Information for Parents
Northwest University understands that often times Financial Aid is a new process for a parent as well as a student. This page is a guide specifically for parents to assist in their child’s pursuit of higher education.
How Financial Aid Works
A family doesn't have to be in a low-income category to qualify for financial aid. Some students receive aid based on special achievements while others receive aid based on their demonstrated need. Need is the difference between what it costs to attend a college and what your family is expected to pay. The basic formula to determine eligibility for aid is:
Educational costs - Expected family contribution = Eligibility for need-based financial aid.
Expected Family Contribution
The expected family contribution is a combined total of the parent and student contributions. A parent contribution is calculated for all dependent students. Both parents and students are expected to contribute toward student expenses if the student is considered a dependent. Both contributions are based on formulas developed by the federal government and are used at all colleges. The family contribution will be calculated when the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is processed by the federal processor.
The family contribution formulas are complex; they take into consideration a variety of factors including family size, number of family members in college, parent and student income and assets, age of the older parent, etc. There is not an income cut-off to use when determining eligibility. If you feel you and your student need assistance in meeting his or her college expenses then your student should apply for financial aid.
Sometimes your family may have a change of employment, additional expenses, or emergency situations. We recognize that each student’s situation is unique, so please communicate your special circumstances to the Financial Aid Services Office.
Types of Aid
Financial aid is awarded in four categories- grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study - and comes from several sources - federal and state governments, private donors and Northwest University . By utilizing a combination of several types of aid originating from various sources, the Financial Aid Services Office is able to award students with a "package" of aid. This package can include gift aid (grants and scholarships) and self-help aid (loans and work-study). Funds are assigned based on a variety of factors: state residency, enrollment status, academic achievement, talent, class level, and need.
Northwest University has grant and scholarship programs. Many students receive gift aid; it is possible that your student may be eligible for some form of gift aid. To qualify for a scholarship or grant through Northwest University your student must demonstrate one of the following: financial need, a particular talent or academic ability.
Federal Parent Loan (PLUS)
Federal PLUS Loans are available for parents of enrolled dependent students (as determined by the FAFSA). It is the only form of federal financial aid that a parent is able to receive on behalf of his/her student. A parent’s eligibility is based on his or her credit rating that is assessed by the Direct Loan Center (www.studentloans.gov). Amounts will vary, but the maximum amount a parent is eligible to borrow is the student’s estimated budget minus his/her financial aid. An application is required annually.
The interest rate for the PLUS loan is 7.9% as of July 1, 2010. Repayment of principle, which can be deferred while student is in school, and interest begin 60 days after the last disbursement of funds.
Other Types of Aid
All other types of financial aid are offered to the student themselves. To see all other aid available, visit the student Types of Financial Aid page.
Obtaining Your Student’s Information
In an effort to keep all student information safe and secure, we require information from parents requesting information from the Financial Aid Services Office. Only those whose information is found on a student’s current FAFSA will be able to attain student information from our office. When contacting our office, please make sure to have either the student’s Northwest University ID number or SSN, and the student’s permanent mailing address. In addition, we will require confirmation of the last four digits of your SSN and full name.
Some students may opt for additional protection under the FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974). In this case only the individual student will be allowed access to information regarding their financial aid status.
To contact our office, please call 425-889-5210 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Completing the FAFSA
Parents of students who are considered a dependent student are required to complete a parent portion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Here are some tips to help you quickly and successfully do your part.
Encourage Your Student to File Online
Completing the online application is quick and secure. The online form is especially convenient for parents and students that are not living at the same state or country because it allows both parties to complete and sign the application quickly and without the hassle of having to mail the application back and forth.
Get a Federal Student Aid ID
When filing online, both you and your student will have to apply for a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) through the Department of Education. The FSA ID is considered your electronic signature and is valid as your actual signature. It is important to keep your FSA ID because it is used as your signature on any US Department of Education document. You need only to apply once for an FSA ID, and you are able to use it for more than one of your children. Apply for an FSA ID now!
FAFSA Prep Checklist—What You’ll Need
- Name of parent(s)
- Social Security number(s)
- Date(s) of birth
- W-2 Forms*
- Federal Income Tax returns*
- Current bank statements and records of stocks, bonds, and other investments*
- Records of other untaxed income received*
- Your business or farm records, if applicable*
* Financial and income information should be for the calendar year prior to the academic year for which your child is applying for financial aid. For example, to complete the 2012-2013 FAFSA, use income information from the 2011 tax year.
File Your Taxes ASAP
A completed Federal tax return is helpful when completing the FAFSA, so it is important that you file as soon as possible so that your child’s financial aid award package is as accurate as can be. Also encourage your student to file their taxes ASAP. If a student is selected for the verification process they will need to provide tax transcripts which they can request from the IRS.
Print the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet
There is a worksheet available for print on the FAFSA website in case you want assistance in completing the FAFSA. Encourage your student to do the same.
Save Your Work!
Be sure when completing the FAFSA online to save your work in case you need to come back to it later. Save your work by clicking on the save button on the FAFSA site.
Ask for Help
If you ever find that you are stuck or confused about a question, there is free help available to you on the site. Just click on any of the help buttons, or you can even chat with a customer service representative by clicking the chat button. If you need help with the FAFSA, call 1-800-4-FED-AID or call our office at 425-889-5210, and we’ll be glad to help you.
Sign the FAFSA Application
Remember that your child’s FAFSA is NOT valid until both the student and the parent have signed the FAFSA. If you are unable to sign the online form with an FSA ID, remember to print the signature page to mail in.
Click the Submit Button
A very simple, but very important step—remember to submit your information so that your student’s application is complete. Financial Aid cannot be awarded to anyone with incomplete applications.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I pay to have someone else complete the FAFSA for my student since they can guarantee results?
A: You should NEVER have anyone or any organization complete the FAFSA for your student. The first “F” in FAFSA stands for Free and that is how it should stay. The truth is that no one can truly guarantee anything for your student. Often, these organizations claiming to be able to help find more aid will complete the form incorrectly, which can cost a lot more for your family in the long run. There are numerous scams where people will pose as financial aid experts, so the safest thing to do is to have your student complete the form his/herself and to talk to a financial aid office or the Department of Education if there are questions.
Q: Why does the school need tax transcripts?
A: The Department of Education randomly chooses families for a process called verification. For this process, the school is required to request tax transcripts to verify that the student’s application is accurate. Tax transcripts can be obtained through the IRS. All information is kept confidential and is used only for Federal Aid purposes.
Q: Can my child still receive aid if we do not complete the FAFSA?
A: In some cases, students are eligible for Northwest University scholarships or tuition credits without having the FAFSA completed. However, students without a submitted FAFSA will not be eligible for any need-based financial aid, grants, scholarships, or any type of federal student loan.
Q: My child has not been living with me/us for over a year. Why is he/she not considered an independent student?
A: According to the US Department of Education, students are not considered an independent student unless they meet the dependency status requirements. To be independent, students must be able to answer “yes” on the FAFSA to one of the questions relating to dependency status.