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General Questions

Should I wait to be admitted before applying for aid?

No. You can file a FAFSA starting October 1 of the year you are submitting your college applications. The financial aid staff will keep your application on file until we receive notice that you have been accepted to DigiPen.


Do I have to file a FAFSA every year?

It depends. If you receive and use federal financial aid, including loans, you must file a FAFSA annually. We also use the information on the FAFSA to award some forms of institutional scholarships and grants. However, if you do not want to use federal financial aid and are not interested in additional scholarship aid, you are not required to file a FAFSA.


What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

The EFC is the index used to determine your eligibility for need-based financial aid. It is based on information provided on the FAFSA. The formula, determined by Congress, considers several factors:

  • Dependency status
  • Income
  • Assets
  • Family size
  • Number of family members in college

How is financial need determined?

Financial need is determined by the following formula:
Cost of Attendance - Estimated Family Contribution = Financial Need

Once your financial need is determined, the Office of Financial Aid will attempt to fill it with different types of available awards, including grants, scholarships, work-study, and need-based loans. Because funding is limited, we may not be able to fill your entire financial need. The remainder of your financial need can be filled with other types of loans or outside awards.


How will my aid change from year to year?

In general, your institutional financial aid will remain the same from year to year. However, federal aid is based on the results of your FAFSA and can vary with changes to your family’s income, assets, and household size. It is important to complete the FAFSA as early as possible to ensure you are eligible for the most need-based financial aid available.


Who has access to my financial aid information?

Once you are a matriculated student, you, the student, are the only person the Office of Financial Aid will release information to unless you give us permission to release your information to someone else through Proxy Access. This is in accordance with the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). If you would like the Office of Financial Aid to be able to release your financial aid information to someone else, such as a parent, spouse, or scholarship organization, please fill out the Student Consent for Release of Records form.


How do I access the Financial Aid Section of Self-Service?

All students are able to access Self-Service once they are admitted to DigiPen. Students will be sent an email with their DigiPen credentials and instructions on setting up their password. Further email instructions will be sent from the Office of Financial Aid once a student’s financial aid offer letter is available to be viewed in Self-Service. The email will detail the steps to access the Financial Aid Information section of Self-Service.

If you need more help, please check our Financial Aid Self-Service Help-Sheet which provides step-by-step instructions for navigating financial aid in Self-Service.


How do I access the financial aid forms that I need to complete?

All required forms will be linked on your Required Document page in Self-Service requirements page. Login to Self-Service, select Financial Aid Counseling, and then select Required Documents.

Most Financial Aid Forms are also located on the Forms and Documents page, as well.


How do I submit requested documentation?

The best way to submit requested documentation to the Office of Financial Aid is by secure Document Upload through Self-Service. Please check your Required Document page in Self-Service to see what upload options you have available. If you need help, please email our office.

Do not send documents containing sensitive or personally identifiable information via email. This includes tax documents, W2s, or anything else that may compromise your identity.


Why is my financial aid in pending status?

Pending status is used by the Office of Financial Aid to show that funds are arriving from a third-party source such as an outside scholarship organization, the state of Washington, or private lender. Once the funds have arrived from the third party, your aid will be updated to accepted status and paid to your student account. For example, outside scholarships will be added to your financial aid offer in pending status until the scholarship check is received each semester/year.


Will my financial aid be sent to me directly or DigiPen?

The majority of financial aid funds (including all federal and institutional financial aid) will disburse directly to your student account. Some state aid and VA housing benefits are sent directly to you if requested. In any case, it is your responsibility to make sure your student account is paid in full each semester.


Is there financial aid available to me in the summer?

Some types of aid are available in the summer, such as Washington state financial aid, federal Pell Grant, PLUS Loans, and private loans. Federal aid, like the federal Pell Grant and PLUS Loans, require you to be enrolled at least half time in the summer, which is 6 credits for undergraduate students and 4.5 credits for graduate students. Typically, students will utilize their full federal direct student loan eligibility in their first two semesters of the academic year, leaving limited funding for summer.

Costs

Can I use financial aid to purchase a computer, laptop, or tablet for class?

All DigiPen students have the cost of a laptop included in the first semester cost for their programs. If you need financial aid to purchase a computer outside of your first semester, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.


Can I use financial aid to pay for housing?

Housing is included in your cost of attendance, which means you are able to use your financial aid credit balance refund to cover housing and/or rent for an off-campus apartment. Other living costs (food, transportation, personal expenses, etc.) can also be paid by utilizing your financial aid credit balance refund.


Can I use financial aid to pay my enrollment fee or housing deposit?

Financial aid is not paid until the first day of the semester and cannot be used for costs before the semester begins.

Federal Work-Study

Can I use my federal work-study offer to pay my bill?

No. Federal work-study cannot be used to pay your bill at the beginning of the semester. You must get a job and earn funds by working. You will be paid monthly for your hours worked. You may choose to use earnings for education expenses, including tuition in a future semester.


How do I decline my federal work-study offer?

Federal work-study is automatically accepted for you. If you do not want to use it, email faid[at]digipen[dot]edu and request that we decline it for you. Declining your federal work-study will increase your eligibility for loans but will not increase your grant or scholarship aid.

Loans

What are the interest rates and fees for federal loans?

Federal loans disbursed after July 1, 2021, have the following interest rates:

  • 3.73%: Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for Undergraduate Students
  • 5.28%: Direct Unsubsidized Loans for Graduate Students
  • 6.28%: Direct Parent and Graduate PLUS loans

Federal loans disbursed between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2022, have the following origination fees:

  • 1.057%: Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for Undergraduate Students
  • 1.057%: Direct Unsubsidized Loans for Graduate Student
  • 4.228%: Direct Parent and Graduate PLUS loans

How is the interest rate on federal student loans determined?

The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013 ties federal student loan interest rates to financial markets. The rates are calculated using a 10-year Treasury Note Index plus a fixed margin (2.05% for undergraduate subsidized and unsubsidized loans, 3.6% for graduate unsubsidized loans, and 4.6% for parent and graduate PLUS loans), depending on the loan program. Interest rates will be determined each spring for new loans being made for the upcoming award year, which runs from July 1 to the following June 30. Each loan will have a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan.


How do I calculate my loan origination fees?

Loan origination fees are calculated using the following formulas:

  • Direct Student Loans: Loan Amount × Current Student Loan Origination Fee = Loan Origination Fee
  • Direct PLUS Loans: Loan Amount × Current PLUS Loan Origination = Loan Origination Fee

Is there a limit on the amount of time I can receive Direct Subsidized Student Loans?

Yes. New borrowers may receive the interest subsidy for up to 150% of the published length of their program.


To whom do I repay my loans?

All Direct Loans (student and parent) are repaid directly to the federal government through a loan servicer.


If I decline a loan, can I get it back if I change my mind?

In most circumstances, yes. There is some flexibility in reinstating and declining the entire loan or portions of it. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for guidance about reinstatinge the loan.


What is loan entrance/exit counseling?

Loan entrance counseling is required by federal regulations for all first-time borrowers at a school. The session gives an overview of the federal loan program, discussing the types of loans, interest rates, borrower rights and responsibilities, etc.

Loan exit counseling is required when borrowers graduate or leave college to make sure that they understand their rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

Both the entrance and exit counseling are done through your account at the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website.


Why are federal student loans a better option than private loans?

Federal student loans offer low, fixed interest rates, income-based repayment plans, loan forgiveness, and deferment options, including deferment of loan payments when a student returns to school. For these reasons, students and parents should always exhaust federal student loan options before considering a private loan.


Can I combine my federal loans if I have multiple servicers/lenders?

Yes. After you graduate, you can consolidate all your federal loans through the Federal Direct Loan Consolidation program.

Professional Judgment

What is considered a special circumstance?

We realize that the FAFSA does not always capture the true picture of a family’s financial situation. The federal government allows us to consider certain special circumstances and/or expenses when determining a student’s aid eligibility.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Loss or reduction of income (layoff, illness, forced reduction of hours, temporary employment, etc.).
  • Catastrophic medical/dental expenses.
  • Death, divorce, separation of parents or spouse.
  • Non-recurring payments received during the prior tax year that will not be repeated.
  • Loss of unemployment, disability, social security, veterans, child support, or alimony benefits.

We recognize that the current economic situation may be hitting some families rather unexpectedly. If your family is experiencing a hardship because of the current financial situation, let us know. While we cannot guarantee an increase in the financial aid package, we may be able to direct your family to other options for covering college expenses.


How do I report special circumstances to DigiPen?

Call or email the Office of Financial Aid to request a Professional Judgment Form. You will also be required to submit current-year tax returns and W2s along with other documentation. Your special circumstance will not be considered until you can provide all of the requested documentation.

If your family has a situation that you feel is not accurately reported on the FAFSA, let us know. Each family’s situation is unique and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


Do I have to report special circumstances every year?

Yes. If special circumstances continue, they have to be reaffirmed and re-documented each year.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

What is SAP?

Financial aid recipients are required to maintain the following standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress:

GPA:

  • Undergraduate students must maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA.
  • Graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

PACE:

  • Undergraduate students must complete at least 67% of the credits attempted (PACE) in order to maintain satisfactory pace toward graduation.
  • Graduate students must complete at least 50% of the credits attempted (PACE) in order to maintain satisfactory pace toward graduation.

Maximum Timeframe:

  • Undergraduate students must complete their degree within 150% of the maximum number of credits required for the degree.
  • Graduate students must complete their graduate degree within 200% of the maximum number of credits required for the degree.

What is Financial Aid Warning?

Financial Aid Warning is the result of a student not making Satisfactory Academic Progress for one semester. During the next semester of attendance after not meeting SAP for one prior semester, the student is placed into a Financial Aid Warning status. In the case of state aid eligibility, students may be placed into a State Aid Warning status for two semesters in a row. Students who are on warning may still receive financial aid. Students who successfully complete Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements after the completion of the warning semester will have their warning status removed and be placed back into good academic standing.


What is Financial Aid Termination?

Financial Aid Termination generally occurs when a student who is currently on Financial Aid Warning fails to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements after the completion of the warning semester. Typically, all financial aid is suspended. This includes all federal, state, and institutional aid, and most outside scholarships. Please refer to the Financial Aid Handbook for details of this policy.


Can I appeal my Financial Aid Termination status?

Students placed on Financial Aid Termination status and denied financial aid have the right to appeal their status to the Financial Aid Appeal Committee. To appeal, you must submit a written petition to the committee. The petition should include:

  1. A Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal Form.

  2. A statement in the student’s own words explaining why the student failed to achieve the required credits, required GPA, and/or pace.

  3. A description of the specific actions the student has taken or will take to recover the failed or withdrawn courses or missing credits.

  4. A description of the specific actions the student will take or has taken to prevent the situation from reoccurring.

  5. An approved and completed academic success plan completed with your Student Success Advisor.

  6. Depending on the circumstances, any supporting materials that may be helpful to the committee in reviewing the appeal (e.g., a letter from the student’s SSA, medical documentation, etc.).

Students who successfully appeal their Termination status may have their aid reinstated for one semester. During this probationary semester, students must meet all satisfactory academic progress requirements and follow their approved success plan in order to continue to receive aid beyond the probationary semester. Once the student has regained the minimum SAP requirements, they will be back in Good Standing.

Scholarships

Will my institutional scholarships increase if I do well in school?

While your initial merit award will not increase if you do well at DigiPen, you are welcome to apply for DigiPen Continuing Student Scholarships (Academic Success, Leadership and Financial Stimulus) in future years.


If I defer my enrollment to DigiPen, will I still be eligible for my institutional scholarship(s)?

No. If you defer your enrollment, you forfeit your scholarship(s). You do have the option to re-apply to scholarships for the academic year you plan to attend. You will need to submit new items to your portfolio in order to be re-considered for the Merit Scholarship.


How do I find additional outside scholarship funding?

DigiPen has partnered with Scholarship Universe to offer all DigiPen students access to over 11,000 outside scholarships. Start your scholarship search today!


I received a private/outside scholarship. How do I report that?

Congratulations! Report your private/outside scholarship in Self-Service on the Report Outside Awards page. We will add it to your aid offer and send you a revised offer notification. Private scholarships are used to fill unmet need first, then are used to replace work-study and loans.


A scholarship check was sent directly to me. What do I do with it?

Bring it to the Office of Financial Aid or Accounting Office. If the check was made out directly to you, endorse the back, as well. The Office of Financial Aid will apply it to your financial aid package.

Verification

Why was I selected for verification?

The Department of Education selects students for verification — some at random, others based on the likelihood that an error was made. You may also be selected by the Office of Financial Aid. Don’t assume that being selected means you did something wrong. We just want to make sure your application is accurate to give you the maximum amount of aid you are eligible to receive.


Do I have to complete the verification process?

The verification process is required to receive all federal and state aid, as well as some institutional aid. While completing the verification process is not mandatory to attend classes, if you are selected for verification, the process must be completed before most forms of financial aid can be disbursed/released to you or your student billing account. Failure to complete the process will result in cancellation in all or a large portion of your offered funds.


How will verification affect my aid?

The verification process ensures that students and families receive all of the aid they are eligible to receive. Your aid may be adjusted, up or down, depending on the accuracy of the information reported on your FAFSA. If you are selected for verification, the funds listed on your offer letter are considered an estimate until verification is complete. Failure to complete the process will result in cancellation in all or a large portion of your offered funds.


How long does the verification process take?

Once all documents have been completed and submitted to the Office of Financial Aid, verification can take two to four weeks (longer during peak processing times) to complete. Submitting incomplete or unsigned documents will delay the process.


How do I use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

The IRS Data retrieval tool is available on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and allows students/families to link their FAFSA directly to the tax information through the IRS. Follow the steps found on the Federal Student Aid website to utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If you are not able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, contact the Office of Financial Aid for further assistance.


Why has your office not received my data match after I used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

Our office typically receives the data match within 48 hours of its completion. If we have not received it after this window has passed, it is likely that the match was invalid or incomplete.

Problems can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Tax information being entered manually (i.e., by typing) instead of using the data match.
  • Changes being made to the data imported from the IRS Data Retrieval.
  • The FAFSA not being signed and resubmitted after you imported the tax information from the IRS, which can be corrected by returning to your FAFSA to sign and resubmit.

Who can utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

Applicants must have a valid Social Security Number to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Applicants will need to authenticate themselves to the IRS in order to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

You cannot utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if:

  • Applicant is married and files separate federal income tax returns or a dependent applicant’s parents are married and file separate federal income tax returns (e.g., married filing separately or head of household).

  • If there has been a change in the marital status of the applicant or parent (if the applicant is a dependent student) after the end of the tax year.

  • Foreign income tax return instead of or in addition to a US income tax return will be unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. For example, taxpayers who file both a US income tax return and a Puerto Rican tax return will be unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

  • Taxpayers who file income tax returns using a Tax ID Number (TIN) will not be able to use the tool.


What if I cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

If you cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you will need to submit a copy of your signed Federal Tax Return with all schedules 1-4, or you may request an IRS Tax Return Transcript. If you need help, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.


How do I complete Verification if I am a victim of identity theft?

Students and families who have been victims of tax-related identity theft are not going to be able to follow the normal verification process. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid at (425) 629-5002 or faid[at]digipen[dot]edu for alternative guidance for completing the Verification process.


Why do I have to fill out the Verification Worksheet if I already updated my FAFSA using the data match?

The verification worksheet serves to confirm or correct information on your FAFSA that is not included in the IRS Data Retrieval process.


What if I worked and did not file taxes?

If you were not required to file taxes for your earnings, you can indicate that in Section B of the Verification Worksheet. You will also need to provide copies of all W-2s for the year being verified. If you are not sure if you need to file taxes, please use the IRS tool Do I need to file?.

Two common reasons students are required to file are:

  1. They made more than $400 net self-employment (independent contractor) income.
  2. They earned more than $6,300 in W2 earnings and can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return — even if they are not claimed.

VA Benefits

When should I tell the Office of Financial Aid I have VA benefits?

Notify the Office of Financial Aid as soon as possible if you will be using your VA Benefits to pay for school. Some VA programs, such as the Yellow Ribbon program, have a limited number of spots available. As soon as you notify us of your interest, the VA SCO will add you to the waitlist for the next year.


What paperwork is required to show I am eligible for VA Benefits?

All students desiring to use VA Benefits at DigiPen will need to provide the following items:

  • Certificate of Eligibility (obtained directly from the VA).
  • DD-214 (if veteran student).
  • VA Form 22-1995 (if transferring benefits from another school).

How do I request my VA Benefits be certified each term?

Students are required to complete the VA Benefits Certification Request Form each semester they would like to use their VA Benefits to pay for school. The VA Benefits Certification Request Form certifies that the student’s courses for the semester count toward their degree program or minor. The VA will only pay for courses counting toward a degree or minor. The VA SCO will email students each semester when it is time to complete the form.


Is there a deadline for my VA Benefits to be certified each term?

The VA requires that all benefits be certified by the 30th day of the semester. If a student has not submitted their VA Benefits Certification Request Form (as well as all other required eligibility paperwork) by the deadline, they will not receive VA benefits for the semester. It will be up to the student to cover their debt with the Office of Accounting through other means.


What happens if I receive non-punitive grades as a VA student?

Any non-punitive grades (No Pass [NP] and Withdrawn [W]) at the end of the term can potentially result in funds needing to be returned to the VA, since the student did not earn the funds. This can result in a debt owed to DigiPen. For further details, please email veteranbenefits[at]digipen[dot]edu.

Withdrawal

What happens to my financial aid if I withdraw before 60% of the semester elapses?

The Office of Financial Aid will complete a process to determine how much of your financial aid you have earned based on your last date of attendance. Any unearned funding is returned on your behalf, possibly creating a balance owed to DigiPen. If you fully withdraw after 60% of the semester has passed, all of your federal financial aid will be considered earned and there will be no changes to your financial aid for that semester.

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