Montana State University

Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Aid

What is the WUE award?

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) award is a reciprocity program, which allows students from select Western states to attend Western schools at reduced tuition rates.

At MSU, the WUE award is a competitive, merit-based award. WUE awards are only available to new students who begin enrollment in the fall.

If a student is awarded the WUE, he/she will pay 150% of in-state tuition. The WUE award is often, but not always, a 4-year renewable award as long as the student maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA and remains a full-time student (12 or more credits).

New students must complete the admissions application and electronically submit their ACT/SAT scores to automatically be considered for MSU’s WUE awards.

How do I apply for scholarships?

INCOMING FRESHMEN ENTERING MSU-BOZEMAN IN THE FALL:

You will be automatically considered for WUE awards, Achievement Awards, and University scholarships if you complete your admissions application and electronically submit your ACT/SAT scores to the university. Awards are made on a first come/first serve basis so you are urged to get your application and test scores in as soon as possible. You may review current parameters for selection on our website at http://www.montana.edu/wwwfa/ under “Scholarships”.

The Presidential Scholarship is the most prestigious scholarship offered at MSU. It is highly competitive and has a separate deadline and application process. For more details on the Presidential Scholarship, please refer to the website at http://www.montana.edu/wwwuhp/pages/scholarships.html

CONTINUING STUDENTS:

You will be automatically considered for need-based scholarships by submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the federal processor by the priority filing date of March 1st.

To be considered for merit-based scholarships, you should contact your department and/or college for scholarship applications by December 1st.

When will my refund check be mailed?

The Student Accounts Office mails checks twice a week throughout the semester. The arrival of your check will be based on that schedule and when you have completed the necessary steps in the Financial Aid Office. To check the status of your refund check, please call the Student Accounts Office at (406) 994-1991. To check the status of your financial aid, please call (406) 994-2845. Or log into your MyInfo account, select Financial Aid, select "My Important Messages" to view any outstanding requirements you may need to submit to the Financial Aid Office.

Two of the most common reasons for a refund check to be delayed is not confirming your bill (paying your fees) at the Student Accounts Office each semester, and not having a valid mailing address in our database. Both of these can be done through your MyInfo account.

Can I get money to purchase a computer?

This is specific to each student and his/her circumstances, based on Federal Guidelines and MSU's Office of Financial Aid Services Policy.

You will need to turn in a written request for us to consider your computer costs as well as a receipt or purchase order to document your purchase. If approved, we will increase your Cost of Attendance, which in turn may allow us to offer you more loan money if you have remaining eligibility. You may only increase your cost of attendance once during your degree to cover the cost of a computer.

Do I need to fill out a FAFSA every year?

YES! A new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed after January 1 each year using the previous year's tax information.

You can do a first time FAFSA, or a renewal, on line at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. FAFSA on the Web Worksheets are available in the Office of Financial Aid Services, Room 183 Strand Union, after January 1.

MSU's school code is 002532.

In order to receive the maximum amount of grant, loan, and Work Study funds that you are eligible for, it is important to have your FAFSA application (or renewal) at the Federal Processor no later than the priority filing date of March 1. You may file after March 1, but funds with limited resources may not be available to you even if you are eligible. If you have any questions, please call the Office of Financial Aid Services at (406) 994-2845.

Do I need to provide my parent’s information on the FAFSA?

If the Federal Government defines you as “dependent” for financial aid purposes, you need to provide your parental information. The Federal Government considers you a dependent if you answer “no” to all of the dependency test questions in Step Three on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A parent's refusal to provide information does not qualify you to be an independent student. Please call us if you have extraordinary extenuating circumstances.

How do you calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

The federal government uses a formula (Federal Methodology) which uses the data the student/family supplies on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Please call us if you have extraordinary extenuating circumstances not reflected in your Student Aid Report.

What is the difference between Stafford Subsidized and Stafford Unsubsidized Loans?

Both types of loans are backed by the federal government. The federal government will pay the interest that accrues on the Subsidized Loan while the student is in school and in their 6 month grace period after school.

Unsubsidized Loans accrue interest from the time the loan is disbursed. The student has the option of paying the interest quarterly or having the interest accrue and become part of the principle balance owed.

What are the Stafford Loan interest rates?

Please consult the current Information Guide on the Financial Aid Office's homepage for the most up to date information on all Loan interest rates.

When is the deadline to submit my FAFSA?

All Montana schools have a priority filing date of March 1 each year.

The last date we can receive electronic FAFSA data from the federal processor for fall financial aid consideration is November 1. The spring deadline is March 31, and June 30 is the deadline for submitting your FAFSA for summer financial aid.

How can I find out how much money I have borrowed to pay for my education?

This is specific to each student. You can get this information online through the National Student Loan Data System at http://www.nslds.ed.gov/

When do I have to begin repayment of loans?

For Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans you will go into repayment 6 months after graduation or if you drop below 6 credit hours.

For Perkins/Nursing Loans you will go into repayment 9 months after graduation or if you drop below 6 credit hours. If you have a Nursing Loan and are no longer a Nursing student you will begin immediate repayment of the Nursing Loan.

For parent PLUS loans your parents begin repayment 60 days after the final disbursement of the loan.

For alternative loans outside the Federal Government, you need to check with your lender.

For more information on loan repayment, please visit the repayment links from Student Aid on the Web at: http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/

How can I find a Work Study job?

You must be awarded Work Study funds in order to obtain a Work Study job. Refer to your Award Notification or call the Office of Financial Aid if you are unsure. If you were not awarded Work Study, you may call to inquire if there are available funds.

If Work Study funds are not available, you can get assistance in obtaining a job through the Career, Internship and Student Employment Services located in the basement of the Strand Union, room 177.

If you have an eligible Work Study award, you will or have received an e-mail with a username and password to log in to the job search Web site. You can search for Work Study jobs at Careers Services’ MyCatCareers.com at https://www.myinterfase.com/montanastate/student/home.aspx and select Work Study in the Position Type field in order to view Work Study jobs.

How do I apply for financial aid or grants?

Use the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal & state financial aid, including grants.

The FAFSA is available for electronic submission on the internet at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ You will need your (and possibly your parent’s) federal tax information for the previous tax year to fill out the form.

Why/how do I confirm my bill (pay fees)?

When you confirm your bill (pay fees) with the Student Accounts Office (room 102 Montana Hall), you are accepting (and/or paying) your University charges, and confirming that you will be attending the classes you registered for.

You can confirm your bill by credit card or E-Check from the Web Bill Summary on My Info at (https://atlas.montana.edu:9000/) under Student Services/Student Records. You can also confirm your bill by mailing a check to Student Accounts, PO Box 172640, Bozeman, MT 59717; by phone with credit card information at (406) 994-1991; or in person at the Cashier windows on the first floor of MT Hall.

You need to confirm your bill EVERY semester (fall, spring, and summer) you attend classes, and each time you add credits to your initial registration.

For more information on confirming your bill, please contact the Student Accounts Office at 406-994-1991.

How much do I owe?

This is student-specific, and based on multiple factors. Get a detailed look at your account from the “MyInfo” section of the MSU website (https://atlas.montana.edu:9000/) or contact the Student Accounts Office in Montana Hall. (Phone: 406-994-1991, Fax: 406-994-1954, E-mail: studentaccounts@montana.edu

Why didn’t I get Work Study?

The Work Study program has limited funding. Students that indicate they wish to participate in the Work Study program through the FAFSA, demonstrate need, and have their FAFSA to the Federal Processor by the priority filing date of March 1st for the upcoming aid year will be awarded Work Study on a first come basis.

If you were not awarded Work Study as part of your financial aid package, you may have your name added to a Work Study waitlist by calling or sending us a written request. If Work Study funds become available, students on the waitlist will be considered for an award based on their eligibility. Being placed on the waitlist in no way assures that you will receive a Work Study award. However, there are on and off campus employers who hire students. For more information, please visit Career, Internship, and Student Employment in room 177 in the Strand Union Building.

How many credits do I need to take to get financial aid/what is considered full time?

In order to receive any federal or state financial aid, with the exception of the Pell grant, you need to take at least 6 credit hours in the semester you wish to receive aid. For undergraduate students, enrollment for 12 credits or more is considered full time. Depending on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), you may be eligible for a small Pell grant at less than 6 credits.

As a graduate student, enrollment for 9 credits or more is considered full time. Graduate students are not eligible for Pell grants.

IMPORTANT DATES FOR FINANCIAL AID

Recurring Annual Dates:

March 1: Priority filing date for the upcoming FAFSA school year.
March 31: Last day to receive the electronic FAFSA data for spring financial aid consideration.
Last day to turn in a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal for spring financial aid consideration.
Priority filing date for the Summer Supplemental Application.
June 30: Last day to receive the electronic FAFSA data for summer financial aid consideration.
Last day to turn in the Summer Supplemental Application for summer financial aid consideration.
Last day to turn in a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal for summer financial aid consideration.
November 15: Last day to receive the electronic FAFSA data for fall financial aid consideration.
Last day to turn in a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal for fall financial aid consideration.

How can I receive summer aid?

Summer is the last term of our school year (for example, Summer 2009 is a part of the 2008-2009 school year). All students wanting consideration for summer financial aid must complete a Summer Supplemental Application in addition to a current year Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Summer Supplemental Application is generally available after January 1. Both the FAFSA and Summer Supplemental Application must be received in our office no later than June 30. The priority filing date is March 31st each year and aid is awarded based on loan limits for the previous fall/spring semesters.

I want to check the status of my financial aid.

This is specific to each student, and based on the information each student submits with their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Log into the “MyInfo” section of the MSU website (https://atlas.montana.edu:9000/) or contact the Office of Financial Aid Services.

I want to check the status of my appeal.

This is student specific, based on the information in the University's database. Log into the “MyInfo” section of the MSU website (https://atlas.montana.edu:9000/) to view current messages, or contact the Office of Financial Aid Services. Depending on the type of appeal and the volume of all appeals at the time your appeal is submitted, please allow our office a minimum of three weeks to resolve your appeal.

Can I appeal to get more money?

This is specific to each student and his/her circumstances - contact the Office of Financial Aid Services at (406) 994-2845 if you have extenuating circumstances not reflected on your FAFSA. We do consider Cost of Attendance increases for Study Abroad travel expenses, a computer purchase, and dependent care expenses.

How can I get more money above what the federal government will give me?

You can apply for an alternative credit worthy loan through any number of private lenders. Contact the Office of Financial Aid Services for more information.

Why did you reduce/change my aid?

This is specific to each student, based on the information in the University's database. Refer to the message on your most recent revised award notification. Log into the “MyInfo” section of the MSU website (https://atlas.montana.edu:9000/) or contact the Office of Financial Aid Services if you have questions. We reserve the right to amend your financial aid package at any time due to state, federal, or institutional changes.

How can I tell you about my special circumstances?

You need to let our office know in writing about any special circumstances that hinder your ability to pay for school. We may ask for additional information. Please allow plenty of time for processing; it often takes at least 60-90 days for us to evaluate your circumstances and determine if we can or cannot offer you additional funding.

What will happen to my financial aid if I drop/fail class(es)?

This is specific to each student, based on University Withdrawal Policy and Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy which can be found at http://www.montana.edu/wwwfa/ Contact the Office of Financial Aid Services if you need further information.

Why do I need to provide my tax information to your office?

If our office selected you for Institutional Verification, you will be asked to provide verification of the information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. We verify the FAFSA data by requesting that you complete a worksheet and provide a signed copy of your federal tax return, all W-2 statements, and all schedules. If you provided your parent's or spouses information on the FAFSA we will ask for a copy of their federal tax return as well.

Why do I have a Satisfactory Progress Violation?

This is student specific, based on the information in the University's database. Log into the “MyInfo” section of the MSU website (https://atlas.montana.edu:9000/) or contact the Office of Financial Aid Services. A copy of the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy is available on Financial Aid Services Web site at http://www.montana.edu/wwwfa/. The policy will also explain appeal procedures if you think there were extenuating circumstances.

Should I consolidate my loans?

It depends…
· Are you having trouble making your monthly payments?
· Do you find it difficult to keep track of your lenders, which loans they have and when they are due?
· Would you like a lower monthly payment to one lender?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then consolidation may be the answer you are looking for.

Consolidation loans are designed to help student and parent borrowers consolidate several types of federal student loans with various repayment schedules into one loan.

For more information on consoidation and loan repayment, please visit the links from Student Aid on the Web at: http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/

What are the advantages of consolidating my loans?

· One lender, one loan and one payment – you no longer have to keep track of multiple loans or lenders.

· Lower monthly payments – a consolidation extends your repayment term based on your total outstanding balance, which will decrease your monthly payment by as much as 50%

· One fixed interest rate – the rate is fixed for the life of the loan and cannot exceed 8.25%. The interest rate is a weighted average based on the current interest rate(s) of your loan(s) rounded up to the nearest 1/8th of a percentage.

· Choice of repayment plans – you have the option to choose from several different repayment plans. For more information on loan repayment, please visit the repayment links from Student Aid on the Web at: http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/

What loans are eligible for consolidation?

Any of the following loan types with an outstanding balance are eligible for consolidation:

· GSL – Guaranteed Student Loan (Stafford Loans)
· FDSL – Federal Direct Student Loan
· NDSL – National Defense/Direct Student Loan
· SLS – Supplemental Loans for Students (new name for ALAS)
· PERK – Federal Perkins Loan (new name for NDSL)
· PLUS – Parental Loans for Undergraduate Students
· HPSL – Health Professions Student Loan
· HEAL – Health Education Assistance Loan
· FISL – Federal Insured Student Loan
· NSL – Federal Nursing Loan
· CON – Consolidation Loan

·Alternative, non-federal loans can NOT be consolidated.

What are the disadvantages of consolidating my loans?

· Increased interest costs – like a home mortgage or car loan, extending the years of repayment with the Consolidation loan, increases the total amount you have to repay.

· Loss of eligibility for certain types of deferments for loans disbursed prior to 07/01/1993.

I lost my WUE award, can I appeal to get it back?

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) award is a competitive, merit-based scholarship. In most cases it is a renewable award as long as the student maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA and remains a full-time student (12 or more credits). If a student falls below a 3.0 GPA, or does not enroll for at least 12 credits each semester, the award will be canceled. If a student feels that there were unusual or extenuating circumstances that prevented them from maintaining a 3.0 GPA they can appeal the cancellation. The inability to achieve a good grade in a particular class, by itself, is not considered an extenuating circumstance.

The student should write a detailed letter of explanation, obtain copies of any pertinent supporting documentation (such as medical records, funeral announcements, etc.), and submit them to the WUE Award Committee, in care of the Office of Financial Aid Services, 183 Strand Union Building, Bozeman, MT 59717-4160.

Does MSU discount out-of-state tuition for the children of MSU graduates?

Unfortunately, MSU does not offer tuition breaks for children of alumni. However, there are several other funding options. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid Services for more information.

Can a parent borrow money on behalf of a student?

Yes, a parent can take out a loan if they have a good credit history and are using it to help pay the educational expenses of an undergraduate, dependent student who is enrolled in at least 6 credits.

The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) is a low interest loan offered through the Federal Government, in partnership with private lenders. Please see our current Information Guide on our homepage for the most current interest rate information.

Repayment begins 60 days after the last disbursement, but the parent may qualify for a deferrment if the student remains enrolled for at least 6 credits.

For more information and an application, please select "Plus Loan Request & Questionnaire" from the following Web site: http://www.montana.edu/wwwfa/forms.html

You may mail or fax your application to the Office of Financial Aid Services, PO Box 174160, 183 Strand Union, Bozeman, MT 59717-4160. Our fax number is (406)994-6962.

If you have further questions, please call us at (406)994-2845.

What is FERPA and how does it affect me?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. Please refer to the U.S. Department of Education Web site for more detailed information: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html

Generally, schools must have written permission from the eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. An Authorization to Release Financial Information form can be found here: http://www.montana.edu/wwwfa