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The Office of Financial Assistance: Financial Aid Q & A


What is the Academic Year?

At Harris-Stowe State University, the Academic Year is defined as a standard term of two semesters using the credit hour system. All programs with the exception of the Accelerated Business programs are on a fall and spring semester containing 16 weeks for instruction and final exam periods.  The Accelerated Business programs operate two eight sessions within each semester. For the purpose of awarding Federal Student Aid, the academic year is 30 credit hours for 32 weeks.

Do I apply for financial aid every semester?

No, you do not need to apply for aid every semester, but you are required to submit a Federal Application for Financial Assistance (FASFA) at the beginning of each academic year; although the fall semester, which usually starts in August, is considered to be the beginning of the academic year, the FAFSA applications can begin being accessed online at after January 1st, and priority is given to students who complete the application prior to April 1st.

What if I have not filed a tax return?

When completing the FAFSA, there is an option for the filing status that states “Will file.” If you are filling out the FAFSA before you have filed, select this status and then insert estimated earnings for each of the questions. Proceed with completing and submitting your FAFSA form. Once you have filed your taxes, it is required that you go back into your FAFSA and change your filing status from “Will file” to “Completed.” Make sure you update all of the figures so that they are identical to the numbers on your tax forms. Failure to update your filing status will delay you from receiving any financial aid.

Click here to view how to request a copy of your tax transcript. 

What is an FSA ID?

The Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID is the unique username and password that you have created that is used to validate your identity and is recognized as your electronic signature, taking place of the Personal Identification Number (PIN) used in the past. If you have already created a PIN, you are encouraged to link it to your FSA ID for quicker identity confirmation by the Social Security Administration. All students and parents who complete the FAFSA and apply for student loans must have one, as of May 2015. FSA IDs are unique to each individual, so the email addresses used for the parent's FSA ID cannot be the same as that used for the student's. FSA IDs can be established by following the directions at (additional assistance can be found on our "How To" for Hornets page).

How is dependency status determined for financial aid?

The FAFSA asks specific questions to determine your dependency status for financial aid. Generally, dependency determination is based on the following information:

  • Your age (24 or older is considered "Independent")
  • Your marital status
  • Whether you have children or dependents who live with you and/or receive more than half of their support from you
  • If you are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces
  • If you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • If at any time after you turned age 13, both of your parents were deceased, you were in foster care, or you were a dependent or ward of the court
  • If you have been determined to be an emancipated minor by a court in your state of legal residence
  • If you were or are in legal guardianship, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence
  • If you were homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless
Please note that documentation to support any of the above responses may be requested by the Office of Financial Assistance. 

What does being selected for verification mean?

Verification is a process where the information provided on the FAFSA is compared with signed copies of student (and parent/spouse) tax forms, W-2s, and/or other financial documents. Thirty to 35 percent of all financial aid applications are chosen for verification. The selection of an application for verification does not mean the information provided is incorrect. Some applications are selected for review on a random sample basis, and some applications are selected based upon a set of common edits that check data for consistency and logic. If there are discrepancies between the FAFSA and the financial documents, the Office of Financial Assistance will send the necessary corrections electronically to the central processor.

If your application is chosen for verification, you will receive a written request for the necessary information. You will not be eligible for any federal or state aid until all of the necessary documentation is received and the review is complete.

How do I check on the status of my financial aid?

You may review the status of your financial aid by checking your MyHSSU account. To check if all documents are received, please select the Financial Aid Document Tracking menu. To check on your award letter, please select the Financial Aid Awards menu and specify for what academic year you are seeking. To check what financial aid has been transmitted to your account, please select Account by Term.

How does the Office of Financial Assistance communicate with students?

The Office of Financial Aid communicates with enrolled and continuing students via the students’ Hornets email as well as their MyHSSU account. As a general rule, financial aid notices will not be sent by postal mail. Students are responsible for monitoring their status online through MyHSSU and receiving ALL communication sent to their Hornets e-mail account.

Incoming students will be issued a Hornets email and MyHSSU account upon acceptance to the University. Students are required to activate these accounts as soon as possible after receiving access instructions.

When is financial aid disbursed to students?

Harris-Stowe State University does not release funds until verification of attendance has been received in the Office of Financial Assistance for every class in which the student is registered.

Institutional Aid (academic, athletic, tuition waivers and other institutional scholarships) is disbursed at the end of the third week of class.

Federal Pell Grant/Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant is disbursed at the end of the third week of class.

State Funds are disbursed based on payment by the state. Generally, this is the end of the third week of class.

Direct Federal/Alternative Loans are disbursed 30 days after the start of the semester. For the Federal Direct Loans, students must have a completed Master Promissory Note (MPN) on file with the Department of Education and a completed entrance counseling session prior to loan disbursement. Disbursement rosters will only be received once a week – every Monday. Once the funds have been applied to your account, the Bursar’s Office (per federal regulations) has 14 days to issue the student/parent a refund from any excess funds received of the total bill. For more information on refunds, please contact the Bursar’s Office at (314) 340-5775.

What is satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for financial assistance?

Students are required to achieve a 2.0 cumulative GPA and complete 66 percent of their attempted course work each semester. Federal regulations limit the maximum number of hours a student may attempt and continue to receive financial aid to 150 percent. Click here to view the entire SAP policy

How does financial assistance communicate satisfactory academic progress status?

Although students will be notified in writing should they fall below satisfactory academic progress standards, it is the student’s responsibility to know his or her academic standing in regard to this policy. Failure to receive notification does not dispute or reverse the termination of a student’s eligibility to receive financial assistance. Students are responsible for monitoring their status online through their MyHSSU account and for receiving ALL communications sent to their Hornets email account.

What is financial-aid probation?

Students who fail to achieve satisfactory academic progress for a semester will be placed on probation. During this semester, students are required to sign a retention contract and complete whatever tasks are required to fulfill the Success Plan they will create with the retention coordinator. Students are still eligible to receive financial aid during the probationary semester as long as they are in compliance with the retention coordinator.

When are students required to submit an appeal?

Students who fail to achieve satisfactory academic progress for two consecutive semesters will be placed on suspension. Once a student is placed on suspension, they are considered ineligible to receive any form of financial assistance. A student is given the opportunity to appeal this decision by submitting proof to the Office of Financial Assistance that their failing grades were due to a problem that has since been resolved. Financial aid appeals must be based on an undue hardship caused by a personal injury, illness, death of an immediate family member or other mitigating circumstances supported with appropriate documentation. Documentation must be provided. The appeals committee, comprised generally of Enrollment Management, cannot/will not access any student’s private medical or educational records, due to privacy laws. Appeals without appropriate documentation will automatically be denied. 

To submit an appeal, you must log into the Student Home Page and click on the box in the bottom, right-hand corner titled Satisfactory Academic Progress. Answer each question and upload your documentation in the designated areas. For a print-out of this information, click here.

For help logging into the Student Home Page, please contact the Help Desk at (314) 340-3327.

Financial Aid Suspension and Reinstatement

If a student is denied an appeal, the student is placed on Financial Aid Suspension. Students will have their eligibility for financial assistance reinstated when they have reached the level of satisfactory academic progress stated in the policy. They may achieve this status by the completion of incomplete grades, correction of incorrect grades, or by bringing their cumulative GPA up to a 2.0 without the benefit of financial aid. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the Office of Financial Assistance of any changes or corrections to their grades for further review.

If a students' appeal is approved, the student's status will change from Suspension to Probation. The student is required to communicate with the Retention Specialist and comply with all requests of the retention program. The hold that was placed on the students' Financial Aid account will not be removed until the Retention Specialist has provided written documentation to the Office of Financial Assistance that the student is in compliance. If compliance is not met by the published deadline in the semester, the aid will be removed from the students' account and the student will be responsible for the balance remaining with HSSU.

The Office of Financial Assistance will publish this policy and will notify, by Hornets email, any student who is no longer eligible to receive financial aid funds. 

Transfer Students

Transfer students will be evaluated on the course work completed and the GPA achieved at their prior institution(s) before financial aid is processed. A student who does not meet the policy at HSSU will be placed on a probationary semester requiring 66 percent of their attempted hours completed and a 2.0 cumulative GPA to remain eligible for subsequent semesters.

How is aid awarded and disbursed for students on retention?

Financial Aid for students on retention is awarded on a semester basis. Funds are request and released once the student is in compliance with their retention plan. Per Federal regulations, loans will be disbursed in two separate disbursements. The first disbursement is 30 days after the semester begins, and the second semester is mid-way through the semester.

How does Harris-Stowe State University award summer financial aid?

Harris-Stowe State University’s academic year runs fall, spring and summer. Therefore, your eligibility for summer financial aid depends on how much of your financial aid eligibility was already received. You may be eligible for subsidized and/or unsubsidized Direct loans if you did not already borrow the maximum amount for your grade level and you are attending at least half time in a degree-seeking program. If you were eligible for the Pell grant during fall and spring semesters and did not receive your maximum annual award, you may be eligible for Pell grant funds. We recommend that you check with the Office of Financial Assistance to determine your eligibility for summer financial aid.


If I get financial aid once, do I get it every semester?

Several factors are taken into consideration when determining a student's continued eligibility for financial aid. Some things to consider:

1. The student's need status must continue to exist and not be eliminated as a result of outside assistance such as loans, grants or scholarships.

2. Enrollment must be maintained in at least six semester hours of coursework during any regular semester for partial aid, or in at least 12 semester hours during any regular semester for full financial assistance.

3. The information given relative to the student's need status or the amounts and sources of outside financial assistance received must not be found to have been knowingly misstated.

4. Academic progress that is at least conditionally satisfactory (status "P") must be maintained. However, if the student has the status "P" he or she is not eligible for any loans.

5. The student must not be in default on a Title IV loan and must not owe a repayment on any federal grants at any institution.

6. The student must reapply each school year. Priority date is April 1, but applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


Are there any scholarships available?

Available scholarships and the terms and conditions for such scholarships may be accessed by reviewing our page titled Scholarship Opportunities


What are the requirements for students receiving athletic scholarships?

1) Student athletes must maintain a 2.0 CGPA at the end of each semester.

2) Student athletes must maintain a cumulative completion rate of 67 percent at the end of each semester.

3) Student athletes must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester. If a student drops a class, is administratively withdrawn, or never attends one or more of their classes and drops below 12 credit hours the athletic award will be removed. 

4) Student athletes who are on academic suspension, retention or financial aid suspension will not be eligible to receive an athletic award.

5) If a student athlete is not physically able or no longer eligible to play for the sport they have been given the athletic award, the award will be removed.

6) Student athletes must participate in all practices and games for the sport they are playing for the semester they are enrolled.

7) Student athletes must attend all classes they are enrolled in for the semester. It is the responsibility of the student to inform their professor(s) if they will be absent from class due to a scheduled game. As such, the student will be required to make up all work missed while absent.

8) Athletic awards cannot exceed the cost of tuition; not to exceed 12 credit hours a semester. In some cases, a book award of $500 can be granted at the discretion of the athletics’ director.

9) If a student receives another scholarship and the award amount exceeds tuition costs, then one or more of the scholarships will be reduced as needed.

10) Athletic awards may be reduced or removed as needed to prevent a student from being over awarded for the semester. Student athletes cannot receive a refund from an athletic award.

11) All student athletes must comply with the rules of the American Midwest Conference (AMC), National Association of the Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Harris-Stowe State University Student-Athletic Handbook.

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