The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) ensures that you can benefit from federally funded financial assistance for education beyond high school if you meet eligibility requirements. Administrated by the U.S. Department of Education, federal student aid plays a central and essential role in supporting postsecondary education by providing money for qualified college students.
The FAFSA helps determine your eligibility for federal student aid programs along with state financial aid programs that may be available, including Pell Grants and work-study programs.
The application process begins on Oct. 1 each year. Some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so you are encouraged to complete a FAFSA application as soon as possible. If you are ready to begin your application, visit the FAFSA site.
Getting ready to fill out your FAFSA? Make sure you have several pieces of information handy when you start to fill out the form:
- Income taxes and deductions (including spouse's)
- Spouse's income
- Asset information
- Dependency status
- Household size
- List of schools you are interested in attending
- Income taxes and deductions
- Household assets
- Family members
The purpose of student financial aid is to provide resources to you if you would otherwise be unable to pursue a postsecondary education. The primary responsibility for meeting university costs lies with you and your family.
To receive financial assistance, you must be:
- Admitted to the university
- Enrolled in a program of study which leads to a degree or certificate
- In good academic standing
- Making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
If you are admitted to a degree program on a provisional or conditional basis, you may be eligible for financial assistance according to the university's admission policy. According to federal regulations, financial aid recipients must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens; must not owe a refund on grants previously received under the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant or the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) program; or be in default on any federal student loans borrowed from federal funding.
Were you selected for verification? Verification is a process used to verify the accuracy of the information submitted on the FAFSA. Some students are selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education. Others are selected by the school. If you were selected by the Department of Education, you will be notified on your Student Aid Report.
Why is your file being verified?
There are several possible reasons for being selected for verification. Keep in mind that more possibilities exist, but the following are the main reasons:
- You were selected randomly.
- The submitted FAFSA application has incomplete data.
- The data on the FAFSA application appears to contradict itself.
- The FAFSA application has estimated information on it.
What needs to be done after the selection?
After you receive notification that you have been selected for verification, you should first read any messages from the Department of Education appearing on the Student Aid Report. Contact your university counselor or student services counselor if you have any questions.
Next, please submit any documents requested of you. These could include a variety of different documents such as any federal tax W2’s, transcripts or verification worksheets. The type of documents required varies from student to student, and not all students selected for FAFSA verification have to submit the same documents.
Once you have all the documentation requested, submit them to your university counselor or student services counselor. Only turn in documentation that is requested which will expedite processing. All information submitted must be used in the calculation of your awards and EFC.
What happens if there are discrepancies in the application?
After you turn in all required documents, the information is compared to your Student Aid Report. If errors are found, corrections are made. If the errors are significant enough to change your awards, you are notified of the changes through an updated financial aid offer which can be found on your Student Portal.
If you are selected for verification, you need to return the information and requested documentation as soon as possible. Processing usually takes 30 days but could take longer at the start of a new aid year. Because verification must be completed in advance of disbursing any money from any financial aid program, it is vital to send complete and correct information as quickly as possible.
Above all else, do not be upset because you were selected for verification. This is a process that is required by the federal government. (Errors discovered in your report could actually increase your eligibility for more aid.) You may also be asked to provide additional information/clarification.
Traditional undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits per semester to be considered full-time students and receive full financial aid benefits. Enrollment in fewer than 12 credits may result in a prorated portion of financial aid.
To receive full financial aid benefits in the online modality, undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 24 credits in an academic year. Graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 16 credits and doctoral students in a minimum of 12 credits. Financial aid is not available for enrollment in any zero-credit coursework.
To receive any institutional scholarships (i.e., academic, departmental, endowed and/or merit), you must maintain continued full-time enrollment status. Courses taken at other colleges do not count as enrollment at Grand Canyon University (GCU) for financial aid or scholarship purposes.
If you receive additional outside assistance, you must report these amounts to the Office of Financial Aid through your assigned university counselor or student services counselor.
If you have received any Title IV aid from a prior school, or if you are currently receiving Title IV aid at another institution while attending GCU, you must notify the Office of Financial Aid through your assigned university counselor or student services counselor. This other source of funding may affect your eligibility to receive maximum Title IV aid with GCU.
You must do the following:
- Accurately complete and return all applications, additional documentation, verification forms, corrections and/or new information that are requested by any GCU department or any other agency providing financial assistance. Errors or omissions may delay the disbursement of eligible funds.
- Read and understand all documentation and/or agreements that are signed and submitted to any department and/or agency.
- Review award letter and all other notices issued regarding the responsibilities and conditions that must be adhered to by receiving financial aid.
- Understand what portion of the financial aid package is grants and scholarships (aid that does not have to be repaid) and what portion is student loans (self-help aid that must be repaid or earned). If any portion of the self-help aid is in the form of a student loan, understand the total amount of the loan, the interest rate assessed to the amount borrowed, the repayment schedule, the timeframe of the repayment schedule and the start date for the repayment schedule.
- Notify your servicer of any changes to personal name, address and enrollment status. To find out what company services your loans, log into nslds.ed.gov
- Review and understand the amounts pertaining to the cost of attendance and the refund policy for GCU as stated in the University Policy Handbook.
- Review and comply with all rules and regulations pertaining to academic, financial aid and university conduct policies. These policies can be found in the University Policy Handbook.
- Understand that any intentional misrepresentation of information on applications and/or documentations submitted for federal financial aid is a violation of law and is considered a criminal offense subject to penalties under the U.S. Criminal Code.
- Be aware of the appeal process and procedures, which can be found in the University Policy Handbook.
Aid for most federal funding is awarded based on financial need. Expected family contribution (EFC) is a measure of a family's financial strength and indicates how much of your and your family’s (for dependent students) financial resources should be available to help pay for educational costs.
The EFC is calculated from the information reported on the FAFSA and according to a formula established by law. Family income and assets are considered in determining the EFC along with family size and number of family members attending a college or career school on at least a half-time basis. The EFC can be found on the Student Aid Report, which is generated from information reported on the FAFSA.
To determine financial need for federal student aid programs, the EFC is subtracted from the cost of attendance (COA). The COA is the total anticipated amount it will cost to go to school for a year. Costs include tuition and fees, housing, allowances for books, supplies, transportation and personal expenses.
COA - EFC = Financial Need
Federal grants and other financial aid is used to meet financial need. A financial aid offer is generated after all documents are received and funds have been awarded. Any changes made to original FAFSA answers may result in a change in financial aid award amounts. If your financial aid record is selected for verification, any changes made during the verification process may also change financial aid award amounts.
Those with unusual or special circumstances that may impact their need or ability to contribute to their education should refer to the University Policy Handbook and review the Professional Judgment/Special Circumstances section under Financial Services.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is evaluated at the end of every semester for all registered traditional undergraduate students and at the completion of every payment period for online undergraduate and graduate students who attend GCU. You are required to maintain SAP toward the completion of your degree to maintain your eligibility for all institutional, state and federal financial aid awards.
Every course in which you enroll and attend is counted for the evaluation of maintaining SAP. GCU does not provide an opportunity for you to audit a course; therefore, only courses attempted for credit are included in the evaluation of your progress. Additionally, there are no remedial courses offered at GCU; therefore, all courses included in the evaluation are applicable to your program of study. All courses in which you are awarded a grade of P/F, which may or may not impact your GPA, are included in the evaluation of quantitative progress.
SAP includes two equal components that are referred to as qualitative and quantitative measurements. The qualitative measurement applies to all students and is consistent with the university's academic warning, suspension and expulsion policies.
Qualitative Progress Measurements: Undergraduate students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00 for all GCU coursework. Graduate students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 for all GCU coursework. Grade point values are assigned to specific grades according to the grading system and are used to compute a grade point average (GPA). Only those courses in which a letter grade (A – F) is earned are included in the calculation of the GPA.
Quantitative Progress Measurements: You must demonstrate progress toward degree completion if you are receiving financial aid. Federal regulations require you to complete your program of study within a measured maximum timeframe that cannot exceed 150 percent of the published length of the program. To determine the quantitative SAP component, the number of required credits to earn a degree is multiplied by 150 percent, which would be the maximum number of attempted credit hours for which you can receive aid. (For example, if 120 credit hours were needed to earn a degree, multiply 120 by 150 percent, which would equal 180 credit hours.) At the end of each semester or payment period, you must have completed and earned at least 67 percent of the cumulative credit hours attempted. Failed grades (F) are counted as attempted credits but are not counted as earned credits. Incomplete courses and withdrawals do not count as earned credits but are counted as attempted credits. Credits earned for repeated coursework, in addition to the original credits, are counted as both attempted and earned credits.
You will be placed on SAP warning if you fail to maintain these minimum requirements. The warning period provides one semester for traditional students or one completed payment period for online students.
At the end of the warning period, your progress is evaluated to determine if you now meet the quantitative and qualitative SAP standards. If so, you will be returned to good standing. If you fail to meet the minimum SAP standards at the end of your warning status, you will be placed on suspension and will not be eligible to receive any federal financial aid during your financial aid suspension period.
Transfer and re-admitted students must follow the above referenced SAP policy. Accepted prior credits and transfer credits are calculated as part of the measured maximum time frame component. (For example, if 120 credits hours were needed to earn a degree, 40 credits have transferred in that apply to the degree, multiply 80 [120-40] by 150 percent, which would equal 120 credit hours).
Once you have completed the requirements for the program of study, you will not be eligible to receive additional financial aid.
Notification to Students
Once you have been determined to be on warning or suspension, an official university notice will be sent to you. This status is added to your record and will be used in determining continued eligibility for financial aid.
Support for Students on Warning Status
You are encouraged to contact your student services counselor to discuss strategies to assist with your success.
The U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion a year in grants, work-study funds and low-interest loans to more than 15 million students. Federal student aid covers expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and transportation. Aid can also help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Thousands of schools across the country participate in federal student aid programs.
If you qualify for and receive a federal grant, you typically do not have to repay the money, unless the requirements of the grant are not followed. This helps offset the cost of school, but you may still need additional help. If so, a federal student loan may be your answer. Remember, a student loan is just like any other loan: It is borrowed money that will have to be repaid with interest.
To learn more about budgeting, borrowing and repayment, as well as review a glossary of terms, visit studentaid.ed.gov
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about student loans, including information about repaying your loan.
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