3. What kind of financial assistance is available?
There are basically two kinds of financial aid. The first is what we call "merit based" financial aid. Scholarships make up this group. This type of gift aid is given to a student on the basis of skills or merit and does not have to be repaid. Family income is usually not a factor. Academic, performance, and athletic are some of the most common scholarships from schools. Also, private awards from sources outside the university are included in this category. The second kind of assistance is called "need based" financial aid. Family income, as well as other things are used to determine eligibility for this kind of assistance. Federal aid programs which includes grants (gift aid), loans (money which must be repaid) and work-study (part time jobs), make up the majority of this kind of aid.
4. What is a financial aid package?
A financial aid package is the combination of all the various kinds of financial aid for which a student qualifies. It includes assistance from federal, state, university and outside sources. A typical award includes more than one kind of financial assistance.
5. How and when do I apply for financial aid?
In order to determine your eligibility for any of the federal aid programs, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA). OBU has a priority deadline of March 1 for federal aid applicants. Please see our section "Applying For Financial Aid" for detailed application instructions. If you qualify for an Academic Scholarship, you will receive a letter notifying you of that scholarship within 2 weeks of your acceptance for admission. For other scholarships, you should contact the Admissions Office at OBU.
6. How and when will I be notified if I qualify for any financial aid?
About four weeks after you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, you will receive in the mail a document called a Student Aid Report. OBU receives the same information electronically and reviews it for accuracy. If any additional documents are needed, you will be notified. Once all documents have been received and corrections made (if necessary), we will mail an Award Letter to you listing the various financial aid awards for which you qualify. If you do not apply for federal financial aid, you will be notified of any scholarship assistance by the department or agency awarding the funds.
7. What is an "expected family contribution"?
For students filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, an eligibility formula approved by congress will be used to determine an amount a family can reasonably be expected to pay toward a child's education. It is not an amount which you will be required to pay to OBU. It is however, used to determine eligibility for certain federal aid programs.
8. What determines whether I can receive financial assistance?
If merit based scholarships are involved, the determining factor is whether you met the eligibility criteria (gpa, music skills, athletic ability, etc.) of the award. If federal aid is involved, it depends on the cost of your school and your "expected family contribution" (which is calculated from the information you submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid). To determine if you are eligible for an Academic Scholarship, to to the Scholarships link and calculate your award.
9. What is the income cutoff to be eligible for a grant?
This is a tough question because a number of things other than income (ie. household size and number of household members in college) are used in determining eligibility for a grant. Further, different grants have different formulas. Therefore, there is no official cutoff. Based on OBU applicants, however, we have found that for a family size of four with one in college, Pell Grant eligibility stops around the $50,000 AGI level. This is not to say, however, that $50,000 is a cutoff, and no family whose income exceeds $50,000 can qualify for a grant. Therefore, we encourage anyone who is interested in any kind of financial assistance to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
10. My parents make too much money. We don't qualify for anything. What options do we have?
First, be sure to look into scholarship possibilities because for most scholarships, family income is not a consideration. Please see "Other Resources" for more information. Second, you can receive a student loan no matter what your family's income is. Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid in order to apply for an unsubsidized Stafford Student Loan and/or the parent PLUS loan. Third, OBU has payment plans available to spread those payments out.
11. What payment plans are available?
A three-month payment plan or a five-month payment plan is available each semester. Cost is $50 per semester for either.
12. What if my family's financial situation changes from one year to the next?
A student's eligibility is initially based on last year's income. If changes are taking place and your family's income is decreasing due to unusual circumstances such as death,divorce or separation, loss of employment etc., contact your Student Financial Services counselor to determine how your financial aid may be affected.
13. What deadlines do I need to know about?
At OBU, our priority deadline is March 1 for federal aid applicants. Students who file for financial aid early have priority for some funds which are limited. If you are late in filing or completing your file, you limit the source of funds to Pell Grants and Stafford Loans.
14. Will my financial aid be automatically renewed each year?
Some scholarships are renewable if one continues to meet the eligibility criteria. Federal aid is not automatically renewable, but must be applied for each year. Further, the amount of federal aid may change from year to year due to changes in a family's information and availability of funds.
15. Is financial aid limited to a certain number of semesters?
Renewable OBU scholarships are limited to eight semesters of receipt. Federal aid at OBU is limited to 192 hours attempted toward a first bachelor's degree.
16. Do my grades affect my financial aid?
Yes. Some OBU scholarships have a minimum 2.0 OBU cumulative GPA with others require up to a 3.5 OBU cumulative GPA. Federal aid eligibility has a minimum 1.75 OBU cumulative GPA for 1-59 hours completed and a 2.0 minimum for 60 or more hours completed.
17. Does my enrollment status affect my financial aid?
Yes. Students must complete at least 67% of the hours attempted to remain eligible for federal aid.
18. What happens to my financial aid if I drop a class?
Expect something to happen if your enrollment status drops below full time. It could be a refund of financial aid you have received will be due and/or you will be placed on financial aid suspension for not completing 24 hours during the academic year. In a few instances, however, your financial aid may not be affected at all. If you are considering dropping below full-time, visit with your student financial services counselor to see what implications it may have on your financial aid.
19. How and when will I receive my financial aid money?
All financial aid will be credited to your student account. Of course, all the appropriate paperwork must first be completed before any funds will be released. Further, outside scholarships are not credited to your account until the university receives the funds. For a file which is completed and the award letter processed by July 31, most federal and institutional aid will be applied to your account the first week of school.
20. Can I use my financial aid to buy my books?
If you have excess financial aid, it may be used to purchase books. However, you may charge your books to your tuition account if you choose to purchase your books from the OBU bookstore.
21. What is work-study?
Work-study is a financial aid program where federal funds are used to pay student salaries at minimum wage for on campus work. Unlike a scholarship, a grant, or a loan, work-study will not be paid on your account in a lump sum. Rather, if you find a job, you will be paid directly by check every other week for the work you do.
22. How do I find a job on campus?
Anyone looking for a job should contact Student Services in the Geiger Center for a list of openings or see the current openings here. You may also personally apply anywhere on campus you would like to work.
23. How do I get a loan?
After completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and other required forms, the Student Financial Services Office will send you an award letter listing your loan eligibility. If you accept your loan and you are a first-time borrower, you will need to follow the instructions on your award letter to complete an entrance interview and promissory note for your loan.
24. What is the interest rate on student loans?
A Perkins Loan has a fixed 5% interest rate. Stafford Loans for the 2013-14 year have a fixed interest rate of 3.86%.
25. When does repayment of student loans begin?
A Perkins Loan goes into repayment nine months after you stop going to school on at least a half time basis. A Stafford Loan goes into repayment six months after you stop going to school on at least a half time basis. The minimum payment will be $50 a month, but could be more depending on your total loan debt.
26. What is the difference between a subsidized and an unsubsidized Stafford Loan?
As its name implies, a subsidized loan is one where the government pays the interest on the loan while the student is in school. An unsubsidized loan is one where the government does not pay the interest while the student is in school.
27. It's likely that I will have to take out a loan every year. What is the average loan debt for students graduating from OBU?
A little under $17,000 which would require a monthly payment of about $175 for 120 months.
28. Do scholarships from outside sources affect my financial aid?
Since scholarships from outside sources are considered part of your financial aid package, they can have an affect on federal aid.
29. How do I transfer my financial aid to another school?
Technically, financial aid does not transfer from one school to another school. Each school must determine your eligibility for financial aid. It may be exactly the same at each school or it may differ considerably. You should contact the financial aid office at the school to which you will be transferring and ask for instructions to apply for financial aid at that school. Once your decision to transfer is final, you should contact the Student Financial Services office and request that your future aid be cancelled.
30. I am independent of my parents--I don't live with them. I file my own taxes, and they are not helping me with my college expenses. Can I file for financial aid without their income being used?
Probably not. The federal aid programs are built on the premise that educating a child is a family responsibility. It is unfortunate that your parents do not support you in this effort. Your whole family stands to benefit from your education. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid gives specific criteria for determining when a student may file for federal aid without using parental income, and none of the items above are listed as factors in that determination.
31. What are some of the most common errors people make when applying for financial aid?
We frequently see the following problems:
* Not filing early enough
* Not reading the instructions
* Using the wrong student social security number
* Leaving answers blank
* Missing signatures
32. Who is my student financial services counselor?
Traci Moore - Students with last names beginning with A-G
Debbie Stephens - Students with last names beginning with H-N
Lisa Cook - Students with last names beginning with O-Z