Frequently Asked Questions
Explore the answers below. If you still have questions, feel free to contact us.
College Aid Procedures
Your financial aid “package” is determined after you file a FAFSA, (http://www.fafsa.ed.gov) and we receive the electronic record from the Federal Department of Education. The final product, your financial aid award letter, will be sent to you by e-mail. Normally we begin sending award letters to new freshmen and transfer students by the first week in April, sooner if the new Federal regulatory changes are available to update our data system. For returning students, we generally must wait for Spring grades to be posted before preparing award letters.
When will I receive my financial aid?
If you are registered for a full time class load and you have satisfied all outstanding financial aid requirements, all your aid should pay into your student account the following Tuesday after the first week of the start of Fall (and Spring) semester classes. Florida student aid will not pay if you haven’t registered for a minimum of 12 credit hours; Federal loans will pay with a half-time class load. If you are a returning student whose grades did not pass Beacon Satisfactory Academic Progress standards last semester, your appeal letter must be reviewed and approved before financial aid will pay into your student account.
Normally, Fall semester is when most problems occur because it is the first semester in the new FAFSA Aid Year, there are more students with requirements documents to review and there is always human procrastination prompting people to avoid addressing their requirements until the last minute. Take care of those requirements early and avoid the extra stress when classes begin.
Note: Even though financial aid was deposited in your account and has paid tuition, campus room and board, you will not have access to any remaining balance until after the second week of classes. The first week of each semester is the period when students can drop classes or withdraw and receive a full tuition refund. Consequently, you must plan for funds other than financial aid during that week to cover any expenses that are not charged directly to your student account.
FAFSA & Verification
Do I have to file for Federal Student Aid every year?
When are the deadlines?
Yes, you must apply each year! The priority date is March 1st each year. The FAFSA applications are available starting in January for the upcoming year.
The Federal Financial Aid Year runs from July 1st through June 30th. A new FAFSA must be filed for each Aid Year in which you wish to be considered for Federal student financial aid. You can determine which FAFSA to file based on your first scheduled day of class. For example, if you are registering for a term that begins before June 30, 2012, you would file the 2012-2013 FAFSA. If you are registering for a term that begins after July 1, 2012, you would file the 2013-2014 FAFSA.
What determines whether or not I will receive financial aid?
The primary factor is financial need. Financial need is computed by determining the educational costs (tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and a personal allowance) less family contribution (based on federal and institutional formulas). The difference between these is the need for financial assistance.
What are some of the common mistakes people make while filing for financial aid?
Four of the most common are:
- Not filing early enough
- Not reading the instructions
- Not fully completing the applications
- Not using the correct social security number
Why does my award change each year?
At Beacon, eligibility for financial aid is based on federal and institutional estimates of your family’s ability to contribute to the cost of education. A typical award includes grants and loans.
Keep in mind that your award is likely to change each year for one or more of the following reasons:
- The cost of education goes up
- Your family’s income changes
- The number of children in college changes
- You forgot to “apply” for financial aid early and missed the priority date
What happens if I fail to complete the application process?
Failure to complete the application process in a timely manner may result in loss of aid and an immediate demand for payment of tuition and other debts.
Why have I been selected for verification and what do I do now?
The Federal Department of Education selects approximately one third of all FAFSA’s for the process of verification. To satisfy the verification requirement, the student must provide the Beacon College Financial Aid Office with tax records (signed Form 1040 pages only without schedules and attachments) that verify the tax information submitted on the FAFSA. In addition, the student must provide a signed copy of the appropriate Federal Dependent (or Independent) Verification Worksheet.
Note: For the purpose of receiving Federal Student Financial Aid, the determination of dependent or independent status is based on specific Federal criteria. The FAFSA website offers a FAFSA worksheet to help you make your status determination.
How do I apply for a Federal student loan?
You must complete the FAFSA (http://www.fafsa.ed.gov) to be eligible for any Federal student aid. You must also be accepted to a degree seeking academic program at Beacon College. Once we receive the electronic FAFSA record for a new or transferring undergraduate, and confirm admission status, our counselors prepare the student’s financial aid “package.” If eligible for a subsidized and/or unsubsidized Stafford loan, the maximum eligible loan amounts will be offered to the student in the financial aid “package.” The student must then accept the offered loan and complete an Entrance Interview and complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN).
Beginning with the 2010-2011 Academic Year, both the Entrance Interview and the MPN must be completed on the Federal Department of Education website StudentLoans.gov - even if the student previously had a Federal student loan provided by a commercial bank.
The parents of undergraduate students can also take a Federal education loan, the Parent PLUS. The Parent PLUS loan is subject to a credit check, but if the parent cannot pass the credit check, their student will become eligible for an increased Stafford loan (unsubsidized). For particulars about a Parent PLUS loan application, see the Loan Providers list for Federal PLUS Loans on this website.
What is the difference between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans?
The Federal Stafford Loan program includes two different loans. The subsidized loan is need-based and eligibility is based on information provided in the FAFSA. The government pays the loan interest while the student remains in school and maintains at least a half-time class load. The unsubsidized loan is available to students who do not meet the FAFSA needs test. The student is responsible for all interest on unsubsidized loans beginning on the date of each incremental loan disbursement. When the student signs a Master Promissory Note with Department of Education (DOE), the options of paying the interest while in school or adding the in-school interest to the loan principle will be offered to the student.
I have been offered a certain amount in loans but I only want to take a portion of what I have been offered. Can I do that?
Yes, however keep in mind that the amount offered is normally for both the Fall and Spring semesters and Federal regulations dictate that the amount be disbursed in two payments at the beginning of each semester.
If you choose a lesser amount and later find that you need more, just ask the Financial Aid Office to make an application for your remaining eligibility. Another option is to obtain the whole amount for Fall and then reassess your needs for the Spring semester. If you find you will not need all of the scheduled Spring amount, just ask the Financial Aid Office to reduce your Spring disbursement. It is best to do such changes soon after the Thanksgiving break.
Why is the amount I received from my loans not exactly what I asked to borrow?
Private student loans are also subject to up front fees, but these fees are not regulated by the Federal government. That is one reason it is always best to take full advantage of Federal student loans before considering a private loan.
The Federal Government, instead of a commercial bank or credit union, is the lender for loans made under the Federal Direct Loan program. These loans also have a Loan Origination Fee that may vary from year to year. The Fee for loans with a first disbursement after July 1, 2010 is 1.0%, but it is offset by a 0.5% up-front interest rebate, predicated on the student making on-time payments when repayments begin. Consequently, you should plan for 0.5% of the total loan to go towards fees and not be available for education expenses.
What is an Entrance Interview?
The Entrance Interview is a requirement associated with each type of Federal student loan. The process provides the student with information about legal financial obligations that many students will undertake for the first time in their lives. You must complete this requirement before your loan will pay into your student account. The good news is that you can conveniently satisfy your requirement on the web. For Federal Direct Loans, go to https://StudentLoans.gov.
What is an Exit Interview?
The Exit Interview is another Federal student loan requirement that applies when you withdraw from school or graduate. It is a refresher course about the student’s legal financial obligation. The Exit Interview also provides information about the student’s rights and options and it seeks updated contact information from the student.
How do I verify my Florida residency?
The Florida Department of Education requires institutions to verify student claims of Florida residency before disbursing Florida financial aid to students. Proof of Florida residency consists of signing a certification, such as Beacon College’s Florida Data Form, and providing an official state document to establish that legal residence has been maintained for 12 consecutive months prior to the first day of classes of the academic term for which assistance is requested. Acceptable state documents include a voter’s registration card or a driver’s license. Dependent students must provide an official state document for one of their parents or a legal guardian and the same person must sign the Florida Data Form certificate.
If you are a new freshman or transfer student who was awarded Florida student financial aid, you should have received with your award letter a Florida Data Form. Download the FRAG form.
Once your Florida residency has been verified by Beacon, you should not need to verify it again unless other facts, such as subsequent FAFSA information, indicate that your residence may have changed.
How will I be affected by changes the Florida Legislature made to Bright Futures awards for the current school year?
There were two significant changes that directly affect Beacon recipients of the Bright Futures Scholarships (see note).
- All recipients must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for Bright Futures awards.
- The per credit hour award amounts decreased for the current school year. Your award will still be based on the number of credit hours you are actually taking rather than being a fixed amount per term.
- Florida Academic Scholarship (FAS) - $100 per semester hour
- Academic Top Scholars (ATS) – $43 per semester hour
- Florida Medallion Scholarship (ATS) - $75 per semester hour
- Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars (GSV)- $75 per semester hour
- The legislature continued the requirement for the college to reduce awards for every class a student drops, no matter when the drop occurs.
Students must pay for dropped classes (“W” grades) so it is important to stay on top of your classes. Seek help immediately if you have a problem class and consider your own limits – take what you can pass and pass what you take.
Note: Bright Futures includes three award programs: Florida Academic Scholars Award, Florida Medallion Scholars Award, and Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars Award.
How will my Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) be affected by changes the Florida Legislature?
The legislature made two changes to the Florida Resident Access Grant:
- All recipients must file the FAFSA to be eligible for a FRAG award.
- The annual maximum decreased for 2011-2012 to $ 2,149.
- The legislature continued the requirement that you must be a full time student.