What is financial aid?

Financial aid is funding for your college education that comes from sources outside of your family. Gift aid and self-help aid are two categories of financial aid. Gift aid comes in the form of grants and scholarships and does not have to be repaid. Self-help comes in the form of loans and employment. A student may have a combination of grants, loans, scholarships and employment for a financial aid award.


Where can I get information about Federal student financial aid?

  • Visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/.
  • Contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) online at https://studentaidhelp.ed.gov/ or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 1-800-730-8913 (if hearing impaired). These resources are supported by the US Department of Education and can answer questions about federal and state student aid programs and applications.
  • Contact the NSU Financial Aid Office via email at finaid@northern.edu or by calling 1-605-626-2640.


Where can I get a copy of the FAFSA?

Complete the FAFSA online. It's the fastest way to apply, and includes additional instructions and support.

For a paper application, ask your guidance counselor; inquire at the NSU Financial Aid Office; or call 1-800-4-FED-AID.


I'm not sure my family will have financial need. Should I complete the FAFSA?

Yes. Financial aid is intended both to remove financial barriers for families who cannot afford the cost of an education beyond high school and to fill in the gap for families who can afford only part of the cost. Some loans and scholarships are available regardless of "need."


My parents are divorced, and the parent I'm living with has remarried. Does my step-parent have to report his or her income and assets on the FAFSA?

Yes, provided that the parent you're living with is the one filling out the FAFSA (your custodial parent). If your step-parent is married to them at the time you fill out the FAFSA, they must report their income and assets even if they weren't married to them in the previous year.


My parents are separated or divorced. Which parent fills out the FAFSA?

The parent you lived with most during the last 12 months. If you didn't live with either parent, or if you lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent who provided the most support to you during the last 12 months or during the most recent calendar year that you were actually supported by a parent.


What is a Student Aid Report (SAR)?

A Student Aid Report is the analysis of the data you reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Student Aid Report has your calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on it, and that number is used to determine your eligibility for financial aid.

You will receive your Student Aid Report shortly after filing the FAFSA. This will be sent to you electronically if you provided a current and valid email address on your FAFSA. A paper SAR will be mailed to students that do not provide a valid email address. Around the same time, Northern State University will receive an electronic version of this report from the federal processor, and once NSU receives this we can determine your financial aid award.


What if my family has a special circumstance that will affect how much we can pay?

Students who have special circumstances (such as a job loss or high medical expenses) should contact Northern's Financial Aid Office. We review each case to see if adjustments can be made to improve your eligibility.

Do I have to apply for financial aid each year?

Yes. Your financial situation must be reassessed each year.

  • FAFSA On The Web retains a record of your previously submitted information; this is carried forward to the new application for your review. However, financial information must be added each year.
  • If you have not previously applied online and prefer to complete a paper FAFSA, get a copy from your guidance counselor or the NSU Financial Aid Office, or call 1-800-4-FED-AID. Complete, and mail to the federal processor.