Application Process and Policy Handbook

Financial Aid Renewal Information

Financial Aid Policy Handbook

Section I: Deadlines and Basic Information

Every returning student who wishes to be considered for financial assistance must complete the renewal application process.

Required forms:

  • 2014-2015 FAFSA application (priority filing date, June 15, 2014)

Deadlines and Award Notification:
To be considered for the maximum amount of aid, a student's file needs to be complete by the Gustavus priority date of June 15, 2014. Students will receive an e-mail notifying them that their aid award letters are completed. Awards can be viewed and printed on WebAdvisor. It is the student's responsibility to notify the parent(s) that an aid award has been received. Students can grant parent's access on WebAdvisor to award letters.

Students completing the application process after the priority date will be awarded based on funds remaining.

Gustavus provides over $46 million annually in merit scholarships and need based grants to students. We are able to provide this level of assistance because of the generous contributions made by our generous friends and alumni. If a student is selected to be a recipient of a named scholarship, the Gustavus tuition grant or merit scholarship may be replaced or listed as honorary on an award notification. In its place, the named fund would be listed on the award.

Changes in family circumstances that may impact funding levels:
The expected parent contribution is based on a family's ability, not willingness, to pay. The federal financial aid formula assumes that the income and other information you provide on the 2014-2015 FAFSA will be representative of your income for 2014. Some families find that this is not the case due to one of the reasons listed below.

  • Change in at least one parent's income. If estimated 2014 income will be at least 15% less than actual 2013 income you may submit a request for review. The Financial Aid Office will review this information to determine if an increase in aid is warranted.
  • In the event of a divorce or separation, you (the student) may become eligible for increased state or federal aid. It is our philosophy that both parents are responsible for financing their son or daughter's education. We will require documentation of both parents' income (2013 federal tax return with W-2s) before allowing an increase in Gustavus aid.
  • Unusual/Special Expenses: Unreimbursed medical expenses (as documented on Schedule A of a parents' tax return), private elementary or secondary school tuition net any financial aid (to a maximum of $7900), or repayment of back taxes may be considered when determining financial aid eligibility. Documentation from the family, including signed copy of 2013 Federal Tax Return, is required before any adjustment will be made.

Student Status:
Students who entered Gustavus as a dependent student will remain a dependent student for institutional aid purposes. Students may be granted independent status for federal and state aid based on the following criteria:

  • You were born before January 1, 1991.
  • You were a ward of the court after age 13, or both parents are deceased.
  • You are a veteran of the United States Armed Services.
  • You are married.
  • You have children who receive more than half of their support from you.
  • 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, 2015.

Students who believe they have extenuating circumstances and should be considered independent should contact the Financial Aid Office to review the appeal process. Appeals must be documented by a third party, not affiliated with the College, and must be a non-family member (e.g. social worker, clergy, guidance counselor).

Enrollment Criteria for Financial Aid

Students must be enrolled full time in order to receive their full aid eligibility. Full time status for federal and institutional aid is 3.0 credits per semester. To receive full state grant assistance, a student must be enrolled for 3.75 credits per semester. All students must be making satisfactory academic progress in order to receive federal and state assistance. View the Gustavus Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards.

Part time enrollment is allowed at Gustavus. Your financial aid will be adjusted according to your enrollment status.

  • 3.0 or more credits per semester = full financial aid (3.75 for full state grant eligibility)
  • 2.25 to less than 3.0 = 3/4 proration of institutional aid; state and federal aid adjusted per state/federal regulations.
  • 1.5 to less than 2.25 = 1/2 proration of institutional aid; state and federal aid adjusted per state/federal regulations.
  • less than 1.5 is less than half time enrollment. No financial aid will be offered.

Section II: Renewal Process for Merit Scholarships, Others Not Filing a FAFSA

Renewal of merit scholarships, tuition exchange scholarships, or internal tuition-benefit scholarships will automatically be done by the Financial Aid Office according to the individual scholarship renewal criteria.

Guidelines for renewal for merit scholarships:
Students receiving the Presidential Scholarship must maintain at least a 3.25 cumulative grade point average (GPA) for renewal of your merit scholarship after your sophomore year.

If your GPA will be lower than 3.0 at the end of spring semester, you must appeal in writing to the Financial Aid Office to be considered for renewal of your Presidential Scholarship. If you do not appeal, your scholarship will be revoked for the full academic year. No mid-year reinstatements will be considered. You will be awarded the Dean's Scholarship you would have received as an entering student.

If you are not making satisfactory academic progress (warning or probation), your scholarship will not be renewed for the 2014-2015 academic year. No appeals will be considered for SAP merit scholarship consideration.

The Dean's Scholarship, Norelius, and Legacy awards will be renewed as long as you are making satisfactory academic progress.

Other merit renewal requirements:

  • Bjorling: must meet departmental requirement of private music lesson and ensemble participation
  • Anderson Theatre/Dance: must meet departmental requirement of participation
  • Arts: must meet departmental requirement of participation
  • Forensics: must meet departmental requirement of participation

Section III: Renewal Process (FAFSA filers)

The following checklist should be followed if you are filing for need based aid:

  • File the 2014-2015 Renewal FAFSA (available on line at www.fafsa.gov). To make the Renewal FAFSA process easier, have your PIN numbers ready. You may request a new or duplicate PIN at www.pin.ed.gov.

If your FAFSA is flagged for verification or requires further data, the file will not be considered complete until the family provides the additional documentation. See Section V for more information on the verification process.

Section IV: Renewal FAFSA Filing Tips

If you have questions while you are preparing your Renewal FAFSA, please call the Office.

Student employment earnings from Gustavus are taxable and must be included on the student's tax return; a W-2 will be mailed to the students in January 2014.

In January, students will also receive a 1098-T form that lists charges for tuition and total scholarship assistance awarded by Gustavus for the calendar year, which is required to assist students or parents with the preparation of their federal income tax return. The 1098-T includes Gustavus aid (including the matching portion for church matching awards), Minnesota State Grant, Federal Pell, TEACH and SEOG. It does not include outside scholarship assistance such as amounts received from churches and organizations such as Tozer, Dollars for Scholars, etc. The difference between tuition charged and scholarships applied (including the outside scholarships) are important for determining eligibility for a HOPE or Lifetime Learning Tax Credit on federal income tax returns. Please consult your tax advisor and/or IRS Publication 970 at www.irs.gov for more information.

Note: Tax returns need only be filled out--not mailed to the IRS--to be considered completed. If tax returns cannot be completed by April 15, file the Renewal FAFSA using estimated data and make any corrections to income data once the tax returns have been filed (asset data may only be updated if the original amounts submitted were in error). Gustavus reserves the right to reduce or remove institutional awards if the corrections are not made by the end of August 2014.

A divorced/separated/widowed custodial parent who has remarried as of the date the Renewal FAFSA is filed must include the 2013 income and assets of the new spouse. Pre-nuptial agreements cannot override this provision of the federal FAFSA regulations.

Questions relating to household size and number in college look ahead to the period July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.

Siblings enrolled in graduate school should not be included. A letter of special circumstance should be sent to Gustavus if your parents will be providing more than 50% of support to a sibling enrolled in medical or law school for the 2014-2015 academic year. Students who will be in graduate school during 2014-2015 must file their own FAFSA's as independent students. However, a graduate student may be counted as a number in household and a number in college for another undergraduate student's FAFSA within the same family if the parent will provide more than 50% of the graduate student 's total support including tuition charges.

Gustavus' policy is to consider the student as part of the household and/or number in college only if the expenses paid exceed $20,500 (which is the federal Stafford loan amount a graduate student is eligible to receive toward his/her graduate expenses).

Section V: Verification Process

An applicant will be required to verify, or validate by documentation, application information, if the application is selected for verification in the federal processing and edit systems, or if the Financial Aid Office has reason to believe that any application information critical to the calculation of the student's expected family contribution (EFC) is inaccurate, or is in conflict with other information.

Required documents for federal or institutional verification: 

  • Appropriate 2014-2015 Verification Worksheet
  • Parent Tax Transcript from IRS or use IRS data retrieval on a correction FAFSA
  • Student Tax Transcript from IRS or use IRS data retrieval on a correction FAFSA
  • If the student is a non filer, submit W-2 statement(s) and check the non filer section on the verification worksheet

If an application is selected for verification, the Financial Aid Office will give notice to the applicant. The notice will specify what items of information must be verified and will detail what documents and procedures are required for verification. It will also specify the time period within which the applicant shall provide the required documentation, and will advise the applicant of the consequences of the applicant's failure to comply within the specified period.

The time period granted to the applicant for completion of required documentation may vary with the complexity of the requirements and with the time remaining in the school term for which funding is sought. Normally, the student is afforded 45 days from the request date to provide verification documents. Overall, the deadline for submission of verification documents must be at least 30 days prior to the end of the school term for which funding is sought and to allow for processing (and correction if needed) before the end of the term.

Should the applicant fail to provide required documentation within the specified time period, the application is considered invalid and the applicant will forfeit eligibility for assistance from the federal Title IV student aid programs for the program year for which the invalid application was filed.

If the verification documents provided within the specified time period confirm the accuracy of all application items requiring verification, the application is finalized and, if all other requirements have been met, an e-mail is sent to notify the applicant. If the verification documents reveal inaccuracies in the application the SAR/ISIR will be corrected and submitted electronically. If incomplete or inadequate verification documents are submitted, the applicant is notified of deficiencies and instructed on how to correct them.

Should the review of an application for Title IV student aid indicate that the applicant may have engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with his/her application, the Financial Aid Office must refer the student for investigation on all relevant information to the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Education. Examples of such information include (but not limited to) false claims of independent student status, false claims of citizenship, use of false identities, forgery of signatures or certificates and false statements of income.

Section VI: Minnesota State Grant Special Rules

To be considered full-time for Federal or Gustavus aid programs, a student must be enrolled for at least 3.0 credits per semester; however, the State of Minnesota has a higher standard for recipients of Minnesota State Grant (MSG) assistance. To maintain maximum grant eligibility, MSG recipients must be enrolled in at least 3.75 credits per semester. MSG recipients may split 1.0 credit earned during January Interim between fall and spring semesters to compensate for lower semester loads.

As an example, a MSG recipient could be enrolled for 3.5 credits in fall semester, 1.0 credit in January Term, and 3.0 credits in spring semester to meet the state's requirements because 0.25 of the January-Term credit would apply to the fall and 0.75 to the spring bringing both terms to 3.75.

The State of Minnesota also limits a student"s eligibility to eight semesters, or an equivalent, even if the student may not qualify for MSG assistance during all eight semesters. Post-Secondary Education Option (PSEO) and advance placement credits do not count toward the eight-semester total; however, summer (or full semester) enrollment at another institution or a semester in which a students withdraws are counted.

Section VII: Early Graduation Issues

Generally, students are eligible for 8 semesters of financial aid. However, more students are bringing post-secondary option credits (PSEO) and advanced placement credits with them as they enroll at Gustavus. Some of these students still plan to attend and graduate after four full years at Gustavus. However, once a student has met graduation requirements for one degree program (even if they have not formally applied for graduation), federal and state financial aid ends.

There are three components necessary to receive a Gustavus diploma:

  • The student must have at least 34 total credits.
  • The student must have completed all the general area requirements.
  • The student must have completed one major course of study.

Some students complete all three components by the middle of their fourth year and enroll for the spring semester with the intention of completing a second major or a minor. These students are not eligible for any federal or state aid, which includes federal student loans. Alternative loans may be used to pay the expenses of your final semester of enrollment.

Therefore, it is extremely important for students to plan their academic program as far in advance as possible and to have it reviewed by their academic advisor and/or the staff of the Registrar's Office or the Advising and Counseling Center.

Section VIII: Fifth-year and 9th Semester Issues

Some students find it necessary to enroll for a ninth semester or a full fifth year of study, commonly due to student teaching or making up a term in which the student had to withdraw. Specific rules for financial aid apply in these situations.

As mentioned in Section VI, Minnesota State Grant assistance is not available beyond eight semesters of study and Gustavus does not award additional funds to offset the loss of MSG funds.

Students who file a Renewal FAFSA will still be eligible for federal student loans and grants if they qualify depending on the Expected Family Contribution and the cost of attendance for the term.

Students who are enrolled fall or spring term for the purpose of completing the student teacher component of their degree will be charged half tuition for that semester of enrollment.

  • Student teachers will be eligible for federal aid (Direct Loan and Pell Grant; SEOG will be offered only if available) if they have not completed their first Bachelor's Degree. 
  • Student teachers are not eligible for institutional aid, including merit scholarship. Exception: students with high need may receive institutional aid if approved by Director of Financial Aid.

Students who are enrolled a 9th semester to complete their Public Accounting major are eligible for institutional and federal aid and will be charged the full tuition for that semester.

Section IX: Study Abroad and Off-Campus Program Information

Many students elect to enroll in travel courses during January Term, or study off-campus (e.g. abroad, Washington Semester, HECUA domestic programs) for a semester or full year. This choice does not impact grant/scholarship aid. Additional aid, however, is only available through student or parent loan assistance, not additional Gustavus aid.

Semester and year-long off-campus study: If the program costs exceed the student's regular cost of attendance at Gustavus, the Financial Aid Office can add these costs to allow for additional loan eligibility. It is recommended that students and parents continue to use the same alternative loan program(s) they have used in the past (if any).

January Term travel courses (including UMAIE): Costs of courses resulting in academic credit may be added to the student's regular cost of attendance to increase loan eligibility. It is recommended that students and parents continue to use the same alternative loan program(s) they have used in the past (if any).

If a student/parent is borrowing only to cover the costs of a January Term course, it is recommended that the student apply for the loan in September when the final costs of the course are closer to being locked in.

If the student/parent normally borrows for the regular Gustavus costs, it is recommended that the additional January Term costs be added to the regular loan request during the summer. The Financial Aid Office will, within the rules of each loan program, ask for up to three disbursements (one-half of the base loan for fall semester, the extra for January Term which is due by October 31, and the second half of the base loan for spring semester).

If the January Term travel course is canceled, or the student withdraws from the course for any reason, the Financial Aid Office will return any loan funds to the lender. Students withdrawing from a travel course after the program's stated deadline may still be responsible for the cost of the course, but may not be eligible for any loan assistance. Each student's case is different so plans should be discussed with the Financial Aid Office.

Section X: Living Off-campus

The College includes housing and meals in determining a student's need for financial aid even though the College is not billing the student for these expenses meaning a student/parent can borrow additional funds for living expenses. After the direct charges to the College are paid each semester, any excess can be requested as a refund to assist with living expenses. For more details about the refund process, please contact the Student Accounts Office.

Campus Policy states that students living off campus will have a reduction of Gustavus Scholarship/Grant by $500 for the academic year.

Section XIII: Gustavus Endowed and Restricted Scholarships

The Financial Aid Office administers approximately 400 scholarships which are funded either from earnings from various endowments or from annual gifts. The generosity of past and current donors makes it possible to annually award approximately $2 million in scholarship assistance, which would not otherwise be possible. Academic departments may nominate students for certain endowed or restricted scholarships. Faculty nominated scholarships are generally based on financial need and can result in an increase of up to $500 of additional grant/scholarship aid from Gustavus over what would normally have been awarded.

In some cases, Gustavus will replace an existing award (e.g. Deans, Legacy, etc.) with one or more endowed/restricted scholarships. Students will retain honorary award status for the original scholarship(s). Students are considered for these scholarships as part of the regular awarding process and do not require special applications. We strongly recommend that students write a thank you letter to their donor. Students may e-mail their letter as text to ajohns13@gustavus.edu.

Section XIV: Church Matching Scholarship Program

Gustavus is committed to making an affordable education possible for its students. One way to accomplish this goal is to partner with church congregations who run their own scholarship programs. Gustavus acts as a partner to match approved congregations' scholarships for up to $1,000 per year. This is not limited to Lutheran congregations, and Gustavus will also match qualifying scholarships from synagogues or mosques. It should not be confused with the Gustavus Association of Congregations Scholarship, which is open only to students from the congregations comprising the Gustavus Association of Congregations.

To qualify a congregation must have an "established scholarship program" defined in writing that is funded from one or more of the following sources: earnings from an endowment, special collections from the entire congregation, or allocated funds from the annual unrestricted budget of the congregation. A committee, or officer of the congregation, must award the scholarships based on criteria applicable to all students in the congregation. It is not permissible for parents or other relatives to write checks to the congregation to be recycled as a scholarship.

Deadlines:
Participating congregations are responsible for notifying Gustavus of which students will be receiving scholarships for the following academic year, which begins in September. Payment from the congregation to Gustavus is requested by August 31 in order to apply the scholarship and matching funds to the fall semester fees due by that day. If a congregation stipulates that payment will not be made until after students provide first semester grades the scholarship and matching funds will be applied to spring semester fees due by January 31.

Section XV: How Gustavus Communicates With Students and Parents

In almost all situations Gustavus communicates with students first, unless parental data is required. Data from custodial parents is required for students considered dependent under U.S. Department of Education rules, which differ from dependency rules set by the IRS. The Financial Aid Office, as well as other administrative and academic offices, communicate with students using three official methods: the student's Gustavus e-mail account, the student's Gustavus voicemail account, and the student's Gustavus post office box.

Each student is expected to set up and check each of these accounts regularly and is responsible for information sent to them; even if the student uses other communication methods (other e-mail address, cell phone, etc.) for other purposes. Even if a student believes the message to be in error, he/she should follow up with the appropriate office in a timely manner.

Section XVI: Master Financial Calendar January 2012 - March 2014

January 1 FAFSA available online at www.fafsa.gov for the 2014-2015 award year
January 31 Forms W-2 and 1098-T must be postmarked and mailed by this date
February 25 Approximate date renewal student employment contracts will be distributed to supervisors
January 2 - June 1 Families complete federal income taxes. File FAFSA online to allow time for results to reach Gustavus by June 1
February 25 - March 24 Students complete student-employment renewal process
March 1 - March 31 Parents and students notified of the $500 Fall Registration Deposit and informed of holds for fall 2014 registration and/or loss of housing priority
March 31 Due date for Fall Registration Deposit and deadline to resolve spring financial issues relative to fall registration
June 1 Priority deadline for valid, complete FAFSA from Federal processor to be considered for maximum Gustavus grant/scholarship aid
June 1 - August 1 Timeframe for families to make financial arrangements for 2014-2015 including applying alternative loans
May 1 - August 31 Enrollment open for the monthly payment plan.
August 31 Due date for fall semester fees--finance charges assessed after this date
October Parents and students notified of January and spring registration holds
October 31 Deadline to resolve fall financial issues relative to Jan/spring registration
January 31 Due date for spring semester fees
March 1 - March 31 Parents and students notified of the $500 Fall Registration Deposit and informed of holds for fall 2015 registration and/or loss of housing priority
March 31, 2015 Due date for Fall Registration Deposit and deadline to resolve spring financial issues relative to fall registration