Financial Aid FAQs
We know the simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may leave you or your family with some questions, whether you are a new student joining us this fall or a returning student who is renewing their FAFSA.
Below are some resources to help you file the FAFSA and understand some of the new terminology for this year. As always, if you have questions, please reach out to our Financial Aid Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-887-7022.
- For fall 2024, spring 2025 and summer 2025, file the 2024-2025 FAFSA.
- For spring 2024 and summer 2024, file the 2023-2024 FAFSA.
The 2024-2025 FAFSA is based on the 2022 tax year.
- Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID: A username and password used to access studentaid.gov and allow you to sign your FAFSA electronically. It is associated with your social security number (don’t worry – if you don’t have a social security number, you can still create an FSA ID). If you have a contributor, they are required to have a separate FSA ID.
- Contributor: anyone other than the student required to provide information on the student’s FAFSA. This might include a student’s parents or spouse.
- Student Aid Index: A calculated number that determines a student’s aid eligibility. The student aid index is calculated after a FAFSA is successfully submitted.
- Dependency Status: The determination of a FAFSA applicant as dependent or independent. If you’re a dependent student, you will report your and your parents’ information. If you’re an independent student, you will report your own information (and, if you’re married, your spouse’s). If you’re a dependent student, it doesn’t mean your parents are required to pay anything toward your education; this information is simply used to determine the student’s maximum eligibility for federal student aid. You can determine your dependency status here.
- Contributors are based student’s dependency status as determined by the answers to these FAFSA questions.
- Dependent students: Student & both biological or adoptive parents (if parents are married); student & both biological or adoptive parents if unmarried but living together; or student & parent providing the most financial support if parents are not married or not living together.
- If the student’s biological or adoptive parents are divorced from each other, but the parent that provides more support is remarried, the stepparent is also considered a contributor.
- Independent students: Student plus their spouse (if married).
- Contributors will receive an email informing them that they have been identified as a contributor for the student’s FAFSA. If the contributor doesn’t have a FSA ID, they will create one at studentaid.gov.
- Once logged in, contributors must give consent to the IRS to transfer their tax information from the IRS into the FAFSA. If the contributor refuses to do so, the student will not be eligible for aid.
- All contributors must add their IRS data to the FAFSA successfully before it can be submitted.
- An FSA ID can still be created, but the contributor will need to provide their address and answer knowledge-based questions to verify their identity.
- If the answers are provided correctly, they will be able to create an FSA ID.
- If the answers are not provided correctly, the contributor will need to call Federal Student Aid (FSA) at 1-800-433-3243. FSA will provide the next steps, such as sending documentation to FSA to verify their identity. FSA will walk the contributor through all items needed.
If you or your contributor(s) weren’t required to file taxes, they still must consent for the non-filing tax status to be confirmed with the IRS.
If you submit your FAFSA without contributor data, you will receive an email from FAFSA to contact your school’s financial aid office. This is only appropriate if you are unable to add contributor data due to dependency status. Please contact FAFSA to see where your submission is in the process, and they can guide you on how to go back and add contributors. The FAFSA contact center can be found here.
Please contact our office and we will review your circumstances. You can send us an email at email@example.com or call our office at 540-887-7022.
Right now, we are expecting to get FAFSA data from the Department of Education by mid-February with the intent of sending out financial aid packages at the beginning of March. This timeframe could change based on when FAFSA data is released to schools, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated!
Spring break is a GREAT time to get started on your FAFSA! That will allow you to work with your contributors while you are taking a break from your studies here at MBU. We plan to have your aid on the financial aid portal for returning students ready by the end of May.
Your aid package is the total amount of aid the university is able to offer you depending upon variables that include enrollment status, class level, program, total need, and funds available. Aid packages may include scholarships, grants, and other forms of funding.
In addition to your aid package from MBU, almost all students can receive a federal Direct Stafford Loan. Undergraduate students will be awarded the PELL grant if they meet federal eligibility requirements.
Not automatically. Students must reapply for federal financial aid each academic year by completing the FAFSA.
Aid is disbursed to student accounts through the Mary Baldwin Business Office. Aid is first used to cover charges to the student’s account. Once your account is paid, you’ll be refunded any additional aid to use for books, transportation, and personal expenses. These refunds will be paid via a check from the Mary Baldwin Business Office after the add-drop period ends and a review of enrollment status based on the official rosters of the Registrar’s Office has been completed.
Note: This means refunds will not be available until approximately one month after the beginning of the semester. We cannot give exact dates for individual refunds, but all refunds will be made as quickly as possible after loan funds are received from the lenders.
The Financial Aid Office is obligated to check enrollment after the end of each semester’s add-drop period to be sure of your continuing eligibility for aid. Refunds will not be issued from your account until the checking process is completed, which is usually about four weeks after a semester begins. You should plan accordingly.
Scholarships received from private sources or from employers must be reported promptly to the financial aid office to prevent over awards of federal aid funds. In cases where aid has already been awarded, outside grants or scholarships may result in a reduction of aid awarded by the university. The first part of the aid package reduced would be loan eligibility and in most cases only the loan is reduced. MBU recommends students seek outside scholarships and grants to replace loans, which must be repaid.
Undergraduate students are considered to be enrolled full time at 12 or more hours of new work per semester, three-quarter time at 9 to 11.9 hours of new work per semester, half time at 6 to 8.9 hours of new work per semester, and below half time at 0.1 to 5.9 hours of new work per semester. Only new Mary Baldwin work is counted. Extended time for completion of work, College Level Examination Programs, prior learning credits, and courses taken at other institutions cannot be counted as new work.
Enrollment is checked at each enrollment period (semester), and the university must report enrollment status of all student loan borrowers. If you choose to drop below half-time enrollment, you’ll have to begin repayment and then file for a deferment when you are again enrolled above a half-time level.
Federal and state aid is intended to support serious degree-seeking students who are making continuous satisfactory progress towards their degree. The university is required to withhold aid if satisfactory academic progress is not made. Satisfactory academic progress of each graduate student is assessed by the dean or program director at the end of each semester.
Good academic standing is one component in the assessment of satisfactory academic progress. Full details on the standards for satisfactory academic progress and good academic standing can be found here (PDF).