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FAQs and Facts About Financial Aid

Chances are, you aren't the only one who's asked.

Applying for financial aid

 How do I get financial aid?

Complete the appropriate Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and use school code #004508.

Learn about the process from start to finish.


 When should I apply for financial aid?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), is available from October 1st each year. The FAFSA will be asking for two-year-old tax information. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to download your tax information into the FAFSA quickly and easily.

Financial aid is awarded on a first-come/first-served basis, so we recommend that you apply early.

If you are starting your program in the Spring or Summer semester, you'll need to submit two FAFSA. For example, if you are starting in Spring 2020, you'll need to submit the 2019-2020 FAFSA for the Spring 2020 and Summer 2020, as well as, the 2020-2021 FAFSA for the following school year.

Go to the Important Dates page for financial aid processing timelines.​​​​​​​​


 What is an FSA ID and how do I get one?

Students, parents, and borrowers are required to use an FSA ID, made up of a username and password, to access certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity when accessing your financial aid information and electronically signing your federal student aid documents.

Create a new FSA ID


 What information should I have ready before sitting down to complete my FAFSA?

The FAFSA Checklist explains what information and forms students and parents will want to have on-hand to help simplify the process of filling out the FAFSA​​​


 What are some common errors people make on the FAFSA that I should avoid?

The list of the most common FAFSA errors​ can help you be on the lookout for mistakes that could delay your application​​


 What forms do I need to submit to complete my application?

About a week after submitting your FAFSA, check your To Do List in the Student Center of UCDAccess to see what additional documents (if any) we need for your application to be complete. Check out the forms we may need for a complete application.


 How do I apply as independent?

According to federal regulations, you are considered an independent student on the FAFSA IF at the time that you submit the FAFSA you meet at least one of these criteria:

  • 24 years of age or older
  • Married
  • Have a child or other legal dependents for whom you, personally, provide more than 50% of the support for that child or legal dependent and be able to document that support
  • Working on a master, or doctorate program in the upcoming school year
  • Currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training
  • A veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces

Watch the "FAFSA: Determining your Dependency Status" video on the left and read the U.S. Department of Education's Dependency Status page for more information.​​​​​


 What is the Student Aid Report (SAR)?

This is a summary of the information that you provided on your FAFSA. Review the SAR for accuracy. If the information is orrect, file it away for your records. But if you find errors, go back to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and correct any errors.​​​​​


 Is it true that drug convictions might affect my ability to get federal student aid?

Yes. Your eligibility might be suspended if the offense occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (grants, loans, or work-study). When you complete the FAFSA, you will be asked whether you had a drug conviction for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid. If the answer is yes, you will be provided a worksheet to help you determine whether your conviction affects your eligibility for federal student aid.

If your eligibility for federal student aid has been suspended due to a drug conviction, you can regain eligibility early by successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or by passing two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved drug rehabilitation program.

If you regain eligibility during the award year, notify the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office so that you can be considered for financial aid. Be sure to submit the FAFSA​.


If you are convicted of a drug-related offense after you submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you might lose eligibility for federal student aid, and you might be liable for returning any financial aid you received during a period of ineligibility.​​​


Financial Aid Award

 What is Cost of Attendance (COA) or budget?

The Cost of Attendance (COA) or budget consists of tuition, fees, books & supplies, health insurance, and living expenses. The University of Colorado Denver uses the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) budget parameters for the student’s costs, such as room and board, books, supplies, transportation, personal and childcare expenses.​​​


 What is EFC or Expected Family Contribution?

The U.S. Department of Education definition of EFC or Expected Family Contribution is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. Your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) are all considered in the formula. Also considered are your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year. The information you report on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to calculate your EFC. Schools use the EFC to determine your federal student aid eligibility and financial aid award.

Note: Your EFC is not the amount of money that you or your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by the University to determine the type and amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive. For more information about the EFC, see Funding Your Education: The Guide to Federal Student Aid at: To request a free copy of Funding Your Education: The Guide to Federal Student Aid, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).​​​​


 What is financial need?

Financial need is calculated by subtracting the EFC from the COA. This calculation helps the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office determine the student's eligibility for need-based financial aid such as, grants, work-study, and need-based student loans like the Federal Perkins Loan.​​


 Who is eligible for financial aid?

To be eligible for financial aid, you:

  • Must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as submit additional documentation as requested.
  • Must show that you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education by documentating that you received a high school diploma, GED certification or homeschool completion credential.
  • Must be enrolled at least half-time (Undergrad: 6 credit hours | Grad: 3 credit hours).
  • Must provide the University with your social security number for financ​ial aid processing.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen (documentation may be requested to verify your eligibility).
  • Must be degree-seeking in an eligible program as determined by the University.
  • [Male students] must be registered with the Selective Service System (SSS).
  • Must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards.
  • Must not be in default​ on an existing student loan.
  • Must certify that financial aid will be used for educational purposes only.
  • Must certify that if you purposely give false or misleading information, you may be fined up to $20,000, sent to prison, or both.
  • Must not have drug-related offenses.

 How much financial aid will I get?

Financial aid awarding is based on various eligibility factors reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), availability of funds and the CU Denver awarding policy.


 When will I receive my financial aid funds?

The aid disbursement and refund process occurs the week before your semester begins. Check out important financial aid dates.


 How many classes do I have to take to get financial aid?

You must be enrolled at least half-time (Undergrad: 6 credit hours | Grad: 3 credit hours).​​


 Why is my financial aid less this year than last year?

The FAFSA uses the tax year information from two years ago and for most families this information may differ from year to year. Changes in funding given to the University of Colorado Denver may also change the amount of aid that you receive. If you applied late, you may not have been offered need-based aid that you were eligible to receive.​​​​​


 What is an overaward and why was my award adjusted?

When your financial aid exceeds your financial need or the Cost of Attendance (COA) for the enrollment period, your financial aid is reduced.

If you are receiving grants, scholarships or other forms of financial assistance not appearing on your award letter, notify the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office.


 I am transferring to or from CU Denver so what do I need to do?

If you are transferring to CU Denver, add our school code 004508 to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Submit the FAFSA so that we can receive it and offer you financial aid. Make sure that you cancel your financial aid awards at your previous school.

If you are transferring from CU Denver, notify the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office, so that your financial aid awards can be canceled. In addition, contact your new school’s financial aid office for application instructions.​​


 What kind of financial aid is available for international students?

Please contact the International Admissions Office​ for assistance.


Disbursement of Your Financial Aid

 How do I know if all of my financial aid paid?

Your account status on the Student Center of the UCDAccess portal will list financial aid that has paid. Compare this list with your award to make sure that all of your aid has paid.

If you have an award that has not paid, you may still have outstanding forms or steps to take. Check your To Do List in Student Center of the UCDAccess​ portal to see if additional forms are needed or contact the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office.


 Why, how and when do I get a refund?

The Bursar’s Office begins the refund process 3-4 days after financial aid has disbursed (paid). Funds remaining after your University bill is paid are mailed to you in the form of a paper check by the Bursar’s Office. Paper checks are mailed every Friday. You can set up Direct Deposit in UCDAccess​. Contact the Bursar's Office for assistance.​


 Why hasn’t my financial aid or scholarship disbursed (paid)?

Enrollment: Are you registered for classes? The Federal Pell Grant and Federal TEACH Grant are adjusted based on your enrollment. However, you must be enrolled at least half-time to receive your other aid.

Loans: If you are borrowing a Direct Subsidized, Unsubsidized, or PLUS loan complete the Loan Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note (MPN) at​. If you are borrowing a Federal Perkins loan, you must complete the loan requirements to receive this loan. The instructions are listed on your To Do List in Student Center of the UCDAccess.

Scholarships: If your scholarship has not disbursed, you may not be registered for enough hours. Many scholarships require their recipients to be enrolled full-time.

Another reason that your scholarship hasn’t disbursed yet is the scholarship funds have not been received from the donor. If the donor is an organization outside CU Denver, contact the donor to see when and where the money was sent. Ask them if they are mailing a paper check or sending electronic funds to the University and notify our office. If the donor sent the money, contact us to see whether the scholarship money has been received.


 What happens if I drop a class during the add/drop period and I already got my refund?

If your enrollment status has dropped during the add/drop period, your Federal Pell and TEACH Grants will be adjusted based on your enrollment.

You must be enrolled at least half-time​ to keep your student loans. After your financial aid is adjusted, you may be required to return some of your refund.


 What happens if I drop a class after the add/drop period and I already got my refund?

If you received a financial aid refund and your enrollment has dropped after the add/drop period, your award may be adjusted. The course you drop will receive a “W” grade and could affect your Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)​​​ status.​​​​


 What happens if I withdraw or drop all of my classes at CU Denver?

If you withdraw or drop all of your classes, your award will go through a process called Return of Title IV Funds [34 CFR 668.22(k)] where the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office will perform a federal calculation to see how much of your federal financial aid must be returned to CU Denver. In addition, the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office will also calculate whether you must return your state and institutional aid.

We highly recommend that you meet with your academic advisor, as well as a financial aid advisor before dropping all of your classes. In addition, read and understand the withdrawal policy.


Student Loans

 What is the difference between the subsidized and unsubsidized loans?

If you graduate in a reasonable timeframe, the federal government will subsidize (pay) the interest on subsidized loans while you’re in school, for the first 6 months after you graduate or leave school, and any periods of deferment. Undergraduate students demonstrating financial need through their FAFSA could be eligible for this loan.

Interest on unsubsidized loans​ will start accruing at the time the loan is disbursed. To learn more about Federal Direct Loans, visit


 How do I accept only some of my loans?

Follow the instructions for Accepting and Declining Your Financial Aid Award.​​


 Why do I need to do Loan Entrance Counseling & MPN?

The U.S. Department of Education requires that you complete the Loan Entrance Counseling and the Master Promissory Note (MPN) if you are borrowing Direct Loans for the first time at CU Denver. The Loan Entrance Counseling covers your rights and responsibilities, interest rates, repayment options, and the consequences of default.​​ The MPN is a legal document in which you promise to repay your federal student loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to your lender or loan holder.​​​​​


 I don’t have an FSA ID to complete my Master Promissory Note (MPN) so what do I do?

The FSA ID that you used to sign your FAFSA is the same ID you will use to complete your Master Promissory Note (MPN). Visit the FSA ID web site for instructions on obtaining a new FSA ID, or to replace one that was forgotten, lost or stolen.​​


 How can I increase my Direct Loans?

The Financial Aid & Scholarships Office will award the annual limit​ as long as the total award does not exceed the Cost of Attendance (COA)​. Loans cannot be increased beyond the annual limit.

If you accepted less than the original award, please submit the Loan Adjustment Form to the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office to borrow those remaining funds.​​


 Why hasn’t my Fedral Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans disbursed (paid)?

  1. You must be enrolled at least half-time.
  2. You must complete the Loan Entrance Counseling and the Master Promissory Note at​.


 Why hasn’t the Parent PLUS Loan disbursed (paid)?

  1. Your student must be enrolled at least half-time.
  2. The parent borrower must submit the PLUS Application and the Master Promissory Note (MPN) at​

 Why hasn't my Grad PLUS Loan disbursed (pay)?

  1. You must be enrolled at least half time (3 credit hours).
  2. You must complete the Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note at​ to receive your loans.

 Where can I see all the federal loans I've borrowed?

Go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at to see all of the federal student loans  you've borrowed.5

 Why do I need to do Loan Exit Counseling?

Upon graduating, leaving school, or dropping below half-time enrollment, the U.S. Department of Education requires that you complete Loan Exit Counseling. As part of your Loan Exit Counseling, your lender will provide you with specific information regarding your loans including your loan servicer’s contact information, where to send payments, repayment options, and loan consolidation.

If you received a Perkins Loan, Exit Counseling information is available on the Student Debt Management web site.​


 When and how will I get my alternative (private) loan?

After the loan has been certified by the University and processed by your lender, the loan funds will be sent to CU Denver. Remember that your lender is required by law to give you ten days to cancel the loan.

About 3 days after your loan is certified, contact your lender to see when the loan money will be released to CU Denver. About 3 days after the loan money arrives, it will be applied to your University account. After your bill is paid, the Bursar's Office will send you any remaining loan money .

Contact the Bursar's Office for assistance viewing payments and refunds on your university account.​​​​​​​


Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

 What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?

Federal and state financial aid regulations require that students meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards to be eligible for financial aid. The purpose of SAP is to ensure academic success and graduation. Students who do not meet the SAP standards are not eligible for aid.​​

Please read and familiarize yourself with the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Information for Students​​​.​



 How do I get information about scholarships?

Start with our scholarships page.

Then check out these sites:

  1. FinAid!
  2. FastWeb
  3. High School Counseling Center
  4. Any library

 When will I know if I am getting scholarships?

​Depending on the scholarship, you will be notified in writing by the donor if you were selected as a scholarship recipient.​​​


 What do I do if I get a scholarship from an organization outside CU Denver?

If you are receiving grants, scholarships or other forms of aid not appearing on your award in the UCDAccess, please notify the CU Denver Financial Aid & Scholarships Office.

In addition, notify the donor that you will be attending CU Denver. Scholarship payments should be sent to the CU Denver Financial Aid & Scholarships Office for processing.​


 Is my scholarship renewable?

Most scholarships are a one-time award. Your scholarship award letter will notify you if the scholarship is renewable. If you aren’t sure whether your scholarship is renewable or not, contact the donor that awarded the scholarship.​​​​​


Special Circumstances or Reduction in Income

 What do I do if my income is less than last year?

Special circumstances impacting your family contribution and educational expenses are evaluated on an individual student basis. Contact a Financial Aid Advisor to see if you qualify for a review of your special circumstance.

More information is available under Reporting Special Circumstances.


 When will I get financial aid after I submit the Reconsideration of Income Request?

The review process can take up to 6 weeks. Reviews are done throughou​t the school year; however, the absolute deadline to submit an appeal is 45 days prior to the last day of the semester. All appeal decisions are final.​​​


 What if I have other special circumstances?

Contact a Financial Aid Advisor to see if you qualify for a review of your special circumstance.​​


Study Abroad

 Can I get financial aid to study abroad?

Most federal, state and institutional sources of financial aid for which a student may normally qualify, with the exception of work-study and certain scholarships, can be used towards covering reasonable costs associated with authorized CU Denver study abroad programs.

Visit the Study Abroad​ web site for more information. You must also submit the Study Abroad Packet​​.​​



 What is verification and why was I selected?

Students are selected for verification by the FAFSA processor or could be selected by the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office if information on the FAFSA seems unusual or is conflicting.​ The Verification section under Financial Aid Policies contains more information about the policy and procedures.


 Do I have to complete verification?

If you have been selected for verification, you must submit all requested documents for this process. Check your To Do List in Student Center of the UCDAccess​ portal for a list of requested documents.

If you do not complete verification and you qualify for need-based financial aid, such as the Pell Grant or Colorado grant, you will not be eligible to receive it.


 How long does verification take and when will I get financial aid?

The Financial Aid & Scholarships Office begins the verification process as early as March and verifies throughout the school year. The process could take 2 to 4 weeks after all required documents have been received signed and completed. As soon as you are notified that you are selected for verification, submit the documentation right away to avoid delay in receiving financial aid.​​​


Work-Study Employment

 How do I get a work-study job?

You must be awarded work-study to work in a work-study position. Following the procedures on the Apply for Financial Aid page.

If you have been awarded work-study, please check the jobs listing on the Handshake Job Board.

Visit the Student Employment site for more information and employments forms.


 Am I eligible for work-study?

Work-study is awarded based on financial need and the awarding policy. More information is available at the Work-Study Program web page. Students must submit the FAFSA to be considered.

Students are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Please be aware that your loan award may be reduced to make room for the work-study award.​


 How many hours can I work in my work-study job?

You can work up to 20 hours per week but are limited to the amount of your work-study award. After you are hired, work with your supervisor to create a work schedule that utilizes your work-study award for the entire term or school year.​​​​​