FINANCIAL AID OFFICE

FACULTY & STAFF

FACTS Spring 2014 Schedule
Thursday  Daily Topic Related Resources
Mar. 13, 2014 Introduction n/a
Mar. 20, 2014 Academic Advising Financial aid for Academic Advising
Mar. 27, 2014 na; spring break
Apr. 3, 2014 Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Federal SAP Guide
Apr.10, 2014 Undergraduate & Graduate Admissions Undergraduate Admissions Guide  |  Graduate Admissions Guide
Apr. 17, 2014 At-Risk & Disability Services At-Risk Students Guide | Disability Services Guide.
April 24, 2014 Grading Grading Guide
May 1, 2014 Residence Life Residence Life Guide
May 8, 2014 Federal Work-Study FWS Supervisor Guide
May 15, 2014 Study Abroad Study Abroad/Exchange Guide
May 22, 2014 Online Tools and Resources N/A



Published Daily Articles

Thursday, May 22, 2014: Online Tools and Resources  top

The final FACTS article for Spring 2014 features resources and tools available on the Financial Aid Office website to assist students.

  • SUNY Smart Track Financial Literacy Website:  As a member of SUNY, all students (prospective and current), as well as faculty and staff, may access the SUNY Financial Literacy Website.  The website contains online courses, articles, and calculators spanning topics from retirement to credit cards.
  • Cost Calculator (Fall 2013):   Students can estimate their expected semester charges using this web-based calculator.  It also allows students to easily compare different scenarios, such as living on-campus versus off-campus or attending full-time versus part-time.  A simplified version is also available for summer 2013.
  • Bill Estimator:  The Bill Estimator is a Microsoft Excel-based calculator which allows students to estimate their costs and input their expected financial aid to determine their expected out-of-pocket cost or refund.
  • Loan Repayment Calculator:  Students can estimate their monthly payment based on their annual or aggregate loan debt.
  • Work-Study Calculator:  This tool allows students and/or supervisors to track how many hours have been worked and how many hours students have remaining to work in the semester.
  • Current Aid Processing Status:  The FAO homepage is updated frequently to notify students and parents of processing times and student announcements.
  • Faculty and Staff Resources:  This is a repository of Financial Aid Guides related to specific functional areas (e.g., academic advising, grading, etc.).
  • Print a Copy of IRS Tax Returns or W-2 Statements:  Students and parents are often required to submit tax return transcripts to the FAO. These can be printed at no cost in real-time from the IRS website (after registering an account).  This feature is available for all individuals (students, faculty, staff).
  • Campus and External Scholarships: Buffalo State offers a variety of scholarship opportunities for current, newly accepted first-year, and transfer students. Campus scholarship funding is made possible through donations from alumni and friends of the college who value a Buffalo State education.
If you have questions regarding this article, please contact us at finaid@buffalostate.edu or ext. 4902. All questions and answers will be posted in the You Asked for It section of the FAO website. Click on the Faculty and Staff link (bottom left).

Submitted by: Christine M. Auman



Thursday, May 15,2014: Study Abroad  top

This week’s FACTS article focuses on the availability of financial aid resources to support participation in study-abroad programs (national and international). While financial aid is typically available to help students, there are significant variations in program costs and aid eligibility among the various study-abroad opportunities; therefore, students are strongly encouraged to plan ahead and meet with a financial aid adviser to discuss their study-abroad plans and to attend a financial aid information session for the particular exchange program.

Below are important points to keep in mind when working with students who express an interest in studying abroad.

Funding the Gap. Participating in an exchange program can be much more expensive than a regular semester at Buffalo State, leaving a gap between the aid awarded and the program’s expected costs. In most cases, the gap is funded through additional student or parent loans. Loan options include:

Tip: Participating in the National Student Exchange (NSE) program is often a more affordable option for students who desire an exchange experience but do not have the financial means to travel internationally.

Paying All Schools Involved. Students who participate in an exchange program may have a balance due at multiple colleges. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that Buffalo State (host institution) and the study-abroad school(s) are paid in full. Failure to make a timely payment will result in a transcript hold on the student’s record.

Submitting Transcripts and Impact to Future Aid Eligibility. Students must submit an official copy of their academic transcript from the exchange program within a timely manner after the completion of the program. Failure to submit the transcript will result in a cancellation of federal and state financial aid.

For more information, please refer to the Financial Aid for Exchange Programs guide.

If you have questions regarding this article, please contact us at finaid@buffalostate.edu or ext. 4902. All questions and answers will be posted in the You Asked for It section of the FAO website. Click on the Faculty and Staff link (bottom left).

Submitted by: Christine M. Auman


Thursday, May 8, 2014: Federal Work-Study  top

This week's FACTS article provides information for Federal Work-Study (FWS) supervisors and emphasizes the important role they play in the work of student employees. FWS supervisors not only oversee student employees but also have the opportunity to develop critical mentoring relationships with students who are striving to succeed in the academic environment and beyond.

The FWS home page provides a wealth of information and resources for both students and supervisors. Successful oversight of the FWS employees includes these key points:

  • Paperwork: Students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by March 1 each year at www.fafsa.gov and accept FWS awards in their Self-Service Banner. Students must present the eligibility letter for work-study to the supervisor before they can be hired. They must also complete all hiring paperwork as outlined on the website.
  • Tracking hours: Students are not permitted to work beyond the number of hours required to earn their semester awards. Our website offers the FWS calculator to assist you with this tracking.
  • Timesheets: The supervisor is responsible for the accuracy and delivery of the student’s timesheet. Falsification of timesheets will be treated as a serious offense. 
  • Staying in contact: Supervisors should stay in contact with the Financial Aid Office (FAO) by reading all messages sent via e-mail and through the Daily Bulletin. All job terminations and returning student requests should be directed to the FAO. Staff members assuming new supervisory roles should notify the FAO as well.

For more information, please refer to the Federal Work-Study Supervisors Guide.

If you have questions regarding this article, please contact us at finaid@buffalostate.edu or ext. 4902. All questions and answers will be posted in the You Asked for It section of the FAO website. Click on the Faculty and Staff link (bottom left).

Submitted by: Lea A. Nuwer

  

Thursday, May 1, 2014: Residence Life  top

This week’s FACTS article features information on available options to assist students with on-campus living expenses. Additionally, we will describe the financial aid impact to students employed in the residence halls.

Students who wish to live on campus are advised to carefully review their financial packages before signing the residence hall agreement; this is a binding contract with Residence Life. While financial aid can be used for housing costs, a student is not necessarily eligible for sufficient financial aid to cover expected charges. The costs of attending Buffalo State, including living on campus, are detailed on the Financial Aid Office’s Cost of Attendance website. Students are also encouraged to use the Bill Estimator to calculate their out-of-pocket expenses.

For students whose financial aid awards fall short of their total direct charges, the following options are available:

  • Campus Scholarships: Encourage students to review the recently posted institutional scholarship opportunities and to monitor their Buffalo State e-mail accounts for scholarship updates throughout the year. Deadline for submission is May 31, 2014.
  • Automatic Payment Plans: Conveniently splits the student’s outstanding bill balance over four payments each semester for a nominal fee. Questions should be directed to the Student Accounts Office (SAO) at (716) 878-4121 or stuaccts@buffalostate.edu.
  • Parent PLUS Loans or Private Alternative Loans: Students and parents interested in these options can review additional information on our website or contact our office.

Resident Assistants (RA) and Resident Directors (RD)
Students employed as RAs or RDs receive room and board waivers as a form of compensation. Per federal student aid regulations, these waivers must be factored into students’ financial aid packages. As a result, students may experience a decrease in other awarded financial aid sources. If a student is considering becoming an RA or RD mid-year, he or she should meet with a financial aid adviser to discuss the impact to financial aid before making a final decision to avoid an outstanding balance with the college.

For more information and ways you can assist students with Residence Life options, please refer to the Residence Life Guide.

If you have questions regarding this article, please contact us at finaid@buffalostate.edu or ext. 4902. All questions and answers will be posted in the You Asked for It section of the FAO website. Click on the Faculty and Staff link (bottom left).

Submitted by: Linda A. Rainforth
     

Thursday, April 24, 2014:  Grading  top

This week’s FACTS article features information to assist with grading and address the impact to students’ continued financial aid eligibility as mandated by the following federal regulations: (a) Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and (b) Return of Title IV (R2T4) Funds.

The Financial Aid Office (FAO) reviews students’ grades approximately one week after the grading window closes each semester (fall, spring, and summer; J-Term excluded) to determine future aid eligibility. Additionally, the FAO verifies that students retained eligibility for the federal financial aid already received for the semester. This review includes students who failed to earn at least one passing grade in the semester.

Below are facts to consider when submitting grades: Listed below are three common roadblocks to establishing and maintaining aid eligibility for at-risk students:

  • Students who never attended class should be assigned a grade of EV rather than E. A last date of attendance (LDA) is not necessary for the EV grade designation. 
  • Last Date of Attendance (LDA): Non-passing grades that require an LDA include E, F, U, N, and I. The LDA is defined as the student’s last date of attendance at an academically related activity
  • Impact of non-passing status grades of I, N, W, and X: For the purpose of determining financial aid eligibility, these statuses negatively affect a student’s SAP PACE rate, as they are viewed as attempted but not completed. As such, these grades require the entry of an LDA.
  • Late grade submissions: Faculty members who are unable to submit grades for the entire class roster should notify the FAO so that students’ aid eligibility can be reevaluated after the grades are updated in Banner.

For more information and ways you can assist students with grading, please refer to the Grading Guide.

Additional resources:

For questions regarding this article, contact us at finaid@buffalostate.edu or at (716) 878-4902.  All questions and answers will be posted in the “You Asked for It” section of the FAO website by clicking on the “Faculty & Staff” link (bottom, left-hand side).



Thursday, April 17, 2014:  Students At-Risk or with Disabilities
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This week’s FACTS article features pertinent information to help at-risk students and students with disabilities persist to graduation.

With regard to financial aid, an at-risk student is a student who, by virtue of his or her circumstances, is more likely than others to lose eligibility for federal, state, or institutional aid. In addition, federal aid regulations do not provide additional accommodations for students with disabilities; said students must perform at the same level as all other students.

Listed below are three common roadblocks to establishing and maintaining aid eligibility for at-risk students:
  1. Legal Parent(s) for FAFSA - Dependent students must provide parental information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The student’s parent is defined as the biological and/or adoptive parent(s). Grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, and aunts and uncles are not considered parents unless they have legally adopted the student. For students who experience extreme unusual circumstances, such as an abusive family environment or abandonment by parent(s), a Dependency Appeal may be approved if credible documentation that merits a dependency override is submitted to the Financial Aid Office.
  2. Textbook Deferments -m Many students are ineligible for a textbook deferment because of their failure to complete all financial aid requirements in a timely manner. As a result, these students attend classes without the required textbooks, and this may result in poor academic performance, thereby jeopardizing their future aid eligibility.
  3. Class Attendance /Course Registration - Federal financial aid is processed for a student under the assumption that the student will attend courses for the entire semester for which the financial assistance is provided. Students who withdraw from all classes (regardless of reason: approved LOA; medical or any other legitimate reason) may be required to repay aid they received. Additionally, a student’s failure to complete the semester may affect future aid eligibility.
Additionally, it is very important that all students (especially at-risk students) register for required courses each term to diminish the possibility of losing their aid.

For more information and ways you can help these student groups, please refer to the Financial Aid for At-Risk Students Guide and Financial Aid for Disability Services Guide.

For questions regarding this article, contact us at finaid@buffalostate.edu or at (716) 878-4902.  All questions and answers will be posted in the “You Asked for It” section of the FAO website by clicking on the “Faculty & Staff” link (bottom, left-hand side).

Submitted by: Conne F. Cooke



Thursday, April 10, 2014:  Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions
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As recruitment and retention is a campus-wide effort, this week’s FACTS article focuses on financial aid considerations and challenges in the undergraduate and graduate admission process. The Undergraduate Admissions Guide and the Graduate Admissions Guide examine several scenarios and offer targeted advice.

Below are highlights of the admissions guides::
  • Proof of Prior Degree(s): All undergraduate students (new and transfer) must have their final high school transcript on file with Admissions. Additionally, transfer students must submit copies of all final college transcripts. Graduate students must submit an official transcript to The Graduate School as proof that a bachelor’s degree was conferred. Students without the required documentation on file will be denied federal financial aid.
  • Eligible Program and Coursework: Students must be admitted into an eligible program and enrolled in required coursework to receive federal financial aid. Students admitted as non-matriculated are not eligible for any federal or state aid.
  • Readmission: Students readmitted to Buffalo State may or may not have aid eligibility upon their return. Encourage Readmits to meet with the Financial Aid Office to determine their eligibility prior to course enrollment.
  • Late Admits: Students admitted at the start of a semester often experience delays in receiving refunds, lack eligibility for textbook deferments, and in some cases, are ineligible for aid due to satisfactory academic progress regulations. Routinely, late admits begin classes without knowing their aid eligibility.
  • Determining Cost to the Student: Students can use the Financial Aid Office’s Bill Estimator to determine out-of-pocket costs or refunds in advance of receiving a bill.

For questions regarding this article, contact us at finaid@buffalostate.edu or at (716) 878-4902.  All questions and answers will be posted in the You Asked for It section of the FAO website by clicking on the Faculty & Staff link (bottom, left-hand side).

Submitted by: Lea A. Nuwer



Thursday, April 3, 2014:  Federal Satisfactory Academic Progress
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Federal Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the regulatory framework used to determine whether or not a student has made acceptable progress toward a degree or certificate for continued aid eligibility. These regulations place accountability on both the institution and the student to promote the efficient use of federal aid funds and encourage timely degree completion. The Financial Aid Office (FAO) reviews SAP after grades are officially posted each semester. (Note: J-Term is included in the spring review.)

Students must meet or exceed each of the following three federal SAP standards:
Below highlights 3 central points: 
  1. Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA).
    • Undergraduate students must maintain an overall GPA of at least a 2.0.
    • Graduate students must maintain an overall GPA of at least a 3.0.
  2. Cumulative Pace Rate (Earned Credits/Attempted Credits)
    • All students (undergraduate and graduate) must successfully complete at least 66.67 percent of all courses they attempt. Grades that are considered unsuccessful attempts, thereby lowering the pace rate, include F, U, E, I, IP, N, W, EV, X, and grades removed through clemency.
    • Exception: New first-time freshmen must successfully complete 50 percent of their courses their first two semesters. Beginning with their third semester, their cumulative pace rate must be at least 66.67 percent
  3. Maximum Time Frame.
    • All students must be able to complete their degree or certificate program within 150 percent of the published program length, as measured in credit hours. Federal aid is terminated when the FAO determines that it is no longer mathematically possible for the student to complete the degree within this time frame. Students cannot appeal the maximum time frame standard for any reason.
    • Example: For a degree program that requires 120 earned credits, students must be able to complete the degree within 180 credit hour attempts (120 x 150%).
Students who do not meet the minimum federal SAP standards are given one warning semester to come into compliance while still receiving aid. If the SAP standards are not met at the end of the warning semester, students forfeit federal aid eligibility until all standards are met. Federal aid includes all federal grants, loans, and work-study. In limited cases, students who have experienced a mitigating circumstance (e.g., death of a parent) may appeal to have their aid reinstated for one semester.

Additional SAP Resources:

For questions regarding this article, contact us at finaid@buffalostate.edu or at (716) 878-4902.  All questions and answers will be posted in the “You Asked for It” section of the FAO website by clicking on the “Faculty & Staff” link (bottom, left-hand side).

Submitted by: Christine M. Auman



Thursday, March 20, 2014:  Academic Advising
 
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In preparation for Summer/Fall 2014 Registration, this week’s FACTS article focuses on academic advising. The Financial Aid for Academic Advising Guideexamines several academic scenarios and offers ways for Academic Advisors to provide targeted assistance to students.  As 85% of Buffalo State students receive some type of aid, it is very important that students and the academic community fully understand the financial aid implications of academic decisions.

Below highlights 3 central points: 
  1. Use DegreeWorks.  Only courses required for a student’s current major are aid eligible; taking non-required courses will negatively impact continued aid eligibility. Academic Advisers are encouraged to review a student’s Degree Audit to ensure correct course registration.  The “All College Elective Credits Above Degree Requirements” category in DegreeWorks is very helpful to identify courses not being used to fulfill degree requirements.
  2. Create a manageable schedule.  Students that repeatedly fail or withdraw from classes often experience trouble with their financial aid eligibility. Academic Advisors can assist students with identifying a reasonable course load.
  3. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).  All students receiving financial aid must successfully meet certain standards to maintain eligibility.  At-risk or ineligible SAP students may seek additional guidance from Academic Advisors. The federal SAP Guide has been created to summarize the federal SAP standards.

For questions regarding this article, contact us at finaid@buffalostate.edu or at (716) 878-4902.  All questions and answers will be posted in the “You Asked for It” section of the FAO website by clicking on the “Faculty & Staff” link (bottom, left-hand side).

Submitted by: Christine M. Auman




Thursday, March 13, 2014:  Financial Aid Conversations on Thursday Series (FACTS)    top

The Financial Aid Office (FAO) is pleased to announce the 2014 Financial Aid Conversations on Thursday Series (FACTS), beginning March 20 and continuing on Thursdays throughout the spring semester.

This dynamic series of articles is intended to create awareness, stimulate conversation, and promote understanding regarding the rules and regulations that govern financial aid eligibility. Experienced financial aid colleagues will share their knowledge on a variety of aid mandates and offer expert guidance in each FACTS article.

As the FAO embarks on this educational series, we humbly request that campuswide constituencies and stakeholders partner with us to discover very important facts concerning students’ financial aid eligibility.

Finally, you can e-mail your questions about an article to finaid@buffalostate.edu, and we will respond in our “You Asked for It” segment of FACTS.

Submitted by: Connie F. Cooke