What is FAFSA?

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. By completing this application, the Department of Education determines a student’s eligibility to receive Pell Grant and/or Direct student loans. The FAFSA must be completed each year in order to be considered for federal aid.

FAFSA Deadlines

It is important to understand that for federal financial aid purposes, the academic year begins with the summer session. For example, the 2017-2018 FAFSA encompasses the following semesters:

  • Summer Session 2017
  • Fall Semester 2017
  • Winter Semester 2018
  • Spring Semester 2018

If you are on the Winter/Spring track, you would need to complete the 2017-2018 FAFSA even though you won’t start school until January 2018.

It is important to be aware that the FAFSA application may be open for two different academic years at the same time. Make sure the correct academic year is selected for the semesters you plan to attend.

Important Facts to Know

To simplify the process of entering your parents’ or your tax information on the FAFSA, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT). For instructions on how to accomplish this, visit our DRT page.

Once submitted, the FAFSA will display a general estimate of the aid you should expect to receive, based on the information provided. Please know that this is ONLY an initial estimate and it may change once the FAFSA is completely processed.

The FAFSA4caster is a great tool to receive a general estimate of what federal financial aid your student could qualify for. Be aware that only a few questions that are on the FAFSA will be asked, so the amount shown could change once the FAFSA is completely processed.

Additional Financial Awards

Please remember that Pell Grant awards are based on a student’s full-time enrollment or if 12 program applicable credits are taken each semester. If your student plans to enroll less than full-time, they may still receive financial aid at a reduced amount based on the original financial aid award.

Students may qualify for additional Pell grant funds when attending all three terms.  Additional Pell grant eligibility will display in your student portal 24-48 hours after registering for your off-track/third term.



When do I need to fill out FAFSA?

The sooner the better! The FAFSA application is available each October for the coming academic year. For example, the 2018-2019 application will open October 1, 2017. We encourage all students to complete their FAFSA by March 1st each year to be considered for BYU-Idaho scholarships. If the March 1st deadline has passed, they should have it completed by our priority deadline. If the priority deadline has passed, your student is still able to complete the FAFSA; however, it is important to know in this case, their aid may not be available to them until later in the semester.


What determines my FAFSA dependency status?

It is important to know that your dependency status is not based on whether or not your parents claim you on their taxes as a dependent. The Department of Education has their own determination criteria when awarding federal financial aid.

When completing the FAFSA, you will be asked a series of dependency questions. If you can answer “yes” to one or more of those questions, you are considered an independent student. If not, you are considered a dependent student. More information on dependency status can be found at Studentaid.gov.


What classes are eligible to receive federal financial aid?

Students are only able to receive federal financial aid (Pell Grant and Direct Student Loan) for classes that are required for graduation. We refer to this as Program Applicability. Verify your required classes with your degree audit prior to registration, and then check the Program Applicability Tool (PAT) to confirm that they are eligible for federal financial aid.

To receive the maximum amount of federal financial aid for which you qualify, you will need to enroll in a minimum of 12 program applicable credits each semester. If you enroll less than 12 program applicable credits, your aid will be prorated accordingly, if possible.


What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?

If you have not met the minimum Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements you may be INELIGIBLE for Financial Aid. For SUMMER, FALL, WINTER, and SPRING terms, SAP appeal submissions will only be accepted through the Financial Aid Determination Date (FADD) for each term. This is approximately the 23rd day of the semester.

Students unable to meet the submission deadline due to extenuating circumstances will need to contact their Financial Aid Counselor to determine if a late SAP Appeal submission will be accepted. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

You will receive an email to your BYU-Idaho student email address and have the necessary documents added to your student portal if you are required to submit a SAP appeal in order to continue receiving financial aid.

See our SAP Policy for more information.


What is Verification?

Verification is the process by which the information you provided on your FAFSA is verified by the financial aid office. If your FAFSA application is selected for verification by the Department of Education, BYU-Idaho is required by federal regulations to obtain additional information from you before your federal financial aid can be awarded.

The financial aid office will compare the information on the requested documents with what you provided on the FAFSA and confirm the information is correct at that time. We are then able to finish processing the FAFSA and ensure that your financial aid has been awarded correctly.


How do I know if I was selected for Verification?

Approximately 5 business days after you submit the FAFSA for the current academic year, check your financial aid student portal to see if we are requesting additional documentation. If so, you have been selected for verification.

Missing document emails will be sent to your BYU-Idaho student email address on a weekly basis until we receive the documents we need to verify the FAFSA. It is important to know that until the requested documents are submitted and processed by the financial aid office, you are unable to receive your federal financial aid.


What do I need to do if I’m selected for Verification?

If you are selected for verification, you will need to submit the documents listed in your financial aid student portal as soon as possible, preferably by the priority deadline. This is the easiest and most secure way to submit documents. Many documents require physical signatures, in which case the document will need to be printed, hand-signed, and uploaded as a photo or a scan.

In some cases, it may take several weeks to gather the information we are requesting. Please apply early and plan accordingly! After the submitted documents have been reviewed by our office, you may receive requests for additional information if further clarification is needed.

If the required documents are not received by the priority deadline, your federal financial aid may not be available by the tuition payment deadline and you may be assessed a late fee by the Bursar’s office. You will still receive your federal aid award, just later in the semester.


I, or my parents, am self-employed and do not have a W-2. What should I submit?

You may need to provide us with your tax forms or a handwritten, signed statement indicating that you are self-employed, including your gross and net income, and any taxes withheld. If you fall into this category, please contact the financial aid office for more detailed instructions.


Do I need to complete Loan Entrance Counseling and sign the Master Promissory Note if I am not taking out student loans?

No, you do not. You will receive a “missing document” email each week indicating that these documents need to be completed. If these are the only documents listed in that email, you can delete the email.


Do I need student loans?

For many students, grants and scholarships alone do not cover the entire cost of attending college. If other financial resources are not available, i.e. family assistance, employment, and/or saving, student loans, when used responsibly, may be a viable option. Our Aid Available page and Studentaid.gov provides additional information about different loan options.

Outside loans

Loans received from private institutions.

We recommend that students complete the FAFSA and review the loans offered through the Department of Education before looking to other sources. Federal loans generally offer the best interest rates and most flexible repayment options. We encourage each student to obtain as much information as possible and compare multiple loan options prior to accepting any loan.


What is the difference between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Student Loans?

Direct student loans are fixed-rate loans for undergraduate students attending college who are enrolled in at least six program applicable credits. Students are automatically considered for these loans when they complete the FAFSA. Interest rates are the same for both the Subsidized and Unsubsidized loan types. Students do NOT have to accept any loans offered to them.

Direct Subsidized Loan:

Eligibility for this loan is determined by the information provided when completing the FAFSA. With this loan, the federal government “subsidizes” or pays for, the interest that accrues on this loan while a student is enrolled in at least six program applicable credits each semester. Payments on this loan are also postponed during this time. If a student enrolls in less than six program applicable credits or does not attend for a period of six months or longer, the interest on the loan that accrues during this time will be the student’s responsibility. Repayment on this loan begins when the student is no longer enrolled in at least six program applicable credits, is not enrolled in college for a period of six months or longer, or graduates.

Direct Unsubsidized Loan:

All students who complete a FAFSA are eligible for this loan. The only difference between this loan and a subsidized loan is that the student is responsible for all interest that accrues. To receive this loan a student must be enrolled in at least six program applicable credits each semester. Payments on this loan are postponed during this time. Repayment on this loan begins when the student is no longer enrolled in at least six program applicable credits, is not enrolled in college for a period of six months or longer, or graduates.


What is the grace period on a Direct student loan?

Students with Direct Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized loans are not required to start repaying their loan until 6 months after enrolling in less than six program applicable credits credits or 6 months after graduation. This time frame is referred to as a “grace period.” You should know that once your grace period is used, it cannot be reinstated.


What is a PLUS loan?

A Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) is a federal loan that is available to a parent of a dependent undergraduate student and is based on creditworthiness. The parent, if approved, may borrow an amount up to the student’s annual cost of attendance, minus any financial aid awarded during this same time. Interest to accrue once the first disbursement of the loan is available and repayment begins within 60 days after the entire amount of the loan has fully disbursed. Parents will need to reapply for this loan each year, if needed. You can find more information on the PLUS loan at Studentaid.gov.


What are the steps to receiving federal financial aid?

  • Complete the  Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the  priority deadline
    • Create an  FSA ID
      • Step-by-step instructions can be found  here
    • BYU-Idaho’s school code is 001625
    • You will need your financial information and if you are a dependent student, as defined by the FAFSA, your parents will need to enter their financial information and sign and submit the FAFSA as well
  • Check your BYU-I financial aid student portal approximately 5 business days after you’ve submitted your FAFSA to ensure it’s been received
  • Continue to watch your financial aid student portal and submit any requested documents to the Financial Aid Office
  • If you completed your FAFSA by the priority deadline, your financial aid should show in your student portal approximately one month before your assigned track begins

Avoid the following common FAFSA errors:

  • All fields on the FAFSA should be filled out with a “0” or “not applicable where possible.” Leaving fields blank can cause miscalculations
  • Round all amounts to the nearest dollar and do not use decimal points
    • For example, $5236.64 would be entered as 5237 on your FAFSA
  • The social security number and/or driver’s license number you enter on the FAFSA must be the correct one assigned to you. Do not make up an identification number
  • The name (first, middle, last) must match the name the Social Security Administration (SSA) has on file for you when your FAFSA is processed. If you’ve recently been married and have not changed your name through the SSA more than 8 weeks ago, use your maiden name when submitting your FAFSA. If your name does not match, your FAFSA cannot be processed until it does, which will cause significant delays in your financial aid.
  • Temporary addresses should not be listed on the FAFSA. Please use your permanent address, not your apartment while you’re at BYU-Idaho
  • Use the financial information from your Federal Income Tax Return when completing the FAFSA
  • Children that will be born before June 30th of the award year need to be reported as a member of your household if more than half of the child’s support will be paid by you. Report them as being in your household even if they are not yet born when you complete the FAFSA
  • Use your  FSA ID to sign your FFSA. If you are a dependent student, your parents will also need to sign and submit your FAFSA with their own FSA ID
  • The  FAFSA is a  free application. Do not use sites such as FAFSA.com, which require payment to complete your application. Save your money for college!