Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Aid

Application Process

When should I apply for financial aid?

We recommend students submit the FAFSA form each year prior to March 1st.

Where do I complete the FAFSA?

You complete the FAFSA online at .

What happens if I didn't apply before March 1st?

Students can submit the FAFSA form anytime from Jan. 1st through the end of the academic school year in which the student wants aid. We recommend March 1st for a couple of reasons. First, some types of financial aid, such as work-study and the Perkins loan, are limited funding sources. We award aid based on date of application, so the earlier you apply, the more likely we will be able to qualify you for all forms of funding available. Second, it takes time for the financial aid forms to be reviewed, and additional paperwork is sometimes needed before aid can be offered. Applying early allows the Financial Aid Office the time needed to thoroughly review your application, request documents, and determine your aid eligibility.

What happens if there are errors on my application once it is processed?

You can correct many errors on your FAFSA electronically. You can correct things like: your address, grade level, degree pursuit, misreported income and household size, add a college code and more. To make corrections, go to and select "Make corrections to a submitted FAFSA ." (Note: you will need your federal PIN number to submit your corrections electronically).

What if I lost my federal PIN?

Go to to request it again.

What is the difference between the PIN and the DRN?

The PIN is the 4 digit secret code assigned to someone, which can be used to complete the federal aid application electronically, make corrections, and view your aid history. The DRN is the 4-digit code listed on a students SAR (Student Aid Report) which is needed should a school that wasn't listed on the students FAFSA need access to the data.

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General Questions

Why does the financial aid process take so long?

The Central Processing System processes over 6 million FAFSA applications each year. The applications are passed through a series of matches with the social security administration, veteran's administration and national loan database among other checks. Schools must individually review any applications that are cited with problems or "flags." Then, once an application is clean, aid is awarded based on stringent federal and state guidelines and procedures. Each aid program has detailed processes by which we can request, voucher and disburse funds to eligible students. Aid eligibility is not only based on the FAFSA application, but also grade level, enrollment status, matriculation, academic progress and sometimes-additional applications and forms. So as you can see, many different agencies, offices, policies and procedures factor into the awarding of financial aid. One way to not feel overwhelmed or frustrated by the process is to apply early, allowing time for the process to run its course.

Why was I selected for verification?

Verification is a random selection process. On average, 33% of all aid applicants each year are chosen. The Financial Aid Office is required to review the household's federal income tax documents and other household info such as untaxed income and household size, to ensure information was reported accurately on the FAFSA. If information is misreported, the Financial Aid Office is required to correct the data and resubmit the application with the corrected information. If verification has taken place after aid has been awarded, sometimes aid eligibility will need to be predetermined based on the verified data. This is why it is very important that students submit their FAFSA applications accurately from the start.

What if I plan to but haven't yet filed my federal income tax return yet?

The verification process cannot be completed and aid cannot be delivered to the student until the income is verified against the federal income tax return. So, it is crucial that each you the student and parent complete their income tax returns as soon as possible.

What if I lost my income tax return?

You can call the IRS at 1 (800) 829-1040 to request a Letter 1722, which is acceptable documentation in lieu of a copy of your original return.

How was my financial aid award package determined?

Many factors including your FAFSA results, residency status, housing selection, enrollment plans and date when your FAFSA was received impact what types of aid you were awarded and the amounts. Learn more about how your eligibility is determined .

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Dependency Questions

Why is the FAFSA asking for my parent's income and household information?

To qualify for federal financial aid, the FAFSA form must be completed based on the student's status as a dependent or independent student. Questions 52 - 58 of the FAFSA determine the student's dependency status. If the student's response to those 7 questions is "No", the student is considered dependent according to the guidelines of the Federal Student Aid Programs. Parent information must be provided, in order to qualify for financial aid.

What if I do not want to or cannot provide parent data?

In some extreme, documentable circumstances, a student may be considered independent through a process called dependency override. Contact our office to learn more about the criteria that must be in place to be considered for a dependency override.

What options are available if my parent cannot or will not help with my educational costs?

You may be able to borrow an additional student loan. If your parent cannot help due to bad credit or bankruptcy, you may qualify for an additional unsubsidized student loan. If you have decided to support the costs of your education on your own, you may be eligible for an alternative student loan. Stop by the Financial Aid Office to speak with an advisor to determine the option that best suits your needs.

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Academic Progress

What happens to my financial aid if I do not make academic progress?

It is very important for students to realize that the federal and state governments both have specific guidelines regarding minimum academic progress.

These guidelines are different than the standards that are required by the College. A student who does not meet the minimum SAP requirements for federal and/or state aid may be in jeopardy of losing his or her aid eligibility, including student loans, until the minimum standards are met.

If unforeseeable, drastic circumstances prevented a student from making academic progress, he or she may qualify for a financial aid probation or waiver with appropriate documentation of the circumstances. Please refer to the Federal Eligibility Standards and the State Eligibility Standards .

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Contact Information

For more information about Financial Aid at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:

Financial Aid Office
Location: Kehoe Administration Building, Suite 401-410
Phone: (518) 564-2072
Toll-Free Phone: (877) 768-5976
Fax: (518)564-4079

Our mailing address:

Financial Aid Office
SUNY Plattsburgh
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901-12681