Financial aid can be confusing, and we get it—sometimes you just get overwhelmed. But the Financial Aid Office has a lot of resources to help students with their financial aid, and none is better than FAOnline! This post is intended to help when you “can’t even” with FAOnline. With a variety of tabs that cover all sides of the aid process, you can keep tabs (pun intended) on your account and make sure everything goes smoothly with your aid. While it can be a huge help, it can also be a little overwhelming to take in. With that in mind, let’s dive into those tabs and see what FAOnline is all about.
The most important part of your financial aid is your aid, of course! The “Your Awards” tab gives you an idea of what aid you’re eligible for and even gives an indication of why you’re eligible for the various pieces of your aid package. You’ll see a breakdown of your budget for the coming year, and the student and parental contributions that make up your expected family contribution (EFC). The difference between the budget and your EFC is your financial need and that’s how we determine how much financial aid you’re eligible for.
Scrolling down, you’ll then see the breakdown of your aid by type. Whether it’s a merit scholarship, loan, or outside scholarship, any aid that you have will be reflected on this page and will be updated in real time if and when changes are made to your package. Some sources of aid like work study and federal loans can generate lots of questions, so we also provide links with information to help you understand not only how much aid you’re getting, but how that aid works in relation to your bill. If you see something that doesn’t look right in your aid package, reach out to your financial aid counselor.
As every financial aid applicant knows, a big part of the process is submitting all the various application materials and other requirements to allow your aid to be put together and processed. Whether it’s loan paperwork to be filled out online or a paper Sibling Enrollment Form, the “Required Documents” tab keeps a record of all the documentation you’ve submitted in the current year as well as anything that we still need you to submit.
If you see all the documents are marked “Received” or “Approved,” great! You’ve submitted everything you need to at that time. Anything showing “Not Received,” though, needs to be completed as soon as possible. Keep in mind that additional requirements can come up down the line, so don’t always assume that your application materials were all that we needed. It’s a good idea to check up on this tab every other week until all your aid disburses for the semester, just to make sure you’re on top of everything. Your financial aid counselor will be more than happy to answer any questions you have about a form or other piece of required documentation.
This tab allows you to monitor whether the various pieces of your financial aid package have actually disbursed to your account with the Bursar’s Office. Your aid will be set up with a schedule amount, and a scheduled date of disbursement. Once the money shows up in the “Transaction Amount” column, you’ll know that it has disbursed, and you can also check when the disbursement occurred.
Having your aid set up is one thing, but having it actually disburse to your account can sometimes take some extra steps. If you notice that some of your aid hasn’t moved into the “Transaction Amount” and has been set up for a while, your first step should be to check the “Required Documents” tab to see if you’ve missed anything that our office still needs. If that doesn’t solve it, you can always contact your financial aid counselor to see if they can share some insight.
If you’re a federal loan borrower, keeping an eye on your loans throughout college is a must. While you don’t have to start repaying your federal loans until at least six months after graduation, that time can go by quicker than you might think. Visiting the “Loan History” tab will allow you to see a full review of all federal loans you’ve taken out at Rochester, as well as any federal loans that your parents borrowed on your behalf. Keeping on top of your loan amounts each year will be a huge help as your graduation date, and eventual loan repayment time, gets closer. The more educated and informed you keep yourself on your borrowing, the better equipped you’ll be to manage your loans in the future.
Important Messages & Standard Forms
With all the information overload that can happen when discussing financial aid, it can be hard to lock down exactly what you need to know and what you need to do about it. These two tabs are here to help. “Important Messages” can contain a variety of different information, mostly driven by the specific sources of aid that you receive. Similar to the links on “Your Awards,” certain forms of aid that can be confusing will have a small blurb that you can read.
“Standard Forms,” on the other hand, contains general information that any recipient of any source of need-based aid will want to know. While the informational forms can be lengthy, it’s worth reading them so you have a more complete picture of the world of financial aid. In fact, it may be worth having the “Standard Forms” tab be your first stop when you dig into FAOnline—you’ll get a general baseline to help interpret your specific situation.
Now that you know a little more about using and navigating FAOnline, give it a whirl! The more informed you are of your financial aid record, the easier it is to make sure it all plays out smoothly. And where FAOnline can’t help, your financial aid counselor certainly can.