Financial Aid Basics
What is financial aid?
Financial aid is money/resources provided to help bridge the gap between your own resources and the amount needed to pay for the cost of attending college. The primary responsibility for meeting the cost of college rests with the student and family to the extent that they are able to pay. A formula established by the U.S. Congress and written in law, takes account your family income and assets.
How long is the application good for?
The FAFSA is only good for the academic year indicated on the application. If you are a continuing financial aid recipient, you will receive an email reminder to complete a Renewal FAFSA for the next academic year from the US Department of Education.
If you do not receive any notification, you will still need to complete a new FAFSA for the next academic year.
Can a student who is not full-time receive financial aid and scholarships?
Most financial aid requires that you must be enrolled for at least a half-time student (6 credits) but if you are eligible, the Pell Grant can be awarded at less than half-time. Pell Grant and other programs are prorated or may be reduced. Financial aid will be awarded assuming full-time (12 or more credits) enrollment. If your enrollment is different, please inform us through your MYUH portal of the amount of credits you will be enrolled for.
Am I permitted to receive financial aid from more than one institution at the same time?
No. Financial aid cannot be received from two different institutions at the same time because you are expecting to receive a degree only from one school. Aid is administered only by that one school.
Disbursements are monitored by the U.S. Department of Education Disbursement System. An “alert” is sent to the colleges to request repayment from the student when repayment by more than one school occurs.
Applying for Aid
What if I don’t have a copy of my federal tax returns?
To complete the FAFSA you may use the IRS Data Retrieval. This process will link your application to the IRS and you may transfer your IRS information directly to your FAFSA.
If you are unable able to participate in the IRS Data Retrieval you may call the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at 1-800-829-1040 or complete and mail Form 4506. For more information, see “IRS Copies & Transcripts”.
When are applications available?
Applications are available October 1st for the upcoming academic year. Current year applications are available on an ongoing basis. Apply online at the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website. If you do not have access to a computer or are unable to file online, please visit the Kekaulike Information and Service Center (KISC) for assistance in applying online or to download a paper application.
What is our deadline?
Our priority deadline is March 1st for the upcoming academic year. We highly recommend that you complete and submit all documents by the designated deadline to insure that funds are available on the first day of instruction. Our office should have received the results from FAFSA by the deadline, therefore, remember to allow time for the processing of the application. However, the office continues to process applications until funds are depleted or the academic year has ended.
Why do I have to provide parental information?
Parent information is used because the U.S. Congress has said that families have the primary responsibility of funding a college education. Parent information is not necessary if you are independent. By federal definition, you are considered independent if you meet one or more of the following criteria:
- You are 24 years or older by December 31st of the award year
- You are married by the date you filed your FAFSA
- You are working on a masters or doctorate degree
- You have legal dependents that fit the following definition:
- Children who receive more than half of their support from you or other people living with you who receive more than half of their support from you and will continue to receive that support during the academic year you are applying for (do not include your children or your spouse)
- You are a ward of the court at any time since you turned age 13 or both parents are deceased. If you were a ward of the court at any time since you turned age of 13, please submit documentation showing your release from court custody upon reaching age 18
- You are an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence
- You are/were in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence
- You are an unaccompanied youth and homeless as determined by your high school or school district; director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; or director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program.
- You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training
- You are veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. You are considered a veteran if you:
- have engaged in active service in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard and were released under a condition other than dishonorable
- You are NOT a veteran if you:
- never engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces
- were only a ROTC student
- were only a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies
- were only a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for training purposes
- are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, and will continue to serve through June 30 prior to academic the year you are applying
What if I do not meet any of the definitions above AND my parents do not support me?
You are not automatically independent for financial aid purposes simply because your parents stop claiming you as a tax exemption or refuse to give you support for your college education. Unwillingness, inability, or reluctance of parents to help pay for your educational costs or becoming emancipated, or demonstrating self-sufficiency do not make you independent by federal law.
The Financial Aid Office may make allowances for students to be independent if you can demonstrate extenuating family circumstances on a case by case basis. You must make an appointment with one of our Financial Aid Specialists to discuss your circumstances.
What happens after I apply?
You have the responsibility to follow up on your financial aid application. You should receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the federal processor via email when they have completed processing your FAFSA. This usually takes between 24 – 72 hours. When you receive your copy of the SAR, we will receive it electronically provided that you listed our school code on your application. Read carefully and make any corrections and resubmit, if needed.
After reviewing your electronic SAR, we may send you (via email) a request for additional information or forms to complete. You should submit all completed forms to our office as soon as possible.
You can check your status at MyUH. When we have completed the review process with all the requested documents on file, you will be emailed a notification informing whether or not you are eligible for financial aid.
What is an “aid package”?
When you apply for financial aid, you do not have to apply for a particular type or amount of aid. Aid applicants are automatically considered for all available aid programs administered by our office. One or more types of aid are usually awarded in combination to make up a student’s financial aid package. Student’s who receive scholarships from outside agencies or through their departments must inform our office and these scholarships will be included as a part of their financial aid package.
What is “verification” and why was I selected?
Verification is a process whereby the information reported on the FAFSA is confirmed with tax returns and other documents. Since the FAFSA may be filed prior to tax filing, it is crucial that our office ensure that the information is accurate and that the funds are awarded only to eligible students.
If you are selected, you are required to submit the documents required. Those are reviewed and when discrepancies are found, corrections are sent to the federal processor to recalculate the eligibility. It may result in a decrease in total aid, loss of the Pell Grant and other grant aid, or an increase in total aid and loans.
When will I receive my award offer?
After Kapiʻolani Community College (KCC) receives your valid SAR, which is the results of your FAFSA, and all required documentation, your file will be reviewed within approximately 3 weeks.
What should I do with the award offer?
Read your notification email very carefully. Contact the Financial Aid Office immediately if you have any questions regarding the type or amount of your award. If there are changes, make sure to notify us.
How do I get a student loan?
The FAFSA is required for all need-based financial aid, including loans. It evaluates the family’s ability to contribute toward college costs. The information is used to determine eligibility for Grants, Loans, and Work-Study. It is a federal requirement that the family’s eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant, a Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan and other federal aid programs be considered. Often parents may think they are not eligible for some programs when in fact they may be. Filing the FAFSA ensures that the family is considered fully for all programs.
If you are interested in a borrowing a student loan, please review and follow the steps at the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program Information page.
- Step 1) File the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov
- Step 2) Complete the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Entrance Counseling at StudentLoans.gov
- Step 3) Complete the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Master Promissory Note at StudentLoans.gov
If you are unable to complete this process online, please contact the KISC to schedule an appointment to meet with a Financial Aid Specialist.
Receiving of Aid
Do I need to do anything more to get my loan after I get the aid offer?
Not all students chose to borrow the Federal Direct Stafford loan, so the amount put on the aid offer is an “estimate” of the maximum amount you are eligible to borrow. For the office to continue the loan process (if you haven’t completed already), you must complete the following steps found at the Federal Stafford Loan Program Information page.
- Step 1) Complete a student loan entrance session at https://studentloans.gov
- Step 2) Complete the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Master Promissory Note at StudentLoans.gov
- Step 3) Accept your loan(s) in your MYUH portal
If you are unable to complete this process online, please contact the KISC to schedule an appointment to meet with a Financial Aid Specialist.
I was awarded another loan, not Federal Direct Stafford. How do I receive the loan(s)?
There is an institutional loan that may be offered to students from revolving funds created by former students repaying their loan. This is the State Higher Education Loan (SHEL) Program. Promissory notes are required prior to the disbursement of funds and are mailed to you from the Financial Aid Office. The note and accompanying paperwork must be promptly signed and returned directly to our office so that we may disburse your loan funds.
When can I pick up my checks?
Most financial aid is credited directly to your UH student account. If you are due a refund, it will be mailed to you within 14 days of the funds being credited to your student account from the Central Bursars Office. We encourage students to sign up for e-Refunds through their MYUH portal.
External scholarships and some loan checks (alternative loans) will be available on the first day of instruction or later. A letter will be mailed to you from our office notifying you when the check is available for pickup at KISC.
Federal Direct Stafford Loans:
- If you are a freshman who has applied for your first federal educational loan, federal regulations require that your first loan disbursement be delayed for 30 days from the first day of the semester.
- If you are receiving a one-semester loan, you will receive half of your loan at the beginning of the semester and the second half at the middle of the semester.
If I am on financial aid probation, can I receive any awards?
Yes. You can receive awards while on financial aid probation but must adhere to the special conditions listed in your MYUH portal.
What changes could affect my awards?
Your initial award will be based on full-time (12 or more credits) enrollment. These are some examples that may cause your award to be revised:
- Change in enrollment status;
- Receipt of additional awards, including scholarships and grants;
- Changes in reported financial information since your original award; or
- Not attending your classes.
What happens after the erase period (last day for a W grade)?
Your financial aid award will be based upon your enrollment at the end of the erase period. If you have already received your award and have since adjusted your enrollment, you may be responsible for repaying the award. It is highly recommended that you meet with an Academic Advisor and a Financial Aid Specialist to discuss your options.
What if I am planning to graduate at the end of Fall semester?
If you are graduating at the end of Fall semester, you must notify the Financial Aid Office. If you are receiving Federal Direct Stafford Loans, your loans will be prorated based upon the number of credits you are enrolled for during the term.
How does an audit grade affect my financial aid?
When you audit a course, you are not graded or given any credit, and financial aid does not take into account any audited courses.
How do I know if I am due a refund?
To determine what is owed or if you have funds coming to you, subtract the total amount of financial aid and scholarships listed on the offer (minus the Work-Study allocation or any loans that you have not applied for) or on MyUH portal.
Why isn’t the Work-Study award listed for disbursement?
Work-study awards are earned by working for an eligible employer and collecting a paycheck every two weeks for the hours worked up to the amount of the award. To locate a Work-Study job, go to the University of Hawai‘i System Student Employment website.
Do I need to pick up a financial aid or refund check?
Refund checks are mailed to your mailing address (if valid) on the portal. Ensure that your address is correct and valid to prevent delays. For federal aid, your refund will be mailed within 14 days of your aid being credited to your UH student account. For other aid, please allow 4-6 weeks after the semester has started before you are refunded. We encourage students to sign up for e-Refunds through their MYUH portal.
YOU MUST FILE FOR FINANCIAL AID EVERY YEAR
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