FAQ for Financial Aid
Who can be a cosigner for my alternative student loan?
In most cases, students use a parent as a cosigner. However, a parent who has been denied a PLUS loan is not likely to be acceptable as a cosigner. In that case, you should ask a relative (e.g., aunt or uncle, sibling, or grandparent) or family friend to cosign. Generally, a cosigner must have history of good credit and minimum annual income of $16,000; lenders also consider debt-to-income ratio in their evaluation. All federal loan options should be exhausted before considering alternative student loans.
Will I always need a cosigner?
Some lenders may approve loans to upperclass students without a cosigner. A credit history is required (credit card on which payments have been made regularly and on time). The interest rate on this type of loan is usually higher than a cosigned loan.
I received a revision to my financial aid award. Do I need to accept the offers of aid and sign and return it?
My parents do not help me with my college costs. Am I considered independent? What are the criteria for independence for FAFSA purposes?
For the 2014-15 academic year, you’re considered an independent student only if at least one of the following criteria applies to you:
- You were born before January 1, 1991.
- You’re married as of the day you apply (or you’re separated but not divorced).
- You have children who receive more than half their support from you.
- You have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half their support from you at the time you apply.
- Both your parents are deceased, you are (or were until age 18) a ward or dependent of the court, or are in legal guardianship.
- You’re a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or are currently on active duty.
- You are homeless or at risk for homelessness.
I would be considered a dependent student, but I have no contact with my parents. What do I do about reporting their income?
In unusual cases, a financial aid administrator can review documentation of specific circumstances and change your dependency status. Questions about specific circumstances that could result in an override of the dependency requirements should be addressed to a Financial Aid staff member.
I am planning to move off-campus (or move home and commute). How will that impact my financial aid?
After approval by the Residential Life Office, your cost of attendance, which is based upon living on campus, will be changed to reflect your off-campus/commuter status. The amount of your Hartwick Grant, if applicable, will be reduced by $1,500/year (prorated for the portion of the year for which the change is in effect).
I want to move off-campus to save money prior to my senior year. What do I do?
You must first apply for an exception with the Residential Life and Housing Office, who will make the final determination based upon input from other offices on campus, including the Financial Aid Office.
For Stafford, what is the difference between the subsidized and unsubsidized loan?
While both are federal loans in the student’s name, for the subsidized Stafford, the U.S. Department of Education pays interest while the borrower is in school. In the case of an unsubsidized Stafford, the borrower is responsible for interest during the life of the loan; financial need is not a requirement. Repayment begins six months after graduation or the student leaves school.
What are my options if my parent is denied a Federal PLUS Loan?
Denial of a federal parent Plus loan entitles the student to borrow an additional Stafford loan as an unsubsidized amount up to $4,000 for first- and second-year students and $5,000 for third- and fourth-year students. Other options include alternative student loans (with a credit-worthy cosigner) and the Tuition Payment Plan.
What is full-time status for financial aid purposes?
Students are considered full-time if they take a minimum of 12 credit-hours in the fall and 12 credit-hours for J Term/spring combined. Students who wish to drop a course and fall below full-time status after the add-drop period has ended should contact the Financial Aid Office for guidance.
I received a scholarship from the Elks, Kiwanis, Dollars for Scholars, Datatel, etc. How are these outside scholarships applied to my financial aid?
Generally speaking, outside scholarships reduce loans, both parent and student, to cover the cost of attendance. When we receive notification of receipt of an outside scholarship, we usually reduce the parent loan or alternative student loan first, then other student loans. In most cases, these scholarships are intended to meet financial need; students may lose federal eligibility for programs such as Work-Study and/or Subsidized Stafford Loan (part or all of the Subsidized Stafford amount may be moved into the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan program) or Hartwick gift aid, if the total cost of attendance is exceeded.