Financial Aid FAQs

Applying for Financial Aid

What is the FAFSA?

To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, loans, and work-study, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easier than ever, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college. Please watch this short video for more information.

Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?

YES! You must reapply for financial aid each year by completing the Renewal Application for Federal Student Aid (if you receive one from the federal processor) or by completing the next year's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA.gov).

What happens after I complete the FAFSA?

Your application is process the Department of Education and then sent to the Lone Star College so that eligibility can be determined. Please watch this short video for an overview of the process.

Can I still apply if I missed the deadline?

Yes. Although applications can be submitted at any time during the academic year, FAFSA's received after our priority filing date of April 1st will be considered for grants with limited funding only after all on-time filers have been awarded and then only if funds are available.

Do I need to submit copies of my family's federal tax returns to the financial aid office?

We will request copies of all required documents through your LoneStar e-mail, after your FAFSA is initially reviewed. Do not submit any documents to our office unless we have specifically requested you do so.

Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid?

No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1st for the following academic year. To receive communications from the financial aid office and actually receive funds you must be admitted and enrolled at one of the campuses.

What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows students and parents to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and transfer the data directly into their FAFSA from the IRS Web site.

Eligibility

Should I apply for aid even if I think I won't qualify?

Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply. In addition, there are some sources of aid that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free. Follow the steps outlined in How To Apply to begin the application process. Please watch this short video for more information.

Are there income cutoffs for financial assistance?

No. Every application is individually reviewed so that factors such as assets, family size, and number in college are considered, in addition to the family income.

Is financial aid available for undocumented students?

Financial aid is generally not available for undocumented students. The majority of all student aid, including federal student aid, requires the recipient to be a US citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) or an eligible non-citizen. Texas is one of a few states that allow undocumented students to qualify for state aid. Lone Star College System has several state grants available to undocumented students. To apply, complete the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) available at the "College For All Texans" website.

If I am an international student without any kind of U.S. citizenship status, do I qualify for any financial aid?

Unfortunately, unless you are a permanent resident or a political refugee granted status by the INS, you are not eligible. International students who have a F1 or F2 student visa are not eligible for federal aid.

Dependency Status (Dependent vs Independent)

How do I know if I am independent or dependent?

When you fill out the FAFSA, you will be asked a series of questions to help determine your dependency status. Watch this short video for more information.

My parents did not claim me on their tax returns this year, Can I file my FAFSA as an “independent student?

Maybe! To determine dependency status, first see if you meet any of the automatic criteria on the FAFSA. If not, but feel that you should be considered an independent student, visit with a financial aid advisor.

Watch this short video for more information about dependency.

My parents will no longer help me with school. How can I change my status to “independent”?

Dependency for financial aid purposes is defined to include all students who are undergraduates and who are under the age of 24, not married, not supporting dependents of their own, not veterans, not orphans or wards of the court, not an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship, not homeless and not in foster care since turning 13 years old. Even if your parents choose not to help you with school, their income and assets are used to determine how much they could pay, and financial aid eligibility is based upon this information. Exceptions to this policy do exist. Consult with a financial aid advisor at your college campus for help in documenting your situation.

What if my family circumstances change after I apply?

If your situation changes after filing the FAFSA because of unusual circumstances, contact the Office of Financial Aid. You may submit a letter of Appeal, Request for Special Circumstances Consideration or an Income Reduction Request with appropriate supporting documentation.

How will an outside scholarship affect my financial aid award?

Each recipient of federal student aid has a calculated financial need and the combination of all sources of aid cannot exceed this need figure. It may be necessary to reduce your financial aid, especially loans, if an outside scholarship arrives after our aid offer.

Can I receive financial aid at more than one school at a time?

No, you can only receive financial aid at one school/college at time. Failure to disclosure that financial aid for the current award year has been disbursed to you by another college may result in an over award.

Maintaining Eligibility

What will happen to my financial aid award if I drop a course or withdraw from the college?

If your tuition is adjusted because you drop a course, it may be necessary to reduce your financial aid. If you totally withdraw from the college during the first 60 percent of the term, your financial aid eligibility must be recalculated. Dropping courses and withdrawing are academic actions which might have serious financial implications and may affect your future aid eligibility because of failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress. It is your responsibility to understand the effects these actions will have on your financial aid award.

What happens if I don't meet Satisfactory Academic Progress?

If you fail to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements you may be denied additional financial aid assistance. If you are denied additional financial aid assistance you may regain your financial aid eligibility by submitting a written appeal with documentation explaining why you failed to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements. You also have the option of successfully completing six (6) semester hours without financial aid assistance to regain your financial aid eligibility.

Disbursements and Refunds

What is the difference between a Financial Aid disbursement and a refund?

Disbursement is the process of transferring the anticipated aid for each semester to a student’s account.  This process occurs in the Financial Aid Office.  The Business Office uses those funds to pay outstanding tuition, fees, and book advance charges.  A refund is  the credit balance that is generated after all allowable institutional charges are deducted from your disbursement.  The Business Office releases those funds to students in the form of a refund check or electronic fund transfer (EFT) transaction.

How do I receive refund from my financial aid funds?

If you have a balance remaining after your college charges have been paid, a paper check or direct deposit (for information, please go to myLoneStar) for the balance will be mailed to your address as it appears in myLoneStar after the official date of record for each semester.

What if my financial aid is not enough to cover my bill?

If the financial aid assistance you are offered is not enough to pay for your entire college charges (tuition, fees, books, etc.), you are responsible for making other arrangements to cover these charges (cash payment or installment plan).

Student Loans

Why do I have to repay a Federal Stafford Loan?

Unlike grants and scholarships loans are loans, not gifts, and must be repaid

What are loan fees?

A fee charged for each federal student loan you receive that is a percentage of the total loan amount you are borrowing (gross amount). The loan fee is deducted proportionately from each disbursement of your loan. This reduces the actual loan amount you receive (net amount). The specific loan fee that you are charged will be included in a disclosure statement you will receive after the first disbursement of your federal student loan. You will be required to repay the gross amount.

  • Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans 1.051% loan fee on or after July 1, 2013 
  • Direct PLUS Loans 4.204% loan fee on or after July 1, 2013

Is my loan affected by my grades?

Yes. If your cumulative GPA falls below a 2.0 any time during the loan period you may no longer be eligible to receive student loans. All aspects of the Standards of Academic Progress policy will be measured before each loan distribution.

If you do not meet the minimum standards set, you will lose your second disbursement as well as any remaining grants.

If I only want to apply for a loan why do I have to complete the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for federal, state and institutional aid which includes grants, student loans and work-study eligibility.

What is the minimum number of credit hours in which I have to be enrolled to receive Federal Stafford Loans?

You must be enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours. If at any time you drop below the six hour minimum any portion of your loan that has not been released to you will be cancelled and your lender will be notified.

Can I get the loan disbursement before classes start?

No. The earliest your loan can be released is after the 30th day of class for each semester. For one semester only loans the second disbursement will be released after the midpoint of the semester has passed.

If the first disbursement isn't released until the 30th day after the start of classes am I responsible for paying for classes up front?

No. As long as loan funds are in an Active (A) status on your account, you will not have to pay up front.

What is the interest rate for my Direct loan?

Loan Interest Rate
Direct Subsidized Loans for
Undergraduate students
Fixed 3.86%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans for
all students
Fixed 3.86%
Parent PLUS Loans Fixed 6.41%

What type of repayment incentives are offered by the Department of Education?

A repayment incentive is a benefit that is offered to encourage you to repay your loans on time. Under a repayment incentive program, the interest rate charged on your loans may be reduced. Some repayment incentive programs require that you make a certain number of payments on time to keep the benefits of the repayment incentive.
The Direct Loan Program currently offers two repayment incentive programs.

  • Interest Rate Reduction for Automatic Withdrawal Payments
  • Up-front Interest Rebate on Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans. (Except for loans first disbursed from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014, you may receive an up-front interest rebate on a Direct Subsidized Loan, Direct Unsubsidized Loan or Direct PLUS Loan.)

For More Information view the Exit Counseling Guide

When will my Direct Subsidized Loan begin to accrue interest?

Direct Subsidized loans will not be eligible for an interest subsidy during the six month grace period.  Subsidized loans are loans for which the borrower is not responsible for the interest while the student is enrolled in college on at least a half-time basis, when the loan is in the six month grace period after the student is no longer enrolled at least half-time, or if the loan or loans are in a deferment stats.  This provision eliminates the interest subsidy provided during the six-month grace period for subsidized loans for which the first disbursement is made on or after July 1, 2012 and before July 1, 2014.  If a student receives a subsidized loan during this timeframe, the student will be responsible for the interest that accrues while the loan is in the grace period.

What are by repayment options?

The Direct Loan Program offers loan repayment plans designed to meet the needs of most borrowers. Direct Loans are funded by the U.S. Department of Education through your school and are managed by a loan servicer, under the supervision of the Department. The Direct Loan Program allows you to choose your repayment plan and to switch your plan if your needs change.
To find out more about repayment options before receiving a Direct Loan, borrowers may contact their school's financial aid office or the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). If you currently have a Direct Loan and would like the exact payment amount on your loan, you can find it out by contacting your loan servicer.

  • Standard Repayment
  • Extended Repayment
  • Graduated Repayment
  • Income Contingent Repayment
  • Income-based Repayment
  • Pay As You Earn Repayment

For more information see repayment plans