We hope this list of questions and answers will help you with your financial aid concerns. If you don’t see your question answered here, please contact us at 1-800-321-ALMA.
Q. I received a letter stating that I am selected for verification and that I need to submit additional documents before my aid can be processed. Why do I need to do this?
A. Because students sometimes make errors on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the federal government requires colleges to verify the information that some financial aid applicants report on their FAFSA. This process is called verification. If you are selected for verification, you will be asked to document the information you reported on your FAFSA by submitting information such as copies of tax returns, copies of IRS tax transcripts, a Verification Worksheet, and additional forms as needed. If our office does not receive the documents, we will not be able to process your financial aid application and you will not receive any aid (grants, Work-Study, or loans).
Q. What are the Federal Income Tax Filing Requirements?
A. For the most up-to-date information about Federal Income Tax requirements, click on this link.
Q. How does the Special Circumstance Appeal Request work?
A. Alma College is committed to offering our best financial assistance to you. Your eligibility for financial aid is based on the following information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
•Prior year income
• Asset information
• Household size and number of family members in college
However, we realize the income and assets reported on your FAFSA may not reflect your family’s current situation. The Student Financial Assistance Office offers you and/or your parent(s) the opportunity to report unusual financial circumstances that may affect your family’s ability to contribute to your educational costs. There is no guarantee an appeal will result in more aid or different types of aid awarded to you. The completed Special Circumstance Appeal Request must be submit with supporting documentation for full consideration. All Special Circumstance Appeals must first be verified. Please see the Financial Aid Office verification page for more information.
Q. What do I do if my parent is laid off or loses his or her job?
A. If your parent loses his or her job resulting in a loss of family income, you should contact our office immediately. The Financial Aid Office recognizes that special circumstances such as a change in employment may affect the family’s ability to pay college costs. Our ability to provide additional assistance will be determined by when you inform us of the change and provide documentation, and whether funds are available at the time you contact us. See Special Circumstance Appeal page for more information about requesting a reevaluation of your aid eligibility based on your change in circumstances.
Q. What about Work-Study Income? Is this taxable?
A. Yes. Any money received as the result of work (i.e., Work-Study employment, temporary employment on or off campus, some fellowships, etc.) is considered taxable income. You will be asked to file a withholding form (W-4) and you will receive a statement of income and taxes withheld form (W-2) each calendar year. Your taxable earnings from need-based employment must also be reported on your FAFSA. Questions regarding your withholding status should be directed to the Business Office.
Q. Do I have to report any grants, scholarships, or fellowships to the IRS as income?
A. Part or all of a grant, scholarship, or fellowship may be taxable even if you do not receive a W-2 form. If you are in a degree program, amounts you use for expenses other than tuition and course-related expenses (e.g. amounts used for room, board, and travel) are taxable. To determine this taxable amount, add up all grant, scholarship, and fellowship awards received in a calendar year, and then subtract all tuition, fees and book and supply expenses. If the remaining amount is a positive number, it must be reported as income. This amount must also be reported on your FAFSA. If you are not in a degree program, the full amount of the grant, scholarship or fellowship is taxable.
Contact the Internal Revenue Service for more detailed information.
Q. The Financial Aid Office has asked me for an IRS Tax Return Transcript. What is this and why do I have to provide it?
A. Selected Alma students and families have been asked to submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript for their financial aid application. This is part of the application verification process for federal student aid. The website www.irs.gov/Order-a-Transcript provides instructions for ordering a tax transcript (an IRS Tax Account Transcript and a copy of the tax return are not the same as a tax transcript and will not meet this requirement..) All requested supplemental documents must be received in our office via mail, email, or fax in order for you to be considered for available aid.
Q. How are you notified if you’ve been selected for verification?
A. Typically, students can expect to receive notification that they have been selected for verification within 10 to 14 business days after the Office of Student Financial Assistance receives the FAFSA results from the federal processors. Then we will send Missing Information Letters to those students who have been selected for verification requesting the documents needed. You should not submit verification materials unless you receive a request.
IMPORTANT: Please submit ALL requested forms and supporting documentation. The requested documents should be received within 45 days of notification. No processing can take place until all documentation is received. Participation in the verification process is not optional. If the student does not submit the requested documentation, the student will not be eligible to receive federal or institutional need-based financial aid and the parents of dependent student will not be eligible to receive a PLUS loan. Alma College reserves the right to collect additional information from you and/or your parents should the verification process result in questions regarding your financial aid application. Please see the Financial Aid Office verification page for more information.
Q. I was selected for verification. What does that mean?
A. Verification is a review process in which the Office of Student Financial Assistance determines the accuracy of various data elements reported by the student/parent on the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education selects a percentage of aid applicants for verification and Alma College selects additional students if conflicting information is present. Please see the Financial Aid Office verification page for more information.
Q. What other scholarships are available?
A. There are many local, state and national organizations that grant scholarship funds. A comprehensive free scholarship service is available on the Internet. The Financial Aid Information Page is accessible on the World Wide Web at: http://www.finaid.org . Students should click on FastWeb for an individualized scholarship search. Additionally, MI-Search is a state-sponsored scholarship service available on the Internet. The Michigan Department of Treasury’s Student Financial Aid web site is: www.MI-StudentAid.org . From this site, a link is provided to two national scholarship database services. Alma College does not endorse any scholarship search that charges a fee.
Q. Should I return an outside agency scholarship check as payment with my billing statement to the Alma College Business Office?
A. No. If you choose to pay your bill with an outside agency scholarship check, we suggest that you send the bill and check to the Financial Aid Office. The payment will be applied promptly.
Q. If there is a delay in receiving my outside scholarship, what should I do?
A. Please contact the Financial Aid Office. Unless you are enrolled full-time, the scholarship will not automatically pay to your account. Most outside agencies require that the student be enrolled full-time to receive the scholarship.
Q. If I drop out of school for one semester, can my Alma College scholarships be renewed?
A. Yes. Your scholarships are available for up to eight full-time semesters at Alma College.
Q. If I don’t achieve the GPA required to renew my Alma College scholarships by the end of the fall semester, will I lose my scholarships?
A. No. The grade point average for scholarships is reviewed at the end of the academic year, so you will have two semesters to meet the GPA requirement.
Q. Are scholarships available regardless of financial need?
A. Yes. Scholarships are awarded to students based on high academic achievement, athletic ability, or other talent, without consideration of need.
Q. Do I need to tell you about a scholarship that I am receiving from my high school or an organization in the community?
A. Yes. If you are receiving federal aid, we are required to include the scholarship in your package. In addition, most scholarship donors send the checks to the college and make them payable to Alma College and the student. This is done to verify that you are enrolled at Alma College. Informing us early reduces the number of corrections that must be made to your package and allows us to begin processing any loans included in your package.
Q. How are outside scholarships disbursed?
A. Non-Alma College Scholarship disbursement policy:
- Estimated scholarships, i.e., Michigan Competitive, Michigan Promise and outside agency, will not reduce the amount of tuition payable by posted deadlines.
- Donors may specify the semester(s) in which the scholarship is paid.
- If a student wants the scholarship distributed in a way that differs from what the donor requests, the student will be asked to get an authorization letter from the donor.
- If the donor letter does not specify a distribution schedule, Alma College will disburse scholarships of less than $500 all in the fall semester. Scholarships of $500 or more will be split with half in the fall and half in the spring.
- If the scholarship has been split and the donor has not given instructions, the student may request the entire award be moved to the fall semester. However, the student is then cautioned that he or she may be short of funds for the spring semester.
Q. How will outside scholarships affect my financial aid award package?
A. Federal regulations require that students who receive Federal Title IV aid not receive more financial aid than their demonstrated financial need. Your award package will be reviewed and adjusted as necessary. Alma College will first reduce your loan or work award. If an over award situation continues to persist, we will then reduce need-based gift aid. We will send you a revised financial aid Award Letter that reflects the changes in your award.
Q. What is the difference between a scholarship and a grant?
A. Both scholarships and grants are considered to be Gift Aid. Gift Aid is free educational funding that never needs to be repaid. Scholarships are awards based on the student’s achievement (academic, talent, athletic.) Grants are awards based on financial need as determined by completing the FAFSA.
Q. What percentage of students receive aid at Alma College?
A. According to the most recently reported numbers, approximately 99 percent of Alma College students receive some form of financial aid.
Q. What is the difference between the Business Office and the Financial Aid Office?
A. These two offices are separate from one another administratively. The Financial Aid Office awards scholarships, grants, loans and work-study. The Business Office sends bills, collects payments for college charges, and sends refund checks. Financial aid is disbursed to student accounts to help meet university charges.
Q. Why is there no Work-Study award listed on my student bill?
A. Work-Study awards are earned by working for eligible employers and collecting paychecks up to the amount of the award. To look for a Work-Study job, go to Student Employment Office website. Contact employers directly for interviews. Once you have a Work-Study job, it may take up to a month to receive your Work-Study funds (in the form of a paycheck). For more information, see our Work-Study & Other Jobs page and visit the Student Employment Office website.
Q. Is my Award Letter the same as my student bill?
A. No. The Financial Aid Office sends you a financial aid award letter and your financial aid award will be available on the Alma Portal. Your award letter lists any scholarships, grants, loans, or Work-Study that you are eligible to receive.
The Business Office sends you a student bill in the mail. Your bill shows the amount you owe the college. Financial aid administered by the Financial Aid Office is applied directly to the charges listed on your bill, usually during the first month of the term. You are responsible for paying any amount not covered by these awards. For details about your student bill or to reach the Business Office, click here.
Q. What do I do with my Award Letter?
A. The Award Letter lists the Cost of Attendance (COA) at Alma College. Financial need is determined by subtracting the EFC from the COA. The amount of financial aid you have been awarded by Alma College is listed on the Award Letter.
It is not necessary to return the Award Letter to Alma College if you are accepting all of the offered aid.
Q. What types of aid can students get at Alma College?
A. Alma College “packages” students with a combination of the following types of awards, based on merit and/or financial need: scholarships, grants, job and loans.
Q. How did Alma College determine how much money my family can contribute each year?
A. When students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the Federal Processor uses a system developed by Congress that determines the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is an estimate of the family’s ability to pay for post-secondary education based on this federal methodology.
Q. If I decline all or part of my aid package and my circumstances change, can I request that my aid be reinstated?
A. It depends. If you request reinstatement within the term that the aid was granted, and if you are still enrolled and your eligibility has not changed, we can typically reinstate federal Direct Stafford Loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized) and Pell Grants. Reinstatement of aid from other programs depends on the reason for your request and on whether funds are available in the various aid programs.
Q. If I have a parent who is enrolled in a college or university, can this parent be counted as a family member in college when my financial aid eligibility is calculated?
A. No. When we calculate a student’s financial need, credit is given for each sibling (not parent) enrolled at least half-time in a college program leading to an undergraduate degree. The family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is reduced accordingly to recognize the financial impact of paying for a child’s college education. Credit is not given for parents who are enrolled in college or siblings in high school who are attending college classes. If you include a parent among your family members in college, the Financial Aid Office will reduce the number, which may significantly reduce your eligibility for financial aid.
Q. What about students enrolled in a dual-degree program or who have a double major? Can they get financial aid?
A. Students are eligible for federal aid under these circumstances as long as they meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.