FAFSA Application Questions

Who Should Apply...

Q. I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?
A. 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 the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Parent PLUS Loan that are available regardless of need. Submitting the FAFSA is free, and your information is confidential. Please note that the priority deadline for submitting your FAFSA for consideration for Ringling College Institutional Scholarships and any other financial aid is March 1 for the following fall semester. 

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How to Apply...

Q. Where can I get a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for financial aid?
A. You may apply electronically at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Make sure you are logged into the .gov site, not a .com site. There should be no charge to complete the FAFSA. It is a free application. 

Q. Where can I get information about Federal student financial aid?
A. 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 its staff can answer questions about federal student aid programs and applications. 

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When to Apply...

Q. How soon after January 1 should the FAFSA be completed? Is it better to wait until the income tax forms have been completed?
A. Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1. You do not need to wait until your taxes are filed. Although it is better to file your taxes early, it is fine to use estimates of your income. You will have an opportunity to make any necessary corrections later. If you wait too long, you might miss the priority deadline of March 1 for filing your FAFSA for consideration for federal, state or institutional aid.

Q. What's the time limit on applying for financial aid?
A. You can apply for aid throughout the year, but our priority deadline is March 1, the date we begin our awarding process. 

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Who Completes the FAFSA...

Q. I'm under 24 years of age, but have been living on my own and my parents don't claim me on their taxes. Do I still need to provide their information on the FAFSA?
A. Yes. For the purposes of financial aid, dependency status is determined by a series of questions on the FAFSA. If you answer "no" to all of them, then you're considered dependent and your parents must answer their portion of the application.

Q. I have never lived with my parents. My relatives (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) have cared for me most of my life; however, they have never adopted me. Can I use my relative's financial information on the FAFSA application?
 No. You must use your parent's information to the extent possible. If this is not achievable, contact the financial aid office for assistance.

Q. My parents are separated or divorced. How do I file the FAFSA?
A. If your parents are separated or divorced, the custodial parent is responsible for filling out the FAFSA application. The custodial parent is the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months, from the FAFSA application date, not the previous calendar year. Note, this is not necessarily the same as the parent who has legal custody. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, the parent who provided you with the most financial support during the past twelve months should fill out the FAFSA. This is probably the parent who claimed you as a dependent on their tax return. If you have not received any support from either parent during the past 12 months, use the most recent calendar year for which you received some support from a parent. Please note, however, that any child support and/or alimony received from the non-custodial parent must be included on the FAFSA.

Q. My parents are divorced, and the parent I'm living with has remarried. Does my stepparent have to report his or her income and assets on the FAFSA?
A. Yes, provided that the parent you're living with is the one filling out the FAFSA (your custodial parent). If your parent is remarried when you complete the FAFSA, his/her spouse's income and assets must be reported on the FAFSA even if they weren't married in the previous year.

Q. My parents are not married, but are living together. How do I file the FAFSA?
A. The information and income for both parents should be reported on the FAFSA.  There is a marital status option of “Unmarried and both parents living together.”

Q. I have the same-sex parents who live together. How do I file a FAFSA?
If your parents were married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages, then their marital status would be reported as “married” and both of their information should be reported on the FAFSA as Parent 1 and Parent 2.  If your parents have not been married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, you would report their marital status as “Unmarried and both parents living together” and both of their information should be reported on the FAFSA as Parent 1 and Parent 2.  

Q. My custodial parent remarried and signed a prenuptial agreement that absolves the stepparent from financial responsibility for my education. Why does my stepparent have to provide financial information on the FAFSA?
A. Prenuptial agreements are ignored by the federal need analysis process. After all, two individuals (parent and stepparent) cannot make an agreement between themselves that is binding on a third party (the federal government). The federal government considers the stepparent as a source of support regardless of any prenuptial agreements to the contrary. If a stepparent marries the parent, he or she is considered responsible for supporting the parent and children even if he or she is unwilling to do so.


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Dependency Status...

Q. How is dependency status determined on the FAFSA?
A. The FAFSA application poses a list of questions to determine whether you are dependent for financial aid purposes. If you answer "no" to all the questions, you are dependent. The questions address your age, marital status, degree level, whether you have dependent children, and military veteran status.

Q. I am under 24 years of age, recently divorced, and have no children. Can I still file as an independent student and only use my financial information?
A. No. You must satisfy the questions listed on the FAFSA application to be considered independent. If you answer "no" to all questions, you will revert back to a dependent status and will be required to include your parental information.

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Financial "Need"...

Q. How is my EFC determined?
A. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) determines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC determines your eligibility for need-based aid. Items that will affect need-based aid eligibility from year-to-year include: dramatic changes to income and/or assets, changes to the number of family members in college, changes to the number of family members residing in the household, etc. All of these factors play a role in determining the EFC.

Q. What determines financial need?
A. Financial need is calculated by determining the Cost of Attendance (COA), which includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, personal allowance, etc., and subtracting your EFC, (based on federal and institutional formulas). The difference determines the amount of your financial need and your eligibility for need-based aid. 

Q. What determines the aid I will receive?
A. Two factors: the EFC and the COA. The difference between the two determines your financial need and eligibility for need-based aid such as the Pell Grant, Subsidized Direct Loans, Federal Work Study, most Ringling College institutional programs and some state programs. The combination of all federal, state, and institutional aid plus outside resources (scholarships, etc) cannot exceed the COA set by Ringling College.

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Unique Circumstances...

Q. What if I have unusual family circumstances?
A. We recognize that the need analysis process does not always consider every family situation. If your family has experienced an unusual change in financial circumstances not considered on the FAFSA, you may wish to request consideration. To do this you should submit the request, in writing, and describe in detail the factors which are impacting your ability to contribute toward the cost of attendance. We will make every effort to incorporate these circumstances into the need analysis calculation. A review may only be conducted for circumstances that can be documented.

Q. I have (or my parents have) changed marital status since I filed the FAFSA, should I refile?
A. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for assistance with this change in circumstance.

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Signing the FAFSA...

Q. How do I get my PIN?
A. If you wish to sign your FAFSA electronically, you will need to apply for a PIN number. If you cannot locate your PIN or have not received one, you can apply at www.pin.ed.gov. This applies for both you and your parent.

Q. Can I sign on paper?
A. Yes. During the FAFSA online application process, you will be asked how you wish to sign. We strongly recommend that you sign electronically to assist in expediting the process. If you choose not to use a PIN, you may print the signature page at the end of the process and mail it to the address listed on that page. Paper signatures may take weeks to process and will delay the processing of your FAFSA. 

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What is Verification...

Q. I have been selected for verification and I do not understand what that means.
A. Basically, verification is an audit of the financial aid application information. Many student files are selected by the Federal Processor in the process of applying for aid. Some files are randomly selected while others are selected because of appearing to be error prone. If the student's file is selected, requested documentation should be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid at Ringling College immediately because of specified deadline date requirements. We normally ask that the documents be provided within two weeks of being selected for verification.

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Documents needed...

Q. What documents are required to fulfill the verification requirements?
A. You will be required to complete a verification worksheet. You can download a copy of this worksheet from the Printable Forms section on this website. If you are required to include your parental information on your FAFSA, then complete the dependent worksheet. If you are not required to provide parental information, then complete the independent worksheet. Contact the Office of Financial Aid to determine what additional tax documentation you will be required to submit with the verification worksheet. 

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Consequences of not complying...

Q. What happens if I do not provide the requested verification documents?
A. If the required documentation is not provided to the Office of Financial Aid before the necessary deadline, Ringling College will not be able to apply any need-based financial aid to your account.

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Notification of Financial Aid Package

How is notification provided...

Q. How will I be notified of important financial aid information?
A. Please note that the Office of Financial Aid will use electronic means to communicate with you. It is your responsibility to keep your Ringling e-mail address current and to read messages that are sent to your email. It also is important that you keep your mailing address and phone number current with Ringling College's Records and Registration Office as we communicate through traditional means as well.

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When is notification provided...

Q. When will I receive a Financial Aid Notification Letter?
A. Only those students who have filed a FAFSA will receive a Financial Aid Notification Letter. For new students who have been accepted, notification letters will be mailed during the months of March and April. Returning students' awards will be evaluated in May after grades are finalized. Notification letters will be emailed shortly after.

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Accepting the awards...

Q. What must I do to accept my awards?
A. We will assume that you wish to accept all awards unless you notify us to let us know which financial aid programs you do not wish to accept.

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Canceling the awards...

Q. What must I do to cancel all or any portion of my financial aid?
A. Please notify us in writing, preferably by email at finaid@ringling.edu. List which program or programs in which you do not wish to participate.

Q. May I cancel my loans at any time, even if I signed a promissory note?
A. Yes. We can cancel your request for a loan at any time up to and including receipt of the funds at the College.

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The amount of financial aid offered is less than the bill...

Q. What if my financial aid (grants, scholarships, and federal loans) doesn't cover my bill?
A. There are two options: 1) You can enroll in the Tuition Pay Monthly Plan administered by Higher One and make interest-free, monthly payments; or 2) You can take out a private student loan. See Alternative Loan Electronic Listing.

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How to Apply...

Q. How do I apply for a Federal Direct Student Loan?
A. To apply for a Federal Direct Student Loan, first complete the FAFSA. Then, log in to www.studentloans.gov with your FAFSA PIN. To qualify, you need to complete the Entrance Counseling and sign a Master Promissory Note.

Q. How do my parents apply for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan?
A. To apply for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, first complete the FAFSA. Either one of your parents or stepparents can apply for a PLUS loan, if you are considered a dependent student on your FAFSA. Your parent can apply at www.studentloans.gov. To qualify, your parent would complete the Parent PLUS Request Process and sign a Master Promissory Note. 

Q. What if my parents apply for a PLUS Loan but are denied? Your parents have two options: They can appeal the decision by contacting Applicant Services with the Department of Education at 1-800-557-7394. Or, they can seek an endorser for the PLUS loan. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for assistance with these options. If your parents choose not to pursue the PLUS loan after being denied, then we can award you an additional amount in a Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan. For first and second year students, the additional amount is $4,000; for third and fourth year students, the amount is $5,000.

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Q. Can I use my own lender for a loan?
A. Students are entitled to choose any lender they wish to use for alternative student loans, even lenders not on our website. 

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Entrance Counseling...

Q. What is an entrance counseling session and where do I complete it?
A. It is a federally required on-line counseling session which informs you of your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower. You can access it online at www.studentloans.gov

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Increasing Loan Amounts...

Q. The Federal Direct Student Loans are not enough to cover my expenses. Can I increase the amount?
A. No. The maximum amount you can borrow each year in Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans depends on your grade level and whether you are a dependent student or an independent student. We can decrease, but not increase the loan amount. The maximum amounts are set by the federal government. 

Q. Can I increase the PLUS loan?
A. Yes. Your parent can increase the PLUS loan to accommodate your full need but cannot exceed the difference between the Cost of Attendance and your financial aid. Endorsed loans cannot be increased above the endorsed amount. 

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Use of Loans Funds...

Q. What can I spend my loan money on?
A. Federal Direct Student, Parent PLUS and private educational loans can be used for tuition, books, supplies, housing, food and any other educationally related costs.

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Florida Programs

Florida Resident Access Grant...

Q. What is the Florida Resident Access Grant, and how do I apply for it?
A. The Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) is a program offered to Florida residents (residency as defined for tuition purposes in Florida statute) who attend full-time at a private college or university. To apply,  complete the FAFSA and the Florida Residency Statement found on this website at Printable Forms. Choose either the dependent or independent form depending on your FAFSA filing status. The amount will be determined by the state after July 1st of the award year.

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Bright Futures...

Q. I graduated from a Florida high school and have Bright Futures. Can I use it at Ringling College?
A. Yes, but the amount you will be credited will be calculated at a per credit hour rate, not a percentage. The credit hour rate is based on the average cost of tuition at a state university or college. The amount will be determined by the state after July 1st prior to the award year. The College accepts Florida Academic Scholars and Florida Medallion Scholars. The College does not accept Gold Seal Vocational Scholars, which is reserved for a technical or certificate program. 

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Florida Pre-Paid...

Q. Do you accept the Florida PrePaid Program?
A. Even though Ringling College is a private institution, we will accept Florida PrePaid at a rate calculated according to the Florida statute. The amount is determined by the state after July 1st prior to the award year. That amount is equal to the average rates payable to Florida state universities and colleges in Florida under your beneficiary’s plan. To use the PrePaid plan at Ringling College, a Transfer Form must be completed. Visit www.myfloridaprepaid.com or call 1-800-552-GRAD (4723) for a transfer form.

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How to apply...

Q. How do I apply for Institutional Scholarships and Grants?
A. The only application Ringling College requires is the FAFSA. Please be advised that the College must receive a completed FAFSA by the priority deadline of March 1st to be considered for scholarship renewal as well as receipt of any new scholarships and grants. During the evaluation process, we will consider students for all eligible programs. However, please be aware that scholarship and grant dollars are limited and we attempt to allocate the funds in the most equitable manner possible.

Q. How much money should I expect from a Ringling Scholarship or Grant, if I were to be selected?
A. The amounts vary. On average, financial aid scholarships and grants offer in the area of $3,000- $7,000 per year.

Q. What do I need to do to renew my Ringling Scholarship or Grant each year?
 A. Each year you would need to complete the FAFSA by March 1. You will also need to maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA for scholarships and a 2.0 cumulative GPA for grants. You must also meet Satisfactory Academic Progress


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Future Scholarship Opportunities...

Q. If I do not receive a scholarship upon entry to Ringling College, is it possible for me to get scholarships in other years?
A. Yes. All students who complete their FAFSA by March 1, the priority deadline, are individually analyzed for scholarships in subsequent years.

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Why No Scholarships...

Q. I don't understand why I did not receive any scholarships, my grades are excellent.
A. Although the College would like to offer a scholarship to everyone deserving of recognition, due to limited funding this is not possible. We look at a multitude of variables to make these difficult decisions.

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Resources for Scholarships...

Q. Could you offer any advice on where to go to apply for scholarships?
A. Please visit our website and review the Community and National Scholarships and Useful Links

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Outside Scholarships...

Q. I received an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?
A. Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from any sources other than the College, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office. You should provide a copy of the notification letter you received from the organization offering you the scholarship. We will then be able to apply it to your account as anticipated aid.

Q. Do you accept outside scholarships?
A. Yes. The award will be credited to your bill once we have received the funds from the grantor.

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How is money disbursed...

Q. How does my financial aid get applied to my bill?
A. All gift aid is applied to your bill first, meaning programs such as state grants, federal grants, and scholarships. Loan money is then applied as follows: Federal Direct Loans first--student, then Parent PLUS (if eligible)--then private loans.

Q. How does the loan money get to the institution?
A. For the Federal Direct Loans, monies are sent to the Ringling College Business Office by electronic funds transfer. Many private loans are also disbursed this way, or by paper check. If there is a credit balance after all of your aid has been applied to your account, you or your parents (in case of a PLUS loan) will be issued a refund check. 

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When is money disbursed...

Q. When will funds be applied to my account?
A. All financial aid (excluding Federal Work Study) is applied to your account after the drop and add period has ended. The business office will begin to process the accounts and any money that is in excess of your fees will be given to you or your parents (in case of a PLUS loan) in a refund check.

Q. When extra money comes in after my bill is paid, how long will it take for me to get a check?
A. A check will be issued within 14 days from receipt and posting of the funds.

Q. What do I do if my loan comes in as a paper check?
A. The Bursar will notify you to come to their office on the 2nd floor of the Student Center to endorse the check so they can finalize processing. It is important for you to respond promptly to their request as it will delay the processing of your refund, if you will receive one. Even if you will not receive a refund, it is imperative that you endorse your check as soon as possible as it could delay your ability to register for subsequent terms.

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Working on campus...

Q. I am very interested in working on campus, how do I apply?
A. All available positions are posted on College Central. Log in or register for your personal account on the College Central Network. To view all opportunities posted for students just click - “Search for Opportunities Posted to My School" and enter "Ringling College" in the "company name" line. TIP: Do not enter any other search criteria for the most comprehensive view of on-campus jobs search results. Apply directly to the office or department found on the job listing. Print out, complete and deliver the following application to the correct office or to the Faculty Center. Applications are also available for pick-up in the Center for Career Services. 


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Limit on hours worked...

Q. Is there a limit on the number of hours I can work on campus?
A. Yes. The College will allow you to work a maximum of 20 hours per week when classes are in session. During holidays and periods of non-enrollment, you may work up to 37.5 hours per week.

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Type of work available...

Q. What type of work will I be doing?
A. This varies depending on the job. Most jobs will include light office work, such as filing, phone work, etc. Other areas include giving tours, computer lab, library, etc.

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Enrollment Issues

Going Part-time...

Q. I only have a few classes left and do not need to attend full-time. How does going part-time affect my financial aid?
A. You must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours to receive financial aid. Part-time enrollment affects the Pell Grant, Bright Futures, FRAG and FSAG. It has a limited effect on federal or private loans. The Pell Grant and Bright Futures would be prorated. FRAG and FSAG would be eliminated as you must be enrolled full-time to receive these programs. Please visit the Office of Financial Aid to discuss your options.

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Q. What happens to my financial aid if I must withdraw from all classes or am unable to complete a semester?
A. If you must withdraw from classes, you may be required to repay a portion of your financial aid. Eligibility for financial aid is based on the costs involved with attending for an entire semester. Please read carefully the Return of Title IV Aid policy listed on our website. If you have loans, you will enter into repayment within 6 months after you withdraw unless you enroll in a degree seeking program for at least 6 credit hours. Visit the Office of Financial Aid to discuss your options before you withdraw from the College. 

Q. I need to withdraw from one of my classes and all of my aid has been applied to my bill. Do I have to repay any money?
A. If you receive Bright Futures, you may need to pay back the amount you received for that class. Otherwise, you will not owe the College. However, withdrawing from a class may have an impact on the continuation of certain programs in subsequent years. Visit the Office of Financial Aid to discuss how this might affect you before you withdraw from your class.

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Study Abroad...

Q. I want to study abroad this summer, will financial aid pay for this?
A. No. The summer is is considered a period of non-enrollment, we cannot offer any type of aid. We suggest you visit www.StudyAbroadLoans.com as perhaps a viable option for funding.

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