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. What are the federal income tax filing requirements?
For the most up-to-date information about federal income tax requirements, visit the IRS website.
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. The Financial Aid Office has asked me for an IRS tax return transcript. What is this and why do I have to provide it?
This is part of the application verification process for federal student aid. The IRS 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.
Q. How are you notified if you’ve been selected for verification?
Typically, students can expect to receive notification that they have been selected for verification 10 to 14 business days after the Financial Aid Office receives the FAFSA results from the federal processors. Then we send missing information letters to those students who have been selected for verification, requesting the documents needed. Please see the Financial Aid Office verification page for more 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. 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 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. If there is a delay in receiving my outside scholarship, what should I do?
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. Are scholarships available regardless of financial need?
Yes. Scholarships are awarded to students based on high academic achievement, or other organization involvement, 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?
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. What is the difference between a scholarship and a grant?
Both scholarships and grants are considered to be gift aid. Gift aid is free educational funds that never need 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. 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 percentage of students receive aid at Alma College?
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 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. What if I want to live off campus or don’t want the meal plan?
Financial aid is calculated on the comprehensive cost of attending Alma College, including room and board. Living off campus will result in a 25% reduction in your Alma College financial aid (up to $5,000). Removing the meal plan from the student bill will result in a 10% reduction in your Alma College financial aid. Federal and state financial aid are not affected. Review the traditional housing options for more information.
Q. How is my award letter different from my student bill?
The Financial Aid Office sends you a financial aid award letter listing any scholarships, grants, loans or work-study that you are eligible to receive. The Financial Services Office sends you a student bill that 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. You are responsible for paying any amount not covered by these awards. For details about your student bill, contact the Financial Services Office.
Q. What is my award letter?
The award letter lists the cost of attendance (COA) for 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.
Q. What types of aid can students get at Alma College?
Alma College “packages” students with a combination of the following types of awards, based on merit and/or financial need: scholarships, grants, jobs and loans.
Q. How did Alma College determine how much money my family can contribute each year?
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. 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. Am I allowed to receive financial aid from more than one institution 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.
Q. How do I apply for a Pell Grant?
When you complete the FAFSA, you are automatically considered for a Pell Grant.
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.