Financial Aid Policies
Alternative/Private Student Loans
An alternative student loan is a loan obtained for educational purposes that is not borrowed through the federal student loan program. There are many private lending institutions and banks that provide student loans. No member of Paul Smith’s College can advise a student what lender to use. When a student applies for an alternative student loan, the lender will send a “certification request” to the Financial Aid Office to confirm student eligibility. Paul Smith’s College may refuse to certify an alternative loan if the student has not borrowed their federal student loans first.
You may use ELM Select to compare lenders.
What to Consider When Selecting a Lender
Students are encouraged to research the interest rates, credit check requirements, conditions, terms, and repayment of alternative loans when selecting a lender. Below are some questions to ask when comparing lenders.
- What is the interest rate?
- Is the rate fixed (rate does not change) or variable (rate changes)?
- Are there any fees associated with the application or early repayment?
- Can I defer principal and interest payments while enrolled in school?
- Am I required to have a co-signer?
- Will a co-signer help lower my interest rate?
- Is there an option to have my co-signer released from the loan after a specified time period?
- Do I have to be enrolled in a minimum number of credit hours to receive the loan?
- What is the repayment period?
- When do I enter repayment and how long do I have to repay?
- Can I use the loan to cover a prior balance? If yes, how long after that semester is over can I apply?
- Are there any other benefits/incentives offered with the loan?
A consortium agreement is an agreement between two colleges to recognize your course registration at each location for financial aid purposes. It certifies that your “home” institution (the school you’re receiving your degree from) is the only school that’s allowed to administer your financial aid.
PSC students who are unable to find a required PSC course needed for completion of their degree program may take the required class at another institution and receive federal and/or state financial aid for the course through PSC. The student should request a “Financial Aid Consortium Agreement” from the PSC Financial Aid Office.
Eligibility for Federal Aid
- Be a U.S. citizen, a national, or other eligible non-citizen
- Not be in default on any federal student loans or owe a refund or repayment on any federal grant. This also applies to parents applying for Federal Parent PLUS Loans.
- Have a valid Social Secruity number
- Be accepted in an eligible degree program at PSC
- Comply with U.S. Selective Service registration requirements, if a male over the age of 18.
- Have a high school diploma from an accredited high school, or a GED
- Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements as outlined in PSC’s SAP policy
For more informaiton on federal financial aid eligibility, visit the Federal Student Aid eligiblity website.
Overawards of “need-based” financial aid (ex: Federal Subsidized Student Loans) can also occur when changes to a student’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) or financial aid awards. This usually results in Federal Subsidized Student Loan eligibility being converted to a Federal Unsubsidized Student Loan. You can read more about the difference in these two loan programs on the Federal Student Aid webpage.
Any adjustments made to financial aid will appear immediately in student’s Financial Aid portal. It is important to check the portal often.
Withdrawal (Return of Title IV Funds) Policy
Students earn a portion of their Federal (Title IV) financial aid for every day of attendance or active participation in academically-related activity. Eligibility for aid must be recalculated for a student who withdraws from all classes before completing 60% of the period of enrollment. If recalculation determines the student owes the federal government a portion of the loans or grants received at the beginning of the semester, the university will automatically pay this to the government on the student’s behalf. This may result in a debt created on the student account and an institutional hold, preventing registration or release of official transcripts until resolved.
Depending on when and why the student withdrew, the student may receive prorated refunds for tuition, or room and board. These institutional adjustments do not impact the official withdrawal calculation described above. If a student withdraws prior to their financial aid being disbursed by the PSC Financial Aid Office (typically the first two weeks of classes), the student may be eligible for a “post-withdrawal disbursement” if the student attended their classes prior to withdrawing. the Financial Aid Office will email information about “post-withdrawal disbursements” and request student permission before applying these financial aid funds.
There are two types of student behaviors that will result in a recalculation review:
- Official Total Withdrawal: Students who withdraw from all courses are eligible for a percentage of financial aid based on the percent of the semester completed. For example, a student who withdraws from all classes after completing only 30% of the term will have “earned” 30% of any federal financial aid received. The school (or sometimes the student) must return the remaining 70% to the government.
- Unofficial Withdrawal: A student that doesn’t officially withdraw from their classes but doesn’t earn any credits in a semester may be considered an unofficial withdrawal. In this situation, federal financial aid will be recalculated based on the mid-point, or 50% point of the semester unless there is documentation that shows the student attended classes or participated in an academically- related activity beyond this date.
Students thinking about withdrawing from classes should speak with the Financial Aid Office to understand how it may impact financial aid.
To learn more about how PSC prorates tuition, fees, room, and board for students that withdraw from all their classes during any semester, see the Refund Policy in the PSC Catalog.
Release of Information/FERPA
In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Financial Aid Office will not release information a student to anyone (including to parents), without the specific written consent of the student. To provide written consent, students must submit a FERPA Educational Records Release Form to the Registrar’s Office. Visit the PSC Registrar’s website to learn more about FERPA.
Federal regulations specify that students can receive federal financial aid for one repetition of a previously passed course. All repeated courses impact Satisfactory Academic Progress calculations.
Repeated coursework can be financial aid eligible in the following situations:
- A student received a failing grade. Students may repeat a failed course until it is passed.
- If a student passes a class once, retakes the class and withdraws from it, the withdrawn course does NOT count as their paid retake. The student may receive financial aid for another attempt.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requires students to meet minimum academic standards in order to maintain eligibility for financial aid. Students must maintain a minimum GPA and completion ratio (percentage of credits earned versus those attempted), as well as completing their program before attempting 150% of the number of credits required for their degree.
Students experiencing academic difficulty should discuss the impacts on SAP and future financial aid eligibility with the Financial Aid Office.
For detailed information, please visit our SAP website.
Subsidized Loan Limits
Federal Direct Subsidized Loan eligibility is limited to 150% of the length of a student’s degree program. For example, a student in an Associate’s Degree that normally takes two years to finish, cannot receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loans for more than three years. Students in a four-year Bachelor’s Degree, cannot receive more than six years of Federal Direct Subsidized Loan eligibility. Students that exceed their eligibility period will lose the subsidy on the student loan and will become responsible for the interest accruing. Visit Federal Student Aid’s website for more information.
Thank You Letters
Scholarships and grants provided by Paul Smith’s College are funded in part by generous donations from alumni and friends of the College. If your PSC aid is funded by a donor, we will notify you during the academic year and ask you to write a thank-you note. Failure to do so could result in a hold being placed on your student account, preventing access to grades, transcripts, etc.
Eligible PSC staff and faculty should apply to participate in Tuition Exchange by our priority deadline, November 1st. Dependent children of eligible PSC staff and faculty seeking admission to a partner institution must notify the TE Liaison Officer of intent to apply for a TE scholarship by completing an Eligibility Form available from the Financial Aid Office and returning it to the Tuition Exchange Liaison Officer.
Verification is the process used by the U.S. Department of Education to confirm the accuracy of the information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If a student is selected for verification, they must submit specific information including but not limited to:
- Tax transcripts and/or W-2s
- Proof of utaxable income
- Household size information
- Number of household members in college
- Asset information
- Other data elements reports on the FAFSA
Students whose FAFSA is selected for verification are required to submit a Verification Worksheet and federal tax transcripts (or signed tax returns) if they did not use the IRS data retrieval tool when completing the FAFSA. Students selected for verification will be notified through email. Students can see a list of the information they need to submit to the Financial Aid Office at any time by viewing their PSC Financial Aid Portal. Financial Aid cannot be disbursed until the verification process is complete, nor will anticipated financial aid appear on the student’s bill. To prevent delays in processing financial aid, students starting in the fall semester should submit their verification documents no later than July 15th. Students starting in the fall semester should submit their verification documents no later than November 15th.
Some students may be selected for verification mid-semester, after their financial aid has disbursed- this usually occurs when a student makes a change to their FAFSA mid-year. If this happens, students must immediately submit their verification documents to avoid account holds; future disbusements will be withheld, and students may become liable for any financial aid previously disbursed to their student account.
Contact Us »
Office of Financial Aid
Paul Smith's College
Phelps Smith Admin Building
PO Box 265
Paul Smiths, NY 12970-0265
(518) 327-6055: fax
Hours: M-F, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.