Applying for Financial Aid
All graduate and undergraduate students (regardless of Pell Grant eligibility) must complete the application process to receive federal or state aid. Students may complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship and Grant Application (formerly known as a HOPE Alternate Application). The Federal Processor will electronically submit your application information to the Office of Financial Aid (OFA). This information will be used to determine your eligibility for aid which may include the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant, Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Parent (PLUS) Loan, HOPE Scholarship, Zell Miller Scholarship, etc. Applications for each upcoming academic year are available in January. For priority processing all required documents must be on file in the OFA by April 1st each year. Applications not on file by that date will be processed as time and funds permit. The OFA will begin processing completed applications for each academic year as soon as Federal Regulations are issued and the Board of Regents has established the fees for each academic year. We expect to begin making awards in mid-May for the Fall semester. Processing aid applications can take several weeks or longer during our peak processing time. You will not receive an award until you have been accepted by the Office of Admission at VSU. If you have not completed the application process by the dates given, you should be prepared to pay all educational costs. You should not expect to have student financial aid available if you have not completed your financial aid file and/or have not completed online loan requirements (if applicable) by the published deadline dates.
Recommended Method to Complete a FAFSA
If you have access to the Internet and a web browser that meets the minimum requirements, you can submit your FAFSA on-line yourself. Use the online form to submit your application: FAFSA online
Most students today are completing their FAFSAs online. It only takes a little preparation and a few minutes online to complete the process. The Office of Financial Aid will receive your Student Aid Report within 72 hours and notify you of the status of your Financial aid application.
Register for your FSA ID. This will be needed to electronically sign the FAFSA. Both the student and the parent (if applicable) will need to create a FSA ID and electronically sign the FAFSA with it.
Collect all necessary financial documents. This includes Federal Income Tax Returns, W-2’s from employers, and 1099’s from the most recent tax year. All students are required to provide their own financial information and, if applicable, information from their spouse or parent and step parent.
Sign in to complete your FAFSA online using your FSA ID and answer the required questions. If your tax return(s) is on file with the IRS, you may import your income and tax information directly from the IRS Database to the application. This is recommended as it increases accuracy and reduces the need for verification later.
Note: If a FSA ID is not used or the signature page is not printed and submitted, the processing center will hold your application for two weeks and then mail you a rejected Student Aid Report (SAR). This will significantly delay the application process. For assistance with the Web site you should contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center 1-800-801-0576
Alternate Methods to Complete a FAFSA:
Note: The following methods are not recommended and will usually result in a longer processing time.
Paper FAFSA to VSU
You may submit a completed Paper FAFSA to the Valdosta State University Office of Financial Aid for electronic submission. You should include signed copies of all Federal Income Tax Returns, W2’s and 1099’s that were used in completing your FAFSA. When completing your FAFSA always use a complete Federal Income Tax Return. You should never use estimated information, since it is subject to verification and will delay the awarding of your financial aid. To prevent delays, students and parents should complete their federal income tax returns as early as possible.
Paper FAFSA to the Federal Processing Center
You may also submit your completed FAFSA directly to the processing center. This is not recommended as it requires four to six week for these to be processed and the resulting SAR provided to VSU.
Important Terms for Financial Aid
- STUDENT AID REPORT (SAR): Once your FAFSA has been processed you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). Review the information on the SAR for accuracy. If all information is correct keep all pages of your SAR for your records. If you determine that the information on the SAR is incorrect, make corrections according to the instructions on Part 2-Information Review Form and send it to the OFA for electronic correction. Please do not submit corrections to the Federal Processing Center.
- VERIFICATION: If your application is selected for verification you will be notified by the OFA what documentation will be required. The verification process MUST be complete before you will be considered for any aid. To receive a Federal Pell Grant all verification requirements must be completed within 60 days after your last day of enrollment, or by August 30th which ever is earlier. For a Federal Loan to be processed verification must be completed prior to the last day of the enrollment for the loan period. For all other programs of federal aid verification must be completed thirty days prior to the end of the enrollment period. The OFA will contact you if additional information or applications are needed to process your request for student financial aid. You should respond promptly to these requests in order to prevent delays in processing your application for aid. You may be asked to submit the following to the OFA: a signed copy of your Federal Income Tax Return, a signed copy of your parents’ or spouse’s Federal Income Tax Return and W-2’s if applicable, verification of other family members’ enrollment at an institution of higher learning or other Verification Work Sheets. Keep copies of all Federal Income Tax Returns and W-2’s.
- AWARD LETTER: Once the OFA has received all required documents and after federal regulations governing the academic year are issued, you will receive an Award Letter and an Award Letter Information Sheet notifying you of your eligibility for aid. Be sure to review all Award Letter messages and the Information Sheet. You do not have to return the Award Letter to the OFA.
- LOAN REQUEST FORM & MASTER PROMISSORY NOTE: If you are eligible for a Federal Loan or if your parents are eligible for a Federal Parents (PLUS) Loan you will receive instructions detailing the loan application process. New borrowers must complete an on-line Master Promissory Note (MPN) and new student borrowers must also complete loan counseling. MPN's and Loan Counseling must be completed on the web.
Students who meet the general eligibility requirements will have their eligibility for aid determined once the OFA has received a valid SAR and, if selected, all requested verification information has been received. In order for loan funds to be available for fee payment or disbursement for expense, you must have been awarded a loan and have completed the loan application process, and if applicable, your Federal Direct Loan Promissory Note must have been correctly completed and received by the lender.