Financial Aid

By June 21, 2015

In the future, UVa will continue to provide financial assistance to applicants in order to support the enrollment and graduation of a diverse student body. Throughout the student lifecycle, varying levels of financial assistance and fund management advice are required. Both the applicant/student and administrative staff will have real-time access to accurate information about each student’s entire financial picture, including the award or loan package and tuition and fee payments. Personal assistance on financial matters, either over the telephone, via e-mail, or in-person, will also be available in a seamless fashion.
From the student perspective, the financial aid process in the future should include the following services and features:
Ensure seamless integration and communication of admissions, financial aid, bursar and registrar information and external scholarships into the student’s profile, loan/award package, and bills.
Improve communication with students by encouraging use of the WWW, proactively providing information about eligibility, status and award notices on-line, and providing ‘tickler’ notices when information is missing.
Provide entrance/exit information such as budget planning, repayment schedules and basic financial skills in an initial training/orientation so they can help themselves to use the system and understand their financial picture.
Enable access to comprehensive financial aid information, allowing the student to search for and access information about scholarship and fellowship packages.
Enable access to tools and control to self-select jobs that are managed around their course schedules and match their student profile/interests.
Provide timely and constructive counseling to applicants, students and families (e.g., alternative loan and emergency fund options, and award payment options).
Develop and provide access to ‘what-if’ tools to analyze impact of changes in financial and academic status. This should include on-line context-sensitive help documentation and on-line tutorials as well as the option to meet face-to-face with a financial aid specialist.
VU currently supports several separate financial aid offices serving unique populations of students (Law, Medical, Undergrads, etc). All of these offices including any future offices will work to:
• Train staff to solve problems and answer fundamental questions about financial assistance and bursar activities (the look and feel of a one-stop service center).
• Reduce the amount of paper processing by using on-line electronic forms, electronic signatures (where possible), electronic verification of requirements, exceptions processing and archiving capabilities.
• Continue to determine and verify eligibility and calculate awards electronically.
• Improve accuracy and timeliness of processing student aid/loan applications and the packaging and delivering of aid.
• Facilitate and streamline the printing, sending, receiving and processing of promissory notes for subsidized and unsubsidized (non-need based) loans.
• Develop ability to follow current federal methodology and adapt quickly to changes (e.g., NSLDS, SSCR, Pell Reporting, FISAP).
• Provide a cohesive technological structure in the office with network access, imaging capability and easy access to the WWW.
• Other departments will need access to integrated information, including grades, payroll and financial aid information. As appropriate, they should have on-line access to information, including work study information, for management and reporting purposes.
In this document, the following acronyms are utilized:
• EFC – Expected Family Contribution
• FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid
• FAO – Financial Aid Office
• FAS – Financial Aid Statement (internal University of Virginia Document)
• FAT – Financial Aid Transcript
• FISOP – Fiscal Operations Report
• ISIR – Institutional Student Information Report
• NSLDS – National Student Loan Data System
• SSCR – Student Status Confirmation Report
1 Application / Document Tracking
An applicant to VU has also applied for financial aid. The applicant has filed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and all documentation required by VU including VU’s Financial Aid Statement (FAS), an internal document available through the WWW or hard copy. The applicant is anxious and accesses VU on-line system to make sure their application is being processed.
1.1 Demonstrate the ability and track required document by classification, e.g. entering student, returning student, transfer, graduate and how comments can be added and retrieved from a student’s record.
1.2 Demonstrate the ability to track summer session document requirements separate from academic year document requirements
2 Packaging
All undergraduate applicants and returning student receive a preliminary financial aid package. This preliminary financial aid package is based on year in school, EFC, residency status and other variables. The student has received a Pell, SEOG, institutional grant, maximum Perkins, and maximum subsidized direct loan.
2.1 Demonstrate how funding levels for individual federal, state and institutional funds are entering into the system
The Admissions Office has decided to offer the Early Decision applicants an estimate of their financial aid in order to help them make a decision about committing to VU. Each student requesting an early estimate of financial aid must submit their parents’ tax return for the previous year, and an FAS. The financial aid counselor reviews this information, and determines their budget, need, and estimated package, produces a letter to the student.
2.2 Demonstrate the ability to track applicants requiring early estimates separate from the general applicant pool
2.3 Demonstrate the ability to utilize estimating tools to determine budget, need and aid packages
3 Need Analysis
A returning student has filed all appropriate documents with the Financial Aid Office and has filed her FAFSA. She is ready to be reviewed by the financial aid counselor. She made several mistakes on her FAFS when reporting her (and her parents) income. The financial aid counselor corrects these errors, recalculates the student’s need, and recalculates the student’s aid.
3.1 Demonstrate on-line repackaging
The information requested above, is returned by the family, and shows untaxed income from family sources outside the United States. The FAO counselor enters the additional income into the need analysis system, recalculates the need and award. The counselor also wants to set an attribute for this students to assure that the student will be reviewed in every future award year, regardless of whether or not he is chooses for verification.
3.2 Demonstrate the ability to assign institutional attributes to a student for need analysis purposes that can be utilized between award years.
4 Awarding
The financial aid counselor has reviewed the applicant/student folder and made corrections to the student data and recalculated the student EFC. The system utilizes the budget and the EFC to recalculate the students need.
4.1 Demonstrate that preliminary awards do not affect the students account, i.e. these preliminary awards will not be applied against any institutional charges
The applicant/student is an in-state student with a 3.4 GPA, of Armenian descent, in the Commerce School. The counselor reviews the repackaged aid and decides to replace the Federal Work Study award with a National Merit Award, and to replace a Perkins loan with a state scholarship. She attempts to give a scholarship based on the Armenian descent, but accidentally provides the award information (e.g. account number) for a scholarship for students of French descent.
4.2 Demonstrate that awards will be edited on-line for individualized criteria including but not limited to:
• Loan limits by academic year
• Maximum award amounts
• Department awards
• Maximum total award (not to exceed need)
• NSLDS information
• Characteristics of students
• Characteristics of funds
• Other institutionally identified attributes
The student receives a financial aid award letter along with all the appropriate enclosures. The student decides to decline part of the aid awarded (work study). The student notifies the FAO of their decision, and the FAO counselor deletes the work study award for the student and offers a Perkins loan in its place.
4.3 Perkins loan processing:
• production of promissory notes
• recording receipt of promissory notes
• setting distribution requirements
• disbursing the aid
• tracking promissory note signatures
A student has applied for Summer School financial aid. The financial aid counselor, having completed need analysis, determines the student’s financial aid, passes the students information to Quality Control, who reviews, approves and changes the preliminary award to actual. This same student is an applicant for financial aid for the academic year following the summer session.
4.4 Summer Session – demonstrate that all awarding capabilities are available for summer session.
5 External Scholarships
A student knows that she will be receiving a $2500 scholarship from the local Rotary Club. This scholarship will be sent directly to VU, ½ each semester. The student has followed instructions in her financial aid application and notifies the FAO.
5.1 Demonstrate how the preliminary outside scholarship is entered and tracked
The check for the student’s scholarship has arrived. It is for $5,000, to be applied to the students account for tuition and fees ½ for each semester of the academic year. The check is entered as having been received, is applied to the student’s account as requested, and a letter is sent to the student notifying her of the receipt of the check and its amount.
The student, having become anxious about her scholarship has been checking the on-line system to see if the check has been received by VU.
5.2 Demonstrate the ability to record receipt of the check from the source and apply directly to the student’s account
5.3 Demonstrate that a student may access their information concerning outside scholarships.
6 Loan Processing
6.1 Demonstrate processing of direct loan information including
• Originate direct loan
• Recording of cash drawdowns
• Perform monthly reconciliation with accounting data
• Awarding with appropriate academic level
• Creation of promissory note with bar code for scanning
• Generate duplicate prom note on demand
• Scan prom note into system
• Annotate that the student has returned the prom note and the loan is ready to go to the servicer
• Post funds when LOR approved by servicer
A student not eligible for subsidized loans, and who has taken their maximum allowable unsubsidized loan for the year, has decided to borrow $10,000 from First Union Bank of Virginia through their non-subsidized loan program. The student has obtained an application, filled it out appropriately, and submitted the application for verification to the financial aid office.
6.2 Demonstrate processing of non-subsidized, private loans including processing of application, notification to lender, tracking of loan, check or EFT processing.
Department / School Awards
Graduate students receive financial support in several forms:
a. fellowships or direct payments in lump sum or as monthly payments which may vary in different parts of the pay period over a variable number of months and may be charged to more than one fund source in equal or unequal amounts;
b. fellowships in a fixed amount intended to pay tuition and fees as well as other semester-based University charges such as room and board and any balance of the fellowship to be paid to the student;
c. fellowships intended to pay only tuition and fees without remitting a balance to the student;
d. work based compensation through payroll (teaching assistant or research assistant and combinations of the two) which may qualify the student for a fellowship payment from a Dean’s account or a Dept.’s account of in-state tuition and fees based on effort level of employment and a fellowship payment for the out-of-state portion of tuition from a Dean’s account depending upon a minimum level of projected total compensation and availability of budgeted funds;
e. need based loans which take into account the amount of non-need based awards (indicated above) and which must be re-calculated if post-award, non-need based awards are authorized.
A non-resident applicant to the graduate program in Dept1 has accepted the offer of admission. The student’s financial support package consists of the following:
a. a research assistantship (academic year stipend level equals $8,000) in the Fall semester at 50% effort level;
b. a teaching assistantship (academic year stipend level equals $8,000) in the Spring semester at 50% effort level;
c. a research assistantship in the Summer semester at 100% effort level;
d. a stipend only fellowship of $6,000 from two sources to be disbursed over 9 equal monthly payments beginning on September 1;
e. a Dean’s fellowship to pay the out-of-state portion of tuition and fees for the academic year;
f. a Dept fellowship from the same source of funds as the RA wage payment to pay the in-state portion of tuition and fees for the Fall semester and the Summer semester based on employment as an RA; and
g. a Dean’s fellowship to pay the in-state portion of tuition and fees for the Spring semester based on employment as a TA.
Demonstrate the ability to:
7.1 Create stipend payments of equal amounts using input data of a total amount and a specified number of months and specific start date;
7.2 Withhold federal taxes on the stipend based on tax treaty agreement of the student’s country of residence;
7.3 Verify source of payroll funds to validate tuition remission (in-state) charges to Dept in Fall and Dean in Spring;
7.4 Verify projected wage minimum to validate out-of-state tuition charges to Dean.
The portion of a fellowship not used to pay direct educational expenses such as tuition and fees is taxable income.
Demonstrate the ability to:
7.5 Withhold federal and state taxes on stipend payments paid directly to the student based on W-4 forms from the student and tax treaty guidelines based on the student’s country of residence.
A professor (Faculty1) in an academic department (Dept1) has a new post-doctoral student come to his laboratory. The post-doc, who did not attend the Virtual University, will be given a monthly stipend from the professor’s grant.
Demonstrate the ability to:
7.6 Create a non-student record for an individual who was not an applicant to one of the schools and did not apply for a position through Human Resources;
8 Refunds
An entering student, who receives direct loans, Pell, and SEOG, drops out of school for medical reasons on October 30th. The Bursar’s office has determined that he will be changed for 40% of his tuition and fees, and his room and board has been prorated. The financial aid counselor uses the system to see which of the three refund methods (as required by Federal regulations, pro rata, institutional and Federal) will be the most appropriate in this case, and, having selected a method, has the system repackage the students. The counselor reviews the awards and approves the adjustments.
8.1 Demonstrate the ability to set up an indefinite number of refund algorithms based on federal, state and institutional parameters
8.2 Demonstrate the ability to calculate the students refund through any or all of the refund algorithms to determine the most appropriate method to use, and then to select and utilize one method
8.3 Demonstrate the ability for the system to change the awards as determined by the refund method utilized
8.4 Demonstrate the ability to refund the appropriate federal and state award accounts.