Frequently Asked Questions About Student Loans
Most of our full-time programs are eligible for student loans. These are the programs that run Monday through Friday for six hours each day, where you can earn a certificate or a degree when you finish. Direct transfer programs are also loan-eligible.
You have to be enrolled at least half time (6 credits minimum), and the pre-requisites have to be for one of our loan-eligible programs. You are eligible for one consecutive calendar year only, and you can only do this for one program. If you have already completed the certificate portion of one of our programs, and you wish to earn the degree, or if you will be taking one of our programs soon, you can get a loan to pay for your required General Education classes.
We must have a completed file for you before we can calculate your loan eligibility. The formula to award loans is cost of attendance minus your expected family contribution (which is determined by your FAFSA), minus any aid that you receive.
The time it takes to award your loan depends on multiple factors. If you have just completed your FAFSA, it must be reviewed and then awarded before we can calculate your loan. If we need to make any corrections to your information, that will add more time. The loan itself needs to be awarded once the calculations have been made. The work flow in the Financial Aid Office is determined by the deadlines that we have for submitting information to the Business Office, and by the volume of incoming applicants. Due to the large number of people that are unemployed, our office has seen unprecedented volumes lately.
After you sign your Master Promissory Note, you should receive a disclosure statement from the Direct Loan Program that will tell you the dates of your disbursements. You will also receive an award letter from the Financial Aid Office, which will tell you the amount(s) you are eligible for, and when your disbursements will be available. You will pick up your checks at the Cashiering window. You must sign for your disbursement within two weeks of the disbursement date, even if all of the money is going towards your tuition and there is no check, or the disbursement will be cancelled. This applies even if you are off campus at a co-op or externship at the time of your scheduled disbursement. You will need to provide proof of attendance (a completed Verification Form – blank forms are available from either the Financial Aid Office or the Cashiering window), and current photo ID. Note: If you want to check on the status of your award, or the availability of your disbursement, it is best to inquire in the Financial Aid Office, as the cashiers do not have a record of when your paperwork was submitted.
All new students are subject to the 30 day delay policy during their first quarter, which means you will need to wait until the loan disbursement date that most closely follows the completion of your first 30 calendar days in your program. This applies to pre-requisite and General Education classes as well as the full time programs. If you are transferring from a different college, you are still required to complete 30 days before you become eligible for disbursement.
We are required to disburse loan funds in multiple disbursements. If you are here for more than one quarter, you will receive your money on the loan disbursement date that most closely follows the beginning of each quarter. If you are only attending one quarter during a particular financial aid year, you will still get two disbursements. One will occur on the disbursement date that most closely follows the start of the quarter (unless you are just starting or transferring, and are subject to the 30 day delay), and the second one will occur on the disbursement date that most closely follows the mid-point of the quarter.
We are required to notify you of your rights and responsibilities as a borrower, and one of the federal requirements is that you complete Exit Counseling within 30 days of your graduation, or if you drop below half time enrollment and are no longer loan-eligible. We will send you a letter when our records indicate that you are approaching your final thirty days of class, which will provide you with directions for completing the Exit Counseling on-line. If you are planning on continuing school, it is your responsibility to notify us so that we can update our records.
You are only allowed to receive a certain amount of aid from all sources, including student loans, within a financial aid year. You cannot exceed the established cost of attendance for your program. There are guidelines for the maximum amounts that you can request, but your own unique eligibility is determined by the formula cost of attendance, minus EFC, minus total amount of aid received (grants, work study funding, scholarships).
There are a number of reasons why your aid will not be the same for different academic years. But if you are finishing your program, and you only have a small number of credits remaining, your loan will be awarded for only those credits. For example, if you are completing your program in August, and you only have 9 credits left to complete during summer quarter, your loan would be pro-rated to reflect that you are only attending 19% of an academic year.
At the time your loan funds (or your grant funds) become available, if you have unpaid tuition, the Business Office will pay those fees first, and disburse the remaining amount to you. Tuition payment is the priority, and all other expenses are secondary. Also, if you have outstanding debts to the college, such as library fines or parking violations at the time of your disbursement, the Business Office may pay those fines with your loan funds.
You can request that we increase your loan, if you did not already request the maximum amount. Again, we will need to calculate your eligibility using the formula described above. Note: you can only do this once, so it is best to make use of a budget calculation tool to be sure you are requesting enough money.
It’s actually easier for us to decrease a loan, rather than increase one. If you change your mind, just contact the Financial Aid Office, and we can return the unwanted funds. We will make sure that your loan is either reduced or cancelled.
Once you graduate, or you leave school, or you drop to less than half time attendance, you have a six month grace period. During that time you can choose to pay only the interest due, without making payments towards the principal balance. After that grace period is up, you are expected to make monthly payments towards both principal and interest. Note: any interest payments that accrue while you are attending school and/or during your grace period that are not paid will be capitalized, which means added to your principal balance.
You need to notify the Financial Aid Office if you drop your classes, or if you make changes to your classes, or if you drop to less than half time. Your six month grace period starts the day after you leave school, even if you don’t notify us. When you get your loan money, you are basically being paid ahead of time to complete a certain number of credits, and to complete a certain block of time in school. If you leave before you complete all of those credits/hours, you may not have earned all of the money that was paid to you. If the college needs to return money to your student loan on your behalf, you will be billed for that money. Refer to the “Understanding Return of Title IV Funds” that you received with your award letter, or you can pick one up in our office, to find the dates for each quarter when your money would be considered 100% earned.
You will want to refer to our “Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements”, which were sent to you along with your award letter. If you did not receive this information, please stop by the Financial Aid Office for a copy. To summarize, at the end of each quarter we look at your quarterly and cumulative GPA and the number of credits you completed vs. the number you registered for. If either your quarterly or cumulative GPA falls below a 2.0, you will be placed on “Warning” for the following quarter. If either GPA falls below 2.0 at the end of that following quarter, you will be placed on “Temporary Suspension”, and you will no longer be eligible for any aid, including student loans. We are also required to measure your pace of progression for your program, and you must be on track to complete a minimum of 67% of your program’s credit hours each time we review your pace (which will be done at the end of each quarter when we review your grades). You will be notified if you fall below the 67%, and depending on your situation, you could be in jeopardy of losing your loan eligibility. If your loan is for pre-requisite classes only, you are still required to complete at least 67% of all classes, including classes that you paid for out of pocket, or took before your loan began.
The most important thing is that you stay in contact with your lender, and make sure they know about your unemployment, or any financial hardship that you have. You may qualify for a deferment, where you do not have to make some or even all of your payments for a time. There are programs in place to help you. No one wants to see you ruin your credit because you made late payments or didn’t pay at all.
Our financial aid office is currently experiencing delays in replying to emails and voicemails due to a high number of inquiries, files to process, and new academic year transition. Our team will do our best to serve and assist you in a timely manner.
Our current service hours and contact information:
Monday–Thursday: 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Financial Aid Office
Renton Technical College
3000 NE Fourth Street
Renton, WA. 98056