Financial Aid FAQ's

Q. What forms are needed to apply for Financial Aid?

A. The Free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed each year. You can submit your application electronically by using FAFSA on the web.

  • The 2022-2023 FAFSA is used for the Fall 2022, J-Term 2023, Spring 2023, and Summer 2023 terms.

Q. What is the FAFSA?

A. The FAFSA is a free online application you fill out to qualify for federal financial aid. Many states and colleges also use the FAFSA to grant state and institutional financial aid.

Q. What does the FAFSA have to do with financial aid?

A. After you submit the FAFSA, the government will look at your information and use it to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC is how much you and your family are expected to pay for your education. Once your EFC is determined, it is up to your college to put together your financial aid package. Your college’s financial aid office determines need-based aid by subtracting your EFC from its total cost of attendance. 

  • Need-based aid could be in the form of federal grants, direct subsidized loans, or work-study opportunities. Note that colleges do not necessarily meet your full financial need.
  • Non-need-based aid, depending on how much other aid you have already received based on the FAFSA. Loans that are non-need-based aid include direct unsubsidized loans and federal PLUS loans.

Q. How soon do I need to file the FAFSA?

A. The sooner you fill out the FAFSA, the better. The application is free, and it is not just a way to determine how much federal student aid you will receive. State governments, and some colleges and universities use information from the FAFSA to determine what state and institutional aid you qualify for. But state agencies and individual schools also have different deadlines to qualify for aid -- so keep track of all the deadlines and get a head start. 

Q. What is the deadline to file the 2022-2023 FAFSA?

A. To be considered for federal student aid for the 2022–2023 award year, you must complete the FAFSA by 11:59 p.m. Central Time (CT) on June 30, 2023. Any corrections or updates must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on September 10, 2023. However, each College and State has their own deadlines for financial aid. The State of Minnesota’s deadline for submission is no later than 30 days after the terms starts, by midnight CT.

Q. How do I apply for Financial Aid?

A. To apply for financial aid, you must complete the FAFSA by going online at, not It is a universal form used to apply for the Minnesota State Grant, Federal Pell Grant, Stafford loan, and other financial aid that are available here at Gustavus Adolphus College. 

The FAFSA form is available in both English and Spanish. You have the option of completing the form online at or through the myStudentAid mobile app. Be sure to release your information to Gustavus Adolphus College by including the GAC Federal School Code of 002353.

If you are applying for financial aid for the 2022-2023 year, you may use the IRS Data Retrieval tool, which will automatically fill in information for part of your FAFSA form. More information on the IRS Data Retrieval form is available on the Federal Student Aid website.

Q. When can I apply for financial aid?

A. The earliest you can submit the FAFSA application for 2022-2023 is October 1, 2021. Gustavus’ priority deadline to submit the FAFSA is June 1, 2022. For Minnesota State Grant, you must apply no later than 30 days after the beginning of the term. For some grants and loans, you can apply anytime during the academic year. To receive funds, you must be admitted and enrolled at the college.

Q. What happens after I have submitted my FAFSA?

A. When we have received your FAFSA information, we will customize a financial aid package based on your eligibility and needs. We encourage you to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible starting October 1, 2021, but no later than the June 1, 2022, priority date to receive your estimated financial award prior to the June 1, 2022, enrollment confirmation deadline. 

Q. Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year? 

A. Yes. You must apply for federal student aid for every school year that you attend. To reapply, you should submit a FAFSA. If you submitted a FAFSA last year, and you are eligible to complete a Renewal FAFSA, you may choose to have most of the questions pre-filled with the information you provided. Simply updating the information for the new school year on a Renewal FAFSA may be faster. However, the Renewal FAFSA is available solely for your convenience. If you prefer to start fresh with a new FAFSA, you are free to do so. 

Note: If you are eligible to complete a Renewal FAFSA, you will be asked to provide your FSA ID, as well as answers to income, asset, and tax questions. You must also update any information that has changed since last year. Keep in mind that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. 

Q. Can I make changes to my FAFSA?

A. Yes, there are three (3) ways to make corrections or updates to the FAFSA after it has been submitted:

  • Log into your account at and submit your new information.
  • Write in the corrections on your Student Aid Report (SAR), sign it and mail it to the provided address.
  • Call the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend and ask if they can make the changes for you electronically.

Q. What types of financial aid are available and where do they come from?

A. There are a variety of financial aid sources available to help you pay for college. Financial aid can come from the federal and state governments, school, and private sources.

Grants: A grant is a form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund, or you receive a TEACH Grant and do not complete your service obligation). A variety of federal grants are available:

  • Pell Grants,
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG),
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants,
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.

Scholarships: Many nonprofit and private organizations offer scholarships to help students pay for college or career school. This type of free money. Some awards are based on financial need. Others are based on academic achievement, community service, church affiliation, artistic talents, or athletic ability. 

Loans: When you receive a student loan, you are borrowing money to attend a college. You must repay the loan as well as interest that accrues. It is important to understand your repayment options so you can successfully repay your loan. There are four (4) main types of loans available to undergraduate students: 

  • Subsidized Loans: the interest is paid by the Education Department while a student is in school. Subsidized loans are need based.
  • Unsubsidized Loans: students are responsible for the interest, and it begins accruing as soon as the loan is disbursed, including while students are enrolled in school.
  • Parent PLUS Loans: A Parent PLUS Loan is in your parent's name, not yours. This means that your parents are responsible for paying back the loan. Typically, parents start paying the Parent PLUS Loan back as soon as you have received the money. Like with Unsubsidized Loans, your parents are responsible for the interest on this loan from the beginning, so it would be wise for them to pay at least the interest while you are in school.
  • Private Loans: are non-Federal Loans that could be from a bank or credit union, the state, or your school. You will typically have to start paying a Private Loan back right away, and interest rates can be extremely high through some private lenders.

Federal Work-Study (Student Employment) Jobs: The Student Employment Program allows you to earn money to pay for school by working part-time. This does not mean that you can study while at work.

Aid for Military Families: There are special aid programs or additional aid eligibility for serving in the military or for being the spouse or child of a veteran.

Aid From Your State Government: Other than federal aid, you might be eligible for financial assistance from your state. Contact your state grant agency for more information.

Aid From Your College or Career School: Many schools offer financial aid from their own grant and/or scholarship funds. 

Q. How is financial need calculated?

A. Your financial need is the difference between our estimates of your cost of attending Gustavus and the amount the federal and state governments expect you and your family to contribute to those costs. Cost of attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial need. Your total EFC is calculated using a federal needs analysis formula and is based on income and other data you report on the FAFSA, including your own savings and employment income. If you are found to have financial need, we will offer you financial aid to meet that need. The aid offered may be any combination of grants, loans, scholarships, or work-study.

Q. How can I use my financial aid?

A. Financial aid money can be used to cover many educational expenses, such as tuition, housing, books, and transportation.

Q. Where can I get more information about financial aid?

A. If you have questions regarding financial aid, contact the financial aid office. Our staff are happy to answer your questions:

Financial Aid Office
Gustavus Adolphus College
800 West College Avenue
Saint Peter, MN 56082
Telephone: 507 933-7527
Fax: 507 933-7727

For further information, you may also wish to visit these sites:

  • US Department of Education, for information on the FAFSA and federal student aid,
  • MN Higher Education Services Office, for information on state grants and other aid,
  • FINAID, a general resource on financial aid,
  • FastWeb, a free scholarship search service

Q. Are my parents responsible for my educational loans? 

A. No, however if a parent chooses to borrow funds through the Federal Parent PLUS loan program, then he or she is responsible to make payments on the loan. 

Q. If I take a leave of absence, do I have to start repaying my loans? 

A. Not immediately. If you take a semester off, it should not make much of a difference for your federal loans. Most federal loans have a six (6) month grace period. When you return to school at least half-time after taking a semester off, the grace period on your loans will reset, provided you did not exceed it. It is possible to request an extension to the grace period, but this must be done before the grace period is used up. 

If your grace period has run out in the middle of your leave of absence, you will have to start making payments on your student loans. 

Q. Do I need to report outside scholarships to the financial aid office? 

A. Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from colleges or government sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office. 

Unfortunately, the institution will adjust your financial aid package to compensate for the additional aid. Keep in mind that the outside scholarship will have some beneficial effects. At some institutions outside scholarships are used to reduce the self-help level and/or replace loans instead of grants.

Q. Should I still apply if I think my family makes too much money?

A. Even if your household income is too high for you to qualify for federal grants or work-study funds, the FAFSA is also used to determine federal student loan eligibility. There is no harm in applying, and on average, it only takes 23 minutes to fill out the FAFSA. 

Q. Am I considered a Dependent or an Independent Student?

A. Most students are considered dependent. This means that their parents’ incomes and asset information will be considered when determining their financial aid. The Department of Education is very strict when it comes to determining dependency status. To qualify as independent, you need to meet certain criteria, such as being a veteran of the U.S. military or having a child that you support. You may have to provide documentation to prove that you are an independent student. If this is approved, then your parents’ financial information will not be considered when determining your financial need. 

Q. Should I take a Student Employment job?

A. A student employment job can be a wonderful opportunity to earn money to help pay your tuition. If you qualify for this type of aid, you will likely get a convenient job on campus with a flexible schedule that works around your classes and school breaks. However, you might be able to find a part-time job that pays more or looks better on your resume. Consider your financial need, your personal goals, and your ability to juggle work and school when deciding whether you should participate in the Student Employment Program.

Q. Can a student work even if they were not awarded Student Employment?

A.Yes, we have many students on campus who do not qualify for federal student employment, but are working under institutional student employment. Students can work in all jobs on campus with either aid type, but students must have federal student employment to work in our off-campus sites. 

Q. Where can I find information about Student Employment?

A. The student employment resource page is located at this link: 

You can also contact Aimee Johnson in the Financial Aid Office if you have questions.

Aimee Johnson
Financial Aid Office - Jackson Campus Center
Room 202A
Telephone: 507-933-7501
Fax: 507 933-7727

Q. Do I have to work if I was awarded Student Employment?

A. No, you are not required to work if you were awarded student employment. It is, however, a part of your financial aid award, so you will be responsible for paying the portion of your bill that was to be earned by working. 

Q. What forms do I need to fill out for Student Employment to be set up for payroll?

A. In order for a student to be set up in payroll, we must have the following documents:

  • Federal W4,
  • Minnesota W4,
  • I-9,
  • Direct deposit form, and
  • Student employment agreement.

Student employment agreements need to be renewed annually but the other forms are valid while the student is enrolled. 

Q. Can I change my direct deposit for Student Employment?

A. Yes, a student can change their direct deposit at any time, but the new form must be received by the 1st of the month in order to be applied to that pay period. (for example, if a student changes his direct deposit before October 1st, then the pay will be directed to the new selection. If the student submits the new direct deposit after October 1st, the pay will be applied to the previous selection and the new direct deposit will take effect in the next pay period.)

Q. How do I find out my Student Employment award type and amount?

A. Go to and log in with your Gustavus username and password. Click on the correct award year and then “my awards”. Scroll down past your scholarships to the area listed as Work. If you have an award, it will be listed here with the specific type of funding and the amount of the award.

Q. Do I have to earn my Student Employment award in a 50/50 split per semester?

A. No, you do not. Many students work more in one semester because of heavy course loads or outside activities like sports or fine arts. Students can fit work in however they need to as long as they do not exceed their total student employment award.

Q. Do I have to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) before I can receive Stafford Loans?

A. Absolutely! Once you have been identified as being eligible to receive federal loans, you will need to complete the loan entrance counseling and you must sign an MPN. The MPN is a legal agreement to the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment. You can electronically sign the MPN for Direct Stafford Loans at

Q. What do I do if my (or my parents’) income changes?

A. If your family’s income changes dramatically (a parent lost their job, for example), speak with your school’s financial aid office. The college might be able to accommodate your new circumstances. However, additional aid is not guaranteed. The government determines your EFC based on the information that was accurate at the time. If that information is no longer accurate, you will need to discuss the changes with your school.

Q. Can I fill out the FAFSA if my parents are undocumented immigrants?

A. If your parents are undocumented immigrants, but you are in the U.S. legally, you can still fill out the FAFSA. While filling out the FAFSA will not endanger your parents (by law, other federal agencies cannot see your FAFSA application), you should consult a financial aid professional before filling out the form. You can also call the FAFSA hotline at 1-800-433-3243 (8am to 10pm EST) to ask them about any special steps you might be required to take if your parents are undocumented.

If you are undocumented, you cannot receive federal money in any form and should not submit the FAFSA to the Department of Education. You may qualify for in-state tuition, or aid from your state or college that is earmarked for undocumented immigrants. In some cases, schools may ask you to fill out a printed version of the FAFSA to calculate your EFC and determine what aid you qualify for.

Q. What is a Student Aid Report (SAR)?

A. A SAR is a document sent out to students after they have submitted the FAFSA. An SAR includes your EFC. Students should review the information on their SAR to ensure it is correct. Follow the instructions on the form if you need to make any changes. Otherwise, keep it for your records. Meanwhile, the schools you listed on your FAFSA will use this information to determine your eligibility for student aid.

Depending on how you submit your FAFSA, you could receive your SAR in just a few days or after several weeks. If you provide a valid email address on your FAFSA, you will receive your SAR electronically – all others will receive their SARs via postal mail.

Q. What if I can't afford my Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

A. Your EFC is the amount your family is estimated to be able to contribute to your college education. This amount is used to determine how much aid you need to pay for school. If your family cannot afford your EFC, you have several options:

  • Appeal for more financial aid by submitting a written letter to your school.
  • Apply for scholarships, particularly those that are merit-based.
  • Look into your options for private student loans.

Q. Where can I find college scholarships?

A. There are plenty of great websites that can help students find scholarships that match their financial need, interests, goals and more. Here are some of the best sites for finding student scholarships:

  • FastWeb
  • FinAid
  • Big Future by The College Board
  • CareerOneStop

Q. When will I have to start repaying my loans?

A. Most federal and state loans have a grace period that allows you to wait six (6) months after graduation before you begin repayment. Private loans vary, with some requiring payment during school and others waiting until after graduation. There are also deferment and forbearance plans, which can delay your repayment under certain circumstances, such as going back to school or becoming unemployed.

Use these helpful answers to guide you through the process of applying for financial aid. And if you have more questions, check the federal student aid website for more information on student aid topics.

Q. Do I have to pay for help finding money for college?

A. No, you do not have to pay to find scholarships or other financial aid. The official FAFSA form is available from, and you can get free help from filling out the forms by visiting:

  • The financial aid office at the college you’re attending;
  • The FAFSA form’s online help; and/or
  • The Federal Student Aid Information Center.

If an organization is asking you for your credit card information for filling out the FAFSA form online, you are not at the official government site. The FAFSA website address If the website does not have a “.gov” then you are on the wrong site.

Make sure scholarship information and offers you receive are legitimate. The following list of free sources of information regarding scholarships:

  • Financial aid office at Gustavus Adolphus College;
  • High school counselor;
  • U.S. Department of Labor’s scholarship search tool;
  • Federal agencies;
  • MN Department of Education;
  • MN Office of Higher Education;
  • Local library’s reference section;
  • Foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses, or civic groups;
  • Organizations related to your area of interest;
  • Ethnicity-based organizations; and
  • Current employer or your parents’ employers.

If you are unsure whether a company is legitimate, stop and think for a minute. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is being offered?
  • Do the claims seem too good to be true?
  • Is the organization or company pressuring me?
  • Are they asking for your credit card or bank account information?

Here are ways to protect yourself:

  • If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Never give out your credit card or bank information unless you know the company or organization you are giving it to is legitimate. You could be putting yourself at risk of identity theft.
  • Do not give in to pressure tactics.

Q: I was chosen for Verification. Why is this?

A: The Federal Government randomly chooses some FAFSA applications for a process called Verification. This process requires additional information to be provided to our office. 

Q. What is Verification?

A. Verification is a federal process regulated by the U.S. Department of Education to confirm the information provided on the FAFSA is accurate. Gustavus’ Financial Aid Office verifies all student files selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education’s Central Processing System. The FAFSA results will indicate the student has been selected. The US Department of Education allows Schools the authority to select students for verification. Gustavus College will select other students for verification if the FAFSA or documentation submitted: 

  • Has conflicting information that may indicate an error on the part of the student or parent applicant; and/or 
  • Has data that appears inconsistent and requires additional validation and/or the student/parent submits all or part of the verification documents. 

Q. How do I know if I am selected for Verification?

A. Gustavus’ Financial Aid Office will send an email or letter to you when additional documentation is required. Letters are sent to the permanent address provided in the admissions process and emails are sent to the student’s GAC email account. The letter and/or email will refer you to your financial aid account to identify required information. This request is sent within five (5) business days of receiving the FAFSA once we begin processing for that year. Prior to the start of the term, at least one follow-up email will be sent to you if you have not submitted all the requested documentation. At that time, notifications will be sent to your Gustavus email account. 

The following types of information may be requested based on the U.S. Department of Education’s assigned verification group.

  • Household size and number in college
  • Signed copies of Federal Tax Returns (Student and/or parent/spouse, if applicable)
  • W2 Forms
  • Statement of IRS Non-Tax Filer Status (Parent and/or Student)
  • Child Support Paid
  • Child Support Received
  • IRS Data Retrieval to FAFSA (Parent and/or Student)
  • Proof of marital status (Parent and/or Student)
  • Certain types of court documents (guardianship, ward of court, divorce, etc.)
  • Other documentation required to resolve conflicting information.

Documentation submitted to the Financial Aid Office must be legible, appropriate, and identifiable. It must contain your Gustavus ID number. Some documents may be returned and a request for additional documentation may be made. 

Q. What happens if information on my FAFSA does not match my financial documents?

A. After the Gustavus Financial Aid staff receive all requested documentation they will compare the documentation with the information provided on the FAFSA. At times, they will reach out to you by email or phone to seek additional clarification. If there are differences between the FAFSA information and the documentation submitted, the Gustavus Financial Aid staff will make corrections to the FAFSA data. All corrections will be reprocessed electronically. There is typically a five (5) day turnaround period for this process. Any correction may cause changes to federal aid eligibility.

The Gustavus Financial Aid Office notifies students of the verification results through an email which directs them to federal aid offered on their MyGustavus account.

Q. What happens if I do not submit my financial documents?

A. Your eligibility for federal aid will not be calculated until verification is complete. The deadline date for completing the verification process is no later than 120 days after your last day of enrollment for the award year or the date established by the US Department of Education (annually), whichever is earlier. If the verification process is completed after ceasing enrollment, you may only be considered for Pell grant funds based on enrollment and credits earned for the term. As such, the published deadline for you to complete your file is no later than two weeks prior to the end of the term in which you are enrolled. However, exceptions may and are made based on guidance from the US Department of Education. 

Q. Can I be selected for verification after my eligibility has been calculated?

A. Making changes or updates to your FAFSA will result in a subsequent transaction being sent to Gustavus College. If the subsequent transaction is selected for verification, or the new information affects eligibility after federal aid has been calculated or disbursed; you will be notified via your GAC account email. You have 15-business days after the date of the email notification to submit all requested documentation. Failure to submit the requested documentation within the 15-business day timeframe will result in the cancellation of all need-based federal aid. The number of business days are reduced as the last day of the term approaches. You are responsible for submitting documentation by the verification deadline.

Q. Do interest charges accrue while we are waiting for verification to be completed?

A. Yes, the verification process does not exempt students from fulfilling their financial obligations. Even though they may be waiting for their documents to be processed, they are required to pay their tuition and fees on time.

Other Important Information

Suspected Fraud or Abuse 

Per federal regulation, Gustavus College will refer any credible information indicating that a student may have engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with FAFSA applications to the US Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). In conjunction with Gustavus College’s legal counsel, the Director will determine if a referral is warranted. Common misconduct includes false claims of independent status, false claims of citizenship, use of false identities, forgery of signatures of certifications and false statements of income.

Note that fraud is the intent to deceive as opposed to a mistake on an application.

Common Errors on Financial Aid Applications

If you don't understand a question or are having trouble filling out the FAFSA, please call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at the number listed in the Help Completing the FAFSA section, or the Financial Aid Office at (507) 933-7527 to answer your questions.

The US Department of Education also provides advice on completing the FAFSA on their web site. It includes a copy of the instructions that accompany the FAFSA in addition to a few extra words of insight. 

Some of the more common errors include: 

  • The number one mistake that you can make is to not complete the FAFSA form.
  • Assume that you cannot afford college - the FAFSA opens the door to many different opportunities for financial aid, and the sooner you apply, the better, as state grant agencies and scholarship organizations— which often have a limited pot of funds to give out on a first come, first served basis— usually require you to have filed a FAFSA to receive aid.
  • Students leaving a field blank. All income questions must be completed. If the answer is zero or the question does not apply to you, write in a zero (0). Do not use dashes or leave the question blank. If you leave an income or asset question blank, the federal processor will assume that you forgot to answer the question.
  • A common error is to report total income tax equal to the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). Total income tax should be less than the AGI. This happens most often when you report the amount of taxable income (AGI) in the answer to the question about tax liability.
  • Another common error is to report taxes withheld or tax due instead of total income tax. The total of your withholdings can be higher or lower than the total income tax. If you got a refund, it was higher. If you owed additional tax, it was lower. Be sure you are reporting the total income tax (the total tax liability) and not just the withholdings or the additional taxes due.
  • Make sure using your legal name as it appears on your Social Security card. Using a nickname or any other name will cause a processing delay.
  • Be careful to write your Social Security Number (SSN) and date of birth accurately and clearly. Any errors in the SSN or date of birth will cause processing delays.
  • Check to make sure you have not accidentally swapped your Social Security Number with your parents' Social Security Numbers.
  • In the question that asks about your interest in different types of aid (e.g., work-study and student loans), answer "yes" to each question. Answering "yes" does not obligate you to accept a loan. Answering "no" will not get you more grant aid.
  • Remember to count yourself, the student, as one of the people who will be a college student during the award year.
  • If your parents are divorced or separated, the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months is the parent responsible for filling out the FAFSA. This is not necessarily the same as the parent who has legal custody. Use the most recent calendar year for which you lived with either parent. If the parent who is responsible for completing the FAFSA has remarried, your stepparent must report his or her income and assets on the FAFSA, even if they were not married during the previous year. Prenuptial agreements have no bearing on this requirement.
  • Prepaid tuition plans are not reported as assets on the FAFSA.
  • Pensions and the cash value of a life insurance policy - known as a whole-life policy - are not reported as an asset on the FAFSA.
  • When you complete the form, make sure you print out the signature page or that both you and your parents use the correct PINs to e-sign the form.
  • When you get your Student Aid Report, read it carefully to make sure it does not show any problems, such as a missing signature.
  • Applying online makes filling out the FAFSA easier because the online form uses skip logic to only ask relevant questions.
  • You will also have the option to retrieve your IRS data to automatically populate the FAFSA, which simplifies the application process, helps reduce errors and lowers your chances of being selected to verify the information on your FAFSA.
  • When filling out the FAFSA, make sure to pay attention to federal, state, and institutional deadlines, take your time to avoid information errors, and not leave too many spaces blank.