Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE PRIORITY DATE FOR FINANCIAL AID APPLICATIONS AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR ME?
- December 31 is Southern's priority deadline for financial aid for the fall semester and March 31 is the deadline for the winter semester. Most institutions have priority deadlines for when the FAFSA needs to be received by. Having your FAFSA submitted before the priority deadline means you will be awarded the maximum amount of financial aid we can offer you. If you file after the priority deadline there is no guarantee that you will receive a full financial aid package.
IF I DON'T FILE MY FAFSA BY December 31 or March 31, WILL I STILL RECEIVE FINANCIAL AID?
- Yes. There are still grants, scholarships, and loans available—including need-based grants from the government, merit or academic scholarships from Southern, and federal loans. Southern's need-based grants are limited, so file early for the best chance of receiving these grants.
I PROBABLY DON'T QUALIFY FOR FINANCIAL AID BUT SHOULD I APPLY ANYWAY?
- Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid when they do. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as Direct Unsubsidized and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free, so it's worth trying.
ARE PHOTOCOPIES OF THE FAFSA ACCEPTABLE?
- No. Only the original FAFSA form produced by the U.S. Department of Education is acceptable.
I SENT IN MY FAFSA MORE THAN FOUR WEEKS AGO, BUT HAVEN'T HEARD ANYTHING. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you haven't received a Student Aid Report (SAR), call the federal processor at 319.337.5665. You must provide your Social Security number and date of birth as verification. To find out whether your FAFSA has been processed or to request a duplicate copy of your SAR, you may write to:
Federal Student Aid Programs
PO Box 4038
Washington, DC 52243-4038
MY PARENTS ARE SEPARATED OR DIVORCED. WHICH PARENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR FILLING OUT THE FAFSA?
- If your parents are separated or divorced, the custodial parent is responsible for filling out the FAFSA. The custodial parent is the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months. Note that this is not necessarily the same as the parent who has legal custody or claimed you on their taxes. If you haven’t lived with one parent more than the other, the parent who provided you with the most financial support should enter their information out the FAFSA.
MY PARENTS ARE DIVORCED, AND THE PARENT I'M LIVING WITH HAS REMARRIED. MUST MY STEP PARENT REPORT HIS OR HER INCOME AND ASSETS ON THE FAFSA?
- Yes. If your step parent is married to the parent you're living with (your custodial parent), the income and assets of the step parent must be reported—even if the step parent wasn't married to your parent the previous year.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR A PELL GRANT AND OTHER TYPES OF NEED-BASED AID?
- Submit a FAFSA. For Federal Work-Study, student loans, and parent loans, check the appropriate boxes on the FAFSA.
I RECEIVED AN OUTSIDE SCHOLARSHIP. SHOULD I REPORT IT TO THE STUDENT FINANCE OFFICE?
- If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from university, government, or other sources, you must report the scholarship to Student Finance.
WHAT IS THE TN LOTTERY SCHOLARSHIP (HOPE SCHOLARSHIP)?
The HOPE Scholarship is established and funded from the net proceeds of the state lottery and awarded to entering freshmen who are enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution within sixteen (16) months after graduating from a Tennessee eligible high school.
HOW MUCH IS THE HOPE SCHOLARSHIP?
- For freshman and sophomores, HOPE is awarded up to $1,750 per semester for full-time enrollment.
- For juniors and seniors, HOPE is awarded up to $2,250 for full-time enrollment.
WHAT IS THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR ENTERING FRESHMAN?
- There is specific criteria for entering freshman, specifically for homeschool graduates, GED recipients, and graduates from a Tennessee eligible high school. Please check this criteria by going online here. If you attended a boarding school outside of Tennessee, please double check with Tennessee that you will qualify for Tennessee State grants.
HOW DO I CONTACT THE STATE WITH QUESTIONS?
- You can call 1.800.342.1663 or 615.741.1346. Click here for more contact information.
WHAT IF I AM A TENNESSEE RESIDENT BUT I MISSED THE DEADLINE FOR THE TENNESSEE STATE GRANT?
- File your FAFSA anyway. While you won't be eligible for the Tennessee grant, other funds may still be available.
- For Tennessee State grants, applications must be received by September 1 for fall semester and February 1 for winter and summer semesters. Early application is recommended.
DOES SOUTHERN ACCEPT TN PROMISE AND TN RECONNECT?
- Yes. Please check your eligibility with the state of Tennessee and complete all required items on your checklist. Award amount varies based on remaining tuition and mandatory fees after all other gift aid has been applied.
- For TN Promise, please click here.
- For TN Reconnect, please click here.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT PRIVATE SCHOLARSHIPS?
- Try searching online for terms such as "scholarships," "financial aid," and "education aid."
- Check out Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com for a comprehensive search on scholarships.
Look up the U.S. Department of Education's Student Guide to Financial Aid, or the Financial Aid Information page.
For an updated list of private scholarships, email our Student Finance team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 423.236.2535.
ARE MY PARENTS RESPONSIBLE FOR MY EDUCATIONAL LOANS?
- In general, each student is responsible for repaying his or her educational loans; however, parents are responsible for Federal PLUS loans. Parents are also responsible for a student's educational loans if the student is under 18 and they were an endorser. Visit the
- About Our Loans page for more information.
CAN MY PARENTS GET A LOAN?
- Yes. The Federal PLUS (Parent loan for undergraduate students) is a low-interest loan available to parents. Your student finance counselor can provide brochures with additional information or you can visit studentloans.gov.
IF I TAKE A LEAVE OF ABSENCE, WILL I NEED TO START REPAYING MY LOANS?
- Not immediately. The Federal Direct loan allows a grace period of six months and the Nursing loan a grace period of nine months before repayment begins. When you take a leave of absence, you don’t have to repay your loan until after the grace period ends. However, if you use up the grace period, you will have to begin repaying your loan immediately upon graduation. It’s possible to request an extension of the grace period, but this must be done before the grace period is used up. If your grace period runs out in the middle of your leave, you’ll have to make payments on your student loans.
IF MY LEAVE OF ABSENCE IS AS A STUDENT MISSIONARY OR TASKFORCE WORKER, MUST I START REPAYING MY LOANS?
- If you enroll in Christian Service (at 6 credit hours per semester) and fill out a deferment form notifying your lender of this, your loans will be deferred.
IF I HAVE APPLIED FOR ADMISSION TO SOUTHERN, HAVE I APPLIED FOR FINANCIAL AID?
- No. Applying for admission and applying for financial aid are two separate processes.
DO I NEED TO BE ADMITTED BEFORE I CAN APPLY FOR FINANCIAL AID?
- No. You can apply for financial aid for the following academic year any time after October 1. You must be accepted at Southern to receive a financial aid award letter.
DO I NEED TO REAPPLY FOR FINANCIAL AID EVERY YEAR?
- Yes. You are required to apply for financial aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you may qualify for more or less aid. After your first year, you will receive a renewal application that contains pre-printed information from the previous year's FAFSA. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends whether you are making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree.
WHERE CAN I GET INFORMATION ABOUT FEDERAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID?
Call 1.800.4.FED.AID (1.800.433.3243) or 1.800.730.8913 (if hearing impaired) and ask for a free copy of The Student Guide to Financial Aid from the U.S. Department of Education. You can also visit the Department of Education's Financial Aid website or write to:
Federal Student Aid Information Center
PO Box 84
Washington, DC 20044
ARE FEDERAL WORK-STUDY EARNINGS TAXABLE?
- The money you earn from the Federal Work-Study program is generally subject to federal and state income tax but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than 20 hours a week). Federal Work-Study earnings during the calendar year should be included in the totals for AGI (adjusted gross income) on the previous year's FAFSA (question 39), income earned from work (question 42), and the total from worksheet C (question 46).
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NEED-BASED AND MERIT-BASED AWARDS?
- Need-based awards are given to students based on financial need as determined by the FAFSA. Merit-based awards (scholarships) are given on the basis of student accomplishments, regardless of financial need.
ARE JOBS AVAILABLE ON CAMPUS?
- Absolutely! Many students work to help pay their education expenses. For information about on-campus job opportunities, contact any department directly or Human Resources at 423.236.2276 or visit the job listing website.
HOW MUCH MONEY DO I NEED FOR BOOKS?
- Plan on budgeting about $600 per semester. As a student you can charge your textbooks to your student account through the online bookstore.
WHAT IS "COST OF ATTENDANCE"?
- Cost of attendance includes tuition, fees, room, board, books, and miscellaneous expenses.
HOW IS "FINANCIAL NEED" DETERMINED?
- Financial need is the difference between your yearly cost of attendance and your expected
family contribution, as determined by your FAFSA. You can think of it this way:
Cost of Attendance - Expected Family Contribution = Financial Need.
WHERE CAN I FIND AN EXPLANATION TO DIFFERENT PARTS OF MY MONTHLY FINANCIAL STATEMENT?
- Click on the following link for a more detailed explanation of each part of the monthly financial statement: Financial Statement Explanation
WHAT IS VERIFICATION?
- About 30% of all FAFSA filers are selected for verification, which requires schools to collect documentation to check the accuracy of the information provided on a student's (FAFSA). If selected, the verification process must be completed before financial aid can be applied to your account. Click here for additional information.