How to Apply for Financial Aid

In order to receive financial aid, you must be fully admitted and enrolled at UNK. If you have yet to apply to UNK and would like to, click here. Once admitted, UNK highly encourages you to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  

For the 2018-19 award year, the FAFSA will be available beginning October 1, 2017. You-and your parent when applicable-will report income and tax information from tax year 2016.

The online FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov will guide you through the application; click “Start a New FAFSA” button on the home page, and just follow the instructions on the screen.  While completing the FAFSA, you must fill in the University of Nebraska Kearney’s school code in order for the University to receive your information. 

The school code for UNK is 002551. 

FAFSA Tips

Read and respond promptly to all communication sent to you. The federal processor will select some applications for data verification, which will require submitting additional documents. The FAFSA will be processed once we receive all requested documents. Instructions for completing the verification process and links to the required forms will be sent to the email address included in your admission application, and also to your MyBLUE account. Monitor each of these closely, and respond promptly to any requests.

If you need help filling out the FAFSA, use these free tools:

  • Read the “Help and Hints” located on the right side of any FAFSA entry page
  • Click “Need Help?” at the bottom of any FAFSA entry page
  • Chat (in English or Spanish) with live technical support staff by clicking the “Help” icon with the big question mark at the top of any FAFSA entry page, and then selecting “Contact Us” below “Browse FAQs”
  • Contact the UNK Financial Aid Office

Common FAFSA Difficulties and Solutions

Here are solutions to the common difficulties encountered when completing the FAFSA:

  • Taxes filed too recently: You should be able to access your tax data using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool approximately 2-3 weeks after filing your taxes electronically, or 4-6 weeks after filing your taxes by mail.
  • Address or other identifying information does not match IRS records. For speed and accuracy, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Information must be entered just as it appears on your federal income tax return, using the same abbreviations and no punctuation.
  • Certain tax filers are not eligible to use the Data Retrieval Tool: Tax filers who are married but filed separate tax returns, or who filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return will not be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. You may complete your FAFSA by manually entering your tax information.
  • Taxes not yet filed: The FAFSA can be submitted using estimated tax information, which can be updated as soon as current tax information becomes available.
  • Not sure whether you will need to put your parents' information on the FAFSA? Click HERE to visit the Federal Student Aid website.

FSA ID Information

Your FSA ID serves as your electronic signature and provides access to your personal records with the U.S. Department of Education systems. Your FSA ID username does not expire but your FSA ID password will expire every 18 months.

Some parents and students have expressed difficulty in setting up the FSA ID password and username. Click here for step by step instructions on setting up the FSA ID.

FSA ID Tips

Here are some tips to keep in mind about the FSA ID:

  • Never Tell anyone else your FSA ID- not even your parent, child, school official, or loan company representative. Remember, your FSA ID is your signature. Protect it!
  • Create your own FSA ID. Letting someone else create or use your FSA ID can cause problems or delays with your student aid. Never make a FSA ID for someone else.
  • You'll use your FSA ID every year you fill out a FAFSA and for the lifetime of any loans. Be sure to take a little time while making it to create a memorable username, password, and answers to your "challenge questions." Keep your FSA ID in a safe place, or memorize it.
  • One of your parents might need a FSA ID as well. If you need to provide information about your parents on the FAFSA, one of your parents will have to sign the application. Your parent can create a FSA ID and then sign the FAFSA electronically using that FSA ID. Not sure whether you will need to put your parents' information on the FAFSA? Click HERE to visit the Federal Student Aid website.
  • Each e-mail address can be associated with only one FSA ID. If you share an e-mail address with someone else, only one of you will be able to use that e-mail address to create a FSA ID. So, for instance, if you're a dependent student, and you and your mom share an e-mail address, one of you should use a different e-mail address when creating a FSA ID.
  • At first you will only be able to use your FSA ID to complete, sign, and submit an original FAFSA. Within one to three days of creating your FSA ID, you should receive an e-mail indicating that you may now use your FSA ID for al of its purposes- including to submit a Renewal FAFSA.

FAFSA Verification

Some applications for Federal Student Aid are selected for a process called verification. Verification is used to confirm the data provided on your FAFSA was correctly entered. FAFSAs are selected for verification for many reasons and being selected does not mean that you did anything wrong.

If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you will be required to submit additional documentation to UNK in order for your financial aid to be awarded. UNK will notify you via email and on your MyBLUE “To Do List” to let you know the type(s) of additional documentation that will be required. Note: If you have not been contacted by the UNK Financial Aid Office it is likely that your application hasn't been selected and there is no further action for you to take.

When all the documents requested have been received, your file will be reviewed. Based upon the review, additional information may be requested from you. It is important that you monitor your MyBLUE “To Do List” to stay informed on the progress of your file.

You can expect the processing of your verification paperwork to take up to two weeks from the date you turn in your complete documentation packet to the Office of Financial Aid. Note: all requested documents must be received in order to have your file reviewed. Please also be aware that the UNK Office of Financial Aid experiences seasonal changes in volume which may affect expected processing times.

We recommend that you complete verification as soon as possible so you can be awarded in a timely manner. Please be aware that you will not be offered aid until your file is completed. Consequently, you may be negatively impacted due to fund availability the longer you wait to submit your documents.

For a list that contains links to the forms and/or instructions required for the verification process, click here.

Special Circumstances

Professional Judgement (PJ):

Professional Judgement (PJ) refers to the authority given to financial aid administrators to make adjustments to a student’s FAFSA based on special circumstances.  Some examples are:

  • high medical, dental, or nursing home expenses
  • unusually high child care or dependent care costs
  • recent unemployment of a family member or an independent student
  • a student or family member who is a dislocated worker
  • a change in housing status that results in an individual being homeless
  • a change in a family’s income or assets

The above list is not the only circumstances PJ applies to.  The financial aid administrator has the authority to make adjustments when there is any sort of special circumstance that they feel merits an adjustment. If you believe you have a special circumstance contact us. 

Dependency

Your dependency status determines whose information must be reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  If you are a dependent student you will report your and your parents’ information.  If you are an independent student, you will report your own information (and, if you are married, your spouse’s).  If you are a dependent student, it is assumed that you have the support of parents so their information must be assessed along with your information.  Your dependency is determined based on the answers to the dependency questions on the FAFSA. 

If you have a special circumstance and cannot provide your parents’ information or you are confused about who your parent would be when you fill out your FAFSA, please visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/parent-info#special-circumstances.  If you have any other questions about dependency and the FAFSA feel free to contact the Financial Aid Office for assistance. 

Homeless Youth

If a dependent student meets the definition of an unaccompanied youth and is homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless they may be an independent student (for federal student aid purposes only) as determined by the Office of Financial Aid. A student who is verified as being an unaccompanied homeless youth is exempt from providing parental data on their FAFSA.  For more information please click here.  Feel free to contact us if you have any other questions.