How and when does a student apply for financial aid?
Beginning in January, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available on the internet and in paper form from your guidance counselor. Please note, if you file your FAFSA electronically it will be submitted to the government and to your schools. Ideally the FAFSA should be completed after you and your parents have each completed the federal income tax returns for the prior year because those figures are needed to answer items on the form. It is best to use the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) on the FAFSA to avoid mistakes. Retain a copy of both the parents’ and student’s tax returns for future reference. The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for all federal programs, which include student loans. To be considered for state programs, please fill out the information needed by the State of New Jersey.
In order to complete the FAFSA online you will need a U.S. Department of Education Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you do not already have a PIN apply for one now. Parents of dependent students may apply for a PIN also. With your PIN, you and your parents can electronically sign the FAFSA.
Do you need assistance with the FAFSA? Please watch this informational video.
How Financial Need is Determined?
Each college or university develops an estimate of how much it will cost for you to attend school including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, personal expenses, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. This is called your Cost of Attendance and it will vary from one institution to another. It also varies depending on whether you are a graduate or an undergraduate student.
To determine your financial need, your expected family contribution (which is calculated by submitting the FAFSA) is subtracted from the cost of attendance.
Your Financial Aid Package
Once we receive the results of your FAFSA and other required forms, we will create your financial aid package based on your financial need. It is Montclair State's policy to award scholarships and grants first, followed by employment and loans for which you qualify. You may receive some types of financial aid in excess of your need up to the Cost of Attendance.
A financial aid award letter outlining the financial aid included in your package will be prepared for you and made available on-line on Montclair State University’s Enrollment Services for Students (WESS). This notice will include general information about each award offered and instructions for rejecting each awards you do not want. Some awards (e.g., parent loans (PLUS)) may require supplemental applications.
When you receive your Student Aid Report in the mail or via e-mail, you may see the following message on the comments page:
"Your application has been selected for review in a process called verification. You must submit to your school signed copies of certain financial documents."
If you receive this message, you will need to submit copies of your and your parents' (if dependent) federal tax return transcripts for the prior year along with either the Dependent or Independent Verification Worksheet (for these forms please go to our Forms Web page). Your financial aid will not be credited to your account until you submit all required documents and verification is completed.
Receiving Your Financial Aid
The Student Accounts Office is responsible for disbursing your financial aid. Your financial aid is applied directly to institutional charges (tuition, fees, room, and board). Any excess funds will be available to you within 14 days of the date the credit balance occurs. The Student Accounts Office will notify you when excess funds create a credit balance. The notice will be sent to your Montclair State Email address. Any questions about billing or confirming registration, and not about financial aid, should be directed to them.
Special Circumstances/ Request for Review
While the process of determining your financial aid eligibility is basically the same for all applicants, there is some flexibility for specific circumstances. At Montclair State, a committee determines whether your special circumstances merit changes in the data elements which determine your Expected Family Contribution or your Cost of Attendance. Montclair State uses standards recommended by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Situations which might merit special circumstances include:
- Loss of untaxed benefit (ie: worker’s compensation, child support, pensions and annuities, social security benefits)
- Medical expenses that have been itemized on your Federal tax return
If you feel you have any special circumstances that might affect the amount you and your family are expected to contribute, you must wait until you receive an award letter (or electronic notice) and then submit the Request for Review packet from our forms Web page.