Financial Aid FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions 

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions by Elms students and their families.  However, much more information can be found online through the  Federal Student  Aid YouTube Channel and www.studentaid.gov

Of course, if you can’t find the answer to your question using any of these resources or you’re not entirely clear on something we encourage you to contact the Financial Aid Office directly by either e-mailing finaid@elms.edu or calling (413) 265-2249.

 

Applying for Financial Aid

 

How do I apply for financial aid?

To apply, visit http://fafsa.ed.gov. As a reminder, you should never have to pay to complete your FAFSA. For first time users, you will need to create a federal PIN at http://pin.ed.gov to be used for your electronic signature. For dependent students, your parents will also be required to create a federal PIN.

Does it cost money to apply for financial aid?

No. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid – you should never pay to file a FAFSA.

When should I apply for financial aid?

Financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Therefore, students should apply for financial aid as soon as possible. The FAFSA for the upcoming school year is available as early as January 1st.  First-year and transfer students should file their FAFSA no later than March 1st, and returning students should file no later than March 15th.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid each year?

Yes. Students must reapply every year to be considered for financial aid.

Do I have to wait for admission into Elms College before applying for financial aid?

No, you do not have to wait for admission notification from Elms College before applying. You should apply as early as possible. However, you must be admitted and enrolled in order to receive financial aid.

What is Elms College’s federal school code?

The federal school code is 002140.

Is there a deadline to apply for financial aid?

Elms College has two filing priority dates:

  • If you are an incoming first year or transfer student you should complete the FAFSA by March 1st.
  • If you are a returning student you should complete your FAFSA by March 15th.

Also, Massachusetts has a deadline of May 1st in order to be eligible for Massachusetts state aid. Students should apply as soon as possible to ensure their application is received and reviewed in a timely manner. Students can find other state deadlines online at https://fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm

 

Eligibility for Financial Aid

 

How do I know if I will qualify for financial aid?

In order to determine your eligibility for financial aid, Elms College must receive your FAFSA. Based upon the information provided, the Financial Aid Office will notify you of your financial aid eligibility.

Should I still apply for financial aid even if I do not think I will qualify?

You should still complete the FAFSA even if you think you will not qualify for financial aid. In order to be considered, you must first fill out the FAFSA. Additionally, you must have a high school diploma, a GED (or an equivalent), or completed secondary school in a home-school setting. You also must be enrolled in an eligible program of study and be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen. You must be within Satisfactory Academic Progress, show financial need for anything other than unsubsidized loans, and cannot be in default on any federal loans. If you’re male, you must be registered with the selective service. More information on federal aid eligibility can be found online at https://studentaid.ed.gov/eligibility

I already have a bachelor’s degree. Can I still receive federal financial aid?

If a student has a prior bachelor’s degree, they are not eligible for the Pell grant. The student may still be eligible for federal student loans.

Do I have to be enrolled full-time to receive financial aid?

No, you do not have to be enrolled full-time to receive certain forms of financial aid. You must be enrolled in at least six credits to be eligible for federal student loans. If you are eligible for federal financial aid, the amount of aid you receive will be determined by the number of credits in which you’re enrolled.

Are non-U.S. citizens eligible for federal financial aid?

In order to be considered for need-based financial aid you must be able to file a FAFSA.  Certain students may have an eligible non-citizen status if they are US Permanent Residents.  Other eligible non-citizen status can be reviewed online at https://studentaid.ed.gov/eligibility/non-us-citizens

My family’s financial circumstances have changed significantly since last tax year.  How can I update my financial aid application?

If your family’s financial circumstances have changed significantly since last tax year (which is the year reported on the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility) then you should contact the Financial Aid Office explain your family’s changes in circumstances and the next-steps to request reconsideration of eligibility.

 

Verification

 

What does it mean to be selected for verification?

Verification is a process to confirm that the information you and your parents provided on your FAFSA is accurate. The Department of Education selects FAFSAs for verification. Others may be selected by schools to clarify information.  If selected, a student cannot receive the financial aid that has been awarded until verification is completed.  If selected, any award information disclosed to the student about their eligibility is considered tentative until verification is completed.

What do I have to do if I have been selected for verification?

The Financial Aid Office will request certain documentation from you to verify that the information you provided on your FAFSA is correct.  A key aspect of completing verification is confirming that the income tax information provided on the FAFSA matches the income tax information on record with IRS.  To do this, a family must either collect and submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript or submit their income tax information on the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

What is a tax return transcript and how can I get it?

A tax return transcript is a line-by-line accounting of your tax return as it was originally filed with the IRS. Any schedules or additional forms filed will also be in the tax return transcript. This can only be obtained through the IRS and is used as verification that your tax information on your FAFSA matches what is on file with the IRS.  Access it online at: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript

What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and how do I use it?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is an online tool used to transfer a student’s or parent’s income tax information from the IRS’s records directly onto the FAFSA in order to confirm the tax information’s authenticity.  In most cases, if the IRS DRT is used to collect income tax information on the FAFSA then a tax return transcript will not be required.  To use it go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to file your initial FAFSA or to correct it.  Under the Financial Information tab a student or parent must indicate that they have Already Filed their taxes.  If the student or parent can answer no to the three subsequent questions about their filing status then the application will indicate that they may be eligible to use the tool and provide prompts for doing so.

What else might be required for verification?

There is verification worksheet that must be completed and signed by student and parent (if the student is a dependent).  Also, if any received SNAP or TANF benefits during the prior tax year then documentation of that person’s eligibility is also required.  Other documents may be required depending on the student’s application.  The Financial Aid Office will notify the student what is required to complete their application for verification.

 

Your Financial Aid Award

 

Does Elms College offer scholarships and grants?

Yes!  For more information on the scholarships and grants offered at the college please visit our Scholarships and Grants webpage.

What are the student loan options available at Elms College?

Information on federal and private student loan options can be found the college’s Loans and Other Aid webpage.

Will my financial aid award be the same every year?

Students need to reapply for financial aid every academic year by filing a new FAFSA.  A student’s financial aid package could change from year to year depending on their eligibility for need-based funding.  The college aims to provide students with a similar level of need-based funding should their family’s financial circumstances remain similar from year to year.

What happens to my financial aid if I receive an outside scholarship?

If you receive an outside scholarship please notify the Financial Aid Office by providing us a copy of your outside scholarship award letter.  The outside scholarship will be incorporated into your financial aid package.  In many cases the outside scholarship is simply added to the aid already award to the student.  However, in some cases the amount of outside scholarship received will affect the student’s eligibility for need-based aid eligibility and certain need based funds may be reduced.

How is financial need determined?

Need is determined through the FAFSA.  The FAFSA can be thought of as an intricate calculator that takes into consideration a student’s household size, number of students in college, geographic location, a family’s income and assets to determine a number called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  The EFC is NOT the amount that will be billed to a family for the academic year.  The EFC is simply a number used to determine a student’s need-based aid eligibility.  The EFC is then subtracted from the student’s Costs of Attendance (COA) to determine need.  Students are then provided as much need based aid according to their eligibility.  More information on this can be found online at https://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/next-steps/how-calculated

I have a balance remaining after taking into consideration my financial aid package.  What are my options?

To review loan and other financing options (like a payment plan) please go to college’s Loan and Other Aid webpage.