Freshmen and First Year Students
A first-time user's guide to Financial Aid
It is ideal for students to plan all of their financial aid activity a year in advanced. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is available January 1st of every year for the upcoming school year which begins in Fall (August). The MSU Denver scholarship application is also available around this time. MSU Denver scholarships and private scholarships award by organization outside of the institution typically have early deadlines and are designed to be awarded for the following year.
The priority deadline for both the MSU Denver scholarship application and having a FAFSA and completed financial aid file is the beginning of March.
It is important for students to start on their financial aid and scholarships early because some aid and scholarships are awarded on a first come, first served basis.
This does not mean that if you apply after March that you no longer qualify for any aid, but certain state grants, work-study funds and scholarships are exhausted after this time. It is in the student’s best interest to apply for all financial aid at the beginning of the year.
- Longer processing times
- Delayed aid disbursement
- Missing tuition payment deadline and receiving late fees
- Having to pay out-of-pocket for books and supplies
Step 1: Apply for the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
The FAFSA requires student and parent information if the student is Dependent, student and spouse information if the student is married, and just the student’s information if the student is Independent and single.
For more information on applying for the FAFSA, explore these links:
- Do I Need My Parent’s Information?
- Requests for Independence
- What is FAFSA?
- Extenuating circumstances
Step 2: Communicate with the MSU Denver Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships in regards to any additional requirements.
After completing the FAFSA, there is occasionally a need for financial aid officials to request additional information and documentation to verify the information placed on the FAFSA. It is important to keep in touch with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships to make sure all requirements are fulfilled. It takes about two (2) to three (3) weeks for the office to receive your FAFSA from the federal processor.
There are a couple ways to keep in touch with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and keep up with your financial aid file.
The primary source for information will come from the ConnectU portal. This portal gives students access to their academic records, financial aid files, tuition bills, forms, and waivers. It is also where students access their school email accounts.
You may also contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and speak with a representative.
Email is the primary means of communication at MSU Denver. Students are expected to check their ConnectU email accounts regularly for all administrative and class communications. The institution will not communicate with you through your personal email address or give you a phone call except in the case of an emergency.
You may also contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.
Follow this link for a ConnectU tutorial video.
Step 3: When your financial aid file is complete, you can accept and reject your financial aid awards.
Grants are accepted automatically.
Loans must be accepted in order to disburse.
Step 4: Waiting for aid to disburse.
Legally, the institution cannot disburse loans any sooner than ten (10) days prior to the first day of full-semester classes. The school is also prohibited from disbursing loans to first year, first time borrowers prior to thirty (30) days after the first day of full-semester classes. Grants and scholarships are not subject to the thirty-day delay. The thirty-day delay only occurs one semester. After the first semester, the student is no longer considered a first-time borrower.
Students who are counting on aid to pay for all of their tuition and school supplies should be prepared to pay for supplies out of pocket and reimburse themselves with financial aid at the end of the delay. There are sometimes First Time Borrower Book Loans available, but the availability of this aid is not guaranteed.
Step 5: Disbursed aid.
All financial aid is required to pay for any tuition and fees account balances before the left over aid (refund) can be issued to the student.
Student can either have their refunds deposited directly into their bank accounts by signing up for direct deposit or students will be issued a check that will be mailed out on either Tuesday or Thursday. Students may not pick up checks from the Cashier’s office.
If the student originally applied for aid in the Fall, they should not have any additional requirements in the Spring. All aid is divided in half between Fall and Spring. Summer aid is typically what is left over from Fall and Spring semesters. If you plan on attending Summer semester, either do not accept more aid than you need for Fall and Spring, or set some of your refund aside to pay for summer classes.
Your academic conduct and record directly affect your ability to receive financial aid. Dropping and failing classes can prohibit you from receiving financial aid and can also lead to you having to repay aid that you have received.
Students should also get into the habit of monitoring their student loans and grants through the NSLDS (National Student Loan Data Systems) government website at http://nslds.ed.gov . This website informs users of who is holding their loans, repayment periods, and repayment amounts. Student loans and Federal Pell Grants have limits as to how much a student can borrow or receive as an undergraduate.
Please visit the Debt Management page to receive more information on Stafford Student Loan limits and repayment.
More information on receiving Federal Pell grants and information about limits is available on the Grants page.