Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Aid
- What is financial aid?
- How is need determined?
- How is financial aid awarded?
- Connect to the Net Price Calculator
- What about scholarships?
- What about fee-based services?
- Who is eligible to receive financial aid?
- How do I know if I'm independent or dependent?
- What if I don't meet any of these categories?
- What should I do if I've got special problems?
- Can attendance/academic performance affect my financial aid?
- Are there financial aid programs for students in non-degree programs?
- How and when do I file for financial aid?
- What if I missed the filing deadline?
- Do I need to file every year?
- How do I get a Federal PIN and how is it used?
- Can I file a FAFSA if I haven't filed my tax return yet?
- Do I need to complete a new FAFSA if I've already filed at my former school?
- How do I get help with the FAFSA?
What is financial aid?
Financial aid is any source of funds available to assist students to pay for the cost of a college education. Sources of aid usually take the form of a loan, grant or scholarship. It can also be a resource like employer tuition benefits. Any student who may need assistance in meeting college costs should make an application for financial aid.
One of the guiding principles of financial aid administration is that all student aid applications be treated in a fair and equitable manner. If you have special circumstances that impacts family income, you should review our Special Circumstances section to determine if an appeal would be appropriate.
Most financial aid assistance is based on demonstrated financial need; however, some scholarships and some types of loans do not require financial need. Most scholarships are based on special abilities and merit.
How is need determined?
Financial aid programs are based on the premise that the primary responsibility for paying for college lies with the student and his family. Need-based financial aid is available to those students whose family resources are inadequate to meet their college costs. The simple calculation used is:
Cost of Attendance
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
- Scholarships and Resources (e.g., employer tuition benefits)
= Need for Aid (Demonstrated Need)
Cost of Attendance: Reasonable estimate of attending the university for an academic year. Components include an average of tuition and fees and allowances for books, supplies and equipment, transportation, miscellaneous expenses and even room and board. For students who live with parents or family, they will have an at home budget. For students who rent an apartment or live at the Union, they will have an off-campus budget. You may view all of the academic year's budgets based on status, residency for both graduate and undergraduate categories in the Cost of Attendance section of this website.
Expected Family Contribution: When a student submits a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at www.fafsa.gov, the personal and financial information is analyzed for family financial strength using the EFC Formula. The family's ability to contribute to educational costs is based on income and assets of the parents and student. The product of this process is called Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The closer to zero, the greater the need for financial aid.
The parent contribution considers income (taxed and untaxed), assets (excluding the family home and certain retirement accounts) with offsets for living expenses, family size, taxes paid, number of dependents in college and a special asset protection allowance based on the older parent's age.
The student contribution considers student income and assets with offsets for certain taxes, a small income allowance and a percentage of savings/assets.
You may visit the EFC Calculators on this Web site to estimate the amount of your EFC.
How is financial aid awarded?
If your need for aid indicates that you are eligible for financial aid, you will be offered a financial aid package. (Students who do not demonstrate any need using this calculation may still receive a financial aid award without need-based funds, such as Federal Direct Student Unsubsidized Loan.)
In addition to awarding university grants, the Office of Financial Aid coordinates aid for eligible students from federal, state and private sources as well as university scholarships. As notices of new scholarships and/or resources are received, the original award offer must be reviewed to prevent an overaward (an award beyond the student's eligibility for need-based aid.) With each change to their awards, students will receive notification (revised paper award or email) of changes made.
Need-based University Grants are reserved for our higher need students. To be considered for the academic year, a student's EFC must be 7000 or less. Other factors include: a timely application and a timely completion of requested documentation. Remember that the deadline for filing the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov is March 1st for both the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the state of Michigan.
What about scholarships?
Scholarships for all entering undergraduates students are administered by the Admissions and Orientation Office.
While the Office of Financial Aid does not award scholarships for the university, it does coordinate the scholarship process for the Current Scholarship Application. Applications are available during January and due by March 1 (or at a date announced when the application is released). To apply, students must have completed at least 12 credits towards their degree, be an U.S. citizen/eligible non-citizen and have a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative grade point average. This scholarship application is available in our Current Undergraduate Scholarship section.
It is always good to check your own possible resources: employers, high schools, clubs and organizations. You can also do free online scholarship searches on the many sites listed in the scholarship search section of our Web site.
The Office of Financial Aid Web site has Local and Private Scholarship section that posts scholarship information and links to the funding organization.
What about fee-based services?
While there are legitimate organizations that sell their information to students, many of these businesses take advantage of a student's fears about the cost of education. There are many free websites available to you to locate scholarships in addition to completing a FAFSA. You shouldn't pay for this information. If you have questions about an organization, you can check with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.
Who is eligible to receive financial aid?
Each financial aid program has special criteria, but the following requirements are fundamental to federal, state and university need-based programs. To be eligible for financial aid, you must:
- Demonstrate financial need (except for some loan programs).
- Have a high school diploma or its equivalent or have a certificate of completion for a home-study program recognized by the student's home state. You may file for financial aid prior to receiving your diploma, but must be awarded it as a condition of admission to the university.
- Be enrolled or admitted to an eligible program of study. You may file for financial aid before you have been admitted to your program of study, but you will not be awarded before you have been admitted.
- Be a U.S. Citizen, national or an eligible non-citizen.
- Have a valid Social Security Number.
- Be registered with Selective Service if you are a male born after December 31, 1959.
- Be making satisfactory academic progress as defined by the Office of Financial Aid (see Consumer Information for more detail).
- Use federal student aid for only educational purposes.
- Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on any federal educational loan.
How do I know if I'm independent or dependent for financial aid?
Your age will usually determine if you are considered to be dependent or independent for purposes of filing for financial aid. For the 2015-2016 academic year, students who were born before January 1, 1992 will be considered to be independent on the basis of age. There are other "automatic" independent status categories in addition to age.
- at any time since you turned 13, were both of your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or a ward of the court
- are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces
- are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training
- have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016
- have legal dependents ( persons other than a spouse): they must live with you and receive more than 50% of their support from you between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016
- are an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence at the time of application
- are in a legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence at the time of application
- will be graduate or professional students in 2015-2016
- are married at the time of application
- at any time after July 1, 2014, were determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless by a high school or school district homeless liaison
- at any time after July 1, 2014 were determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless by the director of an emergency shelter program funded by the Housing and Urban Development
- at any time after July 1, 2014 were determined to be an unaccompanied minor who was homeless or was self-supporting and at risk of being homeless by the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program
What if I don't meet any of these categories and still think that I should be considered independent?
Your first step would be to review the Dependency Override Appeal Form to determine if you met the criteria for this appeals process. If you feel confident in the process, please follow the appeal instructions and submit it and supporting documentation to the Office of Financial Aid. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will consider waiving parental information based on documented appeals.
If a student has been abused, neglected or abandoned by parents, an appeal can be made. Also students whose parents may be incapable of completing a FAFSA because of institutionalization or incarceration may be considered.
Students can also begin the process by completing the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov but stating that parental information cannot be considered because of special circumstances. If the appeal is not approved, the student and parents can update the FAFSA online.
Students who are not claimed as a dependent on their parents' income tax return and/or do not live with the their parents cannot be considered independent without additional special circumstances.
Students may also complete the FAFSA without parental information and may be able to qualify for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans without having met the standard to be considered independent based on circumstances by the Office of Financial Aid. Completion of the Parent Refusal Form by the student and the parent is required.
What should I do if I've got special problems that aren't reflected on the FAFSA?
You should review the Special Circumstances section for the most common types of appeal. If you are concerned that your situation is not listed, you may wish to contact the Office of Financial Aid at (313) 593-5300 to talk with one of the staff members about your situation. A Special Circumstances Form is used to complete an appeal with documentation. You can also make an appointment to meet with one of our financial aid counselors to discuss your situation in detail.
Can attendance/academic performance affect my financial aid?
Yes. If you officially withdraw or stop attending classes (unofficial withdrawal), you may be required to repay some of all of your aid for the term. Students are subject to a formula called Return to Title IV (Federal) Aid to determine how much federal and university need-based aid will be reduced. The State of Michigan has a separate formula to determine the amount of Michigan Competitive Scholarship the student can retain.
Dropping a class for certain federal aid can result in the reduction or loss of a grant or loan (Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG and Federal Perkins Loan) unless confirmation of academic activity is provided by the professor of the class. If confirmed in a timely manner, the aid can be reinstated.
All financial aid recipients are required to meet the same or higher standards of academic performance (measured by cumulative grade point average, course completion and completion of degree within a maximum time frame) as other students at the university. Students who fail to meet the requirements of Satisfactory Academic Progress will be first placed on warning but can still receive aid. Students who do not meet the terms of their probation will be suspended from financial aid eligibility. They must regain eligibility by performance or submit a Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal.
There are consequences in financial aid (as well has academically--or both) for dropping or not attending classes and the academic progress guidelines are reviewed in Satisfactory Academic Progress.
Are there financial aid programs for students who are not enrolled in traditional degree programs?
Some students in pre-degree programs, such as Prospective Degree or CASL SOAR, and consortium students have eligibility at the University of Michigan-Dearborn filing the FAFSA and may be eligible for federal financial aid. Guest students do not qualify for federal aid, but may qualify for some state programs and alternative loans. You should visit the special enrollments section of our website for details.
How and when do I file for financial aid?
You may file using the secured Web site FAFSA on the Web at www.fafsa.gov and print a signature page to mail to the Student Aid Processing Center or use your U.S. Department of Education PIN (Personal Identification Number) as your electronic signature. If you are a dependent student, at least one of your parents must also have U.S. Department of Education PIN to use as his or her electronic signature. Don't forget to print a copy of your application and confirmation page.
The deadline to complete and submit your FAFSA is March 1st for UM-Dearborn and the State of Michigan.
What if I missed the filing deadline?
The Office of Financial Aid will process your application even if you file after the recommended filing date. Your application, however, must be received and completed while you are still enrolled on at least a half-time basis (6 credits for undergraduates and 4 credits for graduate students.) Your aid may be processed after the start of the academic year. You are also less likely to receive grant assistance from the university because funds may be expended. Undergraduate and graduate students who enroll in a degree program AND have at least half-time status student loans. Eligible undergraduates may also be considered for Federal Pell Grant.
Do I need to file every year?
Yes. Students (and their families) are required to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year to be considered for financial aid. Even if the circumstances have not changed, the new application will confirm your situation.
How do I get a Federal PIN and how is it used?
You apply for a PIN at the Department of Education Web site at www.pin.ed.gov. If you are considered a dependent student for financial aid purposes, one of your parents should also obtain a PIN to use as an electronic signature. You do not use the Federal PIN to access university records. The university assigns you an identification number and a PIN. You can change your PIN to any allowed numeric sequence, but it may still differ from your Federal PIN.
Can I file a FAFSA if I haven't file my tax return yet?
You can file with estimated information if you still have your core documents and your tax return isn't very complicated. After you have filed electronically, you should use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will provide a means to populate the taxable income and other data on a tax return. You may need a copy of your tax information if you are selected for a process called verification. If you do not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to populate the income tax sections of your FAFSA, you will need to request a copy of a tax return transcript from the IRS and submit it to the Office of Financial Aid (there is no charge for this service). To request a tax return transcript (for simple filers) or an actual copy of your original tax return, please visit the IRS Website for information and instructions at www.irs.gov
Do I need to complete a new FAFSA if I've already filed at my former school?
If you filed a FAFSA for the academic year in which you plan to attend the University of Michigan-Dearborn, you do not need to refile a FAFSA. The information that you've already submitted can be released to the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Add UM-Dearborn to the list of colleges you want to receive your information online. The UM-Dearborn Federal School Code number is 002326.
How do I get help with the FAFSA?
If you need more assistance than is available at the FAFSA website, call the Office of Financial Aid at (313) 593-5300 to make an appointment with one of the counselors. You should bring in as much income documentation as possible to the appointment. The counselor should be able to help you complete your FAFSA. If you have trouble completing the form on the Web site call (800) 433-3243 for general information as well as technical assistance.