Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions

How do I apply for financial aid?
The first step in applying for financial aid is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. If you have filed a FAFSA for the previous academic year, you may file a Renewal FAFSA online at the same web site. We strongly encourage you to complete the FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st each year. Be sure to use IRS Data Retrieval to download federal income tax data needed from the IRS into your FAFSA. Be sure to list Berry College and include our School Code 001554 on the FAFSA application so that we will receive your application from the federal processor.

What are the financial aid application deadlines?
FAFSA applications are available starting in January for the upcoming year. In order to receive maximum consideration for financial assistance, we recommended that you complete the FAFSA and submit it to the federal processor by March 1st.

Am I required to be accepted for admissions in order to receive financial aid?
Yes. In order to receive any financial assistance in the form of grants, scholarships, work study or loans, you must be admitted to Berry College through our admissions process.

Do I need to come in to apply for financial aid?
No, you do not need to come in to the office to apply for financial aid. However, you may bring your completed FAFSA on the Web worksheet and federal income tax return to our office for review before submitting it online.

May I make an appointment to see a financial aid counselor?
Yes. Call or email our office at 800 MTBERRY or email us at financialaid@berry.edu to schedule an appointment with a financial aid counselor.

What are your hours of operation?
Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

How can I better understand the terminology used by Financial Aid?
Financial aid has its own vocabulary. A helpful website to assist you with the terminology of financial aid is: http://www.finaid.org/questions/glossary.phtml The financial aid glossary is an excellent tool to assist you with the most commonly used terms and acronyms.

Where is the Financial Aid office located at Berry College?
We are located in Hermann Hall, Room 105

What will happen after I have completed and submitted my FAFSA?
You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), a multi-page document that confirms your application has been received by the federal processor and reports back to you the information you supplied on the application. You will receive an electronic SAR at the e-mail address you listed on your application. You must review the data and make any corrections needed online.

It has been a while since I filed my FAFSA application, but I still have not received my SAR. What can I do?
Contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FEDAID (1-800-433-3243) or go to the FAFSA Web site and select "Check Status of a Submitted FAFSA." A PIN is not required to check the status of an application.

Do I need to send a copy of my SAR to the Financial Aid Office?
No, provided that you have applied for admission and have listed Berry College and our school code (001554) as one of the schools on the FAFSA application, we will receive the information electronically from the federal processor.

Do I need to reapply for financial aid each year?
Yes. You must submit a FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA each year. The FAFSA applications are available beginning January 1 for the upcoming academic year.

What determines whether or not I will receive financial aid?
The primary factor that determines whether or not you are eligible for financial aid is financial need. Financial need is computed by determining the educational costs (tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and other personal allowances) less your family contribution, based on federal formulas. The difference between the two numbers is your need for financial assistance. A student that has no financial need may be eligible for an unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan. Parents can also apply for a Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS).

When are award letters mailed out?
We begin mailing award letters to the incoming Freshman class in February. Upperclassman award letters are issued after the end of the spring semester. In order to receive notification of your need based financial aid awards, your financial aid file needs to be complete.

What are some of the common mistakes students make when filing for financial aid? The most common mistakes include:

  1. Not filing the FAFSA/Renewal FAFSA application early enough.
  2. Not reading instructions completely.
  3. Not fully completing the application.
  4. Not using the correct social security number.
  5. Not using your correct name as it appears on your social security card.
  6. Not submitting information exactly as reported on your federal income tax returns. If the tax return differs from the SAR, corrections must be made.
  7. Reporting taxes withheld as opposed to taxes paid.

What is the maximum income my family can make and still receive financial aid?.
There is no maximum income level. Your need for financial aid is determined by many different factors, such as the number of people in your family and how many of those people are in college. Additionally, there are many different financial aid programs to assist students at all income levels. The best way to find out what you might qualify for is to complete the FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA. Merit based financial assistance is awarded to students after they are admitted to Berry College.

If my parents are divorced or separated, whose financial data should be used when I'm completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
If your natural parents are separated or divorced, use the natural parent with whom you lived with the most during the last 12 months. If you lived with neither parent, or lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent that provided the most financial support to you over the last 12 months. If that parent has remarried, you must also include the stepparent's financial information on the application, and the parent and stepparent should report themselves as married on the FAFSA application.

I am under age 24 and my parents do not give me any money towards my education nor do they claim me on their income taxes. How can I be declared "independent" in order to receive financial aid
The Higher Education Act of 1992 set requirements for establishing independence. There are questions on the FAFSA form that are used to determine whether a student is considered a dependent or independent student.

If you can answer "YES" to any of these questions, you are an independent student. If you answer "NO" to all of the questions, you are a "dependent" student. If you have extenuating circumstances, or the relationship between you and your parents has dissolved, you may be eligible for a Dependency Override. Please call our office and request to speak with a financial aid counselor to see if you qualify for a Dependency Override.

I am going to be married during the school year for which I am applying for financial aid. Can I file as married?
No. You must indicate your marital status as of the date you are completing the FAFSA application. You cannot update your FAFSA due to a change in your marital status. Contact the Office of Financial Aid about your change in circumstances.

What if I have unusual circumstances?
If any of the following circumstances apply to you and/or your family, check with your financial assistance counselor immediately to see if this may affect your financial assistance eligibility:

  1. Divorce of parents or divorce of you and your spouse.
  2. Death of parent or spouse.
  3. Loss of employment.
  4. Loss of other income or benefits (such as social security or child support) by you, your parents or your spouse.
  5. Excessive medical expenses paid out of pocket.

If I am not eligible for financial aid based on financial need, is there any other financial aid available?
Many scholarships are not based on financial need, but rather on academic ability or other achievements. Go to the scholarships link on our web site for information. Federal student and parent loans also are available to all families.

Verification Questions

What is verification and why was my file selected for verification?
Many student FAFSAs are selected by the federal processor for a process called verification. This process is a federal requirement of confirming accuracy of data supplied by you and/or your parents on your FAFSA application. We will notify you by email and regular mail if your financial aid file has been selected for verification. Documents required may include IRS tax return transcripts, a completed institutional verification form, and other documents. The verification process must be complete before any federal aid or other needed based aid can disburse to your student account at Berry College.

What can I do to ensure that my file will clear the verification process?
Before completing the FAFSA, we encourage all families to make sure you have all the appropriate documents needed to accurately complete the application, such as a copy of your federal income tax return. We strongly encourage students and parents to use IRS Data Retrieval to file their FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA application early.

Why is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool recommended for FAFSA completion and verification purposes?
Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is:

  1. The easiest way to provide your federal income tax data.
  2. The best way of ensuring that your FAFSA has accurate federal income tax information.
  3. Timely. It will keep you from having to order and provide a copy of your or your parents' IRS tax return transcripts to your college, which can take several weeks to receive.
  4. Minimizes the chances that your FAFSA will be selected for verification.


How long will the verification process take?
Verification may take 10 to 20 working days depending on various situations. However, during busy periods, the verification process may take longer due to the increased number of student files being verified. We encourage you to complete your FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA application early and to use our assistance in helping you fill out your forms accurately the FIRST time.


Satisfactory Academic Progress Questions

What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?
SAP is a set of federal regulations that requires students to demonstrate they are moving through their academic program at a reasonable pace and "making progress" toward their degree. Berry College’s SAP policy is located in the college catalog.

Will I lose my financial aid if I fail to maintain SAP?
The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is determined at the end of the every spring semester. A student who is not maintaining SAP is placed on Financial Aid Suspension due to not meeting SAP standards is ineligible for all types of financial assistance. Exceptions may be granted for extenuating circumstances beyond the student's control. However, the student must have circumstances that are documented and must submit specific, required information for a SAP Committee Review. 

Can I appeal if I am ineligible for financial aid for failing to maintain SAP?
Yes, you can appeal if you have extenuating circumstances that have contributed to your failure to maintain good standing. Documented medical reasons, serious illness, or death of a family member are examples that may be considered in an appeal. Please be sure to speak to a financial aid counselor for further guidance.

What happens to my financial aid status if I drop or completely withdraw from school?
If you have already received your grant monies and drop hours which change your enrollment status, you will be required to repay certain grants. If you completely withdraw from Berry College before the 61st percentile of the semester, you will be required to repay a percentage of the financial aid that you have received for the semester to the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, you may owe the college additional funds that were initially credited to your account but have now been returned to the federal government by the institution.

CAUTION: If you are a financial aid recipient and are thinking about dropping hours, withdrawing from any classes or completely withdrawing from the college, please consult with a financial aid counselor. This can have a negative impact on your SAP status.

Student Work Questions

What is Federal Work-Study (FWS) and how do I apply for it?
Federal Work-Study is a need based financial aid program that allows a student to work and earn money. To apply for FWS you need to complete the FAFSA. Berry College also has a Berry Student Work program which is not need based. All students who are enrolled at Berry have the opportunity to work on campus regardless of financial need. We encourage you to check our student work link on our home page for further information.

What other work opportunities are available? ALL students at Berry regardless of financial need are given an opportunity to work on campus. We encourage you to check out our student work website to learn more about this great opportunity.

Grant Questions

What is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and how do I apply for it?
The FSEOG is a federal grant program that is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need who has a zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Priority is given to students who receive the maximum Federal Pell Grant. You must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours to be considered. These funds are limited so those that apply the earliest are more likely to receive them.

Scholarship Questions

How do I apply for and receive scholarships through the College?
Scholarships at Berry College are offered based on merit and financial need. At the time of admission to Berry College you will be awarded merit based scholarships and grants. After Berry receives your FAFSA application and your financial aid file is complete for review, you will be evaluated for additional financial aid based on need.

What should I do if I am awarded a outside scholarship?
If you are awarded an outside scholarship, it is imperative that the college receives the funds from the donor in ample time to credit it towards your tuition and fees. When mailing the scholarship check to Berry, the donor must specify your name and student ID or SSN, the term in which the funds are to be applied, what the funds are to be used for (ex: tuition and fees) and whether any remaining funds can be given to that student.