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Financial Aid FAQ’s


What is the process for receiving financial aid once you have replied to your school regarding which type you choose to accept? Read more below about how and when your financial aid will arrive, and the next steps involved.

When Will I Receive My Financial Aid?

It depends on the kind of financial aid package that you accepted to determine when your aid will arrive.

Student Loans & Grants

Typically, your school will disburse your loan money or grant in two payments. Usually, your school will deliver your loan or grant funds at least once per term. This may be once every quarter, trimester, or semester. Schools that do not rely on traditional timeframes such as quarters or semesters need to provide you with your grant money at least twice. This may be at the start and midpoint of your program or academic year. You can speak with your institution’s financial aid office to discover more details about your account.

If you are a parent using a Direct PLUS Loan to help cover your child’s education costs, your loan funds will be distributed as the same schedule mentioned above.

Federal Student Loans

If you have never taken out a federal student loan before, the following may apply:

You will be required to finish entrance counseling if you are a professional or graduate taking out a Direct PLUS Loan for the first time. This needs to be completed before the disbursement of your loan. If you are the parent taking out the Direct PLUS loan to help cover your child’s school costs, then the counseling portion is not necessary.

If you are a first-time borrower and a first-year undergrad student, you might have to wait for a period of thirty days after the day of your enrollment timeframe, trimester, semester, etc. before your institution can disburse your grant money. See whether this rule applies at your school by checking with the financial aid office to obtain all the details.

Work-Study Funds

You will be paid a minimum of once a month if you have a federal work-study job.

Contact your financial aid office to discover how your financial aid was determined if you do not receive the amount or type of aid that you are expecting.

Methods of Receiving Your Financial Aid

The type of financial aid package that you accepted determines the kind of aid you will receive.

Student Loans & Grants

The school usually applies your loan money or your grant toward your room and board if you live on campus, your fees and your tuition. Any additional funds left are disbursed directly to cover extra education costs.

You have the option to cancel part or all your loan within 120 days of receiving it without having any fees or interest charged if you receive the loan and do not require the money after all.

Work-Study

Unless you request that the school use the funds to pay for education items including your student account, fees, room and board, or tuition, or that they directly deposit the funds into your bank account, your school must pay you directly. Determine what will work best and if you need to request an auto-deposit or prefer the money to pay down your debt, speak with your school representative.

Parents & Direct PLUS Loans

Your child’s institution will disburse the loan money in most cases by crediting your child’s school account to cover room and board, tuition, associated fees and any additional authorized charges. If there is extra money left over, the school will send it to the parent. The school may disburse extra funds to your child if there are any leftovers if you provide permission.

Your child’s school or your school will provide notification in writing every time they disburse any part of the loan funds if you are taking the loan out as a parent or student. They will offer information about how to go about canceling the loan if you discover the full amount is no longer required. Your loan service provider will send you a notice to confirm that the funds were received.

How To Pay for Course Materials & Textbooks Before Receiving Your Financial Aid

Any school that participates in federal student aid programs has to offer a solution for students to obtain access to their supplies and their books by the 7th day of term. 

Speak with the financial aid office at your school to determine if you meet the criteria listed above.

The Process for Schools to Receive Financial Aid for Your Course Items

As this process varies between schools, speak directly to your financial aid office to find out the specifics. Some places will offer a bookstore voucher or similar method to enable students to receive their supplies and books from the school bookstore.

Sometimes, there is money left over after your school disburses your financial aid and distributes it toward your fees, tuition and other school charges. A credit balance refers to any remaining amount.  Note, if you have a credit balance, your school is required to pay this leftover amount to you within fourteen days unless you direct the school to keep the money and apply it to future charges.

Speak with your school to determine how they handle any credit balances. The school has to pay the amount they determine is required for supplies and books or the amount of the credit balance, whichever funds are less.

The school must offer you different opportunities to opt-out if their preferred method is to arrange for vouchers or similar ways to obtain your course materials. They may offer to provide you with a check if you wish to obtain supplies and books on your own unless one of the exceptions below applies:

  • The school can showcase that the required materials are not available anywhere else or accessible to students in other ways.
  • Or the school may state there is a compelling safety and health reason that materials must be obtained through the school or their supplier.

Ways To Save Money on Course Materials & Textbooks 

There may be some lower-cost ways to secure the books and materials you require for your course, depending on the classes you are taking. The course material format will vary with each course, school, instructor, etc. Ask around to discover your best options for cost-reduction options beforehand instead of simply purchasing the materials as soon as you get your list. Your professors and previous students may have suggestions and your school bookstore may offer used materials or have a bulletin board for shared options.

You might have a chance to purchase a used copy or rent a book online or from a bookstore if hard-copy texts are required. Sometimes shopping around can help you save on new materials. Similarly, if you do purchase brand new books, consider keeping them in excellent shape for resale once you are done with them if this is allowed for your class.

ISBNs Note

The ISBN refers to the specific identity edition for the book that is necessary for your course. It is a serial code to ensure you are purchasing the proper book when you are looking to buy it. Your school alternatively will offer a copyright date, title, author and publisher if the ISBN is not available. For each class text, your school must publish the ISBN or International Standard Book Number in the online course schedule entry if it is available to help students acquire the proper materials.

Don’t Assume Anything, Get the Facts

Students are busy people. Set yourself reminders to email, phone or make an appointment at the beginning of your term to determine if you are on track. Check your bank statements and school accounts regularly. If anything is amiss, speak with someone right away to amend the problem. You don’t want to have to rely on credit cards or find a second part-time job on top of your busy schedule because of an accounting or depositing error.

Make a Budget

There is a lot going on when you are away from home, balancing new courses, people and maybe a job. It can be easy to become so busy that you end up throwing groceries away or spend too much on fast food and non-essential items.

Make a weekly and monthly budget and goal list for each semester to stay on track. Take traveling for holidays, overtime work options and special occasions into account. Look into cutting your laundry costs, tutoring other students and sharing transportation if possible. Try baking yourself cookies and muffins, etc. and freezing them for your lunch treats instead of spending more on prepackaged convenience food.