What You Need to Know about Student Financial Aid

Contributor
Campus

Most of the pertinent information about the Student Financial Aid (SFA) office is already well-known if you are a student in need of money to help you pay for school.

The application cycle begins each January and by now you should have accepted your awards, completed promissory notes for your various loans and submitted documentation if documentation was requested.

If classes already started, you should have fall financial aid money in your bank account.  But if you do need some information about deadlines, disbursements, types of financial aid or available advisor drop-in schedules, be sure to check out our webpage, or stop by the front desk in Millberry Union second floor west (right by the Library steps) —we’d love to see you!

The basics are posted on the SFA website; this article lists a few additional notes about financial aid. http://finaid.ucsf.edu/

DEFERRING YOUR OLD LOANS: 

Defer your outstanding federal student loans from undergraduate school.  Interest on any prior federal subsidized loans will be paid by the government during your deferment.  Make sure to update your personal information with your lender as well; any change in your address or student status (such as enrolling here at UCSF) is critical to report!  Usually, the deferment is automatic once your status as a student at UCSF is certified. 

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMEONE WANTING TO MAKE A BUCK:

Private agencies have been busy sending electronic and printed advertisements to students, telling them they should consolidate their loans ”right away” or they will miss important opportunities to lower their interest rates.  You do not need to consolidate loans while you are a student.  Your status as a student is accepted at any of the agencies that service your old and current loans.

If you received subsidized federal loans while you were in undergraduate school, interest will not accrue on those loans once they are in an “in school” status.  You might be tempted to refinance your federal loans by consolidating them into a new private loan with lower interest rates.  Beware.  Read the small print.

These agencies do not generally guarantee an interest cap.  Interest can accrue most often than under the federal program and the various list of borrower options—including the income-based payment, public loan forgiveness and loan cancellation provisions —are not offered. Some agencies charge as much as $400 (or more) to handle your loan paperwork.

BORROW ONLY WHAT YOU NEED:

Your financial aid Offer Letter may list loans for which you qualify, based on your application.  But if you have other ways of meeting your expenses, then by all means borrow only what you need!  You can always apply later in the academic year (until May 2015) if your budgetary needs change.

EXTRA EXPENSES:

That being said, if your financial aid does not cover your basic costs, please refer to our website to learn about allowable budget increases, or contact the office so you can discuss your situation with an advisor.

KNOW YOUR ADVISOR:

You have a special advisor assigned to you (based on your school).  Get to know your advisor.  He or she can help you figure out a budget, or answer questions about your prior loans or current award package.  If you are planning to take time off for research or to pursue a related degree or certificate, your advisor can help you plan that event. And your advisor might think about you when a special opportunity or event occurs.  You can identify who your advisor is by checking our website.

PLEASE READ OUR MESSAGES:

We send notification to you about financial aid adjustments, about holds that are placed on your account, forms that we might still need, available scholarships and a whole host of other things related to your aid.  Our disbursing agent, TMS, also sends email under its address, which is Afford.com. We don’t send messages that aren’t really important (to you) so please be sure to read and respond to us.  Be sure to forward your UCSF e-mail to another account if you are not regularly reading mail sent to your official UCSF address.