Common Questions - Financial Aid
I want to use financial aid. If I apply, how much will I get?
When you submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you receive a Student Aid Report that provides you with your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC determines how much financial aid you can receive from the various programs. When your EFC is lower you are more likely to qualify for grant funds. Even if your EFC isn’t low enough to receive grants, you may still qualify to borrow from Federal loan programs. You might need to look at other loan options, too, if the Federal loans aren’t enough to cover your expenses. Once you receive your financial aid award notice you can review what is available to you.
How do I apply for financial aid?
Applying for financial aid starts with an online application called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This is done at a federal website, fafsa.gov. You’ll need to set up your logon credentials first then enter in all the information requested. Parent information is often required on the FAFSA as well. You can choose the schools you want to receive your FAFSA information. Minnesota State University, Mankato will be listed as an option, or you can enter the school code 002360. Once your FAFSA is received you will begin receiving messages from the University about your application. Sometimes additional information, forms or documents are needed before you can find out what aid is available to you, all outlined in your financial aid award notice.
The FAFSA is an annual process, so you’ll need to renew your application at fafsa.gov each year you want access to financial aid.
Can I get work-study?
Limited Federal and State funds are available to students whose Expected Family Contribution (EFC) indicates high need and who indicate an interest in work-study employment on the FAFSA. Since the funds are limited, those who file a FAFSA in the earliest weeks of the application period each year have a greater chance to receive a work-study award.
Work-study awards provide funding for a variety of part-time jobs on campus, but students without a work-study award can also apply for part-time employment with campus departments. The job search and application process are available to enrolled students on the Career Development Center’s Handshake site, at link.mnsu.edu/handshake.
How do I apply for work-study?
First you’ll need to have Federal Work-Study or State Work-Study listed on your financial aid award, and complete the E-services process to accept (or reduce) your award. This is necessary because you are telling us you want to commit your time to work at a part-time job to earn your work-study.
Then you can search for and apply for your work-study job by setting up an account on the Career Development Center’s Handshake site, link.mnsu.edu/handshake. Once you are hired you may begin working on or after the first day of the semester and you will be paid through direct deposit every two weeks for your actual time worked.
Where can I apply for scholarships?
Many University departments offer scholarships that you can apply for through the Scholarship Finder site at https://mnsu.academicworks.com/. For more information visit mankato.mnsu.edu/financial-aid-scholarships.
If I get a scholarship will that affect my other financial aid?
It might, but a scholarship is free money so it is always a good resource to receive. The University will review whether your scholarship, combined with your other financial aid awards, takes you over the limit of your financial aid budget for the year. If not, no adjustments are needed. If there is an adjustment, it is most often that a loan is reduced to allow the scholarship to fit into the financial aid budget. While it may not immediately provide you with more money, it will reduce your total loan debt in the future.
I just received a scholarship check. Can I just cash it?
Federal financial aid regulations require that students notify the University about all forms of financial assistance that they receive, including private scholarships. Scholarship checks made payable to the student must be endorsed by the student and submitted to Student Financial Services (by mail at 120 Wigley Administration Center, Mankato, MN 56001 or in person at the Campus Hub) in order to be recorded and processed as a financial aid award.
Important notes about scholarships: Unless the donor of scholarship funds indicates otherwise, the amount awarded will be distributed in two equal payments for the academic year, one-half in fall semester and one-half in spring semester. Additionally, unless the donor provided specific approval for payment at any enrollment level, scholarships require full-time enrollment (12 or more credits) in order to be processed. Scholarships are added to a student’s financial aid record when notification is provided; however, payments are not applied to student charges until the scholarship funds are received and deposited with the University.
How do I get a Federal loan?
Federal Direct Loans are available to most students who are enrolled in at least six credits and are included as part of the financial aid award package. There are two different types of Federal Direct Loans for student-borrowers, Subsidized and Unsubsidized. The Subsidized Loan is a need-based loan for which the federal government pays the interest on the loan while the student is in school and during periods of deferment, and is available only to undergraduate students.
The Unsubsidized Loan is a non-need based loan; the federal government does not pay the interest while the student is in school. It is the student’s responsibility to pay accrued interest while in school, or choose to capitalize the interest. Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students. More information on Federal Direct Loans.
Where can I find out if I need to do something yet to get a financial aid award?
Do I have to do anything when I get my financial aid award?
Many financial aid programs require additional processing steps or responses. Federal student loans, for instance, require entrance loan counseling and completion of a Master Promissory Note, because the student-borrower needs to understand and agree to repayment terms. Student with Federal or State Work-Study awards must accept the award and apply for part-time employment opportunities offered by campus departments to be hired to work and receive these funds as payroll earnings.
Students can accept, reduce and/or decline financial aid awards offered by logging in with StarID and Password at mnsu.edu/eservices and clicking on “Financial Aid” on the left-side navigation menu. Once official financial aid awards are available to view on this site, students can complete many required response and acceptance steps.
An annual Financial Aid Award Checklist is also provided on the Student Financial Services web page, mnsu.edu/campushub, for additional reference.
How much money will I need?
No two students will have the exact same expenses, so it depends on how much you pay for various items such as rent, food, books, transportation and other living expenses. The University develops annual Cost of Attendance (COA) amounts to estimate an average total cost to use as a guideline for what a student would need to live in the Mankato area and attend Minnesota State Mankato for nine months. Current COA information.
How is my Expected Family Contribution figured out? Is that how much I have to pay?
Your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, is determined by a federal formula that includes the information you reported on the FAFSA and is the amount the FAFSA formula determined you and your family have the ability to fund, whether by personal payments or through student loans. To learn more about which elements of the FAFSA go into determining your EFC.
Your EFC determines your eligibility for need-based financial aid when compared to your total Cost of Attendance, but it is not equal to the amount you need to pay the University. Your bill each semester will include the cost of your classes, textbooks if you charge any through that program, and room and board if you live in the residence halls.
Will financial aid pay for all my classes?
In general, eligibility for financial aid requires enrollment in courses that apply to a degree, certification or licensure.
Federal and state regulations allow the University to award financial aid for up to 30 remedial/developmental credits. Likewise, graduate students taking undergraduate credits may receive financial aid funds if a written statement is provided from the graduate program advisor verifying that the undergraduate credits are required to complete the graduate program of study. Courses taken toward an additional major or minor after a degree is earned usually do not qualify for most financial aid. Certain private educational loan options may be available. Audited courses do not count toward a degree and are, therefore, ineligible for financial aid funding. Credits earned by testing out of courses are also ineligible for financial aid funding. Courses repeated more than once may not be eligible for financial aid funding.
Where do I get money to buy my books?
The University has set up a special arrangement with the Maverick Shop bookstore on campus to allow eligible students to charge their textbook/supply purchases for a limited time at the start of each semester. Eligible students receive an email notification just prior to the textbook charge period, and can confirm eligibility by logging in with StarID and Password at mankato.mnsu.edu/myaid.
More information about the bookstore charge program.
How do I get my financial aid money to pay my living expenses?
Financial aid funds received on behalf of students are applied first to tuition and fees, residence hall charges and other university charges; if the amount received is in excess of the amount needed to pay the account balance in full, a payment is made to the student. This Payment to Student amount that can be found on E-services is most often called a disbursement or an overage.
The University processes financial aid disbursements/overages, student payroll earnings (which include work-study), and refunds to students through direct deposit. Students can enroll in direct deposit through the Direct Deposit Setup screen on E-services, through either the Financial Aid or Student Employment menus. Students not enrolled in the direct deposit program will receive checks mailed to their permanent address on file with the University.
Why don’t I get a Pell grant?
For the 2023-2024 school year, Federal Pell Grant funds are available to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree and whose Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is $6,656 or less. The Federal Pell Grant program requires a minimum enrollment of one credit and is prorated for enrollment below 12 credits.
Will I get a Minnesota State Grant?
The Minnesota State Grant is funded through the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (MOHE), and are available to qualified Minnesota resident students pursuing their first undergraduate degree, provided the FAFSA is received by September 20, 2023 for Fall 2023 or February 7, 2024 for Spring 2024. The Minnesota State Grant program requires a minimum enrollment of three credits and has a maximum number of allowable credits that limits eligibility to the equivalent of eight full-time semesters of enrollment.
The Minnesota State Grant program is unique because it defines full-time enrollment as 15 credits and the award amount changes at each credit level. For most types of financial aid, an adjustment of the award occurs when the student goes from full-time (12 or more credits) to ¾ time (9-11 credits), ½ time (6-8 credits) or below ½ time (1-5 credits) enrollment. However, the Minnesota State Grant amount will be adjusted if the credit level changes, which can affect a student’s account balance.
Why didn’t my Minnesota State Grant pay out at the full amount?
The full Minnesota State Grant award is available at enrollment of 15 credits per term, so the most common reason the grant pays out a lower amount is that the student enrolled in less than 15 credits. There is also a limit to how long a student can receive a Minnesota State Grant, which is no more than the equivalent of eight semesters of full-time attendance.
Is there any assistance for childcare?
The Minnesota Post-Secondary Child Care Grant program provides funding to eligible Minnesota resident students. To learn more and apply.
What is the difference between a sub loan, unsub loan, and other loan options?
Sub and unsub loans are both part of the Federal Direct Student Loan program, which means you are borrowing from the federal government. Sub is short for subsidized, which means the government covers the cost of your loan interest while you’re in school; unsub is short for unsubsidized, which means you are responsible for the cost of your loan interest while you’re in school. These loans don’t require a credit approval but you do need to complete entrance loan counseling and a master promissory note when you first begin borrowing from the Federal Direct Loan program.
When you have an amount for other loan options on your award, it means you have the ability to borrow a private educational loan from a lender of your choice or a parent (if you are a dependent student) can borrow a Federal PLUS Loan from the federal government. More information about these other loan options.
Which private loan should I choose?
That’s a tricky one to answer. The most favorable choice will depend on your individual financial situation so there is not one right decision that fits all.
If you have an amount listed on your financial aid award for Other Loan Options, you may apply for a loan in addition to the amount in Federal Direct or Parent Loans available to you. There are two primary kinds of Other Loan Options: a private educational loan the student borrows from a lender of choice, or a Federal PLUS Loan the parent of a dependent student borrows from the federal government. Both types of loans will require credit approval and the private educational loan will likely require the student to have a credit-worthy cosigner. More about Other Loan Options.
If you choose a private educational loan you can work with any lender who offers them. You can also find an online private loan comparison tool called FASTChoice at Private Educational Loans if you are interested in learning more about the lenders most commonly used by Minnesota State Mankato students and/or applying to one of them.
Can my parents take out a loan so I don’t have to?
Parents of undergraduate students with acceptable credit histories may borrow either the Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) program or a private educational loan. The maximum amount a parent can borrow is the number shown on the student’s financial aid award as Other Loan Options. The Federal PLUS Loan includes a feature that may be helpful for families who find it challenging to receive credit approval; a dependent student whose parent’s application is denied the Federal PLUS Loan may be eligible to receive additional funds from the Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan program. More about Other Loan Options.
Does my financial aid disburse to me first or the school first?
When financial aid from grants, scholarships, or loans is processed it is first applied to your bill with the University, to pay toward all eligible charges. If the total financial aid is more than the total of these charges, a payment – also called a disbursement - is made to the student. On E-services in the Bills and Payment menu, the Account Detail screen will indicate a Payment to Student amount if there is a disbursement scheduled. A disbursement is paid as a direct deposit to the student’s designated bank account if a direct deposit authorization has been set up, or as a check that is mailed to the student’s permanent address.
Work-study earnings are not automatically applied to your bill with the University, but instead are paid directly to you as you work and report hours through the payroll process every two weeks.
When will I get my financial aid disbursement?
Financial aid is typically split evenly over the two semesters of an academic year so half is paid out in Fall Semester and half in Spring Semester, provided the required application and acceptance steps have been completed.
Financial aid funds (except work-study earnings) first get applied to pay the amounts due for the student’s eligible university charges; if there is more financial aid than is needed to pay those charges a payment is made to the student for the overage. A student may still have unpaid non-eligible charges on his/her university account after the overage payment from financial aid and is responsible to pay those charges in full.
Each semester financial aid funds are processed beginning just after the first five days of the semester and then twice weekly thereafter. The first disbursements paid to students through direct deposit typically occur at the end of the second week of each semester. To find the first scheduled disbursement date for each semester, refer to the Important Dates information.
Work-study awards are not applied directly to student bills; work-study earnings are paid through the bi-weekly student payroll process. Students receive those funds directly through scheduled direct deposits after reporting hours worked at their assigned jobs.
If I register late, will I still get my financial aid?
Registering late could have an impact. Financial aid that is ready for processing is first applied based on your registration as of the fifth day of the semester. If more aid is received or if registration changes occur after this, that will be reviewed in the routine processing that continues throughout the rest of the semester. Some aid programs have deadlines so registering late could prevent you from receiving those funds. For instance if you have a Pell Grant your eligibility is based on your enrollment level as of the fifth day of the semester. If you requested a private loan and that money is received but you are not registered, those funds may need to be sent back and you would need to re-request them. While you may still be able to get financial aid for credits that are added late, it is always best to have your registration completed on or before the fifth day of the semester.
What kinds of financial aid can I get as a graduate student?
Graduate students who submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may be eligible for Federal Work-Study Graduate Assistantships, Federal Direct Loans, Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan or private educational loans. The Postsecondary Child Care Grant program is also available to eligible Minnesota residents to help with child care expenses; this requires a separate application found at Minnesota Post-Secondary Child Care Grant.
Many graduate assistantships are available as well; while these are funded by the University and are not financial aid, these positions offer both salary and tuition benefits. Departments who hire graduate assistantships post their opportunities on the Human Resources page at www.mnsu.edu/hr/vacancy/index.php?id=vacgrad.
Graduate students who are seeking a Master’s Degree that prepares them to teach as a highly qualified teacher in a high-need subject field (or work as a specific support staff) in a low-income school may be eligible for the Federal TEACH Grant. TEACH Grant information.
I am taking a class at another school this semester. Can my financial aid pay for it?
While you would still need to pay the other school directly, you may be able to receive financial aid to fund the cost of that class. Your first step is to request a financial aid consortium agreement. On the front end, the process requires an academic review to confirm the class at the other school is a satisfactory substitute for a class within your program; if the agreement is approved and you complete the class, you will also need to provide an official transcript from that school back to Minnesota State Mankato to keep your financial aid eligibility. Your academic advisor can offer guidance with this, with more details also provided at MSU Students Attending Another School.
I am studying abroad. Can I get more financial aid to help pay for my travel and other extra expenses?
Yes. A process exists for you to work with the Center for Education Abroad and Away (CEAA) and the Student Financial Services office to determine whether you qualify for an adjustment to your financial aid package based on any added education abroad and away expense. Visit the CEAA for more information.
My parent lost his/her job. Can I get any more financial aid because of this?
The extent to which your financial aid eligibility can change will depend on a number of factors. Your specific situation can be reviewed within a process called Special Circumstances to see if the data reported on your FAFSA can be adjusted by the University, and then if those changes create more financial aid eligibility for you. Your first step is to contact the Campus Hub to request an appointment with a Financial Aid Advisor. You can also find more information about this process at Special Circumstances.
How do I know what I can get for financial aid in the summer?
If you have a FAFSA for the academic year already on file, you will receive a summer financial aid award notice after you’ve registered for summer classes. Generally summer awards are determined beginning early-April. You can find more information about summer term financial aid at Summer Financial Aid Information.
Will my GPA affect my financial aid?
It can. There are Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards (SAPS) that a student is required to meet to maintain eligibility for financial aid. Undergraduate students must meet specific benchmark Grade Point Averages (GPAs) toward the minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA for 60 attempted credits and graduate students must maintain at least a 3.00 GPA.
There are other standards besides GPA that students must maintain, completion percentage and maximum timeframe. Not meeting the minimum cumulative GPA or completion percentage at the end of a semester will put a student in a financial aid SAPS warning status; if the standards are not met by the end of the next semester, financial aid eligibility will be suspended. Exceeding the number of credits allowed for maximum timeframe results in immediate suspension of financial aid eligibility.
Student Financial Services recognizes that individual students may have extenuating circumstances that may have prevented them from maintaining satisfactory progress. Therefore, there is an appeal process available. Please refer to the information at Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards (SAPS) to view the entire policy and procedures.
How much financial aid do I have to pay back if I withdraw after my classes have started?
Students earn their financial aid by attending and completing classes. The University is required to return any financial aid funds back to grant, scholarship and loan programs that has not been earned by the student. The amount earned is determined by the date the student withdraws so a review occurs whenever an official withdrawal is processed. Likewise, if an instructor issues a failing grade s/he is required to report the last date of attendance for a review to determine if a return of financial aid funds is needed. A more in-depth explanation of how returns are calculated is provided at Return of Title IV Federal Financial Aid.