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Office of Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question below to read the answer:

  1. My loan has not credited to my account. What do I do?
  2. What is the current cost per semester to attend Winthrop University?
  3. What are the different types of financial aid that are available?
  4. Do you have a payment plan?
  5. When should students actually begin thinking about the financial aid process?
  6. What is the FAFSA?
  7. What type of information is included on the FAFSA?
  8. When should students fill out the FAFSA form?
  9. What if students aren't able to complete the FAFSA by the March 1 deadline?
  10. How long after submitting the FAFSA should it take for students to find out how much aid he/she might qualify for?
  11. What do students need to do once they receive notification of a student financial aid award?
  12. Must students repeat this process every year?
  13. Often parents assume that their income level will keep them from qualifying for financial aid. What is suggested for students in that category?
  14. How is applying for academic scholarships different from the process of applying for grants, loans, and other federal aid?
  15. South Carolina has a scholarship program for its residents called the LIFE Scholarship. Can you tell me a little about that?
  16. How do students apply for the LIFE Scholarship?
  17. Do transfer hours count towards my LIFE GPA?
  18. Can I be enrolled less than full-time and still receive my Academic or State Scholarship?
  19. What other options are available if a student is not eligible for any type of need-based aid?
  20. I don't want to go into debt. Why should I take out a loan?
  21. I'm not getting any e-mails from the Office of Financial Aid. Why not?
  22. Is there a maximum amount of financial aid that I can receive?

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FAQ question My loan has not credited to my account. What do I do? 

FAQ Answer If you were recently awarded a Federal Direct Loan as part of your Winthrop University financial aid package, there are 2 more steps to complete.  All first time borrowers MUST complete an entrance counseling session and sign a Master Promissory Note before the loan can be credited to your account.

Your Federal Direct Loan will not credit to your account until you have successfully completed the Entrance Counseling and signed the Master Promissory Note.

Your loans may be subject to cancellation if you do not complete the above items.

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FAQ question What is the current cost per semester to attend Winthrop University?

FAQ Answer Go to the most up-to-date tuition and fees information.

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FAQ question What are the different types of financial aid that are available?

FAQ Answer Need and merit are two major categories. Included in those areas are gift aid (grants) and self-help (loans and work study). Within grant assistance, there are Federal Pell Grant and supplemental grant programs and the South Carolina state grant program for South Carolina residents. These are based on financial need. Under the category of loans and work study, there is the Federal College Work Study Program, the Federal Perkins Loan, and the Federal Direct Loan.

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FAQ question Do you have a payment plan?

FAQ Answer Yes, we have the Winthrop University Payment Plan! Some families prefer a monthly installment plan.  Winthrop offers an Equal Payment Plan with four payments each semester.  Information for this program is available through the Controller's Office by calling (803) 323-2165.   While interest is not charged for this program, there is a $30 fee per semester for setting up your account.

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FAQ question When should students actually begin thinking about the financial aid process?

FAQ Answer Many high schools have workshops on financial aid. As early as the junior year in high school, students can begin gathering information. The fall semester of the senior year would be the time to check out all of the academic and merit scholarships that might be available from colleges and outside organizations. The actual application for need-based financial aid, the FAFSA, will be available after January 1 for the upcoming academic year.  

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FAQ question What is the FAFSA?

FAQ Answer FAFSA is an acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the form that students must complete to apply for need-based financial aid, regardless of which school they plan to attend. More FAFSA information.

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FAQ question What type of information is included on the FAFSA?

FAQ Answer There are three basic components: 1) parent and student income from the previous year, 2) parent and student asset information, and 3) family size (including the number of family members who will be in college during the coming academic year).

Most people will not receive their W-2 forms that are needed to file the federal tax form until the end of January. We know there is a pretty tight time table between getting the W-2 forms, recording the information, and submitting the FAFSA by March 1. There should be sufficient time, however, to complete everything during that six to eight week period. In addition, many people worry about having to mail their tax forms early, but that's not the case. You can submit the FAFSA using the tax information, then mail the tax forms on April 15.

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FAQ question When should students fill out the FAFSA form?

FAQ Answer Students cannot actually fill out the form until January 1 of each year if they plan to enroll for the upcoming academic year. Most colleges have priority dates for submitting the form. Winthrop's suggested date for submitting the FAFSA is no later than March 1.

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FAQ question What if students aren't able to complete the FAFSA by the March 1 deadline?          

FAQ Answer Although some financial aid programs have limited funds and these may have been committed, students should still apply for financial aid.  

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FAQ question How long after submitting the FAFSA should it take for students to find out how much aid he/she might qualify for?     

FAQ Answer When completed and signed correctly, an electronic FAFSA goes into the federal processor's database immediately. Application information becomes available to the schools you have listed about one week later. Each school's processing cycle differs, but generally speaking it will take a minimum of 2 weeks for an award to be processed.

If a student files the paper version of the FAFSA, it will take a minimum of four weeks to get a Student Aid Report and for the colleges to receive that information from the central processor. At that point, if a student has been admitted to the university, and if no additional information is required, it should take approximately two-three weeks for the Office of Financial Aid to send an award notification to the student.

If a student applies by March 1, our office would receive the information by mid-March, so it would be mid-March before the student would hear from the Office of Financial Aid.

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FAQ question What do students need to do once they receive notification of a student financial aid award?                 

FAQ Answer Notification of financial aid awards will be sent by e-mail to all students who have provided e-mail addresses to the Office of Admissions or on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Most awards are made for both the fall and spring semesters. The e-mail notification will instruct students to log into Wingspan, the university's electronic communication system.  Complete details on how to log into Wingspan will be provided to students.  Paper notifications will be sent to students who have not provided e-mail addresses.  These notifications will include steps students should take to accept or decline aid using the paper form.

Students who receive e-mail award notifications may view, accept, or decline aid on Wingspan.  Links are provided to detailed information on financial aid programs, student rights and responsibilities and other helpful information.  Students should accept or decline aid within 30 days of the notice of award.  Students who are awarded funds through loan or work study programs will receive additional information about these programs during the summer.

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FAQ question Must students repeat this process every year?   

FAQ Answer Yes, a student must submit an application for each academic year. Once a student has applied for aid as a freshman, the federal processor will make available a renewal application. This should happen by early January each year prior to the upcoming academic year. The advantage to using the renewal form is that much of the basic information from the original (or previous year's) FAFSA is already completed for you.

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FAQ question Often parents assume that their income level will keep them from qualifying for financial aid. What is suggested for students in that category?

FAQ Answer Apply for the first year. If interested in student loans, and all students are eligible for student loans, then you must file the FAFSA, regardless of income.  

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FAQ question  How is applying for academic scholarships different from the process of applying for grants, loans, and other federal aid?        

FAQ Answer Students are considered for academic scholarships based on the admissions application and the information that accompanies it (Office of Admissions). Students are considered for need-based aid based on the information they provide on the FAFSA (Office of Financial Aid).

There are also outside types of aid that are available, but students have to do a little homework to apply for those. There are good sources available on the Internet. Many high school counselors compile information for the areas they serve. There are also reference books available that are published by Peterson's, Lovejoy, and the College Board. All types of information are included in these books, and they are usually available in public libraries and school libraries.

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FAQ question South Carolina has a scholarship program for its residents called the LIFE Scholarship. Can you tell me something about that?    

FAQ Answer The LIFE program is a scholarship available to South Carolina residents who meet 2 of the following 3 criteria at high school graduation:

  1. earn a cumulative 3.0 (B) grade point average (GPA) based on the Uniform Grading Policy at the time of graduation
  2. earn a score of at least 1100 on the SAT (verbal and math)
  3. graduate in the top 30 percent of his/her class

Please remember that rounding of grades, scores, or rank is not permitted.

The award is up to $5,000 for students who plan to attend a four-year institution in state. The scholarship is renewable for students who keep a 3.000 cumulative GPA, without rounding, and earn 30 semester hours in college each year. 

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FAQ question How do students apply for the LIFE Scholarship?

FAQ Answer Students do not have to apply. The information provided on the admissions application and the high school transcript will be used to determine eligibility.  

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FAQ question Do transfer hours count towards my LIFE GPA?

FAQ Answer Beginning with the 2006-07 academic year, the LIFE GPA must be calculated for all students for the purposes of awarding the LIFE Scholarship.  The LIFE GPA must include all grades and credit hours earned at any eligible institution (in-state and out-or-state), including courses that do not transfer based on the institution's policy and college courses taken while in high school.  The LIFE GPA must not include continuing education courses, non-degree credit courses for an associate's degree or higher and remedial/developmental courses."
Students must continue to earn an average of 30 semester hours each year and a cumulative GPA (as defined in the above paragraph) of at least 3.000, without rounding, and meet all general eligibility requirements.

Eligibility for transfer students to receive LIFE Scholarship is not determined until all transcripts from all schools attended have been received and reviewed.

Eligibility to receive LIFE for students enrolled at Winthrop and continuing their enrollment will not be determined until all grades are posted at the end of spring term.

Reminder:  Students will have two grade point averages, one calculated for LIFE Scholarship eligibility and one calculated by Winthrop for graduation purposes.  

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FAQ question Can I be enrolled less than full-time and still receive my Academic or State Scholarship?             

FAQ Answer No.  Recipients of Winthrop academic and/or State scholarships are required to maintain full time (12 credit hours) enrollment.  Failure to enroll full time will result in the removal of the scholarship award.  Students with documented disabilities on file with the Office of Disability Services should notify the financial aid office prior to enrolling in classes.  

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FAQ question What other options are available if a student is not eligible for any type of need-based aid?      

FAQ Answer Those students are still eligible for an unsubsidized direct loan. They would be responsible for the repayment of the accrual of interest while they are in school. But the interest rate is very modest on those loans.

Also, parents might be interested in applying for Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). Parents are generally eligible for loans up to the cost of attendance for the student minus any financial aid the student may receive. The interest rate is capped, and there is generally a ten year repayment period. Applications for PLUS loans can be requested through the Office of Financial Aid. Based on new legislation, parents are able to defer payments on a PLUS loan until after the student graduates.

Winthrop also has a payment plan available through the business office. The balance due for each semester would be divided into four payments that would be paid over the course of the semester. There is no interest charged, but there is a $30 participation fee per semester.

There are also jobs available on campus for students who would like a part-time job. The Office of Financial Aid website keeps a current list of jobs that are available.

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FAQ question I don't want to go into debt. Why should I take out a loan?

FAQ Answer All federal student loans have low-interest rates, usually less than that offered by banks, as well as options for low or graduated repayment amounts when you graduate. A student loan is definitely an obligation, something you have to pay back, but it is only one piece of the overall puzzle. Most students receive a "package" of aid that is a balance of scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study.  While you will want to keep your loan balance low, you may need a loan to attend school.

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FAQ question I'm not getting any e-mails from the Office of Financial Aid. Why not?

FAQ Answer If you have a 'spam' blocker protecting your e-mail account, you may not be able to receive e-mails from the Office of Financial Aid. Please disable your 'spam' blocker on your e-mail to allow Winthrop e-mails to arrive.

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FAQ question Is there a maximum amount of financial aid that I can receive?

FAQ Answer Yes, students may not receive aid from all sources which would exceed the established cost of attendance.