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General Questions

Should I wait to be admitted before applying for aid?

No. You can file the FAFSA starting October 1 of the year you are submitting your college applications. For the 2024-25 academic year, the FAFSA will open in December 2023. 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 the FAFSA every year?

It depends. If you receive and use federal financial aid, including loans, you must file the 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 the FAFSA.

What is the Student Aid Index (SAI)?

The SAI 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 such as:

  • Dependency status
  • Income
  • Assets
  • Family size

How is financial need determined?

Financial need is determined by the following formula:
Cost of Attendance - Student Aid Index = 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 family 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 have started attending classes at DigiPen, 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 Proxy Access in Colleague Self-Service.

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

All students are able to access Colleague 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 Colleague Self-Service. The email will detail the steps to access the Financial Aid Information section of Colleague 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 Colleague 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 Colleague Self-Service requirements page. Log in to Colleague Self-Service, select Financial Aid Counseling, and then select Required Documents.

Most Financial Aid Forms are also located on the Financial Aid Forms 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 your Colleague Self-Service portal. Please check your Required Document page in Colleague 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 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.

Contributors and Consent

This section is designed for those applying to the FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year. See our 2024-25 FAFSA Changes page for deadlines and additional changes made for the FAFSA.

Who is considered a contributor?

A contributor is any individual required to provide consent and approval for federal tax information (FTI) along with their signature on the FAFSA form. A contributor can include the student, the student’s spouse, a biological or adoptive parent, or the parent’s spouse (stepparent).

All contributors must create an FSA ID, log in to the FAFSA application for this year, and provide their signature. Being a contributor means that you are contributing data to the FAFSA and allowing your student the opportunity to be eligible for financial aid. It does not mean that you are financially responsible for the student’s school-related costs.

The FAFSA will ask questions to help the student determine who needs to be added to the application as a contributor.

How will my data be protected once it is transferred to the FAFSA?

The systems that receive federal tax information as part of the FAFSA process are required to meet safeguard and security requirements outlined by the Department of Education. Federal regulations protect student data as well as contributor federal tax information. Federal Tax Information will be used only to determine federal student aid eligibility or eligibility and repayment options for income-driven repayment plans, if applicable.

What happens after someone provides consent for their financial data to be used on the FAFSA?

Once consent is given for an individual’s data to be used on the student’s FAFSA, the majority of the FAFSA fields pertaining to their financial data will be automatically filled with data retrieved from the IRS system. The contributor will then be prompted to fill in a few fields that cannot be automatically filled such as cash/savings and asset data.

What happens if a contributor does not provide consent to have their data added to a student’s FAFSA?

If a contributor refuses to consent to provide their data on the FAFSA, then the student will be ineligible for federal student aid. If the student has extenuating circumstances that impact the contributor’s ability to provide consent for their data to be used on the FAFSA, they should contact the Office of Financial Aid.

What happens if someone revokes consent of their data being used on the FAFSA?

Once consent has been given for an individual’s data to be used on the student’s FAFSA, it cannot be revoked for that academic year.

Can a student choose not to include parent contributor data if they feel they should be considered independent?

A student’s dependency status is determined by their answers to the dependency questions on the FAFSA. If their answers to these questions produce a status of dependent student for FAFSA purposes, then parental information must be provided on the FAFSA.

If there are extenuating circumstances that impact a student’s ability to provide parental data as required for dependent students, the student should contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss their options.

Can consent be provided if a contributor does not have a social security number?

Yes, there will be a process for contributors without social security numbers to create an FSA ID and provide consent for their tax information to be used on the FAFSA.

Can consent be provided if a contributor did not file a tax return?

If a contributor did not file taxes, they will still need to provide consent for the IRS to verify that they did not file.


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. Your Federal Work-Study offer cannot be used to pay your bill at the beginning of the semester. You will need to apply and be hired for a Federal Work-Study eligible student 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?

You can accept or decline your Federal Work-Study offer on the My Awards page under the Financial Aid section in your Colleague Self-Service portal. Declining your Federal Work-Study offer will increase your eligibility for loans but will not increase your grant or scholarship aid.


What are the interest rates and fees for federal loans?

Federal loans disbursed after July 1, 2023, have the following interest rates:

  • 5.49%: Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for Undergraduate Students
  • 7.05%: Direct Unsubsidized Loans for Graduate Students
  • 8.05%: Direct Parent and Graduate PLUS loans

Federal loans disbursed between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2023, 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 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

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 reinstating 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, withdraw or drop below half time enrollment 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.

Special Circumstances

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 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 not covered by insurance.
  • 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?

Contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss your situation. You may 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:


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


  • 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, as well as 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.


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 Manager to offer all DigiPen students access to outside scholarships.

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

Congratulations! Report your private/outside scholarship in Colleague Self-Service on the Report/View Outside Awards page by sending your scholarship informational letter to the Office of Financial Aid. 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?

Mail or bring the scholarship check to the Accounting Office. If the check was made out directly to you, endorse the back, as well. The Office of Financial Aid will apply the scholarship funds to your financial aid package. Our mailing address:

DigiPen Institute of Technology

Accounting Office

9931 Willows Road NE

Redmond, WA 98052


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 tuition 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.

What is the Direct Data Exchange?

The IRS Direct Data Exchange transfers tax data from the IRS directly to the FAFSA. Every contributor on the FAFSA will need to provide annual consent for the Direct Data Exchange to transfer their information. It is required for federal student aid eligibility.

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 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 IRS Direct Data Exchange?

The Verification Worksheet serves to confirm or correct information on your FAFSA that is not included in the IRS transfer 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. This information would have also been transferred to the FAFSA through the IRS Direct Data Exchange.

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 $12,950 in W2 income, even if they can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

VA Benefits

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

Notify the Office of Financial Aid School Certifying Official at 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. The School Certifying Official will assist you in being added to the Yellow Ribbon list.

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).

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

Students are required to complete the VA Enrollment Certification Request Form each semester they would like to use their VA benefits to pay for school. The VA Enrollment 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 Enrollment Certification Request Form (as well as all other required eligibility paperwork) by the deadline, their VA benefits may be delayed. This includes tuition payments, as well as the book stipend or MHA. The amounts paid are always at the discretion of the VA. If the Enrollment Certification Request Form is not submitted 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], Withdrawn [W], and Hardship Withdrawal [HW]) at the end of the term can potentially result in funds needing to be returned to the VA because the student did not earn the funds. This can result in a debt owed to DigiPen. For further details, please email


What happens to my financial aid if I withdraw without completing the semester?

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, officially 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. Students who cease attending classes without officially withdrawing will be reviewed using the same process above. In this case, the 50% point of the semester will be used to calculate the amount of financial aid earned.

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