Students can check financial aid status by asking their financial aid office for more information or looking up the status of an application in an online database. It is possible to do this at any time, and students can also look up their financial aid history, total student loan debt, and other matters of interest. The exact procedure can vary by college and university, and students should receive information on how to check their status when they get a confirmation letter indicating that their applications have been received.
For students who use a common application like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it is possible to log on to the application website to check financial aid status. The website can tell students if additional documents are necessary and will provide information on whether the application has been successfully forwarded to the financial aid office. Students can also review the document that discusses their financial need and estimated family share of education costs to see if they need to prepare an appeal.
Once a financial aid application reaches a specific school, the school will provide information on how to check financial aid status. One option is simply to call the financial aid office to check on an application. Many offices now, however, offer the option to check online. Students log in with a username and password and can see a detailed breakdown of their financial aid. The website will alert the student if more documentation is necessary and can provide a copy of the financial aid award letter. It will also indicate when financial aid disbursements are due and whether there is an excess, in which case the student will get a check or direct deposit.
Some schools also offer email alerts. When the student goes to check financial aid status she can sign up for alerts to get a contact from the school if there is a problem or change with the financial aid. These alerts can also be sent out any time a refund check is issued so the student knows to expect it. Some schools may use the email database to notify students about upcoming scholarships, deadlines, workshops, and other resources they may find useful.
A school's specific financial aid site can allow the student to access old award letters and look at a total breakdown of financial aid over time. The site also usually has forms the patient can fill out to appeal denials, ask for more financial assistance, or change contact information at the financial aid office. It is important to periodically check financial aid status to avoid surprises like a reduction in an aid award in response to a drop to half-time student status.