The Application Process

Who is eligible for financial aid?

All admitted students are considered for financial assistance at PLU, with the largest funding source via our own merit scholarship program which recognizes a academic excellence and artistic achievement.  Federal student aid through the U.S. Department of Education is also available to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents, while Washington residents with undocumented status may be eligible for assistance from the state of Washington.

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

U.S. citizens or non-citizens with U.S. Permanent Resident status should apply for assistance by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which becomes available each October 1.  For optimal consideration and earliest possible notification, the FAFSA should be completed as early as possible after Oct. 1.   (Please note separate deadlines for the merit and talent-based scholarships established by the Office of Admission.) Students who have been accepted for admission will receive their financial aid awards on a rolling basis beginning in December.

How do I apply for aid if I am an undocumented student?

Undocumented students who are residents of Washington state can apply for student aid assistance from the state of Washington by completing the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA).  Application is made from the web site and should be completed as soon as the application is made available, beginning each Oct 1.  (Please note separate deadlines for the merit and talent-based scholarships established by the Office of Admission.) Students who have been accepted for admission will receive their financial aid awards on a rolling basis beginning in December.

How do I apply for aid if I am an orphan, was in the foster care system, was an unaccompanied minor or homeless youth, was a ward of the court or made an emancipated minor through the courts, or was appointed a LEGAL Guardian by the court?

If you can answer “YES” to any of the above “are you, were you?” questions, simply check the box that matches your situation when completing the FAFSA.  No parent information will be required, but documentation supporting your circumstances may be requested.  If you cannot answer “YES” to any of these questions, but still cannot get parents to fully complete your FAFSA, contact us via for assistance.

Federal Student Financial Aid Penalties for Drug Violations

If you have a drug conviction for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid, answer
“Yes.” A recently passed law means that you are now eligible for federal student aid even if you have been convicted for the sale or possession of illegal drugs while receiving federal student aid. No further action is required.

How is "Financial Need" determined?

Financial Need is simply the difference between the cost of attendance (COA), which includes tuition & fees, housing and food, books & supplies, and an allowance for personal and transportation costs and the FAFSA generated expected family contribution (EFC), in other words,  COA – EFC = Financial Need.  We attempt to meet full financial need with a financial aid “package” of scholarships, grants, student loans and work study.   Any outside scholarships awarded to the student will further reduce the student’s financial need.

What happens if I should change marital status?

Your FAFSA is completed based on your current marital status (and that of your parents if you are a dependent student).  If that marital status changes after you’ve already submitted your FAFSA, contact us as your eligibility for aid could improve with the change.  If so, we will assist you with updating your FAFSA so we can get you that improved aid award.  Changes that make you less eligible will not be reflected until the following year’s FAFSA or WASFA application.

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

We understand that the 2020 income on the 2022-23 FAFSA may not be the same income you have now. 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 the deterioration of your financial situation into account.

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

If you have been awarded outside scholarships, you must inform the Office of Student Financial Services, providing the name and dollar amount of each scholarship to be received during the academic year. Notification of your outside scholarships can be made by emailing us at 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, work study and loans will be adjusted first. Grants and scholarships will be adjusted only if required by federal or state regulations and as a last resort.

Why was I selected for verification and how will it impact my aid?

Most FAFSA applications are selected for verification on a random basis.  However, your application is less likely to be selected if you utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to report your income tax information.  And if selected, using DRT will satisfy your income tax requirement.  Any time you make a change to your FAFSA could result in being selected for verification, so it is best that your initial application is submitted with the most accurate information possible so corrections are not necessary.

If the verification information results in a different EFC, your award may be increased or decreased accordingly.

How Do I Apply for Summer Financial Aid?

Continuing PLU students wishing to receive financial aid for the summer term must complete a Summer Financial Aid Application for the upcoming summer term in addition to the FAFSA covering the following fall semester. Summer aid is limited to the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Direct student and Parent PLUS Loans if enrolled at least half time. 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. The 2023 Summer Financial Aid Application will be available sometime in the spring of 2023.

How do I apply for a full time job in the summer State Work Study program?

To determine your eligibility for the 2023 summer state work study program, you must complete the 2023 -24 FAFSA or the 2023-24 WASFA (if an undocumented Washington resident). State Work Study is available only to Washington residents returning to PLU for the 2023-24 academic year with sufficient financial need. Employment is available wherever a state work study employer is found in WA state.  If interested, complete the Referral Agreement for SWSP with your employer and return it to Student Financial Services.

The Awarding Process

How will enrolling as a part time student affect my aid award?

Full time enrollment is required to receive any PLU funded scholarship or grant.  Remember that tuition cost is calculated on a per credit basis if you enroll for 11 or fewer credits. Depending on the size of your scholarship, your tuition costs could be less as a part time student.  Additionally, the Federal Pell Grant & SEOG as well as the WA College Grant programs are all prorated for part time enrollment (50% for 6-8 credits, 75% for 9 -11 credits) and could also affect your final cost.  We can help with a cost comparison if you are unsure of the math.

Why was my financial aid award reduced from what I received last year?

Most often, a reduction in aid is due to a rather significant increase in your FAFSA generated EFC.  This may cause a loss of eligibility for the Federal or state grant programs, or reduce your eligibility for the need-based grant funds awarded by PLU.  Even if your reported income did not change, if the number of family members or family members attending college is less, the EFC will increase.  Also if your award last year was based on living on campus and you are now living at home, the lower cost of living with parents may reduce your eligibility for need-based grant or scholarship funding.

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 indirect, on-going personal, miscellaneous or transportation expenses.

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 or wish to participate or increase your State Work Study award with an off campus employer or apply for SNAP benefits.

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 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.

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

If you decline the Federal Direct Loans, it can be reinstated, IF we have enough time (at least one week) to disburse the loan prior to end of your enrollment period. Funding for the Federal Nursing Loan is limited to the amount of loans repaid by prior borrowers of the fund during the academic year and could vary from year to year. The Federal Nursing Loan has no origination fee and is subsidized (interest accrual doesn’t begin until after school) so it is preferable to the Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan in terms of cost.

What expenses will my financial aid cover?

All expenses that are included as part of your Cost of Attendance, tuition & fees, housing and food, books & supplies, personal & transportation.  Students who have ensemble attire or uniforms, liability insurance, and study away expenses which appear on the students bill are automatically included.  Financial aid funds are used to pay on university billed expenses first.  Students may request (with documentation) additional assistance for child care costs, a computer, and other educationally related expenses.

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

PLU will do its best to provide sufficient financial aid to meet the financial need, as calculated by the FAFSA.  Regardless of your financial need, if the amount of assistance that has been provided plus the family’s own financial resources are insufficient to meet your educational expenses (as determined by the cost of attendance), contact us to determine if there are options to supplement your aid award.

How will my financial aid change if I do study away?

That depends on whether your study away is a Jterm program or a semester program, as well as the cost of that program compared to studying at PLU.  Jterm study away programs are generally an additional cost as it is a “module” term on top of spring semester’s normal costs.  Semester long programs may require you to secure additional funding if their costs exceed the standard costs to study a PLU.  If a program has lower costs, financial aid may be similarly reduced.  If considering a study away program, talk to Student Financial Services to find out how your aid might be affected.

How will my aid be affected if I move off campus?

The financial aid budget (COA) for living in an off campus rental is the same as the on-campus budget, so there would be no effect on your eligibility for aid.  However, the Housing Scholarship awarded for on campus  living will be canceled, and if you go home to live with your parents, we will recalculate and lower your aid award, based on the lower  “living at home” budget.

The Billing and Payment Process

When is the university's bill due each semester?

Summer term:  June 1

Fall semester:  August 25

Jterm or Jterm/spring:  December 25

Spring semester (no Jterm enrollment):  January 25

Where do I view my current balance (owing balance, past due balance, or credit balance)?

Once you are in Banner Self Service, click on:

The Student Services tab, then Student Account, and Account Summary by Term.  There are additional options available to review your account history. For instance, if you want to learn what your owing balance will be for the next term, click on the “Future Term Detail” button at the bottom of the screen.

What happens if I don't pay my bill on time?

If your  account is not made current by the due date, a financial hold is placed on your account.  A hold will prevent you from some university privileges, including the ability to register or change your class registration, obtain an academic transcript, and depending on the time of the year,  participate in the room selection process with Residential Life or obtain your diploma if graduating that semester.  Additionally, finance charges will be added to your account if still unpaid after 30 days of the due date.

What does ($200.00) mean when it appears as my account balance?

A dollar amount in parentheses indicates that you have a negative balance on your student account, which means you have a credit balance. This means you have more funds paid onto your account than you have charges due – you owe nothing and are entitled to a refund of that negative dollar amount.  HOWEVER, if your aid offer was based on full time enrollment and your tuition charges have been reduced for part time enrollment, your aid will be reduced which could cancel out the credit completely.   We can help you determine your balance if this is the case.  If you do have a credit, you can choose to leave that credit on your account to help pay on the next semester’s bill (if living on campus, remember your spring bill will be higher than fall because of your jterm meal plan), or request a refund check by completing a Refund Request Form with Student Financial Services.  Please note that refunds can carry from summer to fall, fall to spring, but cannot carry over into a new academic year.

When will finance charges be assessed or a financial hold put on my account?

A financial hold is put on your student account if you still have an owing balance the day following the semester due date (e.g., August 26th for fall semester).   Finance charges are assessed on the owing balance 30 days after that same due date at an annual rate of 18% (1.5% per month).  Therefore, make every effort to satisfy all financial aid requirements and have all your outside resources paid to your account by the due date to avoid these consequences.

What are my options if my financial aid is not enough to cover my bill?

If your financial aid and your family’s out-of-pocket resources are insufficient to cover your owing balance, we will attempt to address your shortfall by taking the following steps:  Find out first if your award is based on accurate FAFSA  information, or if the FAFSA information is still reflective of your family’s current financial circumstances.  If either situation is true, addressing either circumstance could result in a lower EFC and increase your aid award.  If reducing your EFC is not an option, we would then suggest securing a private/alternative loan, or if you are dependent student, the Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan, or sign up for the monthly payment plan with TMS. If you do not have the financial resources to cover on campus housing costs, we may as a last resort, suggest living at home or off campus if you meet the university’s eligibility requirements to do so.

How do I change my Nelnet monthly payment plan?

While increasing or reducing your monthly payments will alter your total amount paid, it does not alter the amount you agreed to pay to Nelnet Campus Commerce and the amount they can pay to your PLU account. You need to make those changes directly with Nelnet so the amount paid results in correctly anticipating the owing  balance.

Why did my owing balance increase since the last billing statement?

There are a variety of reasons this could happen.  If you were selected for verification and it was completed after the last billing statement, a higher EFC resulting from the verification process could have reduced your aid award.  If you made a change to your FAFSA after the last billing statement and your change resulted in a higher EFC, your award could have been reduced (Banner will automatically remove the Federal Pell Grant from your award/account if a new EFC is download from your most recent FAFSA). If your university charges were increased since the last billing statement (e.g. course fees, a change to your on campus housing arrangement or meal plan, etc.), your owing balance will increase accordingly.

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 paychecks are spent is at the student’s own discretion.

The Disbursement Process

When do I receive my financial aid funds?

Financial aid is disbursed (onto your PLU student account) August 27 for fall semester, December 24th if enrolled in jterm and spring semester, and Feb. 1 for spring semester if not enrolled in Jterm. 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 Student Financial Services.

Why Didn't My Financial Aid Disburse?

Your aid will NOT disburse if:

  • You still have funds that sits in the “offered” status and need to be accepted.
  • You have been selected for verification and verification has not yet been completed.
  • You have need-based financial aid and the IRS tax filing status on your FAFSA is still sitting at “will file” and must be “Already Completed”.
  • You are a first time borrower of a Federal Direct or Direct Grad PLUS Loan and have not yet completed the Master Promissory Note (MPN) or the required Entrance Counseling.
  • Your award was made on the basis of full time enrollment and you are not registered for 12 or more credits.
  • Your Federal Nursing Loan requires documents completed with ESCI which are still incomplete.

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

How long does it take to get my refund check?

Refunds are issued on Fridays only and your account must have a credit balance (and we must have a Refund Request Form received) by Wednesday in order to receive a refund on Friday of that week.  The volume of refund requests at the start of each semester is very high so some refunds may not be ready until the following Friday.

How do I get my refund check ahead of leaving for my study away program?

By federal regulations, Federal student aid cannot be disbursed more than 10 days prior to the start of each term. If the timing of aid disbursement and the start of your study away program will create a cash flow problem, you will need to have your own resources available until aid refunds are deposited into your checking account.  Be sure to provide the ACH electronic deposit and 2022-2023 Refund Request forms in time to allow us to make this happen.

How do I use my financial aid to help with the purchase of my textbooks?

By federal regulations, Federal student aid cannot be disbursed more than 10 days prior to the start of each term. Therefore, if you wish to make book purchase with financial aid funds, you will have to do so with your own resources and reimburse yourself once aid has disbursed.  Even if your refund is received on the very first available date, since most book are purchased on line, waiting for a refund check to purchase your books may result in starting the term behind in your class. Check out the Lute Library to access text books and reading materials that can be borrowed on a short term basis until your purchased or rented books are received.

Student Loans and the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans

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 for all four years?

Federal Direct and PLUS loans are borrowed for no more than one academic year at a time. Unless notified differently, 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 financial aid or uneven distribution of costs, contact us for assistance.

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 2023-24 PLUS Loan Worksheet or contact your Student Financial Services counselor for assistance in determining the amount that works best for your financial situation.

Should I apply for an alternative loan or the Parent PLUS Loan?

If you’ve already determined that borrowing is necessary to finance your college costs, your loan choice may rest on its cost, versus who owns the debt.  Obviously, a Federal Parent PLUS loan is the parent’s debt, but it is often a more expensive loan than the student’s alternative loan (which most often will require a parent as a co-signer).  Regardless of the applicant’s credit history, a PLUS loan disbursed after July 1, 2022 has an interest rate of 7.54%, plus an origination fee of 4.228% that is deducted from the loan before it is disbursed to the borrower.  An alternative loan, which is the student’s debt, may have a lower interest rate if the co-signer has an acceptable credit history, and most lenders do not charge an origination fee.  Most alternative loans also offer a co-signer release if the student meets the terms of the lender’s co-signer release policy.  All of these factors may influence your decision on what loan makes the most sense for you.

How should I decide which lender to use for an alternative loan?

There are many private loans (also referred to as alternative loans) 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 in addition to your federal loan options (federal loans are typically your best loan option), 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.  PLU does not recommend any lender, but the private loan providers on our website lists lenders who have approved loans to PLU students over the past three years.

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

Your first contact would remain with Student Financial Services. 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 If all your attempts to resolve your loan disputes are unsuccessful, contact the federal student loan Ombudsman Group.

Using Banner Self Service

Where do I view the requirements to complete my financial aid application?

Once you are in Banner Self Service, click on:

Financial Aid Services, then eligibility.

Where do I view my current balance (owing balance, past due balance, or credit balance)?

Once you are in Banner Self Service, click on:

The Student Services tab, then Student Account, and Account Summary or Account Detail by Term or by billing cycle.  There are additional options available to review your account history.  For instance, if you want to learn your anticipated owing balance for the next term, click on the “Future Term Detail” button at the bottom of the screen.

Can I view all the student loans I've borrowed at PLU?

At the beginning of each academic year PLU notifies students of their borrowing history at the university, including anticipated monthly payments when in repayment and the total loan payoff amount.  During the academic year, if a loan amount is changed where the anticipated monthly payment or total loan payoff will increase or decrease, students will be notified via email and can view these changes on Banner web.

When and where can I get my PLU income tax documents?

Once you are in Banner Self Service, click on:

Student Services Tab, then Student Account, and Tax Information.  Choose the link for the information you are seeking.

Remaining eligible for Financial Aid

What is the difference between "good standing" and "satisfactory progress"?

“Good Standing” is terminology that indicates that your academic performance to date is sufficient to not warrant intervention by Academic Advising, nor an academic warning status from the Registrar’s Office.  “Satisfactory progress” is terminology that indicates your academic performance to date does not jeopardize your eligibility for financial aid nor warrant a warning from the Office of Student Financial Services. They often overlap, but are not identical.  Click on Satisfactory Academic Progress to learn more about how this policy will affect your financial aid eligibility and Academic Standing Policy to learn more about remaining in good standing.

Do I need to complete a new FAFSA (or WASFA) every year?

If you wish to receive any financial assistance from federal or state student aid programs, you must file a new FAFSA (or WASFA) each year.  If you do not have any federal or state aid, but are receiving a need-based PLU scholarship or grant as a result of filing the FAFSA (or WASFA), your eligibility will be contingent upon filing a new application each year.  PLU academic merit, artistic achievement, or legacy awards do not require the FAFSA (or WASFA) for renewal.

What happens if I drop a class during the semester?

That depends on your current credit load, when you drop the class, and what kind of financial assistance you have.  If you drop a class within the first ten days of the semester and your tuition charges are reduced, all of your PLU funded scholarships and grants will be canceled, as they require full time enrollment and tuition at the full block price.  Any Federal Pell and SEOG grants as well as the State grant aid programs will be prorated by 50% (for six to eight credits) or to 75% (for nine to eleven credits). If you drop your class after the add-drop period and your tuition is not reduced, your financial aid for the term will not be reduced.  However, if dropping your class results in completing less than 67% of your original enrollment, you will have failed to meet satisfactory academic progress and may put your aid eligibility in jeopardy.

How long can I continue to receive financial aid at PLU?

Most freshmen entering PLU as new students should be able to graduate without having to worry about exhausting their eligibility for aid.  Transfer students who have utilized  aid to attend another school prior to PLU may run the risk of exhausting their Washington College Grant and/or federal Pell Grant before they can complete their bachelor’s degree at PLU.  New freshmen are eligible for eight semesters of PLU scholarships and grants (and the Washington College Bound Scholarship), ten semesters of the Washington College Grant, and twelve semesters of the Federal Pell Grant.  Transfer students are eligible for six semesters of PLU scholarships and grants.  Their limits on the Washington College Grant and College Bound Scholarship and the Federal Pell Grant are the same as first year students, but include funds received anywhere.