Financial Assistance

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The FAFSA establishes eligibility for all federal/state grants, loans, and work programs.  Students demonstrating financial need may qualify for a variety of different programs, including grants, loans, and the work-study program.  In addition, other aid may be available to students who meet eligibility that is not based on financial need.  Students receiving aid must maintain satisfactory academic progress standards as described in the section on Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.

The USAO Office of Financial Aid will determine eligibility for all programs based on the Federal Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), which the Financial Aid Office receives electronically after the FAFSA has been processed.  Students selected for verification must complete that process before federal aid can be determined.

The FAFSA is available on the web at www.fafsa.gov.  The USAO Federal Title IV Code number is 003167.  

Financial Aid Package
A financial aid package is the aid eligible to be awarded to a student and may include one or more of the following:  Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity (FSEOG) Grant, Federal Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal College Work-Study Program, USAO scholarships and grants, and state grants such as the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) and Oklahoma’s Promise (OHLAP).
Every effort is made to secure funds for students with financial need.  In compliance with Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, USAO does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies or procedures.  USAO complies with current federal and state policies.

Federal and State Assistance Programs
The following are among the wide variety of financial assistance programs available.  More detailed information is available in the Financial Aid Office.  Further information on Federal Programs is also available at www.studentaid.ed.gov and State Program information at www.okhighered.org.

Federal Pell Grants are designed to provide federal financial assistance to those who need it in order to attend post-high school educational institutions. Pell grants are intended to be the "floor" of a financial package and may be combined with other forms of aid in order to help meet the costs of education. The amount of the grant is determined on the basis of individual and family financial resources.
To be eligible for this aid, a student must be enrolled in an undergraduate course of study, may not previously have received a bachelor's degree, and have an established financial need. The student must also be a U.S. citizen, reside in the United States for other than temporary purposes, or be a permanent resident of the Trust Territories.

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOGs) are designed for students of exceptional financial need who, without the grant, would be unable to continue their education. A student must be enrolled at least half-time (6 hours) in an undergraduate program to qualify.  These funds are limited.

Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) is also available to Oklahoma residents who meet the eligibility requirements.  Students need to complete the FAFSA in early spring to be considered for the next academic year.  The OTAG priority deadlines are listed on the FAFSA. OTAG funds are part of the Federal Leap Grant and are funded by the federal government, the state and where applicable, other contributing partners.  

Oklahoma’s Promise (OHLAP) is a unique Oklahoma program.  Students must have signed up in the eighth, ninth, or tenth grade and fulfill the requirements of the program to be eligible.  Funding is based on the amount of tuition each term.  A complete listing of requirements and conditions is available at  www.okhighered.org/ohlap.

William D. Ford Direct Loan Program provides funding for regular students enrolled in an eligible program of study at least half-time. 
• The Stafford Loan is the federal government's major form of self-help aid.  A subsidized Stafford Loan is awarded on basis of financial need; the unsubsidized Stafford Loan is not based on financial need. 
• The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) is available to parents of dependent students.

Federal Perkins Student Loan Program provides loans to students meeting the eligibility requirements as established by the FAFSA. The National Defense Educational Act requires that each borrower be at least a half-time (6 hours) student. Limited loan funds are available to students at all levels.

Federal Work-Study Program is funded with federal and institutional funds for students who qualify for assistance. To participate in this program, a student must be enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours and remain in good standing. However, priority is given to full-time students.  A student may participate in the Federal Work-Study Program in addition to receiving other forms of aid.

Institutional Scholarships are competitive and have early spring deadlines or priority dates which are published on the USAO website.  Scholarship applications received after a priority date will be considered if funds are available.  Applicants must be approved for admission to USAO and have completed the USAO financial aid and scholarship applications, included in the USAO Admissions Application and on the website, to be considered for any scholarship award.  Specific criteria and application requirements are listed on the website and are available from the Financial Aid Office.  Continuing students will want to apply for continuing student scholarships beginning in February of each year and can pick up scholarship applications in the Financial Aid Office.

fast track scholarships are unique, renewable tuition waivers that can help students afford to attend during the summer terms and fast-track their degree completion.  The scholarship is available to any Oklahoma resident who is a graduate of an Oklahoma high school and enters USAO as a beginning first-year student and who attends the first and second terms consecutively as a full-time student (earning a minimum of 12 hours each term).  Students must be enrolled in 12 hours in independent study and/or the regular summer term to qualify. The scholarship pays tuition for up to 14 credit hours. The scholarship is available for a total of three consecutive years if the student makes satisfactory academic progress and continues completion of full-time enrollment each term.

Presidential Leadership Scholarships are four-year scholarships given to Oklahoma high school seniors having a GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and a composite ACT score of 24 or higher.  Membership in three school organizations plus civic involvement, a minimum of two letters of recommendation and an essay are also required.  A personal interview is conducted for finalists. It is a very selective process and a limited number of scholarships are awarded.  Recipients must maintain contract requirements (GPA, attendance, leadership positions, participation, etc.) for renewal each year.  This scholarship has a definite deadline each year for submission of all required paperwork.

Regional University Baccalaureate Scholarships are available for a limited number of Oklahoma high school graduates who have a national ACT composite score of 30 or higher. The scholarship provides financial support for tuition, fees, room and meals for up to eight fall/spring trimesters. For further information and specific requirements, contact the Financial Aid Office.

Other Academic Scholarships include:  Academic Scholarship, University Scholarship, Green & Gold Scholarship, Transfer Student Scholarship, Out-of-State Scholarships and International Student Scholarships.

Talent Scholarships are available for students in the areas of music, art, and drama. The student must demonstrate his or her talent at an audition or interview in addition to meeting academic requirements.

Athletic Scholarships are awarded through the athletic department.  The student should contact the coach regarding their interest to participate in the athletic program.

Named Endowed Scholarships are available to new and continuing students with high achievements.  For example, the "Francis Davis Scholarship" was created in honor of a former faculty member in fine arts.  Such funds, held as an endowment in the USAO Foundation or the USAO Alumni Association, produce income for scholarships annually.

USAO Alumni Scholarships are established by alumni and friends to honor the college and provide assistance to USAO students.  Students wishing to apply for USAO Alumni Association Scholarships must provide the necessary materials by the deadline stated on the scholarship application form.  The application is available from the Office of Alumni Development or on the website at www.usao.edu/alumni.

USAO Concurrent Student Scholarship  is a tuition waiver for high school seniors who are admitted under the Concurrent Admissions Policy requirements.  The scholarship waives tuition for up to 6 hours each term.  

Private-Sector Scholarships and Grants are available to eligible students through their high school, community organizations, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Oklahoma National Guard and many other sources.  Free scholarship searches are available on the internet.  The Office of Financial Aid encourages students to seek and apply for private-sector grants and scholarships to supplement their funding.


Student Responsibility
Students are responsible for knowing and understanding the criteria for Financial Aid eligibility, including their enrollment status, Satisfactory Academic Progress status, the refund policy, loan history, etc. We strongly encourage students to carefully read all correspondence received and save copies of all documents (i.e., tax returns, FAFSAs, loan paperwork, etc.) in a safe and easily accessible location. We also encourage students to ask the Financial Aid Office directly if they have any questions regarding financial aid.

Class Attendance Policy for Financial Aid Eligibility
Class attendance is essential for students who receive financial aid. If the student doesn’t begin attendance in all of his or her classes, resulting in a change in the student’s enrollment status, the Financial Aid Office must calculate, or recalculate, the student’s award based on the lower enrollment status.  A student is considered to have begun attendance in all of his or her classes if the student attends at least one day of class for each course in which that student’s enrollment status was determined for Federal Pell Grant eligibility.  A student is considered not to have begun attendance in any class in which the school is unable to document that attendance, so faculty will be monitoring attendance for approximately the first two weeks of each class.  It is the student’s responsibility to attend class, make contact with the professor regarding arranged courses, or make arrangements with the professor if there are extenuating circumstances that prohibit attendance, within the first two weeks of each term to establish proof of attendance. 

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy
USAO requires that minimum standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress  (SAP) toward the earning of a degree are met by new and continuing students who are receiving financial aid.  This is in accordance with federal guidelines set forth by the Department of Education.  This aid includes the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant,  Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant, Direct Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized), the Federal Plus Loan Program, and Perkins Loans.

USAO has also adopted this standard to govern its institutional based aid, which includes (but is not limited to):  tuition and/or room waivers, academic, athletic, incentive, foundation, and talent scholarships.

All students participating in the financial aid programs at USAO will be evaluated uniformly at the end of each term.

It is the student's responsibility to be aware and know his or her eligibility status at the end of each term.  Students should be aware that hours attempted on transcripts do not include hours attempted such as withdrawals.  Also, the cumulative GPA on a grade report may differ from the student's retention / graduation GPA.  If assistance is needed regarding financial aid eligibility status, contact the Financial Aid Office.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards
The minimum standards are as follows:
       •    Students must maintain a minimum of a 2.00 retention /graduation GPA.
       •    Students planning to enter teacher certification programs must maintain a minimum of a 2.50 retention / graduation GPA.
       •    Full-time students must complete a minimum of 12 hours in the enrollment period.*
       •    Three-quarter time students must complete a minimum of 9 hours in the enrollment period.*
       •    Half-time students must complete a minimum of 6 hours in the enrollment period.*

*Enrollment status is determined by the number of hours the student is enrolled in at the end of the designated add/drop date of each term.  This is the student's total hours attempted for the term.  All summer session hours will be added together to determine enrollment status for the summer.

For financial aid, the following grades are counted as hours attempted, but not successfully completed:  F, I, W, AW, WP, WF, and NP. Audited classes are not counted towards hours attempted or hours completed.  Clep credits will be counted towards a student's overall hours attempted and earned, but will not excuse a previous term's deficit in hours.

All transfer students and all continuing USAO students applying for financial aid for the first time must meet the minimum standards described above.  Financial aid will be held until transcripts from all schools attended by the student have been received and reviewed.  It is required by federal regulation that all periods of enrollment be reviewed whether or not aid was previously received.

In addition, students must not exceed the maximum hour limit for completing their undergraduate coursework (including a second bachelor's degree and teaching certification).   The maximum for a student to remain eligible for financial aid at USAO is 186 hours attempted (including all coursework from all collegiate schools attended such as remedial, non-credit, withdrawal, repeat, incomplete, pass, fail, etc.).  Students pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree will be allowed a maximum of 202 hours due to the length of the program.  Once the hour limit is met or passed, the student is considered to have "exhausted" his or her eligibility for financial aid and is automatically placed on financial aid suspension.

Financial Aid Probation and Suspension
A student failing to meet the above minimum standards, will be placed on financial aid probation for the next term of enrollment.  During this probationary term, the student will remain eligible for financial aid.

If at the end of the probationary term, the student again fails to meet the minimum standards, he or she will be placed on financial aid suspension and cannot receive the assistance of federal or institutional financial aid.  Students may still remain eligible for external resources, such as Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, ASCOG, etc.

If, during the probationary term, the student meets the minimum standards of GPA for the term and completes his or her enrollment status but the overall retention/graduation GPA remains below the minimum, the student may be continued on financial aid probation if the student is showing improvement.

Students meeting the minimum standards during the probationary term and/or correcting the GPA, will be removed from probation.

Any student who completes NONE of the hours attempted during a term and is not already on financial aid probation may be automatically suspended without a probationary period. If the zero completion is found to be justified by the appeals committee upon review of the circumstances surrounding the situation, the student may be placed on financial aid probation and remain eligible for financial aid.  If the situation is not found justifiable, the student will remain on suspension and may go through the formal process of appeal or attend at his or her expense.

Students placed on financial aid suspension (with the exception of those exceeding the hour limit) may have their aid reinstated by attending their next term at USAO or another accredited institution and completing the minimum standards of their enrollment status successfully.  Reinstatement requires that the student attempt a minimum of six hours.  However, if the student enrolls full-time, 12 hours must be completed.  If the student enrolls for three-quarter time, 9 hours must be completed.  The student must then request that the Financial Aid Office review his or her status to restore eligibility for aid.

Financial aid probation and suspension are completely separate from academic probation and suspension.  However, a student who is academically suspended is automatically suspended from financial aid.

Appeal of Financial Aid Suspension
Students suspended from financial aid may submit an appeal of the suspension if there are extenuating circumstances affecting the student performance.  These include (but are not limited to) illness, severe injury, or death in the family.

Appeal forms are available in the Financial Aid Office, Troutt Hall 112, and are also enclosed in the letter of notification of financial aid suspension.  Appeals must be submitted a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the next term of enrollment or by the deadline specified on the letter of notification.

Appeals must consist of a typed and signed personal explanation of extenuating circumstances and a complete current mailing address, a degree plan completed with the assistance and signature of the student's advisor, and complete unofficial transcript(s).  Incomplete appeals will not be considered.

Appeals will be reviewed by the School Relations/Student Aid Committee.  Decisions will be mailed to the student following the committee meeting.  If aid is reinstated upon the review of the appeal, the student will be continued on probation for the next term of enrollment.  Aid will be based on available funding at the time of reinstatement.

All decisions of the committee are final.  In cases of Financial Aid Suspension due to exhaustion, aid eligibility cannot be re-instated by student performance if denied by the committee.

Refund Policy for Financial Aid Recipients Who Withdraw
Any student receiving federal financial assistance who completely withdraws from all classes at USAO will be subject to the Return of Title IV Funds refund policy required by federal regulation.
    This policy applies to students receiving assistance through the Pell Grant, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, Academic Competitiveness Grant, National Smart Grant, Perkins Loan, Subsidized Stafford Loan, Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, and Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students Programs.
    This policy assumes a student earns his or her financial aid based on the period of time the student remains enrolled through the semester. Upon withdrawal, the Financial Aid Office will determine the date of the students withdrawal and will calculate the amount of financial assistance the student earned while enrolled in classes according the following formula: number of days enrolled divided by total number of days in the semester.
    If the amount of federal aid disbursed exceeds the amount of federal aid earned as of the date of withdrawal, either the university, the student, or both are required to return some portion of the federal aid received. Late disbursements for which the student is eligible are required to be included.
   Students who remain enrolled beyond the 60% of the semester are considered to have earned 100% of the financial aid received. Students who are enrolled for less than 60% of the semester will likely be responsible for repaying a portion of the financial aid received.
    The Financial Aid Office will calculate the amount of any refund due according to the Return of Title IV Funds Formula outlined in federal regulation. Any refund amount calculated from this formula will be returned to the appropriate federal financial aid programs. If the University returns funds to the Title IV aid programs, it could result in the student owing USAO charges that were originally paid at the time of disbursement.  Calculated refunds amounts are returned to the federal financial aid programs in the following order: Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, Subsidized Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, PLUS Loan, Federal Pell Grant, SEOG Grant, other federal financial aid programs.

Under this policy, the date of withdrawal is the date the student began the institution’s withdrawal process (as described in the USAO catalog) or “officially” notified the institution of intent to withdraw.  If a student leaves USAO without notifying the institution, the withdrawal date will be designated as the midpoint of the semester or the last date of attendance at a documented academically related activity. For students who fail to return from an approved leave of absence, the withdrawal date will be designated as the date the leave of absence began.

Students who do not receive ANY “earned” grades are considered to be unofficial withdrawals that stopped attending ALL of the courses prior to the end of the term.  When professors report grades at the end of the semester they are required to report whether the student stopped attending or never attended and must indicate the last date of attendance.  Once grades are posted, the Financial Aid Office identifies all Title IV students who received NO passing grades and processes them under the unofficial withdrawal policy.  

Attendance is the key.  If enrollment is maintained in at least one class with attendance beyond the 60 percent date during the term, this policy will not affect the student.  All withdrawals will impact satisfactory academic progress.  Please refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.

Financial Aid Office
The Financial Aid Office is in Troutt Hall, Room 112.  The typical office hours are 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The staff is available to discuss student needs and make suggestions for improved aid opportunities.   All financial aid questions need to be addressed directly to the financial aid office so the student will receive answers relative to their personal circumstances and in accordance with current policies and compliance regulations.

Federal Phone Numbers and Web Sites

To file a FAFSA                                 www.fafsa.gov
To apply for a Pin Number                www.pin.ed.gov
General info about FAFSA                1-800-433-3243
Hearing impaired/TDD                      1-800-730-8913
Suspect fraud or waste?                     1-800-647-8733
Online help                                        www.studentaid.ed.gov