How To Apply for Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Questions About the Application Process

You may review your financial aid status online anytime on your Student Center, accessible via Buckeye Link. Please contact the Student Service Center if you have any questions.

  1. How do I apply for financial aid?
  2. Do I have to include parent information on the FAFSA, or can I be considered "independent"?
  3. Is my Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) on record?
  4. What if I need to correct information on my FAFSA?
  5. What if I need more money than I was awarded?
  6. Do I need to sign a promissory note?
  7. What is the status of my PLUS Loan?
  8. Is my Consortium Agreement on file?
  9. Where is my State of Ohio Grant (OIG or OCOG)?
  10. Has my private loan been processed?
  11. Has my University Loan been approved?
  12. What if I'm studying abroad?

1) How do I apply for financial aid?

With the exception of scholarships that are based solely on merit, you must submit a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the U.S. Department of Education every year you wish to be considered for financial assistance. Deadlines and other details are available at sfa.osu.edu/HowToApply. Please note that you are not required to file your taxes prior to completing your FAFSA--you may report your and your parents' income information based on estimates. Do not leave income fields blank, as doing so will result in an inaccurate financial aid award and your file may be subject to verification or changes.

You may also want to fill out the Application for Special Scholarships by the deadline to be considered for Special-Eligibility Scholarships and Cooperative Housing.

To learn more about scholarships in general, please visit our web site at sfa.osu.edu/Scholarships. This includes information on the Morrill Scholars Program and other scholarships and grants from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). You may also call ODI at (614) 292-0965 if you have questions.

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2) Do I have to include parent information on the FAFSA, or can I be considered "independent"?

The guidelines to determine dependency status are listed in step 3 on the FAFSA. If you can answer "yes" to at least one of the questions listed, you will be considered an independent student by the U.S. Department of Education and therefore do not need to include parent information on the FAFSA (exception: Health Profession students who want to be considered for Health Professions Student Loans must include parent information on the FAFSA). If your parent is remarried and you are a "dependent" student as defined by the federal processor, you will also need to provide your step-parent's information and income on the FAFSA.

You may file an appeal with our office if you have extenuating circumstances such as abuse or abandonment, or if both parents are incarcerated. Please be sure to attach supporting documentation such as police reports, psychiatric or counseling reports, death certificates, etc. in order to have your appeal reviewed. Please visit http://www.sfa.osu.edu/forms/appeal1415/SpecialCircum.pdf for a copy of the required appeal form.

The Student Financial Aid will not be able to approve dependency appeals for the following circumstances:

  • you live on your own and pay all of your own bills
  • your parent(s) do not claim you on their tax returns
  • your parent(s) refuse to give information on FAFSA or verification documents
  • your parent(s) do not financially support you

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3) Is my Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on record?

Approximately 4-6 weeks after you have submitted a FAFSA, either by mail or online, you can check your financial aid status at your Student Service Center, accessible via Buckeye Link, to see whether your FAFSA is on file with Ohio State. Although we are able to download FAFSA's that have no signature, no aid can be awarded until you and/or your parent has signed the FAFSA electronically. We will send you a notification detailing the steps you must take to sign your FAFSA. You may check with the U.S. Department of Education at (800) 433-3243 for trouble-shooting if your FAFSA is not sent to Ohio State.

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4) What if I need to correct information on my FAFSA?

Student and parent should make corrections online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The Student Financial Aid Office (SFAO) will review the corrections and make the necessary updates. Please be aware in certain circumstances additional information may be requested to verify the changes.

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5) What if I need more money than I was awarded?

If there is no change in your family's financial situation, and you have been awarded the maximum financial aid (loans included) for which you are eligible, you may wish to consider employment opportunities on or off campus. We encourage you to apply to the departments on campus that interest you, as some may hire students without a Federal Work-Study award. Our office also lists both on-campus and off-campus job opportunities on our online Student Employment Job Board. Another good place to check is the classified advertising section of The Lantern.

You may also consider applying for university-administered loans. A Long-Term University Loan can be used to help cover educational expenses. A Short-Term University Loan can help you with a temporary cash-flow problem or unexpected financial difficulties. Documentation of circumstances warrenting these loans may be required.

You may also consider borrowing through private loan programs if you have not been awarded up to your budget. These loans are non-need-based, and are designed for students whose own resources and those of their parents, guardians, or spouses are not sufficient to finance their educational costs. For more information, please visit our Private Loan page.

It may also help to re-evaluate your personal budget using the budget worksheet accessible from the Award Guide and for your family to adjust its financial priorities.

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6) Do I need to sign a promissory note?

Generally, if you have a valid Master Promissory Note (MPN) on file with the federal government, you are no longer required to sign a promissory note every year at Ohio State for a Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan. However, you will still need to accept your loans on your Student Center, accessible via Buckeye Link, before funds can be disbursed. You may accept the full awarded amount, accept less, or decline each loan.

If you are a first-time Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan borrower, an electronic MPN and an online entrance counseling session are required.

If you are new to Ohio State and have borrowed Federal Direct or Federal Family Education (FFEL) Loans previously from other institutions, please check the To Do list on the financial aid page on your Student Center, accessible via Buckeye Link, to see whether a MPN is still required.

For the Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS Loan), if the same parent applicant borrowed a PLUS Loan (not using an endorser) in 2004-2005 or later through Ohio State, the promissory note should be a “master note” and the borrower does not need to sign a new note for subsequent school years. Otherwise, the PLUS Loan MPN can be signed at studentloans.gov. We import data regularly from the servicer to ensure prompt delivery of your aid. If you encounter any technical difficulties, please contact our office.

If you have been awarded a Perkins Loan, a Health Professions Student Loan, or a Nursing Student Loan, you will sign your promissory note online at the Office of the Bursar's website. For University Loans, please check with the Office of the University Bursar for the status of your promissory note(s).

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7) What is the status of my PLUS Loan?

The FAFSA is required for a PLUS Loan. Your initial award will not include a PLUS Loan; instead, you will see your PLUS Loan eligibility online with your financial aid award.

If your parents wish to be considered for this loan to help with your educational expenses, they should complete the PLUS application and return it to The Student Financial Aid in order to initiate a mandatory credit check conducted by the federal processor. Processing time generally takes 2-4 weeks upon receipt of the PLUS application. See #6 in this FAQ section for information on PLUS Loan promissory notes. The disbursement of funds is contingent on both the credit approval given by the federal processor AND a valid PLUS Loan MPN on record. You can monitor your application progress on your Student Center, accessible via Buckeye Link. It is important that the same parent who completes the PLUS application is the same one signing the MPN.

As with the FAFSA, the PLUS application needs to be re-submitted every year if your parent wishes to continue receiving the loan. This is also true of subsequent PLUS Loans within the same school year. Because credit checks are involved, whenever there is a request for an additional PLUS amount under the same parent's name or by a different borrower (other parent or a step-parent), a separate PLUS application is required and the same processing applies.

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8) Is my Consortium Agreement on file?

Once your completed Consortium Agreement form has been received in our office, it will generally be processed within two weeks. The receipt deadline is the first Friday of the semester. Please allow sufficient time for your academic advisor at Ohio State and the host institution to complete their sections. The agreement will not be processed if it is incomplete. For specific information regarding how and when Consortium Agreements may be used please read the appropriate section of the Forms page.

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9) Where is my State of Ohio Grant (OCOG)?

The Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) is awarded through The Ohio Board of Regents (OBR). Our office will be notified of your eligibility by OBR and will post the grant to your account, at which point you will be able to view it on your Student Center, accessible via Buckeye Link. Please check the OBR web site at http://regents.ohio.gov/sgs/index.php as well as our State of Ohio Grant Programs page for more information about the state grant programs.

At this time, the university has no information about the OCOG program for the 2014-2015 award year. We will post updated information on our Grants page as it becomes available.

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10) Has my private loan been processed?

We strongly recommend that you apply for private loans electronically as it greatly reduces processing time. Our office can usually certify your eligibility within 5-10 business days. A paper application may take 6 to 8 weeks to process. You may check your private loan certification status on your Student Center, accessible via Buckeye Link. Please see the Private Loan page for more information.

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11) Has my University Loan been approved?

The promissory notes for Long-Term and Short-Term University Loans are signed electronically. Please refer to the Rights and Responsibilities on the application. You may check your Student Center, accessible via Buckeye Link, after you submit your application to see if your loan has been approved. If your loan is not listed on your financial aid Award Summary tab within two business days after you submit the application, you may contact the Student Service Center to see why the loan was not approved. (Note: If you apply for a Long-Term University Loan, the application needs to be signed by a Student Services Specialist in the Student Service Center before it will be considered).

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12) What if I am studying abroad?

You should contact the Student Service Center to speak with a Student Services Specialist approximately two months before your study abroad program starts for autumn and spring terms, and mid-May for summer study abroad. With a budget sheet you obtain from the Office of International Affairs (OIA), we can discuss possible additional funding (usually through loans or adjustments in loan distribution) if your budget is increased. Please do not wait until 1 or 2 weeks before you leave for your destination to make an appointment, as we may not be able to guarantee processing of your aid in time for your departure.