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Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Aid

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Read below to find answers to many commonly asked questions about Financial Aid!

What is the income cutoff to receive financial aid?

There are many factors that figure into the formula for eligibility for federal programs. These factors include:

  • household income for the tax year requested on the FAFSA,
  • whether the income was taxed or untaxed,
  • amount of federal taxes paid,
  • amount of income which came directly from work, farm, or business income,
  • the student's state of residence,
  • whether child support was paid,
  • whether the student earned income from the Federal Work Study program during the year,
  • whether the student received funds in excess of educational expenses in the previous year,
  • whether the family has one parent or two working,
  • number of family members,
  • number of family members attending college,
  • asset information,
  • and even what kind of tax return was filed.

With so many factors involved in the computation, it is impossible to say at what income level a student will or will not receive a Pell grant, Stafford Loan, etc. Since there is no fee for applying for federal aid, it is best for the student to complete the FAFSA and let the Federal Processor compute the eligibility.

Do I have to re-apply for financial aid next semester? Next year?

Application for federal aid is good for the entire school year - from fall to spring to summer. Students must re-apply for federal aid for each school year because the factors that figure into the eligibility must be updated to reflect an accurate picture of the student's situation.

I quit my job so my income is reduced. How do I show that on the FAFSA?

The Department of Education gives institutions the authority to make adjustments to a student's income or cost of attendance budget on a case-by-case basis for students who have special circumstances. This authority is called "professional judgment" and must be administered by a prescribed policy that is developed by the institution. At Barton, the Financial Aid Office will consider making an adjustment for extremely high medical expenses, tuition paid to a parochial school, and the loss or reduction of work income due to a termination or lay off. The condition must be substantiated by documentation submitted by the student. The Financial Aid Office does not usually make adjustments for reduction or cessation of employment when it has been a voluntary act on the student's part. The Financial Aid Office will also allow an adjustment to the student's cost of attendance budget to include additional educational expenses due to a disability. In any of these cases, the student needs to contact the Financial Aid Office and speak to one of the officers.

May I file as an independent student since I am living on my own?

The Department of Education has established a unique definition for "independent status" for federal financial aid programs. For 2023-24 any student who meets at least one of the following conditions is automatically classified as independent, and therefore, not required to provide parent information.

  1. Were you born before January 1, 2000?
  2. Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  3. Will you be enrolled in a program beyond a bachelor's degree?
  4. Are you married?
  5. Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  6. Are you an orphan or ward of the court?
  7. Do you have children that you provide more than 50% support for?
  8. Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2024?
  9. At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  10. As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
  11. Does someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardianship of you, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  12. At any time on or after July 1, 2022 did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
  13. At any time on or after July 1, 2022 did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
  14. At any time on or after July 1, 2022, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

Maybe you do not meet one of these criteria but your situation is such that neither of your parents should be considered a resource for your education. The Financial Aid Office has the authority to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. If you want to apply for a dependency override, you will need to complete an override request form as well as provide other documentation proving your self-supporting status. You may request an application from the Financial Aid Office.

Please keep in mind that the government is very explicit about the parents' obligation to contribute to their child's education. The unwillingness of a parent to provide support or the choice of a student not to accept support are unacceptable reasons to override dependency. Also, although a myth continues that an independent student is eligible for more financial aid, in many instances that is simply not the case.

Why do I have to use the income of my stepfather (or stepmother)? They aren't my biological parent.

Once again, the federal government is very explicit that parents have an obligation to contribute to their child's education, and they do not view a distinction between a parent and a stepparent. Federal regulations state that a parent's (or stepparent's) unwillingness to contribute to a child's educational expenses does not obligate the government to make allowances for the child or allow for greater eligibility for federal aid.

Will I have to repay my Pell grant if I withdraw from classes?

You may be responsible to reimburse the federal program if you withdraw from any or all of your classes after you have received your financial aid. Refunds and repayments are calculated at the time Barton's financial aid office becomes aware of the enrollment change. The Business Office will notify you if you are required to repay any of your financial aid.

May I pick up my books early?

If you want to charge your books to a promissory note, you will have to wait until final enrollment. Of course, if you are paying cash, you may buy your books whenever you want to.

Is my Pell grant in? When will I get my money?

Pell grant money is not transferred to the College on an account-by-account basis. Initially, the College requests a portion of the annual Pell grant money based upon Pell payments of the previous year. Then, as Pell grants are paid throughout the year, requests are sent to the Department of Education to replace what has been paid out to students above the previous allotment sent to the College. The College is required to reconcile with the Department of Education's records periodically throughout the year and again to close out the award year.

Disbursement dates can be found in the published Disbursement Policies.

What is full-time enrollment?

Full-time enrollment is 12 or more credit hours, three-quarter enrollment is 9-11 credit hours, half-time enrollment is 6-8 credit hours, and less than half-time is less than 6 credit hours.

How will it affect my financial aid if I drop a class?

Barton's satisfactory academic progress standards state that a student must successfully complete 67% of the courses that they are taking during one semester.  If the student does not complete 67% or more of their classes, they will be placed on either financial aid warning or suspension.

May I still have my student loan if I am placed on financial aid suspension? After all, it is a loan and I repay it. Will I lose my athletic scholarship if I am placed on financial aid suspension?

Suspension of financial aid includes all forms of financial assistance including grants, scholarships, loans, performance awards, and books and tuition scholarships. A student loan is part of the federal Title IV funding and the Department of Education requires monitoring of satisfactory academic progress for all students who benefit from federal funding.


What is the deadline to apply for federal financial aid?

As is stated on the front of the FAFSA, a student may apply for federal aid from October 1st prior to the award year to June 30th of the award year. Therefore, a student actually has 21 months to apply for financial aid for any award year.  

A valid FAFSA must be received by Barton while the student is still enrolled and attending classes.  If a FAFSA has been received but financial aid has not been awarded due to outstanding verification requirements, the student has 120 days following the end of their enrollment to submit verification documents and receive late disbursements of federal aid.  However, the final day that documents can be accepted for any student is the last day of the award year, or the last day of the summer term.