FAQ

What is financial aid?

Financial aid is monetary assistance to help a student cover the cost of a college education, who otherwise would be unable to pursue their education. It is intended to supplement the family contribution and includes gift aid, (scholarships and grants), low-interest loans and part-time employment.

What is Cost of Attendance?

The cost of education is the amount that is estimated a student will need to cover costs related to attendance for one academic year of study. The academic year is defined as (3) three consecutive terms of enrollment. A typical budget consists of Tuition and Fees, Room and Board, Personal and Miscellaneous, food and transportation expenses. The standard student budget is constructed using typical costs of student living in the San Francisco area. These figures represent a modest but realistic estimated budget for ACTCM Students.

The cost of attendance covers the following: Tuition (actual tuition charge please see actual unit charge) Room and Board$1700 month, Book and Supplies$234 per term, Transportation$600 per term, Personnel expenses$1800 per term, Loan Fees (based on loan amount)

Who is eligible to receive Federal financial aid?

Eligible applicants must be admitted to the Masters Program, be enrolled at least half time (6 units per term) or the Doctorate program, be enrolled at full time (based on cohort), be making satisfactory progress toward completion of the program, and be U.S. Citizens or permanent residents. Recipients of Canadian aid must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents enrolled full-time.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

Yes. Most financial aid offices require that you apply for financial aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.

Will my financial aid package be the same every year?

Your financial need will be reevaluated annually. If you continue to demonstrate need, you will receive financial aid to meet your need. You must update your financial aid records by filing renewal applications every year. Your aid is not contingent upon maintaining a target grade point average, other than to meet ACTCM standards for minimum academic progress.

How will my financial aid be affected by transferring to a new school?

You cannot directly transfer federal student aid that was awarded to you by one school to another; however, your new school (ACTCM) can award you financial aid based on the original FAFSA you submitted. Contact the financial aid office at ACTCM and let us know that you are interested in attending. While you don’t need to fill out a new FAFSA, you do need to have ACTCM added to your FAFSA record so that we will receive your FAFSA information. The best way to do this is to call (800) 433-3243. Be sure to add CIIS’s school code, which is (012154). After receiving your FAFSA information, ACTCM will provide you with information about your federal financial aid eligibility. You should also notify your current Financial Aid Office and explain that you are leaving and requesting to have your aid cancelled.

How do I apply for financial aid?

1) Go online and file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Enter the CIIS School code (012154) and take your income tax information directly from your Federal Tax Return.

2) In addition to completing the FAFSA, all students must also complete the ACTCM Supplemental Financial Aid Form.

3) Once the FAFSA has been processed, it is transmitted to ACTCM electronically. You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that lists the information reported on the FAFSA. Any errors or changes in information on the SAR should be reported to the Financial Aid Office.

4) ACTCM will send you an award notification letter to notify you of your eligibility. Please read all the information included in your Award Letter Packet and return your Direct Federal Stafford Loan Request Form within 7 days from the date of receipt to the ACTCM Financial Aid Office as well as complete any other information requested.

Recipients of Canadian aid must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents enrolled full-time. DAOM students are eligible for privately funded educational loans but not for federal aid.

What is the school code that goes on the FAFSA?

CIIS’s school code is 012154

What if my tax return will not be ready when I need to file the FAFSA?

It is best to use the IRS data retrieval tool to complete the FAFSA. This assures that the information is accurate. However, if this is not possible, the FAFSA does allow you to estimate your tax information. If you are later selected for verification, you will be required to submit a copy of your tax transcript in order for you to receive assistance. If you did not file a federal tax return you must complete the ACTCM Certification of Non-Tax Filing Status Form.

Do I need a PIN to file my FAFSA electronically?

No, but it is recommended. With a PIN you can sign electronically which will cut down your processing time by almost a week. If you don’t sign electronically with a PIN you must print a signature page and mail it to a federal processor. The processor will not transmit your data to a school until they received your signature page.

How do I obtain a PIN if I never had one or forgot mine?

Go to www.pin.ed.gov and request one. If you have an email address they will email you the PIN, usually within 2-9 Business Days.

How long does it take the government to process my FAFSA?

If you file electronically you should receive a student aid report in the mail within about 2 weeks. If you mail a paper FAFSA to the government processor you might wait 8 weeks for your student aid report to arrive. Electronic filing is recommended. You are always welcome to call the financial aid office to see if your processed FAFSA has been received electronically by ACTCM.

What else do I need to turn in to the financial aid office?

If you have been selected for a process called verification you will be receiving a letter from the financial aid office requesting certain documents to be submitted to verify the data reported on your FAFSA was correct. These documents might include, but are not limited to, federal tax returns, W-2’s, a verification worksheet, & proof of citizenship. Once your file has been verified the financial aid office will notify you of your financial aid eligibility.

What is verification?

The Department of Education randomly selects FAFSA applications for a process called verification. Applications may also be chosen for verification if conflicting information is reported on the FAFSA. In these instances, a school must verify the data that a student reported on their FAFSA form. Students selected for verification must complete a verification worksheet provided by the school This worksheet must then be returned to the Financial Aid Office with a signed copy of their federal tax return, Non-Tax-Filing Form, and current W2s. If the student was required to file as a dependent student, the parents must also provide information for verification. Please do not complete the Verification Worksheet unless you have been instructed to do so.

How long will the verification process take?

It depends upon how complicated your tax return is, and whether or not you turned all the required documents into the financial aid office. Generally, the verification process will be complete within one week of the documents being turned in to the financial aid office.

What if something is discovered to be incorrect on my FAFSA?

If something is incorrect on your FAFSA the financial aid office will correct it and send the change electronically to the federal processor. If any changes are made you will receive a new student aid report from the federal processor indicating any change.

How will I know that the verification process has been completed?

When verification is completed, you will be sent your award letter from the financial aid office indicating your eligibility for financial aid.

What is an award letter?

Your award letter confirms the financial aid that you are being offered. It includes the types and amounts of financial aid that you are eligible to receive. When reviewing your award letter, keep in mind that your loan period covers a 9-month period. You will borrow loans every 9 months and your financial aid will run in three terms cycles.

What is Loan Entrance Counseling? Is it required?

Entrance Interviews are required for students who apply for government and private loans. Before a student can receive funding, they must complete the interview. The primary purpose of the interview is to help students better understand student loans and give some general information on planning and managing personal finances. The interview explores the different types of student loans, regulations, repayment options and the consequences of default. Students may complete the Entrance Interview online. Go to www.studentloans.gov . It takes about 30 minutes to complete. The results will be electronically sent to ACTCM.

How and when do I receive the funds?

Federal Loan funds are sent to the school in three equal disbursements – one at the beginning of each quarter of the loan period. These funds are then credited to the student’s account via the school’s business office. If there are funds left over after paying for the student’s tuition, the student receives a refund check for the difference. These checks are disbursed on the Monday following the add/drop period. Federal Work-Study funds are disbursed as earned by paycheck. Other aid is disbursed as directed by the funding agency.

How much aid can I receive?

Students can borrow up to a maximum of $20,500 per loan period of three quarters (nine months) of Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.
The Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is not based on need and students are responsible for the interest on the loan while attending school – either by paying the interest while in school, or by allowing the interest to accrue and added to the total loan amount. The maximum amount of Unsubsidized Stafford Loan that can be taken out over a loan period of three quarters is $20,500.

Also, available to Graduate students is the Graduate PLUS Loan. It is an affordable, low-interest loan for graduate and professional students. The Graduate PLUS Loan can be used to cover up to 100 percent of your total cost of education, minus other financial aid you’ve been awarded. The total amount can pay for tuition, books, food, housing, transportation, and more. These requirements include a determination that the applicant does not have an adverse credit history, student borrowers are not required to begin making payments until after they drop below half time status, and a fixed interest rate of 7.9 percent in the Direct Loan program. Applicants for these loans are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They also must have applied for their annual loan maximum eligibility under the Direct Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Program before applying for a Direct Graduate/Professional PLUS loan.

What can I used my student loans for?

Federal Financial aid funds are provided to cover direct educational costs (Tuition, Fees, Books/Supplies, expenses) and a modest and reasonable allowance for living expense (Rent, Food, Utilities, Personal/Misc. expenses).

Is there a limit to the total Aggregate amount of Direct Stafford Loans that I can take out over the course of my Graduate studies?

Yes, the total amount of Stafford Loans that a Graduate or Professional Student can take out is $138,500. No more than $65,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loan. This limit includes any Stafford Loans received for undergraduate study.

What are the interest rates on the Stafford Loans?

For loans with a first disbursement on or after July 1, 2014, the interest rate is fixed at 6.21%.

What is the interest rate on the Grad PLUS loan?

It is a fixed interest rate of 7.21% for loans with a first disbursement on or after July 1, 2014.

Where can I find information on my past loans?

To find the most up-to-date information about your loans, please log on to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). This is the U.S. Department of Education’s central database for student aid. It receives data from schools, agencies that guarantee loans, the Direct Loan program, the Pell Grant program, and other U.S. Department of Education programs. NSLDS provides a centralized, integrated view of Title IV loans and Pell grants that are tracked through their entire cycle, from aid approval through closure. You will need your PIN to access this database. You can obtain a PIN at www.pin.ed.gov

Other than the Direct Federal Stafford Loan, how else can I fund my education?

The Direct Federal Grad Plus Loan program is intended to supplement the Direct Federal Stafford Loan. After borrowing the maximum amount of Stafford Loans for a loan period, students may borrow Grad Plus Loans, up to the full cost of attendance. Grad Plus loans do not count towards the $138,500 aggregate loan limit. However, these loans do have a slightly higher interest rate than the Stafford Loans and require a credit check. Click here for more information on Grad Plus loans.

ACTCM also participates in the Federal Work Study (FWS) program. The FWS program provides funds that are earned through part-time employment to assist students in financing the costs of postsecondary education. As of 2013, the wage for Work Study students at ACTCM is approximately $10.55/hour, and students can work a maximum of 20 hours a week. Please contact the Director of Student Services to inquire about available positions.

How do I qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program?

If you file the FAFSA and demonstrate financial need, your financial aid package might include an offer of Federal Work-Study-that is, the opportunity to help pay for your education by working part time during the school year. Unlike other financial aid, money earned from Federal Work-Study employment is paid directly to the student. Payroll checks are issued once a month and reflect the number of hours worked (if any) and the student’s hourly rate of pay.

Are Federal work-study earnings taxable?

The money you earn from Federal Work-Study is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than half-time). Federal Work-Study earnings during the calendar year should be included in the totals for AGI and Worksheet C on the FAFSA. Work-study earnings should only be included in Worksheet C when they represent financial aid to the student, since the answer to this question is used as an exclusion from taxed income. Students should also be careful to report amounts based on the calendar year, not the school year.

Are there any scholarships available?

Please see our page of types of scholarships available

I received an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the F.A. office?

Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from College or government sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office. Please note that the Financial Aid Office will adjust your financial aid package to compensate. Nevertheless, the outside scholarship will have some beneficial effects. At ACTCM outside scholarships are used to replace loans. Look at it this way; you will have less loan debt when you graduate.

Does ACTCM Offer Payment Plans?

Yes. Visa and MasterCard payments are accepted. Student payment plan agreements are available in the CIIS Business Office) and must be completed each term. If you have billing questions, please contact CIIS Business Office at (415) 575-6132 .

Do I have any responsibilities as a student loan borrower?

Yes. You must always keep your lender (the U.S. Department of Education) informed of your current address and telephone number. If your name changes, notify your lender immediately and they will inform you of the documentation that it will be necessary for you to submit. Always keep copies of your award letters, promissory notes, and documents from your lender, and always keep track of how much you have borrowed in student loans.

What happens if I default on my Federal Student Loans?

First of all, it’s pretty difficult to default on your student loans. You’d have to go without payment for 270 days. If you’re considering not paying back your loans, know that there are serious consequences for allowing your loans to default. Generally speaking, your federal student loans are not discharged if you file for bankruptcy. The key way to avoid default is to stay in touch with your lender, let them know what your situation is, and ask for assistance when your first fall behind on your payments. There are numerous ways to keep from defaulting by taking advantage of your deferment, forbearance and repayment options.

Defaulting has serious consequences that include:

*Damage to your credit rating (and your loans will likely end up with a collection agency)
*Additional costs including late fees and higher interest rates
*All of your loan may come due immediately
*Wage garnishment Professional licenses withheld
*Tax Refunds seized
*Loss of eligibility for future federal financial aid
*Loss of deferment rights
*Loss of professional license

What happens if I don’t pass my classes?

If you do not meet the satisfactory academic progress guidelines, your aid disbursement(s) may be suspended, or even canceled. Pursuant to government regulations a student must maintain a minimum GPA. Your financial aid may be suspended until you are in good academic standing with the school.

What does it mean to maintain ‘Satisfactory Academic Progress’?

Federal guidelines require that students receiving federal financial aid make satisfactory progress towards their degree. In general, satisfactory progress regulations mirror the College’s continuance standards.

How is academic load related to financial aid?

Graduate students must enroll for at least twelve credits to be considered full-time, and at least six credits to be considered half-time. Aid recipients wishing to be less than half-time should consult with the Financial Aid Office.

If I take a leave of absence, do I have to start repaying my loans?

Not immediately. The Stafford loan has a grace period of 6 months and the Perkins loan a grace period of 9 months before the student must begin repaying the loan. When you take a leave of absence you will not have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you use up the grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repaying your loan immediately. It is possible to request an extension to the grace period, but this must be done before the grace period is used up. If your grace period has run out in the middle of your leave of absence, you will have to start making payments on your student loans.

What if I withdraw?

Always consult financial aid before making a decision to withdraw. The government has strict guidelines to be followed in the case of withdrawal from classes. It is possible you could end up owing the government a refund of funds already paid out to you, owing the school for returned funds, and if overpayment occurs, with loss of future financial aid eligibility.

What is FERPA?

FERPA is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. This ensures that you are entitled to privacy in regards to your financial aid file. This means, if you are an independent student, that your file cannot be discussed with your parent unless you have provided the financial aid office with written permission to do so. However, if your parent has claimed you as a dependent pursuant to the IRS Standard of dependency then they are entitled to receive information in regards to your financial aid file.

Who do I contact for more information?

CIIS Financial Aid office

Hours:
9:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday

California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
finaid@ciis.edu

Phone: (415) 575-6122
Fax: (415) 575-1268

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