Financial Aid

General

Will I qualify for financial aid?

There is no simple formula to determine if you will be eligible for financial aid. If you have concerns about college costs and you are a United States citizen or permanent resident you should apply for financial aid to determine your eligibility. Remember that financial assistance is awarded for academic and artistic achievement as well as financial need. Please note that all federal and state grant programs awarded by the Financial Aid Office and PLU funded scholarships and grants are limited to students pursuing their first baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree. Undocumented Washington state residents may be eligible to receive the Washington State Need Grant.  To apply, complete the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) at www.readysetgrad.org.

When do I apply for aid and when will I be notified?

You cannot submit the FAFSA until January 1st. Most families apply during January, for optimal aid awarding. (Please note separate deadlines for the merit and talent-based scholarships.) Students who have been accepted for admission and have submitted the FAFSA will receive their financial aid awards on a rolling basis starting in February. Your application is based on the previous year’s income tax information.

How do I apply for aid as a foster youth or homeless minor?

If you were in a foster home or homeless as a minor, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) without parental or guardian information (unless you are now a legally adopted dependent). You will need to provide documentation of your status either from the applicable court system or from your high school or school district homeless liaison administrator. Contact us (keminkeg@plu.edu) if you need assistance in navigating your way through this process.

What if the amount I receive falls short of the cost?

If the FAFSA analysis determines that the amount you and your family can contribute falls short of the cost to attend PLU, we will make every effort to help you cover the rest of your expenses with financial assistance. If the amount of financial assistance falls short of meeting your outstanding educational expenses, contact us for possible options to close that gap.

I received my award, now what?

You must validate your offer of financial aid by accepting your offer on-line. You must also submit a $200 Advance Tuition Payment and the Residential Life Information Form by May 1.

What happens if I receive an outside scholarship (not awarded by PLU)?

If you have been awarded outside scholarships, you must inform the Financial Aid Office, providing the name and dollar amount of each scholarship to be received during the 2015-16 academic year. Notification of your outside scholarships can be made by emailing us at outsideschp@plu.edu. Please attach to your email any written notifications or instructions you received from the scholarship provider regarding your outside scholarship. PLU may be required by federal regulations to adjust your need-based aid package when outside resources are received. If an adjustment is necessary, loans and work study will be adjusted first. Grants and scholarships will be adjusted only if required and as a last resort.

When do I receive my financial aid funds?

Financial aid is not disbursed (onto your PLU student account) until after the 10 day add/drop period has elapsed at the beginning of fall and spring semesters. If you have accepted your award and completed all required additional paperwork, your scholarships, grants and loans will disburse onto your account on a semester-by-semester basis. If the disbursed amount exceeds your university charges, you may request a refund of that credit balance by completing a Refund Request Form from the Student Services Center.

What can we do if our financial condition has changed since filing the FAFSA?

We understand that the 2014 incomes reported on the FAFSA may not be sustained into the 2015-16 academic year. If your financial situation has worsened, you can let us know by completing the Special Circumstances Request Form. We will make every attempt to take your changing financial situation into account.

How do I (or my parents) access my PLU information?

Students accepted for admission are assigned a PLU ID# and a Personal Identification Number (PIN). With these two numbers, you can access and accept your financial aid award, see your student account information, and register for classes. Because of the Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), parents of enrolled students do not have access to their student’s information without their consent or the student’s PLU ID AND their PIN.

Why Didn't My Financial Aid Disburse?

Fall semester financial aid will be disbursed onto your student account to pay your university charges, beginning Sept 18 (Feb 20 for spring semester). Your aid will NOT disburse if:

  • You have not yet accepted your financial aid award (your award still sits at the “offered” status).
  • You have been selected for verification and have yet to submit the Verification Worksheet and/or the applicable 2014 U.S. federal tax returns
  • You have need-based financial aid and your FAFSA estimated income information has not been updated with actual figures and the tax filing status from “will file” to “already completed”.
  • You are a first time borrower of a Federal Direct or Direct Grad PLUS Loan and have not yet completed the application/promissory note and/or the required Entrance Counseling.
  • You have a Federal Perkins or Nursing Loan and have not completed/signed the required on-line “paperwork”.
  • You have ignored your PLU email account that included notifications of the above missing steps.

Check Banner Web to determine if any of the above conditions apply to you.

How Do I Apply for Summer Financial Aid?

Continuing PLU students wishing to receive financial aid for the summer term must complete a 2015 Summer Financial Aid Application in addition to the 2015-16 FAFSA. Summer aid is limited to the Federal Pell Grant and, if enrolled at least half time, the Federal Direct student and Parent PLUS Loans. Please note that any loans borrowed for summer attendance will reduce the amount available for fall and spring semesters. Undergraduate students beginning their initial enrollment at PLU in the summer are not eligible for aid until the fall or spring semesters. Entering Graduate students in cohort programs applying for financial aid will automatically be awarded summer aid if enrollment is half time or greater. Please note that the Federal Pell Grant cannot be disbursed for summer term until July 1, 2015.

What happens if I am denied federal financial aid due to a drug conviction?

The Department of Education will notify the student in writing or electronically of this decision. In addition the notification will outline how the eligibility may be reinstated. “The Department of Education allows a student whose eligibility has been suspended due to a drug conviction to resume eligibility if the student successfully passes two unannounced drug tests conducted by a drug rehabilitation program that complies with criteria established by the Secretary of Education.” PLU will also notify the student as soon as we receive notification of a student’s suspension of Title IV eligibility and the steps for reinstatement by written communication (by e-mail notification and/or written letter sent by U.S. Mail.)

What happens if I withdraw from all of my classes?

The university calculates and returns Title IV funds according to Federal Title IV policy 34CRF 668.22. The amount of Title IV funds (other than Federal Work Study) that must be returned to the Title IV programs is based solely on the length of time the student was enrolled before withdrawing. This policy is effective for complete or full withdrawal from a semester in which a student receives Title IV federal funds. If a student receives a tuition refund due to completely withdrawing from the university:

  • All PLU gift aid will be removed from the student’s account.
  • Student receives a 100 % tuition refund if withdrawal occurs prior to the first day of class
  • If a student withdraws after the start of classes but before 60 percent of the semester has elapsed, a percentage of Title IV funds will be returned to the federal program based on the length of time the student was enrolled. Refunds are prorated on a daily basis beginning the first day of class until 60% of the semester has elapsed.
  • After 60 percent of the semester has elapsed, the student is considered to have used all aid received for the semester. There is no tuition refund if withdrawal occurs after 60% of the semester has elapsed.
  • The return of Title IV funds is calculated upon the date a student officially withdraws during the semester.
  • Summer full withdraws are calculated using 60% of the student’s originally intended schedule to determine return of Title IV funding.

Federal Direct Loans

If I have both the Federal Stafford and Direct Loans, will I have to make two payments when I enter repayment?

You have the option to consolidate your Federal Stafford and Direct Loans into a Federal Direct Consolidation loan. The option to consolidate your Federal Stafford Loan and Federal Direct loan into a consolidation loan while you are still in school was reinstated when the budget reconciliation bill was signed. If you choose not to consolidate your loans, you would have two payments, just as you would if you borrowed a Stafford Loan from two different lenders. Since most lenders have been selling their Stafford loans to the U.S. Department of Education, it is likely that your loan will be serviced by the same company servicing Direct Loans, potentially resulting in a single payment anyway. You will, however, have to pay to minimum monthly payment on each loan if you do not combine them into a single consolidation loan. The decision to consolidate may depend on your circumstances when you enter repayment; your employment status, your salary and its prospects for growth, and your personal financial goals and how your student loan debt fits into those goals.

Who would I talk to if I have questions or problems with my Direct Loan?

Your first contact would remain with the PLU Financial Aid Office and Student Services Center. We should be able to resolved most “in-house” issues. Once you go into repayment, most of your communication will be with the loan servicing company assigned to your loan by the U.S. Department of Education. You can track your loans on the National Student Loan Data System at www.nslds.ed.gov. For help in resolving loan issues, contact the federal student loan ombudsman at http://ombudsman.ed.gov.

Work Study

If I accept work study, am I obligated to work?

No, but remember that work study is part of your financial aid package to help meet your educational expenses (and in some cases, reduce the amount you might need to borrow in student loans). In most cases, students use their monthly work study pay checks to pay for their on-going personal, miscellaneous or transportation expenses.

I declined my work study, but have now found a Job. Can I get it back?

If you still have work study eligibility, federal work study can generally be reinstated, even if you had previously declined the award. Off campus state work study, assuming the employer is a contracted state work study employer, can also be reinstated, subject to availability of funds.

Can I receive financial aid to replace a declined work study award?

If you decline work study, it can be replaced with a scholarship that has been awarded to you by an outside organization or by increasing the Federal Subsidized Direct Loan (if you have not yet already borrowed your annual maximum). Additionally, you could decline the work study award in order to increase your eligibility for a Federal Parent PLUS loan.  You can also reduce your Subsidized Direct Loan if you need work study in order to participate in the Federal Community Service Work Study program.

Why can't I use my work study award to reduce what I owe on the university bill?

Work study is only an opportunity to work. Employment is not guaranteed, nor are the hours necessary to earn your full work study award. You are welcomed to use your paychecks to pay on your account. However, the university does not count work study toward your university bill because in order to have earnings to apply to your account, students must first find a position, apply for and be hired, put in the hours, and finally apply their paychecks against their account.

How Do I Apply for Summer State Work Study?

To determine your eligibility for the 2015 summer state work study program, you must complete the 2015-16 FAFSA. State Work Study is available only to Washington residents returning to PLU for the 2015-16 academic year with sufficient financial need. Summer State Work Study may reduce your fall/spring aid eligibility because the program expects you to save 40% of your gross summer SWSP earnings as a resource for your fall/spring education expenses. If interested, complete the Referral Agreement for SWSP with your employer and return it to the Financial Aid Office or the Student Services Center. Please note that funding for the SWS program is subject to state appropriation. SWSP availability will be determined by the dollar amount awarded to PLU by the state.

Student & Parent Loans

How should I decide which lender to use?

There is only one lender in the Federal Direct, Federal Direct Parent PLUS and Federal Direct Grad PLUS loan programs – the federal government is the lender, through the U.S. Department of Education. There are many private loans (also referred to as alternative loans), however, with different fees, different interest rates, interest rate caps, etc., so their costs will vary. If your financial circumstances require you to borrow a private loan, you are free to choose any lender, based on your own selection criteria. Lenders are required to disclose cost of borrowing to you as an applicant so you can make an educated choice.

If I decline my loan(s), can I get them back later?

If you decline the Federal Direct Loans, it can be reinstated, as long as you let us know before the last day of the final semester in which you are enrolled during the academic year. The Federal Perkins or Nursing Loans, however, are limited resources and are immediately re-awarded to another student when it is declined. It is highly unlikely that it can be reinstated.

I will become a sophomore or junior after fall/jterm credits. How do I increase my Direct loan to the higher annual loan limit?

Your Direct loan application can only be processed at the class level commensurate with your current cumulative credits. If your fall/jterm credits increase your class standing from freshman to sophomore or sophomore to junior, you are eligible to increase your loan to the higher annual loan limit associated with each class standing. Contact the financial aid office to request this increase at finaid@plu.edu.

How much can my parents borrow in the Federal Parent PLUS Loan?

The maximum eligibility for the Federal Parent PLUS loan awarded is the difference between your cost of attendance (COA) and the amount of financial aid offered to meet that cost. The amount actually borrowed can be increased if you decline a portion of your aid award (like work study or one of your student loans), or reduced, if you secure additional outside scholarships or have other resources to meet your educational expenses not covered by financial aid. You can calculate the amount of PLUS Loan you will need by using the 2014-15 PLUS Loan Worksheet, or contact your Student Services Center counselor for assistance in determining the amount the works best for your financial situation.

How do I apply for the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan or an alternative loan?

Go directly to your chosen lender’s web site and apply for the alternative loan. Your lender will notify PLU of your approved application. We will then certify your application and add your loan to your award on Banner web with a “CERT” (certified) status. This process also applies to parents wishing to borrow the Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan, with application being made directly to the U.S. Department of Education website.

Do I apply for the Direct/PLUS loan for a semester, the academic year or all four years?

Federal Direct and PLUS loans are borrowed for no more than one academic year at a time. Unless otherwise notified, PLU will process loans for all semesters the student expects to be enrolled during the academic year at least half time or more, with the loan evenly distributed over those semesters. If you need a loan for only one semester because of your enrollment plans, uneven availability of your financial resources or uneven distribution of costs, contact us for assistance.