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Financial Aid FAQs

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GENERAL QUESTIONS

How do I apply for financial aid?

By filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. You must apply each year, as early as October 1, for the following academic year. The FAFSA form is available to students and parents at fafsa.gov or through the myStudentAid mobile app. Berry College’s FAFSA code is 001554.

What do I need in order to file my FAFSA?

Students and parents will need an FSA ID as well as the tax information corresponding to the “prior-prior year” to the academic year of application. For instance, the 2020-21 FAFSA form will ask for 2018 tax information. Be sure to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for both the student and the parents’ tax information. The IRS DRT is designed to transfer your tax information safely and accurately.

I probably don’t qualify for need-based aid, should I still file a FAFSA?

Yes! Many families mistakenly assume that they do not qualify for aid and miss on financial aid opportunities offered by the U.S. Department of Education, their state, and/or college. The FAFSA is a free application and will facilitate your qualification for as much aid as possible as you explore financial aid offers. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a FAFSA income “cut-off”.

If you wish to be qualified for Federal Direct Loans, you will need to file a FAFSA. If accepting Federal Direct Loans, there are other items needed before these funds may disburse to your student account. These items are listed in MyBerry or VikingWeb as requirements of your financial aid file, and available for completion with your FSA login information at studentaid.gov

What happens to my FAFSA information once submitted?

Once you have completed your FAFSA form, the U.S. Department of Education will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. Be sure to look over your SAR, check for any mistakes, and make corrections to your FAFSA data if necessary.

If you have applied for admission and included Berry College as one of the schools on the FAFSA, the Office of Financial Aid at Berry College will receive an electronic version of your FAFSA.

What are the financial aid application deadlines?

To receive maximum consideration for financial aid assistance, including eligibility for special scholarship programs, incoming students must submit a FAFSA application by January 15.

Returning Berry College students may submit a FAFSA application as early as October 1 and by February 1 (priority date) of each year in school for the following academic year.

Am I required to be accepted for admission in order to receive financial aid?

Yes. A student must be accepted for admission to Berry College in order to receive a financial aid offer. A financial aid offer may include grants, scholarships, work study or loans.

What determines whether or not I will receive financial aid?

In addition to federal and state aid, Berry College offers merit scholarships (Berry Academic Scholarships) and need-based grants (Berry Grants from Alumni & Friends) to those students who qualify.

In order to determine qualification for federal aid and Berry Grants from Alumni & Friends, Berry College must receive a valid FAFSA from the student each year.

Financial need is determined by subtracting the family’s expected contribution, or EFC as calculated by the FAFSA, to the Cost of Attendance, COA (direct and indirect costs of attending the college). The EFC does not represent the dollar amount a student or family must pay, nor does financial need represent the amount of need-based scholarship a student will receive.

Some state and Berry College need-based programs may also subtract other aid received before determining any remaining financial need as a factor for qualification.

Do I need to file a FAFSA if I am not interested in loans nor in need-based grants?

Students who seek to be qualified only for Berry Academic or other merit scholarships do not need to file a FAFSA.

Students who seek to be qualified for Berry Academic or merit-based scholarship and would like to apply for state of Georgia aid only must file the GSFAPPS: Georgia HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarship Grant Application & Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant Application. This application available at Gafutures.org is a one-time application that allows eligibility for state aid to be determined without the FAFSA.

When does Berry College issue financial aid offers?

First-year and transfer admitted students will receive their Berry College financial aid offer as early as November 1.  This first financial aid offer is included with the admission information package and is subject to updates as additional information is provided throughout the following months.

Returning students’ financial aid offers are issued during the spring and throughout the summer.

Where can I find my most up-to-date financial aid information and offer?

If you are an incoming admitted student you may check MyBerry for your admission and most up-to-date financial aid information and offer. Be sure to check for any items still needed for the completion of your financial aid file.

Returning students may log into VikingWeb to review their financial aid information.

What are some of the common errors leading to mistakes on the FAFSA and delaying the process of qualification for financial aid? 

  • Not filing or renewing the FAFSA application early enough or by the deadline
  • Not getting an FSA ID before filling out the form
  • Not using the FSA ID correctly (student or parent) when starting the form
  • Not using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
  • Overlooking definitions and mistakenly assuming the meaning of the following (the FAFSA provides clear definitions for each term)
    • legal guardianship; parents; number of family members; number of family members in college; net worth of investments; taxable college grants and scholarships  
  • Inputting incorrect information or confusing parent with student information
  • Not reporting required information
  • Not signing the FAFSA form

What if my FAFSA information looks correct but does not accurately reflect my family’s present circumstances?

The Office of Financial Aid at Berry College may use the authority dispensed by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, to exercise professional judgement and make adjustments to certain data elements on the FAFSA under limited unusual circumstances. If any of the following circumstances apply to you and/or your family, please contact your admission counselor (incoming students) or financial aid counselor (returning students). Your counselor will assess the impact of these circumstances in your financial aid eligibility, as well as advice about the process and application for professional judgement if applicable.

  • Divorce of parents or student
  • Death of parent or spouse
  • Loss of employment and continued unemployment beyond four months
  • Loss of other income or benefits (such as social security or child support)
  • Excessive and unusual documented medical expenses paid out of pocket

There might be other circumstances which, while impacting your family’s financial circumstances, may not qualify as unusual for the purposes of professional judgement. In such cases, families may file a formal appeal for additional aid instead. Additional aid is not guaranteed as an outcome of the appeal.

Federal VERIFICATION QUESTIONS 

What is verification and why was my file selected for it?

Federal verification is a required process that confirms that the data provided on your FAFSA is accurate. The verification process entails the collection and review of documentation by the Office of Financial Aid. The verification process must be complete before any federal or need-based aid may be given to you.

About 30% of FAFSA records are selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education each year. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you will be notified by the Department of Education as well as by the Berry College Office of Financial Aid.

Schools may also select students for verification institutionally. Berry College will verify the records of students participating in any of the special scholarship programs each academic year. Special scholarship programs include the Gate of Opportunity Program, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship, and the Bonner Scholars Program.

Your financial aid offer may change as a result of the verification process.

What type of documentation will I be required to submit to the Office of Financial Aid?

Please note: The amount of documentation requested to fulfill the verification requirement may be minimized by the use of the Data Retrieval Tool in your FAFSA. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) allows students and parents who filed a U.S. tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to access the IRS tax return information needed and transfer the data directly into their FAFSA. The DRT is available in the finances section of the FAFSA online form, you will see a “Link to IRS” button if you are eligible to use the IRS DRT. We strongly encourage you to click the “Link to IRS” button to retrieve this information.

Most verification selections will require that you file a Verification Worksheet - V1 form.

Additionally, you may be asked to submit documentation at the discretion of the Office of Financial Aid. The following are some of the most frequently requested documents.

  • IRS Tax Return Transcript
  • Ink signed copy of your Tax Return
  • W-2 form, Schedule C, 1099 forms, or comparable wage statements
  • Proof of IRS Tax Filing Extension
  • Marital Status documentation

A comprehensive list of the documents required to complete your financial aid file with Berry College is available at MyBerry for incoming students and in VikingWeb for returning students.

How do I submit documentation to the Office of Financial Aid?

You may submit your financial aid related documents securely via our Financial Aid Document Upload Portal. The Financial Aid Document Upload Portal is available at MyBerry (incoming students) and in VikingWeb. Click ‘Finances’ and navigate to the ‘Financial Aid’ page.  Each item with a status of 'Missing' or 'Requires Resubmission' will need to be resolved before the verification process of your information may begin.

Steps for Uploading Financial Aid Documents

Please make sure that you include your full name and Berry student ID number on the top right corner of each document.

Because of the sensitive nature of the information requested, please do not e-mail documents to our office. If needed, you may mail documents to our office at:

Berry College Office of Financial Aid
2277 Martha Berry Hwy
Mount Berry GA 30149-5007

How long will the verification process take?

The Office of Financial Aid will be in touch via email and phone about the status of your file if incomplete before the verification process may begin. Once the process begins, it is usually completed in 10 to 20 working days.

SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS QUESTIONS 

What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?

SAP is a federally mandated policy that establishes three measurements of successful academic progress to be met by all students receiving financial aid. The SAP policy requires students to demonstrate that 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 “Admission & Financial Aid” section of the college catalog.

Will I lose my financial aid if I fail to maintain SAP?

A student who is not maintaining SAP for two consecutive terms is placed on Financial Aid Suspension and is ineligible for all types of financial assistance.

Can I appeal if I am ineligible for financial aid for failing to maintain SAP?

Yes. You can appeal if extenuating circumstances 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 financial aid funds 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. Funds that you have received for the semester and that are returned to the U.S. Department of Education may cause a balance to be paid to 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.

FWS funds may be offered as part of your financial aid but paid as per your participation in the LifeWorks program via your work payroll.

What other work opportunities are available?

All Berry College students, regardless of financial need or having filed a FAFSA, are given the opportunity to work by participating in the LifeWorks program.

Scholarship QUESTIONS 

How do I apply for and receive scholarships through the College?

You will be offered merit-based scholarships and grants at the time of admission. When Berry receives your FAFSA 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 an external scholarship?

If you are the recipient of an external 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 College, 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.

How can I apply for additional scholarships?

Returning students may check with their academic advisor or department for scholarship opportunities each spring semester for the following academic year.

The Office of Financial Aid maintains a compilation of external scholarships available in VikingWeb (Click on General Information and Outside Resources). Additionally, the following are good sources of financial aid related information as well as scholarship opportunities.

Please be aware of and protect against scholarship scams! Never pay to apply for a scholarship.

May I make an appointment to see a financial aid counselor?

Yes! The Office of Financial Aid is open from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Please call 706.236.1714 or email us at financialaid@berry.edu to schedule an appointment with a financial aid counselor. In order to speak with relatives or family members of students, the student must have granted FERPA permissions in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. Students may grant or update FERPA permissions by completing the Release of Information Form available in VikingWeb.

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