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Frequently Asked Questions

We know that the process of applying for financial aid can be very confusing for families. We hope the resources on this page will be helpful to families who may be going through the process for the first time.

Questions and Answers

Q: I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?
A: Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free. There is no good excuse for not applying.

Q: How soon after January 1 should the FAFSA form be sent in? Is it better to wait until the income tax forms have been completed?
A: Send in the form as soon as possible after January 1, 2014. Do not wait until your taxes are done. Although it is better to do your taxes early, it is ok to use estimates of your income, so long as they aren't very far off from the actual values. You will have an opportunity to correct any errors later. If you wait too long, you might miss the deadline for state aid. Most states require the FAFSA to be submitted by March 1, and some even as early as early or mid-February.

You can also write to:
Federal Student Aid Programs
PO Box 4038
Washington, DC 52243-4038

to find out whether your FAFSA has been processed or to request a duplicate copy of your SAR.

Q: Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid at a particular university?
A: No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1. To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted and enrolled at the university.

Q: How do I apply for need-based aid?
A: Submit the 2015-2016 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The information from the FAFSA will help us to determine the type of federal financial aid you are eligible to receive.

Q: Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
A: Yes. Most financial aid offices require that you apply for financial aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly each year, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.

Q: What documents will I need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2015-2016 Academic Year?
A: You will need the following documents:

  • The 2015-2016 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet
  • Your 2014 Federal Tax Return and all 2014 W-2 Forms
  • Your spouse's 2014 Federal Tax Return and all 2014 W-2 Forms (if applicable)
  • Your parents' 2014 Federal Tax Return and all 2014 W-2 Forms (if you are dependent)
  • Bank statements for checking, savings, and investment accounts

Q: What is the deadline for submitting my Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
A: The FAFSA (with correct signatures) must be submitted by the priority deadline of April 1. If the FAFSA is received late, you may only be considered for Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Grants, and Federal Parent PLUS Loan.

Q: Where can I get information about Federal student financial aid?
A: Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 1-800-730-8913 (if hearing impaired) and ask for a free copy of The Student Guide: Financial Aid from the US Department of Education. This toll free hotline is run by the US Department of Education and can answer questions about federal and state student aid programs and applications. You can also write to:

Federal Student Aid Information Center
PO Box 84
Washington, DC 20044

Q: What is Chowan University’s Title IV Code (information required on the FAFSA form)?
A: Our Title IV Code is 002916.

Q: I sent in my FAFSA over four weeks ago but haven't heard anything. What should I do?
A: If you haven't received a Student Aid Report (SAR), call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (toll free) or 1-319-337-5665. You must provide them with your Social Security number and date of birth as verification.

Q: How does the Department of Education come up with my "Expected Family Contribution ("EFC")?
A: Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the number that's used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. The EFC is not the amount of money that your family must provide. Rather, you should think of the EFC as an index that colleges use to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school.

Q: Why is the family contribution listed on the SAR different from the family contribution expected by the university?
A: The federal formula for computing the expected family contribution is different from those used by many universities. In particular, the federal formula does not consider home equity as part of the assets.

Q: How long does the financial aid awarding process take?
A: Need-based aid packages are calculated after the student has been

  • Accepted for Admission
  • Evaluated for all available institutional merit scholarships
  • Has submitted a processed 2015-2016 FAFSA to our office.

We anticipate that the first group of award packages for incoming students will be released sometime around in April.

Q: What if I need more aid and/or the FAFSA does not reflect my present situation?
A: Contact the Financial Aid Office for additional instructions. We can be reached by phone at 252-398-1229, by FAX at 252-398-6513, or by e-mail at

Q: If I move off-campus, how does this affect my financial aid?
A: Off-campus students are billed by Chowan University only for tuition and fees and may receive some of their financial aid as an excess aid refund. The excess aid is often used to assist in paying for off-campus living expenses (rent, utilities, groceries, etc). Before you move off-campus, make sure you make a budget for the various costs associated with renting an apartment that you would not encounter as an on-campus student.

University policy requires all full-time students to live in campus housing unless they meet one of the following conditions:

  • Married
  • Live in the community with their parents or grandparents
  • Over 23 years of age
  • A veteran of the United States military

A small percentage of junior and senior students are also allowed to live off campus after successful application is submitted to Residence Life Office. A student’s award package may be revised if their housing status changes from on-campus to off-campus. To apply to live off-campus, please complete the commuter application that can be found at Residence Life.

Q: How do I apply for Chowan University Merit Scholarships?
A: To apply:

Q: How do I apply for Chowan University Leadership Scholarships?
A: You must be admitted to Chowan University before applying for the Leadership Scholarship.

To apply:

Q: What are endowed scholarships at Chowan University?
A: An endowed scholarship provides merit-based and need-based financial support for academically talented students through the use of an invested fund designated for scholarships. Scholarship awards are generated from the earnings of the invested fund rather than from the principal. In that way, an endowed scholarship fund is never expended, and it can provide financial support for students in perpetuity. These scholarships may be named to honor the memory of someone; identified with a family or corporation; or named after a particular cause, need, or group that is important to the donor. Chowan University Development Office works with the donor(s) to establish the selection criteria for their scholarships. Increasing the amount of aid available to students through endowed scholarships makes the college less dependent on unrestricted funds to meet its student aid budget. Endowed scholarships are used to fund institutional scholarships that are awarded by Chowan University such as Merit, Leadership, Athletic, and Music. There is not a separate application to complete for endowed scholarships.

Q: I received an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?
A: Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from university or government sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office. Unfortunately, the university will adjust your financial aid package to compensate. Nevertheless, the outside scholarship will have some beneficial effects. Chowan University policy is to reduce loans, and/or federal work study if necessary.

Q: My financial aid awards were reduced. How can aid be reduced after it was awarded it to me?
A: Federal and state financial aid laws state that a student cannot receive a financial aid amount greater than the cost of attendance minus any other aid and their "Expected Family Contribution". If you completed your FAFSA with estimated income information OR if your FAFSA was randomly picked for verification by the Department of Education, your award will not be final until we receive copies of both your and your parents' (if dependent under federal guidelines) 2014 federal tax transcripts and make any needed adjustments to the original data you reported.

Awards may also be reduced if we discover a significant difference between the income and asset information reported on your FAFSA and the information submitted on your 2014 federal tax transcripts. Chowan University is obligated to reduce your federal or state aid if outside aid or scholarships result in an over-award situation. For example, if a student receives a new scholarship midyear, causing him to be over awarded, then the aid package will need to be reduced to compensate for the scholarship. Had we known about this scholarship when the original financial aid package was calculated, the aid amount would have been lower in the original package. To adjust for an over-award, we normally reduce the

Chowan University is obligated to reduce your federal or state aid if outside aid or scholarships result in an over-award situation. For example, if a student receives a new scholarship midyear, causing him to be over awarded, then the aid package will need to be reduced to compensate for the scholarship. Had we known about this scholarship when the original financial aid package was calculated, the aid amount would have been lower in the original package. To adjust for an over-award, we normally reduce the Federal Stafford Loan OR Federal Work Study, before we would revise your remaining eligibility for grants.

Q: Must my parents and I complete our 2014 federal tax forms before filing the FAFSA?
A: The FAFSA allows estimates for income and tax information if the applicant and/or applicant's parents have not yet completed federal tax forms for 2014. On #32 for students and on #79 for parents, select choice B ("will file, but have not yet completed my return"). If you do estimate, keep in mind that you must correct your FAFSA later (via the paper Student Aid Report or FAFSA on the Web) with the actual tax figures, since you are obligated by law to report an accurate picture of your family's finances. We prefer that you file the FAFSA with estimates instead of waiting for a completed federal tax return, if waiting for your tax return will prevent you from meeting our priority-processing deadline. The priority deadline for students is April 1 of each year. Students whose FAFSAs are recorded after the priority application deadline will be considered late, and will likely only receive consideration for the federal Stafford loan, federal parent PLUS loan, and all federal grant programs.

Q: If my parents are divorced or separated, do I include both parents' income information on the FAFSA, even though they no longer live together?
A: The FAFSA worksheet (page 4) gives the following explanation:

“If your parents are divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent you lived with more during the past 12 months. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months, or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent. If this parent is remarried as of today, answer the questions about that parent and the person to whom your parent is married (your stepparent).”

Q: If my parents are divorced, and the parent I receive more support from remarries, do I have to include my stepparent's income information on the FAFSA, even though that person does not provide any financial support for me?
A: Federal financial aid law states that if your biological parents are divorced, and you live with the parent who has remarried, you must include the stepparent's income information on the FAFSA, since you are considered part of that person's household. This is the case even if your parent and your stepparent file separate federal tax returns. You complete the FAFSA by adding the amounts from both of the tax returns together.

Q: Are my parents responsible for my educational loans?
A: No. Parents are, however, responsible for the Federal PLUS loans. Parents will only be responsible for your educational loans if they co-sign your loan. In general you and you alone are responsible for repaying your educational loans.

You do not need to get your parents to cosign your federal student loans, even if you are under age 18, as the 'defense of infancy' does not apply to federal student loans. (The defense of infancy presumes that a minor is not able to enter into contracts, and considers any such contract to be void. There is an explicit exemption to this principle in the Higher Education Act with regard to federal student loans.) However, lenders may require a cosigner on private student loans if your credit history is insufficient or if you are underage. In fact, many private student loan programs are not available to students under age 18 because of the defense of infancy.

If your parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can have your billing statements sent to their address. Likewise, if your lender or loan servicer provides an electronic payment service, where the monthly payments are automatically deducted from a bank account, your parents can agree to have the payments deducted from their account. But your parents are under no obligation to repay your loans. If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancel the electronic payment agreement, you will be held responsible for the payments, not them.

Q: My Student Aid Report (SAR) indicates that I was selected for "Verification." What does this mean?
A: The federal processor randomly selects applications to undergo the verification process each year. This means that your aid award will not be finalized until you submit copies of your and your parents' 2014 federal tax transcripts and a completed federal verification worksheet to our office. We have posted copies of the 2015-2016 verification worksheet in the Chowan University Forms section of our website.

Q: Are work-study earnings taxable?
A: The money you earn from Federal Work-Study is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than half-time). Federal Work-Study earnings during the calendar year (not the school year) should be included on the FAFSA as follows:

  • Adjusted gross income for 2014
  • Student earnings from working in 2014
  • Student 2014 Additional Financial Information

Q: When is the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid open?
A: The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid is located in the basement of McDowell Columns. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. We can be reached by phone at 252-398-1229, by FAX at 252-398-6513, or by e-mail at

Financial Aid Myths

MYTH: I consider myself independent because (either one or more of the following):

  • My parents don't claim me as an exemption on their federal tax return.
  • My parents cannot (or refuse to) pay any of my school expenses, I pay for everything.

FACT: Dependency, according to federal financial aid law, is not determined by any of the above situations. For example, a student who is classified as independent for federal tax filing purposes may or may not also be classified as independent for financial aid filing purposes. In general, your answers to the questions in "Step Three" of the FAFSA determine whether or not you can file the FAFSA as an independent student (which means you do not include parent information on your FAFSA). If you can answer "yes" to any of these items, then you are considered independent for financial aid purposes, and can complete the FAFSA without parent data.

MYTH: It is illegal for a 17-year-old student to sign a promissory note for a student loan, even though the student has not yet reached the age of majority.

FACT: Normally, a minor cannot be held liable for a contract that they sign. However, in 1992 the Higher Education Act was amended to permit eligible students, defined as per Title IV regulations, to sign promissory notes for their own Federal student loans. As such, student loans represent one of the few exceptions to the so-called "defense of infancy". The specific citation is section 484A(b)(2) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 USC 1091a(b)(2)), and applies to Stafford, PLUS and Consolidation Loans. It does not appear to apply to Perkins and Direct Loans, although it was clearly the intent of Congress that it should.

Several states have also passed similar laws that consider minors to be competent to enter into a contract for an education loan. This extends similar protection to private and non-federal loans. All private education loans require a cosigner when the student is under the age of majority, just to be safe.

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