Five Questions: Financial Aid

There’s really no way around it – the financial aid process can get pretty confusing for students starting their college education, no matter what school they’re attending. If there’s anyone who knows about the intricacies of financial aid, it’s Full Sail University’s Financial Aid Associate Director of Compliance Miki Harris.

Miki and her team talk to hundreds of students each week, providing them with the solutions they need to make their time at Full Sail as productive and stress-free as possible. We went to Miki to address the top questions about financial aid, and here’s what she had to say:

What kind of financial aid is available for Full Sail students?

First things first: fill out the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). By doing so, you’ll be able to find out what loans or grants you may be eligible to receive. “Many families think they don’t qualify for federal aid, and prevent themselves from receiving it by failing to apply for it,” Miki says. “But most students are eligible.”

In the case that there’s still a balance remaining after your federal aid has been applied, there are two additional options:

  • Parent Plus Loan: Parents of dependent students can take this loan out to supplement the financial aid package. These typically carry a lower interest rate, and are taken out under the parent’s name.
  • Alternative/Private Loan: This works the same way as the Parent Plus loan, but is taken out under the student’s name.

Am I “dependent” or “independent”?

This is a common question students encounter when filling out the FAFSA. If you can answer YES to any of the following statements, you are eligible to apply for financial aid as an independent student:

  •  You are at least 24 years old as of December 31st of the award year covered by the FAFSA.
  • You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • You are a graduate or professional student (beyond a Bachelor’s degree)
  • You are married.
  • You are a ward of the court or both of your parents are deceased.
  • You have a legal dependent other than a spouse.

Can I get financial aid to cover my living expenses while I’m in school? 

If your Plus Loan or Alternative/Private Loan amounts to a higher amount than your tuition for the semester and academic year, the remaining balance will be sent to you as a living expense check. Just remember – that money is for your cost of living.

“We find out that there are students who will go out and buy a car with their living expense checks, and that’s not what the loan is for,” says Miki. “The rule is to minimize your debt. Your loans should be for education, food, and transportation. Don’t borrow the maximum amount just so you can live like a rock star – unless you want your life after graduation to be like a bad episode of Behind the Music.”

In other words, these funds must be repaid after graduation – it’s not a paycheck. Be responsible now and manage your debt appropriately.

When do I have to start making payments on my loans?

Repayment begins six months after the last day of attendance.

“There are four repayment plans: a standard, and three alternatives,” says Miki. “Alternatives have a lower monthly payment, but extend the term of the loan and increase the total amount of interest repaid over the life of the loan.

If you have previously attended another college and need to defer payments on those loans, or have any other questions, we have a dedicated Default Prevention Department to assist you with repayment solutions.”

Looking for more help?

Full Sail’s Financial Aid Department enrollment guides and financial aid customer care associates  are ready to answer any questions students may have. Visit the Customer Care Department on-campus (Building 120, suite 204) by walk-in or appointment, or contact by phone at 800.226.7625.