Financial Aid FAQ's

Question: 

1. How do I apply for financial aid?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed each year. Students can submit their application electronically by using FAFSA on the web. Please note that official transcripts are required from all previously attended institutions.

Once your FAFSA is submitted, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education. Carefully review this to make sure that all the information is accurate, as COTO will receive the same information. After your SAR is processed, we will determine your financial aid eligibility and send you a financial aid notification that lists the funding you can receive.

We may select you for Verification and ask you to submit additional documentation to our office. Please submit all required documents in a timely manner so that we may send your financial aid notification as soon as possible.

2. Do I need to fill out a FAFSA every year?

Yes, in order to be considered for Financial Aid you must file a FAFSA for every academic year.

3. Do I need to provide my parent’s information on the FAFSA?

All applicants for federal, state, institutional aid are considered either "independent" or "dependent," and dependent students are required to include information about their parents on the FAFSA. Use this Federal Student Aid infographic to determine your status.

A common question asked by students is whether they can declare themselves independent. Unless you can answer "Yes" to one of the questions in the infographic, you are considered a dependent student and must submit your parents' information on the FAFSA - even if they do not claim you on their taxes or provide any financial support to you.

Only in rare circumstances - when there is documentation of a complete break in the family situation - can our office override the general dependency criteria. If you think your situation qualifies for a dependency override, please contact our office and consult with one of our staff.

See “Am I dependent or independent?” for more detailed information about dependency status.

4. Which parent do I include on the FAFSA if my parents are divorced?

If you didn't live with either parent, or if you lived with each parent an equal amount of time, then include the parent who provided the greater amount of financial support during the past 12 months.

If you didn't receive any parent financial support during that time, include the parent who most recently provided the greater amount of parental support.

5. What types of financial aid do I apply for when I complete a FAFSA?

Eligibility for all forms of federal financial aid, including PELL Grant, FSEOG Grant, Federal Direct Loans, and Work-Study are determined when you complete the FAFSA.

6. When will I receive my financial aid refund?

Dates and disbursements are available by clicking here.

7. What is COTO’s School code and why do I need it?

College of the Ouachitas's Title IV code is 009976. When a student enters this code on the FAFSA, College of the Ouachitas will automatically receive an electronic version of the students processed Student Aid Report (SAR).

8. I probably don’t qualify for aid. Why should I apply?

All eligible students qualify for some form of financial aid, regardless of income. Financial aid is offered in the form of grants, scholarships, student and parent loans, and work-study. The type of aid you are offered is dependent upon information reported on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculated by the FAFSA.

9. Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid?

No. Students can apply for financial aid at any time after October 1st of the Prior Year. To be awarded federal aid students must be admitted to a degree seeking program. To receive funds, you must be admitted and enrolled at College of the Ouachitas.

10. I sent in my FAFSA over four weeks ago, but have not heard anything. What should I do?

Students who haven't received a Student Aid Report (SAR) should call the Federal processor at (319) 337-5665 or 1 (800) 433-3243. Students can also check the status of their application by clicking here.

11. How do I transfer my financial aid to COTO?

Financial aid does not transfer from one school to another school. Each school must determine your eligibility for financial aid. It may be exactly the same at each school or it may differ considerably.

The first thing students should do is contact the other school and cancel financial aid and notify the appropriate office that you are transferring.

Students will then need to add College of the Ouachitas to their FAFSA. You can request that your Student Aid Report be sent to College of the Ouachitas online by clicking here. College of the Ouachitas's school code is 009976. When these documents are received by the Financial Aid Office, we will contact you concerning the status of your application.

12. How do I apply for a student loan?

You must complete a semester specific COTO Direct Loan Application Form. Direct Loan Applications are available at Student Affairs or you may print one for use here.

13. What is the difference between a subsidized and an unsubsidized loan?

Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while a student is enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program. Upon dropping below half-time enrollment, interest will begin to accrue. Conversely, interest begins accruing immediately on an Unsubsidized loan regardless of a student's enrollment status.

See Federal Student Aid: Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for additional information.

14. What is “Entrance Counseling” and “Master Promissory Note”?

The term “Entrance Counseling” refers to the online counseling required by the federal government. The online form must be completed prior to any first-time COTO student’s loan application submission. During this online session, students will review basic facts about loans, managing their education expenses and their rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower.

The term “Master Promissory Note” refers to the legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s). Both Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note must be completed for COTO before you can submit a loan application. The link to both is here.

15. Can I cancel my loan if I change my mind?

Yes. Students may cancel all or a portion of their loan by informing the Financial Aid office in writing.

16. My application has been selected for Verification what does that mean?

Schools that disburse financial aid are required to verify a certain percentage of submitted FAFSAs. This should not in any way be construed as suspicion or doubt on our part or that of the Department of Education. The FAFSA can be a difficult form, and mistakes are very common. This is just a way of making sure everything is as accurate as possible.

You can read more about the verification process by following this link Federal Student Aid website.

17. I’ve already submitted my verification documents. How long will the process take to complete?

Verification should take no longer than three weeks, but significant delays occur if one or more of the following happen:

• We need additional documentation from you.
• Incorrect documentation is submitted.
• Documentation is not filled out correctly.

Before submitting your verification documents, make sure that:

• Every space is filled out
• Signatures are present in all the necessary fields