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Use this timeline as your guide throughout the financial aid process. Take the time to note events as they occur so that you have a record of when you complete them. Also, look ahead to plan for upcoming events.
Bench Mark Event
January 1 Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are available for new and returning students.
January Complete federal tax returns.
Spring term classes begin. Financial aid is disbursed to eligible students beginning on the first day of classes.
March Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) via the Internet as soon as possible after January 1 ( www.fafsa.ed.gov
). The FAFSA takes about 4-8 weeks to be processed by the federal processor before USA receives the information.
April The Financial Aid Office will begin reviewing financial aid files for the upcoming fall term. Respond to all requests for information from USA in a timely manner.
Mid-April Summer office applications are available for those students interested in attending Summer term classes.
May The Financial Aid Office will begin sending Award Letters
for the upcoming fall semester to students who have completed their files with USA and have eligibility. Students may continue to apply for aid by completing the FAFSA after this month though aid may not be processed by the time fall payment is due.
Complete Electronic Direct Deposit forms for the summer semester. Forms for EDD only have to be submitted once. It is not necessary to re-enroll each semester provided your bank account information stays the same.
Mid-May The Financial Aid Office
will begin mailing summer award letters to eligible students.
Early June Summer classes begin. Financial Aid is disbursed to eligible student beginning on the first day of classes.
July Complete Electronic Direct Deposit forms for the fall semester. Forms for EDD only have to be submitted once. It is not necessary to re-enroll each semester provided your bank account information stays the same.
Summer New USA students should complete the loan entrance counseling located on this site.
August Orientation sessions for students awarded Federal Work-Study.
Federal Perkins Loan borrowers sign promissory notes.
Federal Stafford Loan borrowers must perform loan entrance counseling (located on this site) if they have not already done so. It can be performed in the Financial Aid Office if you wish to use our computers.
Late-August Fall classes begin. Disbursement of financial aid funds to eligible students beginning on the first day of classes.
December Complete Electronic Direct Deposit forms for the spring semester. Forms for EDD only have to be submitted once. It is not necessary to re-enroll each semester provided your bank account information stays the same.
To be eligible for Federal Student Financial Aid at USA, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
- Be accepted for admission and admitted to an eligible degree-seeking or certificate-seeking program at USA.
- Be enrolled for at least the minimum course load required for the requested aid program. All loan programs (including alternative loans) require an enrollment of at least halftime. Audit classes do not count.
- Meet and maintain all requirements under the USA Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.
- Not be in default on a prior student loan or owe a repayment on any Title IV aid.
- Be registered for Selective Service if you are a male at least 18 years old who was born after January 1, 1979.
How is Financial Aid Awarded?
Data you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be analyzed according to federal, state and institutional guidelines. A formula established by the United States Congress will be used to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
. The EFC number is used to determine Pell Grant eligibility for undergraduates. It is also used in an equation to determine your financial need (undergraduates and graduates).
Your Financial Aid will be applied to your USA student account and will officially 'pay' toward your institutional charges beginning the first day of classes if you have met all outstanding requirements and met all eligibility requirements. All credit balances and refunds of financial aid are handled by the Office of Student Accounting.
Refunds for financial aid will not be made by the Office of Student Accounting until after the drop/add period.
The amount of financial aid you receive depends on the number of credit hours you are enrolled in on the last official drop/add day (3rd day of class).
Classes MUST BE
taken for credit and be required for your program and degree to count toward financial aid. Classes taken as audit will not count for financial aid. The amount of financial aid you receive may be different from that shown on your award letter. Award letter amounts for Federal Pell Grants are based on full-time enrollment or 12 credit hours for undergraduates; your financial aid payment amount will be calculated based on your enrollment as of 6:00 pm on the 3rd day of class
. No award adjustments will occur for enrollment changes or registrations after that date.
Stafford Loan Borrowers
You must be enrolled at least half-time at the time loan disbursements are made to be eligible to receive loan funds. Loan counseling is required for new loans at USA before disbursement of any loan balances. Go to PAWS
to see if you still need to complete that eligibility requirement. "Entrance" counseling is only required once when a student receives loan funds while attending USA. "Exit" counseling
is required once each year for all student borrowers who withdraw, drop to less than half time, graduate, or do not return to USA. You can check PAWS
online to see if you need to complete any loan exit counseling
Students who borrow alternative loans must meet eligibility criteria as follows: You must attend a four-year college at least half time and be working toward your degree. You must meet credit criteria and you must be making progress toward a degree.
You have the right to decline receipt of a loan disbursement, or to cancel your loan entirely. Simply notify the Financial Aid Office if you wish to cancel a loan disbursement. Enrollment in less than half-time credits may cause cancellation of all loan disbursements for the remainder of the academic year and will be reinstated by request only. Cancellation of the first disbursement of a loan causes the entire loan to be canceled. As long as you remain eligible, you can request loans again in future terms.
Charging Privileges at the USA Bookstore (for Financial Aid Recipients Only)
Students who (a) have been awarded financial aid by USA, and who (b) have excess funds after all tuition, fees, meals, and housing have been paid, may charge up to $750 (or the available balance, whichever is less) towards books at the USA Bookstore. The Bookstore will have a student's account balance available at checkout. Bookstore charges will be placed on the student's account and covered by financial aid disbursement. Check the scrolling news at http://www.southalabama.edu/finaid
for the bookstore charge periods.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Academic Progress Brochure
Rights and Responsibilities
Students have the right to know
- The names of organizations which accredit and license the University
- The University’s programs, instruction, laboratories, physical facilities, and faculty
- The cost of attending the University and its refund policy
- The type of financial assistance offered by the University from federal, state, local, and private programs
- Who the financial aid personnel are and the location of the Financial Aid Office
- What the procedures and deadlines are for applying for financial aid
- How the University selects its financial aid recipients
- How the University determines financial need
- How much financial need has been met
- How financial aid is received
- About each type of financial assistance offered. Information about all student loans offered
- The kind of Work-Study jobs offered, hours, duties, rate, and frequency of pay
- When and how financial aid awards are adjusted
- About special facilities for the handicapped
- The University’s Satisfactory Progress Policy.
Students have the responsibility to
- Review and consider all information about the University before enrolling
- Pay special attention to the application for financial aid, complete it accurately, submit it on time and to the right place
- Know all deadlines for applying for aid and meet them
- Provide all required documentation, corrections, and/or information requested by the Financial Aid Office
- Notify the University of any information that has changed since the financial aid application was submitted
- Read, understand, and keep copies of all forms
- Repay any student loans borrowed
- Perform an entrance and exit interview
- Notify the Financial Aid Office of a change in name, address, or enrollment status (half-time, full-time, three-quarter-time)
- Satisfactorily perform the work agreed upon in a College Work-Study job
- Understand the University’s refund policy.
It is a federal government requirement that students complete a student loan entrance counseling session prior to obtaining a Federal Stafford student loan, and that they complete an exit interview prior to graduating or ceasing at least half-time attendance. The purpose of the session is to help you to understand your rights and obligations as a student loan borrower.
Financial aid can make a difference in your life. But with financial aid comes certain responsibilities. These student loan counseling sessions will prepare you for proper management of your student loan, helping you make the most of your higher education.
Mouse over unfamiliar terms for an explanation.