Timing is important when it comes to your financial aid disbursements and understanding the timing can help you make informed decisions. A disbursement is the payment of student aid funds to the student’s school account. The following information applies to grants, scholarships, loans, stipends, and other forms of aid processed by the Office of Student Financial Aid.
When Funds are Applied
Every semester, the first week of classes is called the Change of Schedule Period (or COSP). During COSP students can add or drop classes with no financial penalty nor with any impact on their academic transcripts. Due to frequent schedule changes, MSU has elected to wait to disburse financial aid funds until the first business day after COSP to ensure the accuracy of aid disbursements.
For example, we do not want to disburse funds to a student at “full-time status” at the beginning of the week of COSP, only to learn that the student ended the week with less than full-time enrollment. This would require us to recalculate their aid eligibility and possibly rescind a portion of the funds that were disbursed. This is no good for our office and no good for students.
Though the first business day after COSP is generally a Monday, there are rare instances when this may be a Tuesday or a Wednesday due to holidays or inclement weather. Our office strives to disburse money as quickly as possible, but accuracy is also very important.
How Funds are Applied
When funds are disbursed, the money is applied to any outstanding balance a student has with MSU. If a student owes MSU more than their financial aid covers, the remaining balance is visible on their My.MissouriState.edu portal, and payment arrangements can be made to reconcile the remaining balance.
If a student’s financial aid is greater than their balance owed, that student will receive excess money as a financial aid refund. The intent of refund money is to pay for other indirect educational expenses (expenses not charged by MSU), such as off-campus housing, technology for classes, and day-to-day living expenses.
Refunds are typically issued during the third week of the semester. This delay is due to various processes that must be performed to ensure we don’t inadvertently refund too much or too little money to our students.
Pro Tip: The fastest way to get your refund money is to sign up for non-payroll direct deposit.
Paying Off-Campus Expenses
Occasionally, the timing of the semester makes it difficult for students to pay time-sensitive expenses, like rent, on time. If this applies to you, you can request an aid certification letter from the Office of Student Financial Aid. Our office will evaluate your account and write a letter to a property owner explaining the timing situation and certifying your expected refund amount. This can prove helpful in circumstances where the property owner requires additional documentation.
Regardless, students should speak with their property owners well in advance of the end of August to make sure they’re aware and comfortable with the situation. While our office cannot expedite the payment or refund processes, we will do what we can to help communicate the situation to the appropriate individuals.