Financial Aid FAQ

When can I apply?

You should apply as soon after January 1 of every year as possible. Do not transmit your electronic FAFSA or sign, date or mail your paper FAFSA before January 1. If you do any of these things, your application will NOT be processed, and you will have to reapply.

What is Johnson C. Smith University’s Title IV school code?


How is my Pell eligibility determined?

When your FAFSA is processed, a formula is applied to the information you provided. The formula used to calculate your expected family contribution (EFC) is found on the first page of your Student Aid Report (SAR) and established by law to measure your family's financial strength on the basis of your family's income and assets. The EFC is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. If your EFC is below a certain number, you will be eligible for a Pell Grant, assuming you meet all other requirements.

What if my family has special circumstances?

Although the process of determining a student's eligibility for federal student aid is basically the same for all applicants, there is some flexibility. You may qualify for an income adjustment if:

  • There is a death in the immediate family within the last year.
  • A parent has become unemployed within the last year.
  • Medical expenses were extremely high due to accident or health issue.
  • A parent becomes temporarily disabled.
  • Parent or guardian died in military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.

Note: Cell phone bills, credit card bills, prior debts, automobile payments, mortgage payments or any other personal expenses are not grounds for income adjustments.

What is verification?

Verification is a process where the Office of Financial Aid is required by law to compare the information from your application with the information you provided on the verification worksheet and with signed copies of your most recent federal tax returns (and your spouse's if you are married, or parents’ if you are considered a dependent for federal aid purposes). If there are differences between your application and the documents you have submitted, corrections may need to be made. Your financial aid cannot process until the verification process can be completed.

How can I be classified as an independent student?

There are seven student status questions located on the second page of the FAFSA application which classify students as dependent or independent. To be considered independent, a student must first be able to answer “yes” to any the following questions:

  • Were you born before January 1, 1986?
  • Are you a veteran of the Armed Forces?
  • Are you currently working on a master’s degree?
  • Are your parents deceased or are you a student ward of the court or in foster care?
  • Are you enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have any children that receive more than half of their support from you?
  • Do you have dependents (not children or spouse) that live with you and receive more than half of their support from you?
  • Are you an emancipated minor by court order?
  • Are you an unaccompanied homeless youth as determined by HUD or a high school homeless liaison?

If in the event you cannot answer “yes” to any of the above stated questions, yet would still request our office to consider your situation for a possible dependency override based on extenuating circumstance, you must be able to provide supporting documentation (e.g. leasing agreement, tax documentation, two notarized letters from individuals who can support independent status). This information will go before a committee.

What is a Stafford Loan?

All student loans at our university are from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loan) Depending on your financial need, you may borrow subsidized money for an amount up to the annual loan borrowing limit for your year in school (see chart below). With a Direct Subsidized Loan, the federal government does not charge you interest before you begin repayment or during authorized periods of deferment(postponement of payment).

How much can I borrow?
Classification Dependent Independent

Borrower's Academic Level

Total Amount Subsidized & Unsubsidized

Total Amount Subsidized & Unsubsidized

0-29 Credits

$3,500 +2000 ($4,000)


30-59 Credits

$4,500 + 2000($4,000)


60+ Credits

$5,500 + 2000($5,000)


NOTE: Amount in parenthesis is unsubsidized portion of loans based on a waived or denied parent plus loan

When do I begin repaying my loan?

After you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time enrollment, you will have a six-month grace period before you begin repayment. During this period, you will receive repayment information, and you'll be notified of your first payment due date. You are responsible for beginning repayment on time, even if you do not receive this information from your lender.

What is the Parent Loan?

A Direct Plus, also called a Parent Loan, must help parents pay their dependent children's education expenses. If the parent wants to apply, a Direct Plus application must be completed and the credit decision is based on a credit approval. Your parent may borrow up to the amount of your cost of attendance, minus any other financial aid that you receive. The federal government charges your parents interest (caped at 9%) from the date the first disbursement is made until the loan is paid in full.

When do my parents begin repaying their loan?

The first payment is due within 60 days after the second disbursement for each year.

What if I still have a balance after my student loans?

It is not uncommon for those independent students or dependent students whose parents have been denied a Direct Plus loan, to have remaining balances on their accounts. Here are several options:

Master Promissory Note agreement the business office for the Federal Work-Study Program.

Installment agreement with the business office(for further information please contact 704-378-1085, 704-378-1229 or 704-330-1447).

Alternative loans [link to Types of Aid page] - These loans are based on a credit approval. Some students may need a cosigner if they do not have three years of established credit.

Payment plan options are available through the Business Office by calling 704.378.1087.

What is the Federal Work-Study Program?

The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) provides part-time jobs for undergraduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay tuition. FWS is based on a first-come, first-served basis. Since funds are limited, we encourage students to complete the FAFSA application as early as possible. Students are paid by the hour and the amount you earn can't exceed your total FWS award. If a student has a balance due to the university, they must sign a promissory note with the Business Office to assist in paying off any tuition debt.

The information on this page is maintained by the Financial Aid Department. For more information or questions please contact them directly at 704.378.1035.