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Federal Student Aid
The U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid offers aid assistance to students through federal programs. Federal student aid applies to school expenses such as tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, and transportation. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be submitted online at studentaid.gov. The FAFSA is available October 1 each year and should be submitted prior to your anticipated date of college enrollment. Types of federal aid available are listed below.
Federal Pell Grants are available to undergraduate students seeking their first bachelor’s degree. Grants do not have to be repaid. Eligibility is determined by the Expected Family Contribution as calculated by the Department of Education, using information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Funds from this award will be divided equally between the Fall and Spring semesters and will be credited to the student’s account accordingly.
Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate students. Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans are available to graduate students. Students must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible to receive federal student loans. These loans must be repaid and have low interest and fixed rates. Payment is deferred until six months after the student graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half time. Freshmen may be eligible to borrow up to $5,500, sophomores up to $6,500, and juniors and seniors up to $7,500 in an academic year. Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 in unsubsidized loans in an academic year. For dependent undergraduate students, if the credit check for the Parent PLUS loan is denied, up to an additional $4,000 to 5,000 may be available on request after eligibility is confirmed. To make any changes to your federal loans, complete the Loan Adjustment Form.
Federal Direct PLUS Loans are available to parents of dependent undergraduate students and graduate students enrolled at least half-time. Financial need is not a requirement. Borrowers can request a loan for up to the full cost of attendance minus any other financial aid. This loan enters repayment 60 days after full disbursement. Some PLUS loans qualify for deferment of payments while the student is enrolled at least half-time.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) are available for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. Awards range from $100-$4,000. This federal grant is awarded based on the Expected Family Contribution and the availability of funds. Your FAFSA application determines eligibility. Funding is limited and priority is given to Pell Grant recipients.
Federal Work-Study provides part-time employment opportunities for eligible students allowing them to earn money to pay educational expenses. Students usually work an average of 15 to 20 hours per week and receive a paycheck biweekly. The paycheck is made out to the student and the student chooses how to use the money.
The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students obtaining their bachelor’s or master’s degree who intend to teach in a high-need field in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families. In exchange for receiving TEACH Grant, you must agree to serve as a full-time teacher in a high-need field in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students. As a recipient of a TEACH Grant, you must teach for at least four academic years within eight calendar years of completing the program of study for which you receive a TEACH Grant.
IMPORTANT: If you fail to complete this service obligation, all amounts of TEACH Grant funds you received will be converted to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. You must then repay this loan to the U.S. Department of Education (ED). You will be charged interest from the date the grant was disbursed.
What is Verification? Approximately 30 percent of all FAFSAs are selected by the Department of Education for verification. The verification process is a federal requirement of confirming the accuracy of data supplied by you and/or your parents on your FAFSA. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, a notification will be emailed to the email address on your FAFSA requesting the documents required for the verification process. This may include either linking taxes to your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or having to furnish an official IRS Tax Return Transcript. Please submit documents within 14 days of request.
Why is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool recommended for FAFSA completion and verification purposes? If you used the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) when filling out your FAFSA, and you have not changed any of the information retrieved, you will not have to verify that information. If you did not use the IRS DRT and you are selected for verification, log back in at studentaid.gov to see whether you can use IRS DRT to fill in the relevant fields on your FAFSA. If not, your school may require you to submit a tax transcript as part of the verification process. You can find your tax transcript through the IRS’s Get Transcript service at irs.gov/transcript. Once you receive the transcript, please forward it to Piedmont University.
How long will the verification process take? Verification may take 10 to 20 working days depending on the situation. During busy periods, the verification process may take longer due to the increased volume of students being verified. Incomplete or missing documents will delay processing. Once verification is complete, your financial aid will be awarded.
FAFSA Helpful Hints:
- Leaving a field Blank: The most frequent mistake made on the printed form is leaving a field blank. If the answer is zero or the question does not apply to you, write in a zero. If you leave a question blank, the processor will assume that you forgot to answer.
- Income: Use the 1040 federal tax return for income reporting and reporting taxes paid. If you use your W-2 and 1099 forms, compare them with the previous year’s income tax return to make sure you did not overlook any source of income, such as interest and dividends. Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is the easiest method to transfer tax information from the IRS to your FAFSA.
- Untaxed Income: Don’t forget to report all the required sources of untaxed income. These include Social Security, child support, and workers’ compensation/disability income.
- Marital Status: If you plan to file as a married student, you must be married on or before the date that you sign your FAFSA.
- Step-Parent Income: If your parents are divorced and the custodial parent remarries, your stepparent’s financial information must be reported in addition to the financial information for your custodial parent.
- IRS Tax Filing Status: Acceptable IRS tax filing status for married individuals is either “Married Filing Jointly” or “Married Filing Separately.” However, there are exceptions. Verification selection is likely if you or your parents are married and file as “Head of the Household.”
- Household Size: Include those in your household that you/spouse or your parents provide more than 50% of their support. Also, include yourself. Even if you didn’t live there during the previous year, you should always include yourself as part of your/your parent’s household.
- Read Instructions: As with all forms and applications, make sure you read the instructions and questions carefully. If you’re unclear about a question or are having trouble filling out the FAFSA, check the FAQ section on the FAFSA website, or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
State Student Aid
To receive HOPE Scholarship funding, students must be legal Georgia residents who graduate from a HOPE eligible high school with a 3.0 GPA in the core curriculum and be declared HOPE Scholars by the state. Note: Students who graduate from an ineligible high school, or home study, or have a GED should check the gafutures.org site for more information.
Students meeting this and other eligibility requirements defined by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) and who are enrolled full time (12 or more hours per semester) will receive $4,304 per year. Students meeting the eligibility requirements defined by GSFC and who are enrolled at least half time (6-11 hours per semester), may receive $1,077 per semester.
The amount is determined by the state legislature each year.
To receive Zell Miller Scholarship funding, students must meet all HOPE Scholarship eligibility requirements. Additionally, students must graduate as the Valedictorian or Salutatorian OR with a minimum 3.7 GPA combined with a minimum SAT score of 1200 on the math and reading portions or a 26 ACT composite score. The ACT and SAT scores must come from a single test administration.
Students meeting this and other eligibility requirements as defined by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) and who are enrolled full time (12 or more hours per semester) will receive $5,616 per year. Students meeting the eligibility requirements as defined by the GSFC and who are enrolled at least half time (6-11 hours per semester), may receive $1,404 per semester.
The amount is determined by the state legislature each year.
Legal residents of Georgia who are enrolled on a full-time basis (12 or more hours) may be eligible to receive $850 per academic year from the Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant. The grant amount is determined by the state legislature each year.