Apply for Financial Aid

In order to apply for financial aid, students must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Application Steps
More Information
Important Deadlines
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the FAFSA?
FAFSA stands for Free Application For Federal Student Aid. It is the form used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid including grants, loans and work-study. 

When can I apply?
If you are a senior in high school you can begin filling out your FAFSA after January 1st. Priority is given to early filers, and some forms of financial aid are on a first come, first serve basis. 

Where do I find the FAFSA?
You can locate and complete your FAFSA on the Web. The online FAFSA is faster than the paper form, with financial aid results arriving within 1-2 weeks. Doing your application online minimizes errors and automatically skips questions that are not relevant to you. You don't have to be intimidated by all of the information that is requested. The FAFSA is easy to fill out and, in most cases, takes very little time. For assistance filling out the FAFSA, click the "Before Beginning the FAFSA" link on the FAFSA website. 

Application Steps

Step 1
Choose the school(s) you are interested in.

Step 2
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application will determine the type(s) of federal aid for which you are eligible.

To complete the FAFSA you will need the Title IV code for each school you list on the application. You can obtain each school’s Title IV code at https://fafsa.ed.gov/.

Step 3
You may apply for a Personal Identification Number (PIN) at www.pin.ed.gov.  With your PIN you may access your FAFSA, sign your FAFSA electronically or sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN) electronically.

Next your financial need will be determined by the school. The financial aid office calculates your need by subtracting your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the Cost of Attendance (COA). Information from the FAFSA helps determine your EFC. Your EFC will be the same at any college you plan to attend. The COA, however, varies and will usually include the following: tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and personal and other miscellaneous expenses.

Once your FAFSA has been processed, your school will notify you of the type and the amount of financial aid that you may be eligible to receive. There are several different types of financial aid available.

Step 4
You will receive a Student Aid Report and your school will receive an Institutional Student Information Report (ISIR).

More Information

Below are some helpful sites regarding the FAFSA. Use these sites to apply for financial aid, receive your pin number, find school codes and learn more about college and FAFSA preparation.

FAFSA On the Web
The Pin Web Site
FSA Student Portal
Federal School Codes

For questions regarding your FAFSA application or to request materials call 1 800 4 FED AID.

Important Deadlines

Listed below are a couple of dates that are important to remember when applying for financial aid. We have also explained different ways that deadlines can be interpreted. Let us know if there is anything else we can do to help you get your applications turned in on time.

Federal Student Financial Aid Yearly Deadlines

  • June 30 - FAFSA must be filled out on the Web, renewed on the Web, or submitted in paper form by midnight Central Daylight time.
  • September 15 - Corrections on the FAFSA Web forms must be submitted by midnight Central Daylight time.

It is important to note the type of deadline you are up against. Ask your school about their definition of an application deadline, whether it is the receipt date and time, or the process date and time of the application. The Department of Education considers an application's receipt date and time to be when the application/correction has been successfully submitted. On the last page (called the Confirmation Page) of the FAFSA online submission process, a confirmation number can be found. This number contains the exact date and time (Central Standard Time) the form was received. It is recommended you print this for your records.

FAFSA applications must be completed and accepted by midnight to meet the deadline. If the application is started before midnight but is not completed until after midnight, it will not meet the deadline. In addition, any application submitted on the deadline date that contains errors may not be able to be reprocessed in time.

State Student Financial Aid Deadlines
State deadlines may be earlier than the federal deadline. Your state may also require an additional form. Check the requirements and deadlines.

Note: State forms do not replace filling out the FAFSA. You must fill out the FAFSA to receive federal student aid.

School Student Financial Aid Deadlines

Schools have their own deadlines and applications for awarding student aid. Check with the school's financial aid office for information.

School priority deadlines are as follows:

February 15 March 1

The University of Montana-Missoula 
Missoula College University of Montana

Dawson Community College 
Flathead Valley Community College
Miles Community College
Montana State University-Bozeman
Montana State University-Billings 
City College at Montana State University Billings
Montana State University-Northern 
Great Falls College Montana State University
Montana Tech 
Highlands College of Montana Tech
Helena College University of Montana
The University of Montana Western 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions in regard to Financial Aid. Click the questions to view the answers. If you have any other questions, please contact MUS Student Financial Services

Who should apply for financial aid?

Anyone who is considering pursuing postsecondary education should apply, even if they don’t think they’ll qualify.

What documents do I need to fill out a FAFSA?

You will need records of income earned in the year prior to when you will start school. You may also need records of your parents' income information if you are a dependent student.

For the 2012-2013 school year you will need financial information from 2011. You may need to refer to:
  • Your Social Security card. It is important that you enter your Social Security Number correctly!
  • Your driver's license (if any)
  • Your 2011 W-2 forms and other records of money earned
  • Your (and if married, your spouse's) 2011 Federal Income Tax Return.
    • IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040 EZ
    • Foreign Tax Return, or
    • Tax Return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, or Palau
  • Your Parents' 2011 Federal Income Tax Return (if you are a dependent student)
  • Your 2011 untaxed income records
  • Your current bank statements
  • Your current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond and other investment records
  • Your alien registration or permanent resident card (if you are not a U.S. citizen)

If a student is not living with his/her parents and receives no support from them, can they file as a self-supporting student?

Students who are under the age of 24 must file as a dependent student unless they meet certain criteria. This means they must supply their parents’ information when they file the FAFSA. To be considered independent, a student must meet at least one of these criteria:
  • Be 24 years of age.
  • Be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program.
  • Be married on the date of application.
  • Have children who receive more than half of their support from the student.
  • Have dependents (other than children or spouse) that live with the student and receive more than half their support from the student at the time of application.
  • Both parents are deceased, or the student is or was in foster care, or the student is or was a ward or dependent of the court at any time since turning 13.
  • Be on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
  • Be a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Be an emancipated minor as determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence.
  • Be in legal guardianship as determined by a court in the student’s state of residence.

Can a student obtain financial aid if they plan to attend school part time?

Almost all financial aid programs are available to students who attend school at least half time. Some institutions give preference to full-time students.

Does a student need to be admitted to a school before applying for financial aid?

No. Students can apply for aid before being admitted. However, some schools may require applicants to apply for admission before a financial aid package will be awarded. Students must be enrolled before they can receive funding from financial aid.

Is my financial aid award ever adjusted?

Yes! Financial Aid can be adjusted any time during the award year if one of the following situations occurs:
  • You do not maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  • You change your grade status from freshman to sophomore, program of study, or credits you are currently attempting.
  • You receive additional monies from sources not listed on your Financial Aid Award letter such as private scholarships, vocational rehabilitation assistance, veteran benefits, tuition waivers, employee tuition assistance, etc.
  • You previously submitted inaccurate, incomplete or conflicting information.
When your Financial Aid Award is revised, you are sent a revised award letter.; therefore, always read your most recent award letter to confirm your Financial Aid Award for the academic year.

If my parents are divorced, which parent is responsible for completing the FAFSA?

If your parents are separated or divorced, the custodial parent is responsible for filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The custodial parent for federal student aid purposes is the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months. (The twelve month period is the twelve month period ending on the FAFSA application date, not the previous calendar year.) Note that this is not necessarily the same as the parent who has legal custody. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, the parent who provided you with the most financial support during the past twelve months should fill out the FAFSA. This is probably the parent who claimed you as a dependent on their tax return. If you have not received any support from either parent during the past 12 months, use the most recent calendar year for which you received some support from a parent. These rules are based on section 475(f)(1) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 USC 1087oo(f)(1)).

How does bankruptcy affect financial aid?

Federal Loans
Generally speaking, a bankruptcy should have no impact on eligibility for federal student aid.

A few years ago students who had their federal student loans discharged through bankruptcy were required to reaffirm the debt in order to be eligible for further federal student aid. But the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-394, enacted October 22, 1994) amended the FFELP regulations dealing with loans discharged in bankruptcy. As a result of those changes, a borrower who had FFELP loans previously discharged in bankruptcy is no longer required to reaffirm those loans prior to receiving additional federal student aid.

Title IV grant or loan aid (including the Perkins loan program) may not be denied to a student who has filed bankruptcy solely on the basis of the bankruptcy determination. Financial aid administrators are precluded from citing bankruptcy as evidence of an unwillingness to repay student loans. Schools may nevertheless continue to consider the student's post-bankruptcy credit history in determining willingness to repay the loan.

As long as there are no delinquencies or defaults on student loans currently in repayment, the student should be eligible for additional federal student loans, regardless of any past bankruptcies. However, if some of the student's federal student loans are in default and were not included in a bankruptcy, the student will not be able to get further federal student aid until he resolves the problem. Students with loans in default should contact the lender (or servicer or current holder of the loan) to set up a satisfactory repayment plan in order to regain eligibility for federal student aid. (If the loan was discharged in bankruptcy after the borrower defaulted on the loan, it is no longer considered to be in default.)

Parents who apply for a PLUS loan (or graduate students applying for a Grad PLUS loan) may be denied a PLUS loan if they have an adverse credit history. The definition of an adverse credit history includes having had debts discharged in bankruptcy within the past five years. If this is the case, the parents may still be eligible for a PLUS loan if they secure an endorser without an adverse credit history. If the parents are turned down for a PLUS loan because of an adverse credit history, the student may be eligible for an increased unsubsidized Stafford loan.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

Yes. Most financial aid offices require that you apply for financial aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. After your first year you will receive a "Renewal Application" which contains preprinted information from the previous year's FAFSA. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.

Home        Privacy & Security       Accessibility        Contact Us       State Authorization       Search       Site Index

Montana University System • Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
2500 Broadway Street • PO Box 203201 • Helena, MT 59620-3201 • 406-444-6570

Copyright 2014 Montana University System. All Rights Reserved.