FAQ


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 unsubsidized Stafford and Parent PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free to file. Westminster College highly recommends that all students apply for financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be completed online by visiting the FAFSA website. Please be advised that the FAFSA application is free to file and you should never pay a fee to complete this application.

The federally sponsored Parent PLUS loan is a low interest student loan for parents of undergraduate, dependent students. With a Parent PLUS loan, families can fund the entire cost of a child's education (less other financial aid). Only a modest credit check is required that looks for the parent to not have an adverse credit history. This credit check does not look at a borrower’s credit score or Debt-to-Income ratio. However, a student whose parent is denied a PLUS loan is eligible to borrow an additional $4,000 in Unsubsidized Stafford funds.

To meet the diverse financial needs of our students and families we offer the flexibility of several different payment plans. The Westminster College Financial Aid staff is happy to meet one-on-one with any family that would like additional assistance regarding all financing options that are available. Payment plans can be combined with other payment options such as a PLUS loan for a customized payment option. All payment plans require a promissory note signed by the student on or before the first day of a given semester. Further information about the different payment plans that can help you meet additional costs can be found at Student Account Services.

If you do not apply or qualify for need-based financial aid in the first year but find your family has experienced a change in financial circumstances, you can apply for financial aid in subsequent years. Students in their third and fourth year are also encouraged to apply for financial aid if they have not done so in the past and have experienced changes in financial circumstances.

Yes. Westminster will hold an institutional scholarship while you are away. It will be available to you upon your return, provided that you do not attend another school before returning to Westminster and you remain in good academic standing. (Generally, that means full time enrollment, a cumulative Westminster GPA of a 2.0 and 70% completion rate.)

Most loans go into repayment once you have finished school. Some loans have interest only payments you need to make while you are in school. Most loans require that you are enrolled half time or more (6+ credit hours) in order to keep the loan deferred while you are in school.

The FAFSA application is required to be submitted each academic year. Completion of the FAFSA allows the financial aid office to determine your eligibility for need based financial aid. Scholarships awarded to incoming students are renewable on their own, if the student maintains in good academic standing and full-time enrollment.

Grant and Loan funds are sent to the school and will pay directly to your tuition and fees (and if you live on campus, your room and board). If your financial aid funds exceed what you owe the college, the remainder will be refunded to you.

No. The FAFSA should only be filed once. The results may be sent to up to 10 schools at one time.

Need is determined by taking the student's cost of attendance (tuition, fees, room, board, personal expenses, books, supplies, and transportation) and subtracting the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which you receive upon completion of the FAFSA. The result is your “financial need" for the academic year.

An FSA ID serves as your signature/identifier on the FAFSA and for federal student loans. Both the student and one parent will need to obtain an FSA ID. It is also how you access your personal information on the Department of Education systems. Because it serves as your signature on federal documents, it should never be shared with anyone else. You will use the same ID for financial aid from year to year. To receive an ID, visit fsaid.ed.gov. Be sure to use the FSA ID to sign the FAFSA application so that the application will be complete and ready for the government to process. Lack of signatures causes processing delays.

For Financial Aid purposes the Federal government considers a student to be "independent" if they meet one or more of these criteria at the time the FAFSA is submitted:

  • You were born before January 1, 1996.
  • You are currently married.
  • At the beginning of the school year, you will be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate).
  • You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
  • You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • You currently have or will have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.
  • You have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2020.
  • At any time since you turned age 13, both your parents were deceased, you were in foster care, or you were a dependent or ward of the court. If you are not sure if you were in foster care, check with your state child welfare agency.
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, you are or were an emancipated minor.
  • Someone other than your parent or stepparent has legal guardianship of you, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2018, your high school or school district homeless liaison determined you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2018, the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2018, the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determined you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

All other students are considered to be Dependent, and the parents’ information and signature will be required on the FAFSA. If you believe you have a situation that should be considered individually, please contact the Financial Aid Office to set up an appointment to speak with a counselor.

If divorce, death, loss of employment or another extenuating circumstance occurs in the family affecting the student / student’s family’s ability to contribute to the cost of education, you are strongly encouraged to contact the Westminster College Financial Aid Office to determine what options or alternatives may be available.

The total amount of financial aid from all sources cannot exceed the cost of attendance established by the college. In most cases, a private scholarship will not affect the amount of your financial aid, though it may have a direct effect upon the type and amount of student loan eligibility. If you are awarded a private scholarship, submit notification of the award to the Financial Aid Office, attaching a copy of the scholarship award notification letter. The student’s financial aid awards will then be reviewed and adjusted to include the anticipated scholarship amount and to ensure that the student is not over-awarded.

The Federal Processor selects FAFSA applications for the process of verification. If you are selected for verification the Westminster College financial aid office will ask you to provide complete and signed copies of the prior-prior year’s federal tax transcripts and the completed and signed verification worksheet for that academic year. Additional documents may also be needed. Once all of the necessary documents have been received, the financial aid office electronically transmits the confirmed information to the government.

If a student is selected for verification, it is important to respond to the request for verification documents as quickly as possible, to prevent delays in financial aid processing and to ensure optimum eligibility for limited aid sources.

No, you are not required to file taxes before submitting the FAFSA; you may complete the form using estimated tax information. However, it is important to be as accurate as possible when estimating so that the Financial Aid Office can put together the most accurate awards possible for the student. Once your taxes are filed you are expected to review your FAFSA information and make any necessary changes. Changes can be made on the FAFSA website or (if you submitted a paper FAFSA) on the paper Student Aid Report (SAR) that the federal government will send to the address listed on the FAFSA.

FAFSA uses what is called prior-prior year’s tax information. This means that you will use tax information from two years back. If there is a significant change between last year's taxes and the year before that, contact the Westminster College financial aid office.

In unusual cases a financial aid administrator may perform a dependency override. If you (the student) have unusual circumstances that deem a change in your dependency status from a dependent student to an independent student, you must submit a detailed letter (appeal) explaining the nature of your unusual circumstances and must provide documentation. Documentation can be from a third party professional (teacher, counselor, medical authority, religious leader, government agency, or court) detailing your situation. An appeal must be submitted each year until you meet the FAFSA criteria to be considered an independent student. Please note that appeals submitted without documentation will not be considered.

All information provided is treated confidentially.

Unusual circumstances may include, but are not limited to:

  • Abandonment by parents whether voluntary or involuntary
  • An abusive family environment
  • Unable to locate parents
  • Entering the United States as a refugee without parents and limited or no access to parents

Unusual circumstances do not include:

  • Parents’ refusal to contribute toward your education
  • Parents' unwillingness to provide information needed on the FAFSA or for verification
  • Claiming yourself on your taxes
  • Living on your own and paying your own expenses