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Office of Student Financial AidFrequently Asked Questions

GENERAL

How do I apply for financial aid?

  • Request Your FSA ID
    Prior to completing a FAFSA for the first time students and their parents will need to create a FSA ID. Your FSA ID will be used each year when filing the FAFSA, in addition to serving many other federal aid related functions.
  • After filing your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), listing the information from your FAFSA. Your SAR also lists your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is used to determine your eligibility for need based aid. Please review your SAR for accuracy and make any necessary corrections online. If your family's financial situation changes after you submit your FAFSA, you may request a review of your eligibility by contacting the Office of Student Financial Aid.
  • Check your ODU Email frequently
    Notification of your financial aid award will be sent to your ODU email account. Incoming students will receive email reminders related to the awarding process. Verification and other "To Do" items will be listed within the LEOonline system.
  • Review and accept your award offer via LEOonline
    Once you have been awarded financial aid, you will receive an email notifying you of the availability of your Financial Aid Award. Both new students and current students can view the award in LeoOnline through the MyODU portal. All award notifications will be available under the "Financial Aid" section on LEOonline. Most grant funds will be automatically accepted for students. Students must accept, reduce, or decline loans and any work study offered.

How to I accept my aid through Self-Service?

Admitted students will be sent notifications from Old Dominion University of their eligibility for aid to their ODU email account once the aid offer is available for viewing and accepting. The student must accept or decline the aid as offered via online within 10 days of the date of the notification or by May 1, whichever date is latter. Notification of changes to your initial award offer will be sent via email.

How to View & Accept Your Financial Aid Award Offer

Financial Aid Self-Service Overview



I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?

Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free.

Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid at ODU?

No. You can apply for financial aid any time beginning October 1. To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted and enrolled at the university.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

Yes. Most financial aid offices require that you apply for financial aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. After your first year you will received a "Renewal Application" which contains preprinted information from the previous year's FAFSA. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have different number of family members in college. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends onyour making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.

Will my financial aid automatically transfer with me to my new school?

Most financial aid will not automatically transfer with you. You should check with your new school and your aid provider to determine whether or not any financial aid you previously had will transfer.

How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?

Submit a FAFSA. To indicate interest in student employment, student loans and parent loans, you should check the appropriate boxes. Checking these boxes does not commit you to accepting these types of aid. You will have the opportunity to accept or decline each part of your aid package later. Leaving these boxes unchecked will not increase the amount of grants you receive.

Federal Pell Grant Duration of Eligibility

There have been changes to the law that affect all students that receive Federal Pell Grant. This change limits the total number of years a student may receive a Pell Grant to the equivalent of 6 (six) years. Since the maximum amount of Pell Grant a student can receive each year is equal to 100%, the six-year equivalent is 600% (6 years x 100%). Once student Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU) equals or exceeds 600%, the student may no longer receive Pell Grant funding.

Where can I get information about Federal student financial aid?

Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 1-800-730-8913 (if hearing impaired) and ask for a free copy of The Student Guide: Financial Aid from the US Department of Education. This toll free hotline is run by the US Department of Education and can answer questions about federal and state student aid programs and applications. You can also write to:

Federal Student Aid Information Center
PO Box 84
Washington, DC 20044

Can I repeat a course for Financial Aid purposes?

A student may only repeat a previously passed course once and have it count towards enrollment status for Federal Financial Aid purposes. Click link for more information and examples of eligible and non-eligible repeat coursework.

How do I find my bill & my Student Account information?

Bills are emailed to the student's ODU email address monthly. For more information about billing, please visit Billing & Payments.

The most current student account information can be found in your MyODU Portal.

Is my Financial Aid data shared?

Because of HEA, the financial aid office will not disclose information collected from your FAFSA or your financial aid award or eligibility to any 3rd-party person (including parents or spouses) or entity requesting this data on your behalf.

What is the Virginia Military Survivors & Dependents Education Program?

Provides education benefits to spouses and children of military members killed, missing in action, taken prisoner, or who have been rated by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs as totally and permanently or at least 90% disabled as a result of military service.


SCHOLARSHIPS

I received an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?

Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from any outside source, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office.

Unfortunately, the university may have to adjust your financial aid package to compensate.


WORK STUDY

How do I know if I have a Federal Work Study or LEAP award?

Check your Financial Aid Award package to find out if you received a Federal Work Study or LEAP Award. It will be listed as part of your aid package. You must Accept, Decline, or Modify any award prior to applying for employment.


LOANS

How much can I borrow?

Your school determines the loan type(s), if any, and the actual loan amount you are eligible to receive each academic year. However, there are limits on the amount in subsidized and unsubsidized loans that you may be eligible to receive each academic year (annual loan limits) and the total amounts that you may borrow for undergraduate and graduate study (aggregate loan limits). The actual loan amount you are eligible to receive each academic year may be less than the annual loan limit. These limits vary depending on:

  • what year you are in school and
  • whether you are a dependent or independent student.

If you are a dependent student whose parents are ineligible for a Direct PLUS Loan, you may be able to receive additional Direct Unsubsidized Loan funds.

If the total loan amount you receive over the course of your education reaches the aggregate loan limit, you are not eligible to receive additional loans. However, if you repay some of your loans to bring your outstanding loan debt below the aggregate loan limit, you could then borrow again, up to the amount of your remaining eligibility under the aggregate loan limit.

Am I eligible for a Direct Subsidized Loan or a Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

To receive either type of loan, you must be enrolled at least half-time at a school that participates in the Direct Loan Program. Generally, you must also be enrolled in a program that leads to a degree or teacher licensure awarded by the school. Direct Subsidized Loans are available only to undergraduate students who have financial need. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to both undergraduates and graduate or professional degree students. You are not required to show financial need to receive a Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

What are Private Loans?

Loan option offered through private banks and lenders. Generally, only accepted if all other financial aid options have been exhausted.

How do I apply for a loan?

To apply for a Direct Loan, you must first complete and submit the FAFSA. Your school will use the information from your FAFSA to determine how much student aid you are eligible to receive. Direct Loans are generally included as part of your financial aid package.

How will I receive my loan?

The school will first apply Direct PLUS Loan funds to the school account to pay for tuition, fees, room and board, and other school charges. If any loan funds remain, your school will give them to you to help pay other educational expenses.

If you are eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan, you will be required to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN), agreeing to the terms of the loan. Graduate or professional students will also be required to complete entrance counseling before receiving a PLUS loan. A postcard will be mailed indicating when the MPN can be signed.

Who will contact me after I receive my loan?

When you receive your Direct Loan, you will be contacted by your loan servicer (you repay your loan to the loan servicer). Your loan servicer will provide regular updates on the status of your Direct Loan, and any additional Direct Loans that you receive. Once your loan funds have disbursed, you will receive an electronic notification sent to your ODU email account.

Can I cancel a loan if I decide that I don't need it or if I need less than the amount offered?

Yes. Before your loan money is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of your loan at any time by notifying your school. After your loan is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of the loan within 14 days. Your promissory note and additional information you receive from your school will explain the procedures and time frames for canceling your loan.

When do I have to pay back my loan?

After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you will have a six-month grace period before you are required to begin repayment. During this period, you'll receive repayment information from your loan servicer, and you'll be notified of your first payment due date. Payments are usually due monthly.

What types of loan repayment plans are available?

There are several repayment options available that are designed to meet the individual needs of borrowers. Your loan servicer can help you understand which repayment options are available to you. Generally, you'll have 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on the repayment plan that you choose.

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

Not immediately. The subsidized Stafford loan has a grace period of 6 months and the Perkins loan a grace period of 9 months before the student must begin repaying the loan. When you take a leave of absence you will not have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you use up the grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repaying your loan immediately. 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.

Can my loan ever be canceled or forgiven?

Yes. Before your loan money is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of your loan by notifying your school. After your loan is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of your loan within 14 days. Your promissory note and additional information you receive from your school will explain the procedures and time frames for canceling your loan.

You also may qualify for forgiveness of some or your entire loan if you meet certain conditions. Contact your loan servicer for additional information or visit studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation.

Is there a time limit on how long I can receive loans?

If you are a first-time borrower on or after July 1, 2013, there is a limit on the maximum period of time (measured in academic years) that you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans. This time limit does not apply to Direct Unsubsidized Loans or Direct PLUS Loans. If this limit applies to you, you may not receive Direct Subsidized Loans for more than 150 percent of the published length of your program. This is called your "maximum eligibility period." Your maximum eligibility period is based on the published length of your current program. You can usually find the published length of any program of study in your school's catalog.

For example, if you are enrolled in a four-year bachelor's degree program, the maximum period for which you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans is six years (150 percent of 4 years = 6 years). If you are enrolled in a two-year associate degree program, the maximum period for which you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans is three years (150 percent of 2 years = 3 years).

Because your maximum eligibility period is based on the length of your current program of study, your maximum eligibility period can change if you change to a program that has a different length. Also, if you receive Direct Subsidized Loans for one program and then change to another program, the Direct Subsidized Loans you received for the earlier program will generally count toward your new maximum eligibility period.

Are my parents responsible for my educational loans?

No. Parents are, however, responsible for the Federal PLUS loans. Parents will only be responsible for your educational loans if they co-sign your loan. In general you and you alone are responsible for repaying your educational loans.

You do not need to get your parents to cosign your federal student loans, even if you are under age 18, as "the defense of infancy" does not apply to federal student loans. (The defense of infancy presumes that a minor is not able to enter into contracts, and considers any such contract to be void. There is an explicit exemption to this principle in the Higher Education Act with regard to federal student loans.) However, lenders may require a cosigner on private student loans if your credit history is insufficient or if you are underage. In fact, many private student loan programs are not available to students under age 18 because of the defense of infancy.

If your parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can have your billing statements sent to their address. Likewise, if your lender or loan servicer provides an electronic payment service, where the monthly payments are automatically deducted from a bank account, your parents can agree to have the payments deducted from their account. But your parents are under no obligation to repay your loans. If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancel the electronic payment agreement, you will be held responsible for the payments, not them.

Is it legal for 17-year-old student to sign promissory note for student loan?

Yes, in 1992 the Higher Education Act students was amended to permit eligible students, defined as per Title IV regulations, to sign promissory notes for their own Federal student loans


DIRECT PLUS LOAN

Am I eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan?

To receive a Direct PLUS Loan, you must:

  • Be a graduate or professional degree student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school in a program leading to a degree or certificate, or be the parent (biological, adoptive, or in some cases, stepparent) of a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time at a participating school.
  • Meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid. If you are borrowing on behalf of your child, your child must also meet these requirements.

How do I apply for a Direct PLUS Loan?

In order to receive a Direct PLUS loan, you (or your child, in the case of parent borrowers) must complete the FAFSA. The school's financial aid office will provide instructions about their process for requesting a Direct PLUS Loan. Must complete the PLUS Data sheet.

Can I still receive a Direct PLUS Loan if I have an adverse credit history?

A credit check will be performed during the application process. If you have an adverse credit history, you may still receive a Direct PLUS Loan by obtaining an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history or documenting to the U.S. Department of Education's satisfaction extenuating circumstances relating to your adverse credit history. If you are a parent borrower, the endorser cannot be the child on whose behalf you are borrowing.

If a parent borrower is unable to secure a PLUS loan, the undergraduate dependent student may be eligible for additional unsubsidized loans to help pay for his or her education. The parent must submit a statement confirming they will not pursue a co-signer.

How will I receive my loan?

The school will first apply your loan funds to your school account to pay for tuition, fees, room and board, and other school charges. If any additional loan funds remain, they will be returned to you. All loan funds must be used for your education expenses.

What additional steps must I take to receive my loan?

If your financial aid package includes federal student loans, your school will tell you how to accept the loan.

If it is your first time receiving a Direct Loan, you will be required to

  • Complete entrance counseling, a tool to ensure you understand your obligation to repay the loan; and
  • Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN), agreeing to the terms of the loan.

Contact the financial aid office at the school you are planning to attend for details regarding the process for receiving a loan at your school.

Entrance counseling and EMPN should be completed at studentaid.gov/manage-loans.

How do I pay back my loan?

When you receive your Direct PLUS Loan, you will be contacted by your loan servicer. Your loan servicer will provide regular updates on the status of your Direct PLUS Loan and will provide you with information on how and when to repay your loan.

When do I begin repaying my loan?

Your Direct PLUS Loan enters repayment once your loan is fully disbursed (paid out).

However, if you are a graduate or professional student, your loan will be placed into deferment while you are enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

If you are a parent borrower, you may contact your loan servicer to request a deferment:

  • while you or your child are enrolled at least half-time and
  • for an additional six months after your child ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.

If your loan is deferred, interest will accrue on the loan during the deferment. You may choose to pay the accrued interest or allow the interest to capitalize when the deferment period ends. Your loan servicer will notify you when your first payment is due.

As a parent borrower, can I transfer my loan to my child?

No, a Direct PLUS Loan made to a parent cannot be transferred to the child. You, the parent, are responsible for repaying the loan.

What is the current interest rate?

The interest rate for Direct PLUS Loans varies each year.

Other than interest, is there a charge for this loan?

Yes, there is a loan origination fee on all Direct PLUS Loans. The fee will be proportionately deducted from each loan disbursement.


TAX & VERIFICATION

How do I get a copy of my tax return transcript?

  • Request one electronically on the IRS website at www.irs.gov OR
  • Call the IRS at 1-800-908-9946 and follow the prompts OR
  • File Form 4506T or 4506T-EZ.

What if I file an extension of time to file my taxes?

You must turn in a copy of your IRS Form 4868 Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, or if you have requested a further extension, a copy of the IRS's approval of that. You must also provide copies of all your W2 forms, or if you are self-employed, a signed statement with the amount of your AGI. Once all documents have been received we will process your verification and award your financial aid.

What if I file an amended tax return?

If you have filed or will file an amended tax return you will need to provide a signed copy of both the original tax return as well as the amended return (IRS Form 1040X) filed with the IRS.

Are work-study earnings taxable?

The money you earn from Federal Work-Study is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than half-time).

What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows students and parents to access their Federal Tax Return information needed to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students and parents may transfer the data directly onto their FAFSA. If eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, we highly recommend using the tool for several reasons:

  • It's the easiest way to provide tax information
  • You don't have to manually fill in Federal Tax Return data on your FAFSA.
  • It's the best way of ensuring your FAFSA has accurate tax information.
  • It streamlines the verification process: For student applicants and parents who are selected for verification, retrieval of your Federal Tax Return information to update the FAFSA application is the most efficient and fastest way to provide tax information.

If you did not or cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer tax information to your FAFSA, you will need to obtain an official Federal Income Tax Transcript from the IRS and submit it to our office. If you are a dependent student, we will also need a copy of your parents Federal Income Tax Transcripts. Please visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov or contact the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-908-9946 to obtain Federal Income Tax Transcript(s).

Who can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

Applicants who are completing an initial FAFSA, completing a renewal FAFSA or making corrections to their initial FAFSA and meet all of the following criteria:

  • Must have valid Social Security Number(s).
  • Must have filed a current year Federal Income Tax Return electronically two weeks prior to filing out the FAFSA or 4-6 weeks if Federal Income Tax Returns were mailed, prior to filling out the FAFSA.
  • Must have an unchanged marital status as of December 31, of the previous year.
  • Must have a valid Federal Student Aid Personal Identification Number (PIN) when completing the FAFSA

What happens if I haven’t filed my taxes yet?

Even if you have not completed your Federal Tax Returns, you should complete your FAFSA using tax estimates. Once your Federal Income Tax Returns are filed, you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to update the FAFSA. You can log back onto your FAFSA using your FSA ID assigned to you during FAFSA completion. Students will use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for the Student Financial Information section and parents of dependent students will use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for the Parent Financial Information section.

If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval tool a tax return transcript will be required.

The Financial Aid Office will ONLY accept copies of official Federal Income Tax Transcripts for verification purposes or tax data transferred via the IRS Data Retrieval Tool available when completing the FAFSA. ODU will not accept paper copies of Federal Tax returns, with exceptions: 1) amended returns and 2) identify theft.

What is the difference between a tax return transcript and a tax return?

  • A tax return is the original document (1040) including schedules and additional supporting forms you or your tax preparer file with the IRS.
  • A tax return transcript is a line-by-line item listing of your tax return as it was originally filed with the IRS. Any schedules or additional forms filed will also be included in the transcript. The tax return transcript can only be obtained directly from the IRS and is used to verify the information submitted on your FAFSA.

What is Verification?

Verification is a process to confirm that the information you provide on your FAFSA is accurate. Students are selected at random by system edits at the U.S. Department of Education or the university. This process occurs before or after a student is awarded financial aid. If you are selected for verification, the university will request certain documents from you to verify the information you report on your FAFSA. Submitting the requested documents in a timely manner helps to expedite the verification process.

Verification may take up to 4 weeks to process during peak season.

How can I avoid delays in verification processing?

  • Submit all documents promptly by June 1 via the document upload link
    • Ensure your name and University Identification Number (UIN) is on each page of submitted documents
    • Ensure all documents contain requested signatures
    • Check your ODU email regularly for important correspondence

Will I still get my financial aid if I have been selected for verification?

Your financial aid will not disburse until we receive the requested information and any necessary changes have been processed.


UNDOCUMENTED & DACA STUDENTS

As an undocumented or DACA student am I eligible to receive federal student aid?

No, undocumented and DACA students are ineligible for federal aid.

Undocumented and DACA students may be eligible for state financial aid. Virginians who are nonimmigrants, undocumented, have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status or are otherwise ineligible to file the FAFSA and want to be considered for state financial aid should file the VASA application. For requirements and more information go to www.VASAapp.org

Note: Students must meet domicile or Tuition Equity Provision requirements.

Undocumented and DACA students may qualify for other types of financial aid including private loans, private scholarships, or departmental scholarships, depending on the student's major and criteria for each scholarship.

Does the State of Virginia offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented & or DACA students?

As of July 1, 2020, Virginia became one of 17 states that offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented and DACA students who meet Virginia residency standards to ease the financial burden of attending college.

What are the requirements for undocumented & DACA students to qualify for Virginia in-state tuition rates?

For undocumented and DACA students to be considered for in-state tuition, the State of Virginia requires a student to provide proof of filed taxes. Secondly, the student must have attended high school in Virginia for at least two years or been homeschooled in the state or passed a high school equivalency exam prior to enrolling in a Virginia college.

Undocumented and DACA students are encouraged to complete the residency/domicile form for consideration to receive in-state tuition rates. More information on the process can be found on the Registrar's website.