The financial aid application process for the academic year begins Jan. 1. All students are encouraged to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after Jan. 1, designating VCU (school code 003735) to receive the results. In order to reduce problems, errors and omissions on the FAFSA, students are encouraged to apply electronically using FAFSA on the Web (available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov). Once the FAFSA is filed, the federal processor will send the student a Student Aid Report (SAR) or electronic SAR Acknowledgment, and also will electronically send the information to the VCU Office of Financial Aid if VCU was listed as a school to receive the data. If additional information is needed to complete processing of the application, the VCU Office of Financial Aid will send the student a request for additional information. Responding promptly to such requests will ensure timely processing of the application. Once the review of FAFSA data has been completed, the Office of Financial Aid will send the student a Financial Aid Notification.
Certain financial aid programs, like federal grants, federal work-study and state grants, have limited funding — this means that there are more students eligible for the programs than there are funds available to award to them. Therefore, students should file the FAFSA as early as possible and reply to requests for additional information promptly to ensure consideration for this type of funding. The VCU Office of Financial Aid recommends electronically filing the FAFSA by March 1.
Students who do not have access to the Web may apply using the paper FAFSA, available through VCU, high schools, colleges and most public libraries. Those students completing a paper application should mail it to the federal processor by Feb. 1.
Students should complete the FAFSA early so that it can be processed by the priority filing date of March 1 and may use actual or estimated income and tax data in order to meet that deadline. Once tax return(s) have been processed, the estimated information must be updated. Applicants may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer federal tax return information into the FAFSA. Students will receive their actual award letter after their FAFSA application data has been verified.
Students can and should apply for financial aid even if they missed the priority filing date because they may still qualify for the Federal Pell Grant and Federal Direct Loans; their parents may qualify for Federal Direct PLUS Loans. If students have not applied for financial aid in a timely manner, they may want to participate in the VCU Installment Payment Plan, which budgets each semester’s bill over four payments. Information about this plan can be found on the Student Accounting Department’s Web site at www.enrollment.vcu.edu/accounting/payments.html.
To ensure that information provided on the FAFSA is accurate, a student’s application may be selected for review at any time during an enrollment period, and the student will be requested to provide documentation that supports the information. By signing the FAFSA, a student (and the student’s parent or spouse, if applicable) agrees to furnish such documentation. If the documentation is not provided when requested, financial aid awards will be canceled and any funds already disbursed may need to be repaid.