At OSU's Office of Financial Aid, we are here to help guide you through the aid process and answer any questions you might have. Below is some basic information to help parents better understand federal aid eligibility and important timelines to keep in mind throughout the year.
File the FAFSA Early
Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible each year. The yearly application becomes available on October 1st. You will complete the FAFSA using tax data from 2 years prior (for example, the 2020-21 application will use 2018 tax information). We highly recommend using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool in the FAFSA to download tax information directly from your IRS return. The priority FAFSA application deadline for OSU is February 28th. This date is used to determine eligibility for some need-based aid programs as well as State and Institutional funds; however, you may still submit your application after this date. Applications received after the priority deadline will still be eligible for federal aid such as Pell Grant and Direct Loans.
Apply for an FSA ID
The FSA ID is a username and password used to securely access Department of Education websites. You and your student each create your own FSA ID to complete and sign the FAFSA. You may also use your FSA ID to apply for the Parent PLUS loan. More information can be found at the FSA ID website.
Student Confidentiality is Protected
According to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) OSU cannot release a student’s financial records to anyone without the student’s written consent, regardless of the student’s age, who is paying the student’s bills, or who has the power of attorney status over the student. If a student wants someone else to have access to their OSU financial aid records, they need to complete the Consent for Release of Confidential Information Form, which is valid until revoked.
OSU uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine a student’s financial need and eligibility for various aid programs. A student’s financial aid award is designed to meet as much of their financial need and eligibility as possible and is determined by the student’s need level and availability of funds. OSU offers merit-based scholarships, need and non-need-based financial aid. Student aid has both yearly and aggregate limits. See our Aid Types and Aid Limits for Undergraduates pages for further details.
Student and Parent Contributions
For a dependent student, the FAFSA takes into account the entire family’s financial picture, with allowances for federal and state taxes, college costs for siblings, asset protection, medical expenses, and other factors, and determines how much the student and the family can be expected to reasonably contribute toward their education. If a student has no financial need as determined by the FAFSA, they may not receive need-based aid. Families ineligible for need-based aid may still be eligible to receive a federal unsubsidized student loan and the parent of a dependent student may still apply for the Parent PLUS loan if there is room in the budget.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
When you submit your FAFSA application each year, a federal formula is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. This number is an estimate of how much a student and their family can contribute toward educational expenses. This number is not an actual dollar amount that you are expected to pay. It is the number we must use to determine eligibility for need-based aid such as the Pell Grant and the subsidized Ford Direct loan. Unfortunately, having a zero EFC does not mean your financial aid offer will be able to cover your full cost of attendance. Aid is limited by federal aid maximums and the availability of other funds.
The FAFSA application uses tax data from prior years, which may not always be an accurate reflection of your current situation, especially in difficult economic times. The U.S. Department of Education allows for an institution to use professional judgment to change certain elements of the FAFSA application if adequate documentation can be provided. If you or your family has experienced a loss of employment, change in marital status, or other extraordinary circumstances since you completed the FAFSA, you may appeal to have your situation reviewed by our office. Find out more on our Special Conditions Appeal page.
Parent PLUS Loan
The Parent PLUS is a credit-based federal loan borrowed by the parent on behalf of a dependent student for educational expenses. Based on the FAFSA each year, students are awarded the maximum amount they are personally eligible to receive. If additional funding is needed beyond the student’s FAFSA and total financial aid offer, a parent may choose to complete the Parent PLUS loan application and Master Promissory Note on the studentaid.gov website. If the PLUS application is credit approved, the loan may be used to cover the student's remaining cost of attendance for that academic year. As with all loans, you are not required to take it. More information on the Parent PLUS loan and application process may be found on our Aid Types page.*
*The PLUS loan application will not be available until May for the following school year. If you attempt to apply prior to that date you will be told that OSU does not participate in the program. Rest assured, OSU DOES participate in the Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan program. Applications for Parent PLUS Loans require a credit check each time the parent applies for the loan and is only valid for 180 days. Applying too early may cause delays with processing and disbursements.
Although the Parent PLUS loans do not have yearly or aggregate maximums, they are only available to the credit-approved parents of students who are undergraduate and considered dependent for FAFSA purposes. If a student is turning 24 or will otherwise be considered independent for a given aid year, the Parent PLUS Loan option would not be available. Please review the FSA website for further information on dependency status.