FAQs About Financial Aid

Basics

What is Financial Aid?
Lamar University offers many financial aid options to help you pay for college costs. Financial aid is any grant, scholarship, loan, or work-study offered to help a student meet his/her college expenses. Financial aid comprises federal, state, institutional and private fund(s). Federal, state and institutional guidelines determine the amount of financial aid a student receives. Grants are aid that does not have to be repaid; loans must be repaid. Interest rates and repayment terms for loans vary by program. Work-study is aid based on an hourly rate for work performed.

What are your office hours?
Our office - Wimberly 200 - is open Monday - Friday from 8am - 5pm. If you are unable to visit the office, you can email us at financialaid@lamar.edu or contact us directly through this site.

Why is it when I try calling your office I can never get through?
During peak times, our phone lines often stay busy. You can email your questions to financialaid@lamar.edu, send us a fax at (409) 880-8934, or stop by our office - Wimberley 200 - for assistance.

How do I accept my awards?
Award packages are offered electronically in your Self Service Banner Account. See Check Your Status page...

My SAR indicates that I was selected for "Verification." What does this mean?
This indicates that the Financial Aid Office must verify the information you provided on your FAFSA when you applied for aid. You will need to submit the verification worksheet and a tax return transcript, including corresponding W-2's for the previous work year, and other required documents for the Financial Aid Office.

How can I obtain Texas residency status for tuition purposes?
We must review several pieces of information before awarding a previously out-of-state student resident status. If you are an incoming freshman or a returning student and have questions about whether you can be considered for in-state tuition rates, please contact the Admissions Office at 409-880-8888.

How many hours do you need to enroll to receive financial aid?
A minimum of six hours for any Federal or State aid (Pell Grant is the only Federal Aid that can be awarded for students enrolled for less than three hours - if they qualify).

How much can I expect to receive in grant monies?
Financial aid grant money is based on the number of hours a student is enrolled for, the Cost of Attendance (COA), and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your true and correct FASFA is your application for grants and loans.

Can I receive aid for a double major and/or minor at Lamar University?
Here at Lamar University, students who are seeking a dual degree and/or minor will only receive aid for one major degree program.  Students must earn their bachelor's or graduate degree within the 150% maximum time frame standard outlined in the Lamar University Financial Aid Handbook.   Students who have not met this requirement may be able to appeal through the Office of Student Financial Assistance at Lamar University. Please visit https://www.lamar.edu/financial-aid/academic-standards/index.html to review the appeal process. Please note that students who have met all degree requirements for their first bachelor’s degree will no longer qualify for financial assistance as an undergraduate student even if they have not officially applied for graduation.

What is Exit Counseling?

A mandatory information session which takes place when you graduate or attend school less than half-time that explains your loan repayment responsibilities and when repayment begins.

Application Procedures

How do I apply for aid at Lamar University?
All it takes at Lamar University to apply for aid is the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and a University Application for Financial Aid. Certain types of aid, usually loans, do have additional requirements.

Dates and Deadlines

How long does the awarding process take?
It usually takes 4 -6 weeks from the time your FAFSA is complete and all additional required documentation is submitted to the Financial Aid Office to the time the award occurs. If you haven't heard anything from us after that time period, please check with us to make sure we have everything that is needed.

If my financial aid is more than the amount that I owe, when will I receive the balance?
If you have a credit balance, residual funds are transferred to your Cardinal One Debit Card by the Cashier's Office. For Cardinal One Card questions, please contact the Cashier's Office at 409-880-8390.

If I drop a course(s) prior to the census date will financial aid be adjusted?
Yes, if you drop a course before the census date your financial aid may be adjusted and/or cancelled. If you are enrolled in Modules/Part of Term (POT), you must stay enrolled past the census date of the last POT for which you have been awarded financial aid, or your awards may be adjusted and/or cancelled.

For example:

If you are enrolled in 3 hours in POT 1 which spans from August 24th – October 15thand 3 hours in POT 2, which spans from October 16th-December 9th, you must stay enrolled past the census date of POT 2, or your financial aid will be affected.  This is independent of the Return to Title IV (R2T4) Policy for students who are considered to have withdrawn.

If you receive a financial aid refund and then drop a course(s), you may owe a balance. You should check your account online.

Forms and Documentation

What records will I need to apply for financial aid?
Useful documents include your tax return from the previous year, your parents' tax return if dependent, and your spouse's return, if applicable. Other records such as W-2 forms, business/farm records, and bank statements are also very useful. If you are a transfer student, please make sure that the school has received all required documents such as grades or financial aid transcripts.

How do I find out what documents am I missing to complete my financial aid application?
Missing student requirements are listed in the Self Service Banner Account under “Student Requirements."

Loan Specifics

How will my Federal Stafford Loan be credited to my bill?
The Master Promissory Note you completed when applying for your loan will allow the loan proceeds to be sent electronically to LU by means of EFT, which stands for Electronic Funds Transfer. Funds received will be credited to your bill and a residual refunds generated if there is a credit balance.

I am an incoming freshman student and the Direct Stafford Loan I was awarded is not showing up on my bill. Why?
As a first time borrower on the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program, we are required to delay the first disbursement of your loan for 30 class days. Since these funds will not be available at the time your bill is due, it will not appear on your bill. If the Federal Stafford Loan is needed to help pay for tuition and fees, you may contact the Cashier's Office about the possibility of obtaining an institution emergency loan.

Why is the amount I received from my Federal Direct Stafford Loan different than the amount that shows on my bill?
As you are aware, the Federal Direct Stafford Loan is a federal program funded through the Department of Education (DOE). The structure of the program allows the DOE to extract a percentage from the loan for processing and insurance against default. This information as well as the net amount of your loan should be reflected on the disclosure statement you received from the DOE. Typically, this fee amounts to around It was1%. To calculate the net amount, multiply the gross amount of your loan by 1% and then subtract this amount from the gross amount of the loan. This would be the same on all loans made under the Family Federal Education Loan Program - including Federal Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) and Parent Loans.

My parents applied for a Federal Parent Loan. How will this be applied to my bill?
The Federal Parent Loan (PLUS) works similarly to the Federal Direct Stafford Loan except that it is a loan made to your parent instead of to you. The PLUS Loan will be applied as a credit to your bill. Any residual balance will be generated in the form of a refund to your Cardinal One card or a check to your parent depending on the instructions given on the Parent PLUS Loan Application.

What-if?

If I am selected for verification and I do not complete the required paperwork in a timely manner, what are the consequences?
Consequences may include the delay of funds, limited funding, and/or loss of funds. 

What happens if I "decline" the financial aid that was awarded to me and I didn't mean to, or I have changed my mind?
Notify the Financial Aid Office immediately in writing. Include a detailed description of exactly what you wish to change; additional forms may be required after review of your request. A delay in contacting the office could result in the loss of grant or loan funds.

What happened? Why is my financial aid not credited to my account?
There are several things that could cause this to happen. If you have an outstanding Student Requirement aid will not disburse or if you are enrolled in less than full time we may have to adjust your budget before we can disburse your funds. If you were awarded prior to the end of a long semester or summer term and did not maintainsatisfactory academic progress during that semester/term, the aid would not disburse since you may no longer be eligible.

What does it mean if I take modular, accelerated 5-8 week courses, and the full amount of my financial aid award is not showing up on my bill?
Beginning in Fall 2016, students enrolled in either the 5-week or 8-week program will begin to receive their aid in two disbursements each semester.  If you are enrolled in Part of Term 1, your first disbursement will post no more than ten days before classes begin and the second disbursement will be applied approximately half way through the semester.

If I am eligible for Hazlewood, what do I need to do?
You must be sure that the VA office has qualified first. The Veterans Affairs office at Lamar University is separate from the Financial Aid Office and we encourage students with questions about VA to contact the VA Office directly. The Veterans Affairs Office is located in Room 101 of the Wimberly Building to aid veterans in obtaining their educational benefits. For more information including benefit programs and contact information visit The Office of Veterans Affairs.

If I am enrolled in an accelerated 5-8 week program, can I receive aid for both the accelerated program and traditional courses?
Although LU offers and administers these modular programs, Financial Aid administers the aid for those classes differently from that of regular degree programs. For example, if you are in modular courses and would also like to take a course on-campus, we can only cover the modular program. The reason for this measure is that the Cost of Attendance for each program is different and we cannot figure aid packages based on the dual enrollment into both programs.

What should I do if my classification changes?
It is the responsibility of the student to inform the Office of Student Financial Assistance if a change in the student’s classification has occurred (ex: from an Undergraduate (UG) to a Post Baccalaureate (PB) or Graduate (GR), or from a Post Baccalaureate (PB) to a Graduate (GR), etc.). Initial notifications of financial aid are tentative, and are based on the assumption that the student’s classification is the same as the prior semester.  It is essential that the student communicate any change in his/her classification to the financial aid staff during the period leading up to the beginning of each semester as it may impact the student’s aid eligibility.  If the student does not provide notification of this change it may not be until later in the semester that this is identified, potentially resulting in aid adjustments and possibly leaving the student with a balance owed to the university. 

What if I am an undergraduate student enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate level courses? What happens to my financial aid?
After an accumulation of earned hours (approximately 95) your financial assistance package will be adjusted and/or cancelled after the census date based on the undergraduate courses you are enrolled in. 

What if I am a doctoral off-campus student? Can I still receive aid?
Doctoral students are classified as on-campus traditional students (even if they are taking classes online).  For this reason, in order to receive aid, you must be in classes that span the entire semester or take parts of term that encompass the entire semester.  The minimum hour requirement in both cases is six (6) hours. 

 Example 1: enrolled in 1 class that is from Jan. – May and another class that is only Jan. – Feb. (this meets the 6 hour requirement and at least one class spans the entire semester)

 Example 2: Enrolled in 3 classes that are from Jan. – Feb., Feb. – Mar., Mar. – May. (this meets the 6 hour requirement and spans the whole semester term)

Taxes and Tax Forms

My parents did not claim me on their tax returns this year - can I file my FAFSA as an independent student? 
The Department of Education defines an independent student as someone who fits into one or more of 12 specific categories. Answering "yes" to any one of the 12 questions on the FAFSA will result in the student becoming independent. Unfortunately, none of the following individually or in combination with one another will merit a dependency override. Those circumstances are:

  1. Parents refusing to contribute to the student's education
  2. Parents unwilling to provide information on the application or for verification
  3. Parents not claiming the students as a dependent for income tax purposes
  4. Student demonstrating total self-sufficiency.

Please note that students receiving a dependency over-ride at one school is not binding at another institution.

If any student feels that they have unusual circumstances, they may contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss their situation.

Should I send in my tax forms and other paperwork before you ask for it?
You should not submit tax forms and/or other paperwork unless we specifically ask for these documents. After your FASFA has loaded in our system, you will receive an email stating you have outstanding requirements. The documents needed are listed in your Self Service Banner Account. See Check Your Status page...

How do I request a tax transcript?
You can obtain a free transcript on the IRS.gov Website (www.irs.gov) by clicking Order a Transcript under the Online Services option, or by calling 800-908-9946 and following the prompts in the recorded message, or by completing and mailing a 4506-T request for a transcript to the address listed on the 4506-T form.

What if I or my parents filed for a tax filing extension with the IRS?
 Students and/or parents who file an extension with the IRS will need to wait until they can either use the IRS DRT tool or submit a tax transcript before awarding can occur. We encourage families to seek alternative assistance in the form of a payment plan with the Cashier’s Office or a short term loan. 

Satisfactory Academic Progress

If my financial aid has been denied for Satisfactory Academic Progress, what financial options are available to me?
You may apply for an alternative, credit-based loan for students. Most of these require a co-signer and a certification from the school. We suggest students check with their financial institution. Students should also contact the Cashier to see what payment plans are available to them.

What do I need to do to get my financial aid reinstated if it was denied due to Satisfactory Academic Progress?
If a student’s aid was denied due to Satisfactory Academic Progress, students need to complete at least six hours on their own in their major, making sure that they have a semester gpa of 2.25 or better. If this requirement is met, the student can submit a letter to the financial aid office for review of future aid and the Appeal for Satisfactory Academic Progress form found on our web site.