Financial Aid FAQ

Q. What is a tax return transcript, and where can I find it? 

The tax return transcript shows most line items from your tax return (Form 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ) as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules. To order a tax transcript, you can go online to Your transcript will be mailed within 5 to 10 business days. You may also go through the IRS data retrieval process in your FAFSA.

Q. What is the IRS data retrieval tool and how does it work? 

The IRS data retrieval tool allows applicants who have already filed their federal income tax returns to prefill the answers to some questions on the FAFSA by transferring data from their federal income tax returns. This can save the family some time in completing the FAFSA. It may also reduce the likelihood that your FAFSA will be selected for verification.

  • While completing an original online FAFSA or updating an existing FAFSA, eligible applicants will be provided with an opportuinty to use the IRS data retrieval tool. Applicants may be asked a few screening questions to determine their eligibity to use the tool. Eligible applicants who choose to use the tool will be temporarily transferred to the IRS website, where they will be asked a few questions to authenticate themselves. The applicant will then be return to the FAFSA website where they will complete the rest of the FAFSA.

Q. Who is eligible to use the IRS data retrieval tool? 

Applicants must have a valid social security number and FAFSA PIN to use the IRS data retrieval tool. The applicant will need to authenticate himself or herself to the IRS in order to use the IRS data retrieval tool. Students and parents must use the tool separately for their respective income tax returns.

  • If an independent applicant is married and files separate federal income tax returns or a dependent applicant's parents are married and file separate federal income tax returns, the applicant will not be able to use the IRS data retrieval tool. Applicants who have filed a foreign income tax return instead of or in addition to a US income tax return will be unable to use the IRS data retrieval tool. Taxpayers who file income tax returns using a TAX ID Number (TIN) will not be able to use the tool.

Q. How do I apply for TLU scholarships and grants? 

Incoming freshmen and transfer students are automatically awarded any academic TLU scholarships or grants for which they qualify. Both incoming and current students may qualify for performance or participation awards. Click one of the following links for more information on TLU scholarships and grants (hyperlink to scholarships page).

Q. Do I need to reapply for financial aid annually? 

Yes. In order to receive a financial aid package, students will need to reapply by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. Students may file the FAFSA starting January 1.

Q. Why should I file the FAFSA as soon as possible? 

Some financial aid sources are limited and are awarded until funds are depleted. The sooner you file the FAFSA, the better your chances of being considered for these types of financial aid funds.

Q. I have been selected for verification. What does that mean? 

The U.S. Department of Education randomly chooses 30 percent of all FAFSA applications for verification. In the verification process, your school will be comparing information from your application with signed copies of your and/or your parent(s)' current federal tax forms, W-2 forms or other financial documents. Federal regulations require that you complete the verification process before you can receive financial aid.

Q. I don't feel it is the school's right to request my U.S. tax forms. What happens if I don't submit them? 

Income tax returns are held in the strictest confidence by financial aid officers. If you fail to comply with a request for U.S. tax forms, the school will probably discontinue processing your application for aid.

Q. My financial aid award is not the same as last year. What happened? 

Since financial assistance is re-evaluated every year. Any changes in income and/or the number of family members in the household reported on the FAFSA will come into consideration when a student is awarded. The availability of funds is also different from year to year. We highly recommend completing your FAFSA as early as possible to help secure your award.

Students with academic awards should also keep in mind that certain GPA criteria must be met in order to renew those awards. If these requirements are not met, student aid may be reduced by the amount of the academic award. Click here to review GPA requirements.

Q. I have two children going to the same college. Must I fill out the FAFSA twice? 

Yes. While the parent information will be the same, the student information for each applicant will be different. The college must have a complete record for each student applicant.

Q. When will I get my money? 

Methods of disbursing financial aid funds vary from campus to campus, but funds are generally paid to students at the start of an academic term or credited to the student's bill. Most aid is now sent to schools electronically. At TLU, any financial aid, including loans, will be credited to your billing statement each semester.

Q. Is there any special consideration if I have brothers and sisters continuing their education beyond high school? 

Yes. The expected parental contribution is adjusted for families with more than one dependent child attending post secondary schools.

Q. How do I find out what my family contribution should be? 

The financial aid offer you receive from your college should contain the family's expected contribution figure in their award letter to you. However, if you want an earlier indication, look on the Student Aid Report (SAR) you receive after filing the FAFSA. In the upper right-hand corner, the figure below "EFC" is the expected family contribution. This is the figure for the normal nine month academic period.

Q. I was turned down for financial aid last year. Should I reapply? 

Yes. The financial circumstances of your family, as well as the cost of attending the institution, may have changed. This is especially true if there will be another dependent child in your family attending college at least half time.

Q. I lost my SAR. How can I get another one? 

To request a duplicate SAR, call the Department of Education at 1-800-433-3243 or go to and click on View and Print your Student Aid Report.

Q. When is a student considered independent for financial aid purposes? 

Under the Federal definition, you are an independent student if you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions at the time the FAFSA is filed:

  • Were you born before January 1, 1990? 
  • As of today, are you married? (Also answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced.) 
  • At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as a M.A., MBA, M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., or graduate certificate, etc.)? 
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training? 
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces? 
  • Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you? 
  • Do you have dependents (other than children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2014? 
  • Are (a) both of your parents deceased, or (b) are you (or were you until age 18) a ward/dependent of the court? 
  • Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence? 
  • Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence? 
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless? 
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless? 
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

Q. Do my step-parent's income and assets have to be reported on the FAFSA? 

Yes, if the step-parent is currently married to the parent whose information you are reporting on the FAFSA.

Q. My parents are separated/divorced. Which parent fills out the FAFSA? 

The parent you lived with most during the last 12 months. If you didn't live with either parent, or if you lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent who provided the most support to you in the most recent calendar year that you were actually supported by a parent.

Q. My cash, savings and checking vary from day to day. What amount should I enter on the FAFSA? 

Use the actual balance in your savings and checking accounts on the day you complete the FAFSA.

Q. My parent(s) lost their job and their income will be substantially different from the original amount reported on the FAFSA. What should we do? 

Contact the financial aid office and ask for a Special Condition Request Form. This form asks you and your family to describe your circumstances and estimate your future income. The financial aid administrator can use professional judgment to determine if you could qualify for additional aid.

Q. If I drop one or more classes, how will my financial aid award be affected? 

If you drop before or during the third week of class, a percentage of your financial aid may be returned, potentially causing you to owe money to the school. If you drop after the third week, your financial aid will not be altered provided you successfully complete at least one class during the semester. If you drop below six hours, the grace period on your loans begins. Repayment on Stafford loans begins six months (nine months for Perkins loans) after a student drops below half-time status unless that student re-enrolls.

Q. What happens if I withdraw from all classes? 

A calculation will be done to determine the portion of your aid that needs to be returned. The date of withdrawal is a consideration in this calculation. 

Please be advised that dropping below half-time status and having a portion of your aid returned can result in a balance owed to the school by the student. Students should also be aware that failure to complete 75 percent of the classes they registered for can result in financial aid ineligibility in future semesters. For more information, refer to TLU's Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.

Q. I have not met the GPA requirement to renew my scholarship next semester. What can I do? 

For most TLU academic awards, when a student's GPA falls below the requirement, he/she will be granted one probationary semester in which to try to raise their GPA to the level required for renewal. If this does not happen by the end of the probationary semester, the award will be removed from the student's financial aid package. A student can, however, appeal the decision to remove the award from his/her package. Anyone wishing to appeal an award removal can send a letter to the Director of Financial Aid via the Office of Financial Aid. Students should draft a letter explaining why they feel their GPA has fallen below the requirement for renewal, and how they feel they could benefit from an extra probationary semester to help raise their GPA to meet the requirement. This letter should be presented to the Office of Financial Aid in a sealed envelope marked "Financial Aid." The committee will review any requests and notify the students of their decision.

Q. I received a scholarship from an outside entity. How do I report it to TLU? 

You should have received a letter from the scholarship donor. You should send a copy of this letter to the Office of Financial Aid, along with the check once you receive it. Before sending the check, you should endorse the back.

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