrowers must meet all the following criteria:

  • Have completed at least half-time hours in current grade level courses during the term for which the loan request is submitted.
  • Have a past-due balance with the university originating from the term for which the loan request is submitted.
  • Meet general loan requirements as established by specific lenders.

If a retroactive loan may be something you are considering, our Preferred Lender List is a great place to start researching your options! This list, as well as other useful information, can be found on the Financial Aid page HERE.

Keep in mind that we will only be able to certify loan requests if a student meets the eligibility criteria listed above. Additionally, loan funds can only be certified for the amount owed to the institution for the term in question. We will not certify requests greater than what is owed, with the intent of receiving refund monies for other living expenses.

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Summer’s (almost) Here…

…And the time is right for Summer financial aid!

 

You may be eligible for financial aid if any of the following apply:

  • You have not received your entire yearly loans
  • You have not received your entire yearly Pell Grant (if eligible for Pell)
  • You were enrolled less than full-time one semester, or withdrew
  • After the Spring semester you will have passed the 30 earned credit-hours or the 60 earned credit-hours mark
  • You are a new college student this Summer

 

How it works…shutterstock_95396464

Once you are enrolled for the Summer term and are meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress we will automatically review your eligibility. If you are offered additional financial aid you will receive an email, and the changes can be viewed on your My.MissouriState account. You will need to accept or decline your loans there.

And nope, don’t worry about filing an Adjustment to Direct Loan Request form unless you declined ALL of your loans this year.

 

What not to expect…

  • State grants and scholarships like Access Missouri & Bright Flight
  • MSU scholarships like the Dean’s Scholarship or Multicultural Leadership Award

 

What you can expect if you are eligible…

  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans
  • Federal Pell Grant

 

Be patient. There are lots of other students taking summer classes too. If you think you are eligible for Summer financial aid but haven’t received an award by June 1st, call us or send an email to FinancialAid@MissouriState.edu.

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Scholarship Deadline

Hungry Piggy BankIs your piggy bank getting a little skinny? Are you borrowing more money from your parents, your grandparents, or your Uncle Sam than you would like? Then you should definitely complete the MSU
General and Departmental Scholarship Application
for the 2016-2017 Academic Year! It’s faster and easier than you might think and totally worth your time!


Who is eligible to apply?

New and currently enrolled students who demonstrate qualifications such as,m but not limited to, outstanding academic achievement, leadership involvement, and financial need.

When is the deadline?

March 1, 2016.

What types of scholarships are available?

All kinds! Look for yourself here.
So why wait? Complete the application today and feed your piggy!

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Tips for Creating Your FSA ID

In May the U.S. Department of Education (ED) rolled out a new electronic credential system called the “FSA ID.” Students (and parents of dependent students) will use a self-selected username and password instead of sensitive information as before to log in to ED websites and sign legally binding documents electronically such as their FAFSA or promissory note. This new system replaces the federal PIN used prior to May 2015.

If you used your PIN to sign your FAFSA earlier, don’t worry. To make corrections or complete your entrance counseling you will need to create an FSA ID, which should take less than 10 minutes. You can even link your old PIN to your new FSA ID, though this is not required.

Tip 1
At the top of the FAFSA homepage there is a button labeled “FSA ID.” Clicking here will direct you to the middle of a new webpage with information about the new system. If you scroll up on this page you will find the link “Create an FSA ID Now.”

Tip 2
Set up your FSA ID several days in advance of any state or federal deadlines. The ID can take a few days to process once you have applied.

Tip 3
If you forget your password, reset it using your email address if possible. If a user changes their password by answering the three security questions they will be locked out of the system for 30 minutes. Yikes! If you forget your username, however, you can retrieve it instantly by answering your security questions or entering your email address.

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2015-2016 FAFSA Deadlines

Deadline PicThe 2015-2016 academic year will be here in the blink of an eye which means it’s time to start planning. You need to start asking yourself questions like: What classes do you need to take? Who won’t drive you crazy as a roommate? But most importantly, how are you going to pay for school?! Well, unless you’ve recently won the lottery paying for school means you should apply for Financial Aid.

As you’ve probably heard, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is your online application for all Federal Student Aid programs, most university scholarships, and the state Access Missouri grant, and is available for completion NOW. The FAFSA needs to be completed every year so if you completed one for 2014-2015 you will still need to complete another one for 2015-2016.  It’s important that you not only complete the FAFSA every year, but that you also get it submitted by certain deadlines.

What are these deadlines, you may ask? Well, the 2015-2016 FAFSA deadline is June 30, 2016. HOWEVER, if you want to be considered for ALL the aid programs available you need to have your FAFSA submitted by March 31, 2015. This gets your application in before the Federal, State, and Missouri State deadlines.

Even though you will be eligible for the Federal Pell grant and Direct Student loans by meeting the June 30, 2016 deadline you will miss out on eligibility for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity grant, the Perkins loan, and the College Work Study program by not meeting the March 31 priority deadline.  For Missouri residents, the deadline for the Access Missouri Grant is April 1. So remember, get your FAFSA completed by March 31, 2015 to maximize your Financial Aid Award Letter…unless you won the lottery!

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Leaders in Community Service

The MSU Leaders in Community Service Program (LCS) is seeking selective students who have a strong interest in community service and are looking for an alternative to student loans or want to earn additional money while attending MSU.  LCS is a student organization that allows MSU work study students to work for non-for-profit organizations an average of 10-12 hours per week while being paid an hourly wage of $9.00. LCS members are paid by Missouri State through the Federal Work Study program.

If you are work-study eligible or have received a Pell grant, you may qualify for a position on our team!  Members must have 24 completed credit hours and a minimum of a 2.5 GPA to qualify.

An informational recruitment meeting will be held March 30th from 4:00-5:00 p.m. in PSU 317.

Applications for the 2015-2016 academic year are being accepted through April 8th.

To learn more about this elite program and to print an application form, visit our website at http://organizations.missouristate.edu/lcs.  Your completed application can be submitted to the Student Employment office located at 113 Blair-Shannon Residence Hall, emailed to lcs@missouristate.edu, or faxed to 417-836-7608.

Membership selections are competitive, so we encourage you to apply now!

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Financial Aid Myths and Facts

In honor of Financial Literacy Month, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is dispelling commons myths about financial aid award packages. April is also the month when most higher education institutions send their award letters for fall enrollment, so test your college-cost savvy with these myths and facts:

Myth or Fact? It’s all free money.

Myth. Any money that helps you pay for college – whether grants, loans, or work-study – is considered part of your financial aid award. While some financial aid like Pell Grants only requires students to maintain certain attendance and academic standards, other programs carry additional requirements. Work-study awards must be earned through employment (usually 20 hours per week or less), and loans will need to repaid after students leave college.

Myth or Fact? If I borrow $20,000 in student loans, I’ll have to repay $20,000.

Myth. Loans generally will cost a borrower more in the long run than he or she receives up front. Some student loans accrue interest while borrowers are completing their degrees, increasing the total owed after college. After a student leaves school, interest will continue to accrue until the loan debt is paid in full or forgiven.

Myth or Fact? Students must take the loan amounts offered in their awards.

Myth. Students are not required to take all of the loans offered them. Calculate your true cost of college, rather than the school estimate in your aid award, and then work backwards to find the minimum amount you’ll need to borrow to get an education. Work with your institution’s financial aid administrators to determine what the right loan amount is for you.

Myth or Fact? Financial aid awards contain all the money available to help pay for college.

Myth. Students can continue to search and apply for outside scholarships after they receive their financial aid awards. In fact, they can apply for scholarships throughout their entire college careers! Families can also look to credit unions and private lenders to borrow private student loans, though private loans are only recommended after eligibility for federal student loans is exhausted.

Myth or Fact? Financial aid professionals are available to answer questions about paying for college.

Fact! Students and parents should feel comfortable asking questions of an institution’s financial aid administrators, even if they’re not sure whether they will ultimately enroll at that institution. Financial aid administrators want to help any prospective, current, and former students and their parents better understand college costs and make well-informed decisions for their college careers and futures.

The original NASFAA post can be found online at www.NASFAA.org.

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Don’t Let FAFSA Mistakes Steal Your Money!

As you all know, it’s currently “open season” for all students attending school in 2014-2015 to fill out their FAFSAs. Hopefully we can all agree that between assistance from FAFSA.gov and your local Financial Aid Office the actual act of completing the FAFSA isn’t too bad (if you do have problems call us or stop by our offices!). However, did you know that clicking “Submit” at the end of your FAFSA is NOT the end of the process?

After submitting your FAFSA you will be sent a Student Aid Report, or SAR for short, which is a paper or electronic document that gives you a basic summary of your financial aid eligibility as well as listings of your answers to the various FAFSA questions. If you submitted an email address on your FAFSA the SAR will be emailed to you. If you didn’t, it’ll be mailed to your permanent address.

So what should you do with this so called SAR? Well, we recommend that you review it very carefully to make sure everything is correct and complete. Just imagine not getting any grant money or Subsidized Stafford loans because you answered that you or your parents earned $300,000 in 2013 instead of $30,000…that would be pretty horrible, right?!? While we find and correct mistakes like that all the time, unfortunately we can’t catch and correct all of them! So read the SAR carefully and make sure there aren’t any errors or omissions!

If you do find a mistake or two you will want to correct or update your FAFSA pronto! If you encounter problems you can contact the FAFSA office via their website or contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Remember, it’s YOUR financial aid… don’t let an oversight or a reporting mistake steal it from you!  Make sure it’s correct!

SampleSAR

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