Financial Aid & Scholarships FAQ
What are the office hours for the Office of Student Financial Services?
Office Hours: Monday – Friday (8:30 am – 5:00 pm)
Otterbein recognizes most national holidays.
How do I make an appointment with a counselor?
Contact the Office of Student Financial Services at 614-823-1502 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange an appointment that fits your schedule within our hours.
Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID
The FSA ID is a username and password combination that serves as a student’s or parent’s identifier to allow access to personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems and acts as a digital signature on some online forms. Click here for the Department’s webpage for questions and answers, as well as a direct link to creating a FSA ID.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- My parents refuse to complete the FAFSA for me. Can I be considered an independent filer?
The refusal from parents to not complete the FAFSA is not grounds to make you independent for financial aid. You may contact the Office of Financial Aid if there are other circumstances around this refusal.
- What do I have to do to be considered independent?
Regarding you being independent or dependent is determined from the FAFSA questions. If you answer “No” to questions on the FAFSA in section 3 then you are dependent and have to provide parent information. If you answer “Yes” to any question in section three than you will only answer questions that pertain to you and your income. You will be asked to provide documentation on some of the questions in section 3 if answered “Yes.”
- Can I count my parent in College on the FAFSA?
A parent cannot be counted in college on the FAFSA, only dependent students.
- Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
The FAFSA is year specific for each academic year. You may complete the FAFSA each calendar year beginning October 1st for the next academic year.
- I probably will not qualify for aid, should I file the FAFSA anyway?
We recommend that every student apply for financial aid each year.
- What is the FAFSA priority deadline?
We have a Feb. 15 FAFSA priority deadline for all students.
- Is it too late to file the FAFSA if it is after the priority deadline?
No, the priority deadline allows the maximum aid available to the student. If filed after the deadline the student would still receive federal and state aid and a calculation on institutional aid according your filing date.
- My FAFSA was selected for Verification, what do I need to do?
The verification process is established by the Federal Department of Education. You will receive a letter indicating the forms needed to complete the process. You can also refer to your Banner link for the requirements to complete your verification.
- Why should I file a FAFSA?
For consideration for federal, state and institutional aid.
- Student lives with, legal guardian but have not adopted the student. What does the student need to provide?
On the FAFSA the student will answer the question regarding that they have a “guardian” or are a “ward of the court” and therefore will be considered an independent. You will need to supply a copy of the court document regarding your guardianship/Ward of the Court.
- Is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to the school the amount owed the school?
The EFC from the FAFSA is the index number used to determine your federal need based, state and institutional aid. The EFC does not equate to your out of pocket.
- Are there any penalties for Drug Law Violations?
There will be Federal Aid restrictions if you have been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs in a state or federal court. This question is on the FAFSA section One question #23. Read the Drug Law Violations and Financial Aid line item for more information.
- We have not yet filed our taxes, how do I file the FAFSA in order to meet the deadline?
The FAFSA is now based on taxes that should have already been filed. However, in some circumstances, there could be an extension filed. In these cases, you should use your estimated income from your W-2s.
- How do I complete the FAFSA?
Financial Aid Award
- If I drop below Full Time enrollment what happens to by financial aid and my charges?
Adjustments to full-time charges are only made if a student adjusts his/her schedule during the term’s add/drop period. No adjustments to full-time charges are made after add/drop period unless a student withdraws entirely from the University. Full-time financial aid is tied to full-time charges. Financial assistance is not adjusted when a student drops a class after the add/drop date.
- What are the different types of aid?
Check out the Financial Aid and Scholarships landing page that will direct you to more information about different types of aid.
- What is the difference between need based aid and merit aid?
Need based aid is awarded according to the FAFSA information/calculation, such as Pell Grant, state grant and institutional Grant etc. Need based aid can change from year to year depending on the FAFSA information. Merit aid is academically awarded for achievements accomplished and therefore will not change unless requirements of the award are not met.
- How will my aid change if I move off campus?
Your aid is established by the Cost of Attendance (COA) and housing budget you are assigned (on or off campus and commuter). Therefore to change from any housing status will mean that your aid package will need to be revised according to the new budget.
- Why is my Otterbein grant less when compared to previous year?
The Otterbein Grant is need based and calculated each year in regard to your FAFSA information (income, household size, number in college, priority deadline, etc.).
- What are some reasons that I will see a change in my financial aid package from the previous year?
The FAFSA is completed each year to give a financial and household picture for the coming year using prior year income. With that the income could change as well as the household number and the number in college. Another reason there might be a change is due to your housing from one year to the next. If you are going from an on-campus budget to a commuter budget you could experience a change.
- My parents will move out of state. Will I lose eligibility for the OCOG (Ohio College Opportunity Grant)?
The student should be listed as an Ohio resident on the FAFSA, as long as a student stays continually enrolled.
- Why didn’t I qualify for OCOG this year?
Ohio College Opportunity Grant is based on the FAFSA EFC (Expected Family Contribution). Currently you are eligible with an EFC or 2190 or below and a maximum family income of less than $96,000.
- Can I get more scholarship assistance from Otterbein as an upper class student?
There are limited departmental scholarships for upper-class students.
- Is there a limit to Pell grant funding?
Yes there is a lifetime Pell Grant limit. Accurately it is 12 semester payments of full-time Pell Grant and calculated accordingly for the part-time student.
- Is there financial aid for less than half-time enrollment?
There are limited federal and state programs that pay for less than half time enrollment but you have to show eligibility by filing the FAFSA.
- I received an outside scholarship, do I have to report this to the financial aid office?
Outside scholarships have to be reported to verify that you are not receiving funds greater than your cost of attendance (COA).
- When will I receive a Financial Aid Award Letter?
We will start awarding financial aid packages to new students’ in early January. An award will be sent by U.S. Mail to your permanent address. Returning students will be notified by Otterbein e-mail, usually before the close of the current spring semester if you have completed all essential forms.
- When will the financial aid be disbursed?
Aid is disbursed beginning the first day of the semester as long as all eligibility requirements are met.
- Does Otterbein University offer aid in the Summer Semester?
The summer aid available to student can be a portion of federal and state aid (Pell grant, SEOG and Direct loan (Subsidized and Unsubsidized)). Direct loans used in summer will reduce the academic (Fall and Spring Semesters) year eligibility. Please inform the Office of Financial Aid if you will enroll summer semester
- What happens to my financial aid if I withdraw from all courses?
This is dependent on when you withdraw from your courses. We have a refund schedule that is set up each year and depending on the date you withdraw your financial aid and your billing account will be adjusted accordingly. Students must attend at least 60% of the semester to fully earn their federal assistance.
- How do I get my refund money to pay for books?
If your financial aid award is complete and will create a credit on your student account after the funds are credited, you may contact Student Accounts to have funds from the anticipated refund added to a bookstore account on your Cardinal Card to purchase books at the Campus Center bookstore. Pell Grant recipients may contact the Student Accounts Office to have funds added to the bookstore account on your Cardinal Card to purchase books at the Campus Center bookstore.
- Will I be eligible for financial aid if I repeat a course that I already passed?
Students are permitted to repeat a course that has been passed one additional time and be eligible for financial aid. Any additional repeats of the same course will not be covered through financial aid.
- Do students receive more money as they continue their education at Otterbein University?
The scholarship(s) received at the time of admission to the school is the scholarship amount that will be received for the four years of your undergraduate program. As long as you maintain the GPA requirement. Eligibility for need based aid is reviewed each year after the FAFSA is received.
- How do I check my financial aid status and bill?
1) Log into My O-Zone using your Otterbein network user name and password.
2) Click on the Banner icon.
- What is verification?
The Department of Education selects students FAFSA for verification. This process requires Otterbein to verify that the information on the FAFSA is accurate. To perform this review you will be asked to submit certain documentation to the Office of Student Financial Services.
- My FAFSA was selected for Verification, what do I need to do?
The verification process is established by the Department of Education. You will receive notification indicating the forms needed to complete the process. You can also refer to your “Banner” link for the requirements to complete your verification.
- Do I submit my federal tax transcripts to the Federal Department of Education or to Otterbein University?
If you are selected for verification you will need to provide your federal tax return transcripts (student and parent) to the process identified by Otterbein Office of Student Financial Services.
- How do I request a copy of my Federal Tax Transcript?
You can obtain a Federal Tax Return Transcript online at www.irs.gov or by calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946.
- I did not use the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) when I filed my FAFSA. What should I do?
Students and parents who qualify to use the DRT but did not utilize this option when completing the FAFSA can log back into the FAFSA and select the DRT option at this time. Those who do not qualify for or opt to not use the DRT can obtain their federal tax return transcript for verification. We cannot accept a copy of the income tax return (1040) only the tax transcript.
- How can I deliver the documents to your office?
We can receive your documents by postal mail to:
Otterbein Office of Student Financial Services
1 S. Grove St.
Westerville, OH 43081
Hand delivered to the Office of Financial Aid
For your protection, please do not submit personally identifiable or confidential information via email. This includes attachments with tax returns/tax return transcripts and social security numbers.
- What will happen to my financial aid if I cannot provide the documentation?
No need based will be credited to your billing account.
- What special circumstances can be considered for revisions of income?
Any reduction in income for the current year due to: job loss (involuntary), divorce, death, reduction in hours or hourly wage and retirement would be considered. There could also be a loss of child support due to the student’s age or graduation date. Complete the FAFSA with the prior year tax information. Once you are awarded for the next academic year we can review the upcoming expected year income. Contact the Office of Financial Aid and inquire about your situation.
- What if the family’s financial situation changes during the school year?
The student or parent(s) should notify the Office of Financial Aid to determine if their situation would merit a review by the special circumstance committee.
- We received a sum of money from a bequest. Can this be considered an unusual situation and not be taken into account for aid eligibility?
Initially you will need to provide the amount of the bequest on the FAFSA as either cash or investment. Once that is completed you would need to contact the Office of Financial Aid regarding the special circumstance process.
- I have a special circumstance, what do I do?
Contact the Office of Financial Aid to go over you circumstance with a counselor. Once reviewed an appropriate form and requirements will be requested for your situation. p/ 614.823.1502
- Why haven’t my federal loans been credited to my account?
Check to make sure you have web accepted your loans in Banner and completed the needed requirements (Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling) for your loans to disburse.
- I don’t want my loan! What do I need to do?
Log into your Banner account and web-decline your loans if you have not yet accepted your loans.
- I don’t want my loan that I have already accepted!
Contact the Office of Student Financial Services.
- Can you help me find a private lender?
We have a list of preferred lenders on our website through FASTChoice. You can compare up to three different loan options at one time. The list does not include all the options one has for loans at Banks or Credit Unions.
- Why can’t I borrow more Federal Direct loans than what was awarded to me?
Federal regulation only gives students a certain amount of loan eligibility each year. These are known as annual Direct loan limits.
- What are the annual Federal Direct loan limits?
Freshmen (0 to 30 undergraduate credit hours earned/transferred) $5,500 (No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.) Sophomore (30 to 60 undergraduate credit hours earned/transferred) $6,500 (No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.) Junior/Senior (60 to 90+ undergraduate credit hours earned/transferred) $7,500 (No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.)
- If I take time off from school do I have to start paying back my loans?
You will not have to repay your loan until you have used up the one-time six-month grace period. At that time, your loan will go into repayment. Once you are enrolled for at least half-time, your loans can go into an “in school deferment.”
- How do I web-accept my loans?
See this document for the step by step process to accept your loans (PDF).
- Are there emergency loans available?
There are limited small dollar amount emergency loans available in the Student Affairs Office.
- How do apply for Work Study jobs?
Once you have determined that you are eligible for an on-campus work study position you can look at the Handshake Internship and Job Database for job opportunities.
Students eligible for Federal Work Study are invited to attend a Job Fair during the First Flight week. Attendees will meet employers to find employment and complete hiring paperwork. Students may work up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session (not to be exceeded). Students will be paid on the 10th of each month for actual hours worked during the previous month.
To learn more, visit Student Employment Information.
- Are Work Study earnings taxable?
The money you earn from the work study program is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full-time and work less than half-time). Work study earnings during the calendar year should be included in your AG (adjusted gross income).
Study Abroad/Off-Campus Programs
- What Aid is offered for Study Abroad and Off Campus Programs
It depends on what your current financial aid package and what program you will pursue. Make an appointment with the Study Abroad coordinator at email@example.com to start the process.
There are additional funds available as part of one’s 5 cardinal Experiences. For information about Otterbein’s 5 Cards funding contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
- I’m on probation through Academic Council-allowing me to return to Otterbein in the fall. Why am I being denied federal aid?
Academic standing with Otterbein is used to assess academic achievement. Federal SAP has different standards and therefore you have to appeal your Federal SAP.
- How do I develop an Academic Plan to improve my SAP standing?
Schedule an appointment with a counselor in the Center for Student Success to establish a plan for success. The Academic Plan is just that – a plan. To improve your SAP standing is up to you as you follow the plan to completion.
- What are the requirements for meeting and maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?
The Federal SAP policy has qualitative and quantitative components to assess eligibility for financial aid. Review the details carefully.
e-Pay / Balance Due
- Do you offer extensions to paying the balance?
No. There are no extensions to paying your balance. All tuition, academic fees and room and board fees are due fourteen (14) days prior to the start of each academic term. Fees may be paid in full or students may select (for $25 per term) a payment plan through ePay. A payment plan must be set up every term.
NOTE: International student (those students requiring a visa to attend) must pay in full by the due date. These students are not eligible for the payment plan.
- What is E-Pay? And when do I need to sign up?
ePay is an on-line service available 24/7 for you (and any others you authorize) to view your student account statement, make payments, and set-up a payment plan. You can enroll in a payment plan up to one month prior to the start of each semester.