Step-by-step guide for applying for financial aid
STEP 1. Apply for a PIN.
Apply for a PIN at www.pin.ed.gov or link via www.fafsa.ed.gov so you will be able to e-sign your 2012-2013 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Master Promissory Notes (loan applications). You may also begin to complete your FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov and save your data until you receive your PIN.
STEP 2. Complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Complete the '12-'13 FAFSA once you have finished your 2011 federal income tax return. The FAFSA is the key document for determining eligibility and must be completed online and submitted to the Federal Processor as early as possible using your 2011 federal tax information. It is never too late to apply for the upcoming term. Thunderbird will receive the information electronically as long as our school code (G01070) is listed. Within 72 hours you will receive an email from the Federal Processor with a link to your electronic Student Aid Report (SAR). Review the report and your responses carefully. If the SAR letter questions anything on the information you submitted, follow the instructions on the form and make the corrections or contact the Financial Aid Office for assistance. Once the SAR is correct, print/save a copy for your records. If you do not receive your email notification about your SAR within two weeks call 1-800-4FEDAID to check the status.
FAFSA preferred filing dates:
Fall - March 1
Spring - September 15
Summer - February 15
The FAFSA is valid for Fall 2012 through Summer 2013 terms
STEP 3. Follow Up
All discrepancies or conflicting data indicated on your SAR must be resolved in order to continue the financial assistance process and receive your financial aid notification email. This may include verification documents. The Financial Aid Office communicates with you what information and documents are required to resolve any issues; you may also review your SAR for details. If the SAR does not find any discrepancies or conflicting data, this step may be skipped and your file is considered complete.
**Please note you must be an admitted student (offered admissions) to move beyond this step.**
STEP 4. Receive Intro Emails
These emails introduce the staff, reiterate the financial aid steps and share additional information for you to consider prior to matriculation.
STEP 5. Receive File Complete Email
This email will outline tasks to do in preparation for receiving your Award Notification Letter (eligibility), such as complete entrance counseling and review the Thunderbird Learning Environment (TLE). You will also be sent a user name and password for Access Thunderbird, by our IT department, which will allow you to view, accept and/or reject your financial aid awards once you receive your Award Notification Checklist email. This will be sent to you about a week after you receive your File Complete Letter.
STEP 6. Receive Financial Aid Award Notification Information Email
This is the first of two Financial Aid Award Notification emails. The Step 6 email discusses how we award you and explains why we are asking you to take certain actions when you receive your Financial Aid Award Notification Checklist email.
STEP 7. Receive Award Notification Checklist E-mail
When you receive notification that your Financial Aid Award Letter is available, you will be asked to review your award information online through Access Thunderbird – this is when you will use your login information that was sent to you by our IT department. Your specific awards, for which you are eligible, will be listed. Follow the instructions in the notification email to accept and/or reject the aid offered to you for all the awards listed. To ensure you receive funds by the payment due date or as quickly as possible after the first day of classes, you must accept your awards within 10 days of receipt of this email as well as complete all items noted in the checklist in a timely manner. (Should be at least 30 days prior to the payment due date).
- Accept/Reject your Financial Aid
- If you accepted the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you will need to complete two separate Master Promissory Notes (MPN), one for each loan/award program, at https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/index.action.
- Online Student Loan Entrance Counseling. All federal financial aid recipients are required to complete an entrance counseling session (one time per school). Thunderbird will not certify a loan if loan entrance counseling has not been done. To complete the Entrance Counseling for the Federal Direct Stafford and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans go to the following link: https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/index.action.
If, after you receive your award information, you no longer need financial aid, please reject the awards listed.
STEP 8. Follow up - Award Notification
Within 15 days of receipt of your Financial Aid Award Notification Letter, if you have not taken action on your awards via Access Thunderbird and/or we have not been notified that you have completed all necessary Master Promissory Note(s) for the Federal Direct Stafford and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans, as applicable, and/or the loan entrance counseling, you will be sent a reminder notice of what must be completed before our office may complete the loan process. If you have accepted a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, we will communicate with you separately regarding what needs to be done if it is more than 80 days from start of the term. Should timely action not occur, you may be required to pay your bill even if financial aid funds are expected.
STEP 9. Loan Application Processing (Origination with the Department of Education)
When the Financial Aid Office receives confirmation that you have completed your Master Promissory Note(s), obtains your decision of the accept/reject results of your awards through Access Thunderbird and verifies that you have completed loan entrance counseling, your loan(s) will be originated/certified and the information shared with the Department of Education. The Financial Aid Office will not originate a Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan without first receiving confirmation of your approved credit.
Financial Aid will notify you that loans have been originated via email once this step is completed.
STEP 10. Funds Post
Once the Department approves the loan(s), Thunderbird will post funds to student accounts shortly before classes begin or usually within 10 days of processing (originating) the loan(s). Student eligibility is reconfirmed (enrollment, etc.) and the Bursar’s Office is informed. You are sent a notice from Financial Aid indicating which funds have been received and the amount posted to your account. A hold on these funds may occur if there are any new discrepancies that need to be resolved. If this happens, we either recalculate eligibility for the financial aid or contact you to resolve the discrepancies and handling of the funds.
STEP 11. Refund of Credit Balance (Excess Funds)
If financial aid funds posted to your student account are greater than your allowable charges, a refund will be processed toward the end of the second week of classes. Funds arriving after second week of classes will be processed within 5 business days. However, if financial aid funds are not covering all charges, you will need to make arrangements with the Bursar’s Office regarding payment by the published payment due date.