Admissions & Aid

Frequently Asked Questions

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 1-800-321-2562.

  • Q. I was selected for verification. Why?

    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. Find more information about next steps after selection.

  • Q. How is my award letter different from my student bill?

    The Financial Aid Office sends you an award letter listing all the aid you are eligible to receive. Most financial aid gets applied directly to the charges listed on your bill. Note that some types of aid require additional steps before they can be applied to your bill. The Financial Services Office sends you a student bill that shows the amount you owe the college. You are responsible for paying the difference between the charges and your financial aid. For details about your student bill, contact the Financial Services Office.

  • Q. My award letter lists work-study; what does that mean?

    Work-study is just like getting a regular job, except that the employer is reimbursed for a part of your earnings. The work-study award does not get applied directly to the student account; it must be earned. Students participating in the work-study program get paid through the employee payroll process. Students may use their earnings to pay part of their Alma bill or for other school-related expenses.

  • Q. How do you get a federal student loan?

    Alma College includes student federal loan eligibility as part of the financial aid award package. Students must complete a FAFSA each year to be considered for federal student loans.

  • Q. When do I apply for financial aid?

    Students must apply for financial aid every year. The FAFSA should be completed as quickly as possible after January 1 each year. The best time to apply is between January 1 and March 1.  Financial aid awards are based on a combination of funds available and financial need.

  • Q. My parents don’t want to borrow a PLUS Loan. Are there other types of loans available for students?

    If your parents are willing to co-sign a loan for you, there are alternative loans that may be borrowed by the student through private lenders.

  • Q. How does the Special Circumstance Appeal Request work?

    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 Financial Aid 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 submitted 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?

    If your parent loses their 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 our Special Circumstance Appeal page for more information about requesting a reevaluation of your aid eligibility based on your change in circumstances.

  • Q. Is work-study income taxable?

    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 Financial Services Office.

  • Q. Do I have to report any grants, scholarships or fellowships to the IRS as income?

    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 used 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, 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. Students must also report this amount on the 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. My FAFSA was selected for verification. What is it and what do I need to do?

    Verification is a process of review that determines the accuracy of the information submitted by the student and family on the FAFSA. If you are selected for verification, you will receive a request for documentation. This request may include W-2 forms, parent and student tax transcripts and other records as required. Complete all forms and return them to the financial aid office with the requested documentation. Please see the Financial Aid Office verification page for more information. 

  • Q. How are outside scholarships disbursed?

    Donors may specify the semester(s) in which the scholarship is paid. If the donor letter does not specify an allotted semester, Alma College will apply the scholarship equally between fall and winter semesters. 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.

  • Q. Do I need to tell you about a scholarship that I am receiving from my high school or an organization in the community?

    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.

  • Q. How will outside scholarships affect my financial aid award package?

    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 any work-study award. If an over award situation continues to persist, we will then reduce need-based gift aid and then loans.

  • Q. If my parents are separated or divorced, do they both have to contribute to my education?

    When completing the FAFSA, financial information for the custodial parent (parent you live with) and current spouse must be reported. The non-custodial parent (parent you don’t live with) is not required to report information. If the student is receiving money from the non-custodial parent for educational expenses, the student must also report that amount on the FAFSA.

  • Q. What is the difference between the Financial Services Office and the Financial Aid Office?

    These two offices are separate from one another administratively. The Financial Aid Office awards scholarships, grants, loans and work-study. The Financial Services Office sends bills, collects payments for college charges and sends refund checks. Financial aid is disbursed to student accounts to help meet college charges.

  • Q. How did Alma College determine how much money my family can contribute each year?

    When students complete the 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. What happens if I decline all or part of my aid package and my circumstances change?

    If you request financial aid 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 policies of the various aid programs.

  • Q. Can students enrolled in a dual-degree program or have a double major get financial aid?

    Students are eligible for federal aid under these circumstances as long as they meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.

  • Q. I’m returning to complete a second undergraduate degree. What aid is available to me?

    Undergraduate students who have received one bachelor’s degree and are pursuing a second degree in another program may only be eligible for loans. However, a student enrolled in an approved dual-degree program may qualify for aid.

  • Q. Can I receive financial aid from more than one school at the same time?

    No. If you are enrolled at more than one college or university at the same time, you may receive financial aid from one of the institutions but not both. Contact the Financial Aid Office for more information. 

  • Q. How do I become an independent student for federal aid purposes?

    Please review the Status Determination Form on our verification page.

  • Q. What other sources of aid are available?

    There are many local, state and national organizations that grant scholarship funds. There are many free scholarship search services available on the internet. A helpful website is Financial Aid Information. Information about scholarships is also available at Alma’s outside scholarships webpage. 

  • Q. Do I have to accept the loans if I just want the scholarships and grants listed?

    No. You may reduce or reject some or all of the offered loans or work awards and still receive the offered scholarships and grants. Rejected loans and work awards may result in unmet financial need. Alma College will not replace rejected loans and work awards with additional scholarship or grant awards.

  • Q. How are loan proceeds paid to the student?

    Federal Direct Subsidized, Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Federal PLUS Loans are paid directly to student accounts in two disbursements. One disbursement is applied in the fall term, and one disbursement is applied in the winter.

  • Q. If I drop out of school for one semester, can my Alma College scholarships be renewed?

    Yes. Your scholarships are available for up to eight full-time semesters at Alma College.