Financial Aid Policies


Consideration for Priority Financial Aid
Students who complete a FAFSA by December 1st  but did not list Iowa State University as a recipient must have their FAFSA information submitted to Iowa State University no later than May 1st to be considered for priority financial aid, including the following aid types:
FAFSA Verification “Priority Aid” Document Deadline Policy
In order to retain priority aid (Institutional Need-Based and Campus-Based Aid) as part of an award package, the verification process must be completed by the end of spring semester of the given FAFSA year. Priority aid at Iowa State includes Iowa State University (ISU) Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and Federal Work Study.
FAFSA Verification “Federal Aid” Document Deadline Policy
In order to retain federal aid (Federal Direct Loans and Federal Pell Grant) as part of an award package, the verification process must be completed within 120 days of the students last date of enrollment or by September of the given FAFSA year, whichever is sooner.
Financial Aid Refund
Students are eligible to receive a financial aid refund when their aid exceeds the charges on their university bill. For more information on how to obtain your financial aid refund, visit the Direct Deposit webpage on the Accounts Receivable website.
FAFSA Cooperative Education Program
Cooperative programs that ISU students participate in do not fall under the definition of ‘Cooperative Education Program’, as defined by the Department of Education for FAFSA purposes. If a student is selected for the verification process, in conjunction with filing a FAFSA, any dollars reported under the question of “Earnings from work under a cooperative education program offered by a college”, will be removed.
Releasing Personal Identifiable Information to an Authorized Third Party
As of February 1, 2018, the Office of Student Financial Aid will no longer provide nor confirm personally identifiable student information to an entity outside of Iowa State University.

Section 483(a)(3)(E) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, specifically restricts the use of FAFSA data, and states the data collected on the FAFSA shall only be used for the application, awarding, and administration of aid awarded under federal student aid programs, state aid, or aid awarded by eligible institutions or such entities as the Department may designate. Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education confirms that even if a student authorizes the release of this information, financial aid administrators are prohibited from doing so.

In the event Iowa State students need to provide their individual FAFSA data, Expected Family Contribution (or EFC), federal and/or institutional awards, or other financial aid-related information to an entity outside of Iowa State, students will need to provide this information to outside organizations or agencies themselves.

Students can access their Iowa State University Financial Aid Award in AccessPlus which will display their Expected Family Contribution (or EFC) as calculated by the FAFSA, Cost of Attendance (or COA), and current financial aid award information. On the “Financial Aid Award” page in AccessPlus, students should use the “Print PDF” option in order to print and provide to entities requesting financial aid information. Students also have access to their FAFSA Student Aid Report (or SAR) which can provide additional FAFSA information.

Veteran’s Benefits
The U.S. Department of Education, starting with the 2009-2010 academic year, no longer requires that education benefits received by the student from the Veterans Affairs Administration (Chapters 30, 33, 35, 1606 and 1607) or ROTC programs administered by the Department of Defense be considered as a resource toward meeting a student’s ‘need’ when awarding ‘Federal’ Title IV student financial aid. These chapter benefits are no longer required to be reported on the FAFSA.
University Nondiscrimination Statement
Iowa State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex, marital status, disability, or status as a U.S. Veteran. Inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies may be directed to Office of Equal Opportunity, 3410 Beardshear Hall, 515 Morrill Road, Ames, Iowa 50011, Tel. 515 294-7612,  Hotline: 515-294-1222, email

Current Student

Financial Aid Enrollment Status
Students may receive “full-time” status from the Office of the Registrar or Student Disability Resources for multiple reasons, including:
  • Internship, Independent Study, or Research
  • Disability Accommodation
The “full-time” designation from other offices is not used for financial aid purposes. When determining eligibility for student financial aid, the number of credits enrolled is reviewed. Students are awarded financial aid based on full-time enrollment. Students who are enrolled less than full-time may be eligible for a prorated award.
Financial Aid Enrollment Status Definitions for Undergraduate Students for the Fall and Spring Semesters
  • Full-time enrollment – 11.5 credits per semester
  • Three-quarter time enrollment – 8.5-11 credits per semester
  • Half-time enrollment – 5.5-8 credits per semester
  • Less than half-time enrollment – 0-5 credits per semester
Financial Aid Enrollment Status Definitions for Graduate Students for the Fall and Spring Semesters
  • Full-time enrollment – 8.5 credits per semester
  • Three-quarter time enrollment – 7-8 credits per semester
  • Half-time enrollment – 4.5-6.5 credits per semester
  • Less than half-time enrollment – 0-4 credits per semester
Summer Financial Aid
Summer Financial Aid Enrollment Definition, please go to:
C-Base Graduate Student Enrollment Status
Graduate students who are employed in a c-base graduate assistantship may be enrolled in a reduced number of credits and receive federal financial aid. If you are registered in at least two credit hours, you may be considered a half-time student if you are on an assistantship and are working on your dissertation, thesis, or doing research needed to complete your degree.

Your financial aid may be subject to review each semester to confirm your employment in an eligible graduate assistantship.

The amount of financial aid received will be based on the cost of attendance determined by the actual amount of tuition assessed. The Office of Student Financial Aid urges students to carefully examine the amount of student loans needed to complete their course of study.

Undeclared Graduate Students
Graduate students may be classified as “Undeclared” by the Graduate College. Per Federal Student Aid policy, these students may receive the undergraduate Federal Direct Loan annual limits for a 12 month period in this status as a “preparatory student”.
  • Federal Direct Loan Limit – $2,750 per semester, up to two semesters, must adhere to the $31,000 lifetime loan aggregate. These students do not receive the additional $2000 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans that a junior/senior level student receives.
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan Limit – $3,500 per semester, up to two semesters, only if considered an independent student for criteria excluding being a graduate student. If an independent student, they must adhere to the $57,500 lifetime loan aggregate.
This population is not considered a graduate student for Federal Student Aid. Therefore:
  • They are not eligible for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. They may seek funding through a private loan if they are in need of additional funds.
  • They can receive Parent PLUS Loan funding if they are considered a dependent student.
  • Their FAFSA should not be changed to independent due to being a graduate student.
Financial Aid Census Date Policy for Undergraduate Students
In accordance with federal regulations, the Office of Student Financial Aid will recalculate federal, state, and institutional student aid awards based on the enrollment status as of the published Census Date (Count Day) by the Office of the Registrar, which is typically the end of the 10th day of class for both Fall and Spring terms. (The Census Date for Summer enrollment will vary based on the length of the course(s) taken.)
  • The Census Date for Fall 2018 is August 31, 2018.
  • The Census Date for Spring 2019 is January 28, 2019.

If you drop credits prior to or on the 10th day of class (the census date), you may be required to repay some or all of your aid that was disbursed to you if you do not, at that time, meet the enrollment requirements for the types of aid you have been awarded.

If you drop credits after the 10th day of class (the census date) and receive a tuition and fee credit to your U-Bill, the Office of Student Financial Aid may use that credit balance to reduce your student loan indebtedness.

If you drop credit after the 10th day of class but the effective date of the drop is prior to the 10th day of class (the census date), the Office of Student Financial Aid will use the effective drop date to determine aid eligibility.

If you add credits after the 10th day of class (the census date), you may not be eligible to receive additional financial aid. The Office of Student Financial Aid is not able to adjust all types of aid after the census date but will work with special situations on an individual basis. Students should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at before adding courses after the census date that would affect enrollment level (for example: moving from half to three-quarter time, etc.).

Withdrawal From Classes
Withdrawing from classes may affect a student’s financial aid eligibility. More information about Withdrawal From Classes
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Federal regulations require the Office of Student Financial Aid to monitor the academic progress of students receiving financial aid. More information about SAP
Repeating Courses — Impact to Financial Aid
An undergraduate student is allowed to retake any previously passed course one time and receive federal financial aid for that course. For this purpose, passed means any grade higher than an “F”. If a student passed a course once then received federal aid for retaking it and fails the second time, that failure counts as their paid retake. If a student takes a previously passed course for the third or more time, that course will not be eligible for federal financial aid and will not be included in their enrollment status for financial aid purposes. This could cause their federal financial aid to be reduced or removed from that semester’s award depending upon their enrollment status excluding the repeated course. A student may repeatedly receive federal aid for repeatedly failing the same course (normal SAP policy still applies to such cases).
Less than Full Time Enrollment and Financial Aid Policy
Iowa State University students who are enrolled at a less than full time status (11.5 credits for undergraduates and 8.5 credits for graduates) will have their financial aid cost of attendance reduced if they are receiving federal grants, institutional gift aid, and student and/or parent loans. The cost of attendance will be reduced to reflect a student’s assessed tuition and fee amount. This may cause a change in financial aid eligibility, even if financial aid has already been disbursed. Students will be responsible for paying back disbursed aid if financial aid eligibility changes. Tuition credit refunds will be held for 10 business days to adjust a student’s financial aid account. The TEACH Grant and some Pell Grant recipients are eligible when enrolled less than half-time. The ISU Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Direct Loans, and Graduate/Parent PLUS Loans require a student be enrolled half-time to be eligible.

Adjustments to enrollment status made after the 10th day of class will not cause an adjustment in the cost of attendance.

CA & RM Positions
Regarding CA [Community Advisor] / RM [Residence Manager] positions: The U.S. Department of Education requires that room and board received as employment compensation be considered as either a resource in calculation of the student’s financial need (Question 45 of the FAFSA) or as financial aid. Iowa State University considers CA/RM compensation as financial aid. Therefore, the student should not report their CA/RM room and board compensation on question 45 of the FAFSA.
Concurrent Student Enrollment
Operational policies for concurrent undergraduate/graduate students:
  • At the point that a student is classified at the graduate level, students will no longer be eligible for undergraduate aid (Federal Pell Grant, Iowa State University Grants, FSEOG Grant, Differential Tuition Awards, and Subsidized Direct Loans).
    • To maintain eligibility for external and ISU college/departmental scholarships while a student is classified as concurrent, the scholarship must meet donor parameters set in place when originally awarded.
    • Students will be eligible for graduate level aid as determined by the Office of Student Financial Aid.
  • Students receiving admissions institutional scholarships may continue to receive them until they have completed their undergraduate degree.
    • Students can still only receive scholarships originally awarded through Office of Admissions for a maximum of eight semesters.
    • Concurrent students must still enroll in 12 or more credits in order to receive their admissions scholarship for a given semester and to remain eligible for future semesters.
    • Non-resident students on assistantship who receive an in-state benefit will have the award adjusted to reflect the resident rate. This is consistent with current policy for non-resident undergraduates who become resident students.
Second Bachelor’s Degree or Teaching Endorsement after First Bachelor’s Degree
Students working toward their second bachelor’s degree or teaching endorsement after first bachelor’s degree will not be awarded priority financial aid, including the following aid types:
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Iowa State University (ISU) Grant
  • Iowa Grant
  • College Work Study (Federal or State)
Students working toward their second bachelor’s degree or teaching endorsement after first bachelor’s degree are not eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.
Proof of Attendance
Federal Regulations require that students who receive a Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and/or College Work Study and receive a non-passing grade or drop a course must prove that they attended one day of that course. Students will need to submit proof of attendance in the form of an assignment, quiz, or test, or other documentation deemed acceptable by the Office of Student Financial Aid.