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Federal Aid Frequently Asked Questions

What is FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used by the US Department of Education to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) by conducting a “need analysis” based on financial information, such as income, assets and other household information, which you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) will be asked to provide. The form is submitted to, and processed by, a federal processor contracted by the US Department of Education (ED), and the results are electronically transmitted to the financial aid offices of the schools that you list on your application.

The FAFSA is the application used by nearly all colleges and universities to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs.

What is an MPN?

A Master Promissory Note is a legally binding document under which the borrower promises to repay the loan and to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement.

What is a SAR?

The Student Aid Report is a compilation of all the information that was submitted on the FAFSA.  The information will be used by the school to assess eligibility for Federal loans, therefore it is important that the information is accurate.  Changes can be made by logging back into the FAFSA website.

What is the Cost of Attendance?

The total amount of money that a student will require to attend school is known as the Cost of Attendance (COA).  This is set annually by Northumbria University. Federal law allows the value to include:

  • Tuition fees
  • An allowance for books, supplies and transport (including airfares)
  • An allowance to cover room and board (rent or hall charges)
  • An allowance for dependent care if necessary
  • An allowance to assist with any disability

What is the EFC?

The Expected Family Contribution is the amount that dependent students are expected to receive in financial support from their parents.

EFC is determined by a Federal government calculation that examines the family resources available from a family's income (less allowances for taxes and living expenses) and assets (less allowances for retirement) to assist a student in their studies.  A percentage of these available amounts are earmarked as EFC.

What is the difference between a Dependent and Independent student?

All graduate/professional students are considered independent; otherwise to be considered independent you must fit into one of the categories below:

  • Are older than 23 years at the time of completing the FAFSA
  • Are currently or have been married at the time of completing a FAFSA
  • Are a parent
  • Are a veteran
  • Are a ward of the court

The classification of your dependency status is used to determine how much of the Federal Stafford loan is available to you.

What is default?

If you default, it means that you have failed to make payments on your student loan according to the terms of your promissory note.  Default is a serious matter. Some of the consequences of default are:

  • National credit bureaus can be notified of your default, which will harm your credit rating, making it more difficult to buy a car or house.
  • You would be ineligible for additional federal student aid if you decided to return to University.
  • Loan payments can be deducted from your paycheck.
  • State and federal income tax refunds can be withheld and applied toward the amount you owe.
  • You will have to pay late fees and collection costs on top of what you already owe.
  • You can be sued.

 What fees are associated with my loans?

You may have a default fee and/ or Origination fees associated with your loan.

The default fee (previously known as the "guarantee fee" ) is a charge made by the Department of Education to cover any costs incurred if you miss repayments once you have graduated.

The origination fee is a charge made by the Department of Education to cover the administrative charges related to your loan.

Do I have to take out the full loan amounts?

No. Your loan amounts are based on your cost of attendance, but if you have other sources of income you have the right to ask for your loan to be reduced.

Can I borrow more than my cost of attendance?

It may be possible to increase your cost of attendance to allow for special circumstances or include exceptional expenses, such as dependent care, disability-related expenses or costs for compulsory field trips.

Is it possible to receive an advance payment (for flights, to pay for UK visa) before arrival at Northumbria?

No, students must be registered at the University before any funds can be disbursed.

Am I able to use my student loans to pay for the deposit on the student housing accommodations?

It is not possible to use any of your funds to pay for deposits before registration (enrolment). Your first payment will be released 7-10 days after you have registered, collected your University Smart Card and so confirmed registration and it is your responsibility to cover your living expenses until your first disbursement is released. We also advise students to bring enough money with them when they first arrive to cover their expenses for this period, we would recommend around £400 - £500.

When will I receive my Visa letter?

Your Visa letter will be sent to your after your loan has been approved and processed. Your Visa letter includes your loan details, disbursement dates and amounts and it provides proof to the UK Border Agency of the loan money you are going to receive.

Can I bring any dependants with me?

For a student with dependants (children), an allowance for costs expected to be incurred for dependent care is included in the student’s cost of attendance. This covers care during periods that include, but that are not limited to, class time, study time, field work and commuting time for the student. The amount of the allowance is based on the number and age of such dependants and does not exceed reasonable cost for the kind of care provided.

How do I set up a repayment plan with my loan servicer?

This website lists the different repayment plans, that you may choose.

You can also contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). If you currently have a Direct Loan and would like the exact payment amount on your loan, you can find it out by contacting your loan servicer.

When do I start paying interest on my loans?

For subsidized and unsubsidized loans the repayment period begins the day after the grace period ends. The first payment will be due within 45 days after the repayment period begins. Plus loans don’t have a grace period and the repayment period begins on the day after the final loan disbursement is made. However, students can defer repayment of a PLUS loan while they are enrolled on at least at halftime basis. The first payment will be due within 45 days after the deferment ends.

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