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Frequently Asked Questions

Office of Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Financial Aid Questions

Q: Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid at a particular university?

A: No. You can apply for financial aid any time after October 1. However, you must be admitted and enrolled at the university before receiving the funds. Students should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible. Once admitted, the university will be able to process your FAFSA.

Q: How do I apply for a Federal Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?

A: Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at  To indicate interest in student employment, student loans and parent loans, you should check the appropriate boxes. Checking these boxes does not commit you to accepting these types of aid. You will have the opportunity to accept or decline each part of your aid package later. Leaving these boxes unchecked will not increase the amount of grants you receive.

Q: How can I get a FAFSA PIN?

A: Go to and select "Apply for a PIN". Be sure to have one of your parents apply for a PIN also.

Q: I forgot my PIN. What do I do? 

A: Go to and select "Request a Duplicate PIN"

Q: What is Southern University school code?

A: Title IV code to be used on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is 002025.

Q: What is Verification? 

A: Verification is the audit process of reviewing and determining a student's eligibility for Title IV assistance. The verification process determines the accuracy of the information a student and/or parent reports on his/her FAFSA.

Q: Who determines whether or not a student is selected for verification? 

A: The U.S. Department of Education determines whether or not a student is selected for the audit process called verification. Students are selected based on the information that is reported on the FAFSA application.

Q: How do I obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript?

A: To obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript, go to and click on the "Order a Return or Account Transcript" link, or call 1-800-908-9946.

Q: What is the difference between a dependent and an independent student?

A: To be considered an independent, a student must meet at least one of the following requirements:

    • Be at least 24 years old by December 31st of the award year for which aid is being sought
    • Was at any time since the age of 13, an orphan, ward of the court, or foster child
    • Is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
    • On active military duty for purposes other than training
    • Has legal dependents other than a spouse (for example, dependent children or an elderly dependent parent)
    • Is a graduate or professional student
    • Is married
    • Is, or was when he/she reached the age of majority, an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship as determined by a court in the student's home state
    • Is and unaccompanied youth who is homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of homelessness

Q: If I do not live with my parent(s) and take full financial responsibility of myself, am I considered independent? 

A: No, you are not. Useless you meet the above listed criteria.

Q:  If my parent(s) did not carry me on their taxes, does that make me independent? 

A: It has no bearing on being able to be considered as "independent" whether or not your parents claimed you on their tax return. The Higher Education Act established requirements for establishing independence. Several questions are addressed on the FAFSA If the answer is "YES" to any of the questions you will be considered "Independent" for financial aid processes .Please note: Answering "YES" to some of these questions may require you to submit additional documentation to the Office of Student Financial Aid to support your claim. In some instances, simply answering "YES" will NOT automatically make you independent.

Q: How do I determine my household size on the FAFSA

A: Your household consists of: 

  • Yourself and your parent(s) (including stepparent) even if you don't live with your parents
  • Your parents' other children, even if they don't live with your parent(s), if (a) your parents will provide more than half of their support from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, or (b) the children would be required to provide parental information when applying for Federal Student Aid
  • Other people if they now live with your parents, and your parents provide more than half of their support and will continue to provide more than half of their support from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020

Q: How do I determine the number of people in college on my FAFSA? 

A: You and any sibling(s) that are enrolled at least half time should be counted towards your number in college. Parents (stepparents included) and any sibling(s) over 24 years old, should not be counted into the number in college on your FAFSA

Q: What is Pell Grant?

A: A Pell Grant is money the government provides for students who need it to pay for college. Grants, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid.

Q: Who qualifies for Pell Grant?

A: Pell Grants are awarded usually only to students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree. To be eligible for a Pell grant, you must also meet the general federal student aid eligibility requirements.

Q: What is the difference between a subsidized and unsubsidized loan?

A: Subsidized Stafford Loans are based on financial need. The government will pay the interest to the lender on this loan while you are in school at least part-time, as well as during a six month grace and any deferment periods. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are a non-need based form of aid. Although the interest rate on these loans is set by the federal government, therefore keeping it low, borrowers are responsible for all interest accrued on the loan. Interest payments can be deferred until graduation and will then be capitalized and added to the principal balance of the loan or you can make payments on interest while in school.

Q: What is a promissory note? 

A: A promissory note is signed document containing a written promise to repay a stated sum to a specified source on a specified date You must sign a promissory note in order to receive your loan funds.  This can be done online at  No loan funds will be disbursed without a signed promissory note. 

Q: What is entrance counseling? 

A: All first time borrowers are required to complete an entrance counseling session prior to receiving their loan funds. During this session, you will be informed about your borrower rights and responsibilities.  Entrance counseling can be completed by going online to

Q. When do I have to repay my loans?

A. Repayment of your loan begins six months:

  • After you graduate
  • Withdraw from school
  • Or drop below halftime status.

Q: Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year? 

A:  Yes. You are required to apply for financial aid every year if you want to be considered for federal or state aid which includes grants, loans, and work-study.

Q:  How will I be notified of the types of aid I'm eligible for?

A: If you have applied for federal or state aid, the Office of Financial Aid will create a package specifically for your family and notify you by email with instructions on how to view your award notification online.

Q:  Will I receive the same amount of financial aid each year?

A: Since your financial situation can change from year to year; your award may be affected. Your package will be evaluated annually to account for changes in income, family status, satisfactory academic progress and enrollment status. Special circumstances may arise during the time you are in attendance. Some circumstances may be taken into account through a request for Professional Judgment Review by the parent or student. Forms may be downloaded from our web page. Please complete necessary documents and submit it to the office as needed.

Q:  What is the income cutoff for financial aid eligibility?

A: There is no income cutoff because income by itself is not the only consideration. We consider the entire household income, family size, and number in college, medical expenses, and other information to help us give you the best package possible.

Because many factors make each family's financial situation unique, we cannot make our judgments on income alone.

Q:  What if my family financial circumstances change after I receive my financial aid award?

A: You and your family are obligated to notify our office if you have a change in your family circumstances that is likely to affect your expected family contribution. These changes include a decrease/increase in income, a decrease/increase in the number of family members in the household or supported by parents or a decrease/increase in the number of family members attending college. 

It is important to keep a copy of your completed financial aid applications as a record of what was reported. Other changes such as a loss or reduction of family income also may constitute a reason to ask us to re-evaluate an earlier award. This process requires families to submit in writing a specific explanation of their situation, including an itemization of any reduction in income. Contact your Financial Aid Counselor for further instructions.

Q: How much are work-study students paid? 

A: Students awarded federal Work Study at Southern is paid $10.00 an hour.

Q: How often do students get paid? 

A: Federal Work Study students are paid once a month.

Q: How many hours can a student work a week? 

A: Maximum work hours allowed during enrollment periods 20hrs/week

Q: Are the only available spots for work study located on campus? 

A: No, we also offer Off Campus Work Study working within the community.

Q: What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)? 

A: Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the evaluation of students' academic history in order to determine eligibility for Federal Student Aid (FSA) funds. Students must make satisfactory academic progress in an eligible curriculum as a degree seeking student. The student's entire academic history is reviewed for this process regardless if the student received aid for the course work or credit hours attempted, regardless if the work transfers into Southern or towards a change of major, or regardless to how long ago the courses were attempted at Southern or another school.  The official SAP policy can be found on the Southern University website under financial aid.

Q: Why are you required to evaluate Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)? 

A: Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is to ensure students are able to complete their academic program in a timely manner while achieving a minimum academic standard. In an age of increasing accountability of the use of Federal Student Aid funds (and other Federal, State, and Institutional funds), institutions and students must demonstrate that financial aid funds are being used to assist students in completing their academic goals in the most efficient way.

Q: If I do not meet SAP, can I still take out student loans? 

A: When a student does not meet SAP that student cannot receive any type of Federal Student Aid, including Federal grants, Federal Direct Loans, or Federal work-study. The student may, however, apply for Private Loans through a lender of his/her choice. Private Loans differ from Federal Direct Loans in that the lender will check the student's credit history and the student may require a co-signer.


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