Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions? This FAQ is designed to answer them for you. If we haven't covered your question, don't hesitate to call HSU's Financial Aid office at (707) 826-4321 or toll free at (866) 255-1390.

General questions:

The application process:

After you apply:


General Questions:

What is Humboldt State University's federal school code?

HSU's federal school code is 001149

What exactly is financial aid?

Financial aid is a blanket term used to describe several kinds of federal, state, and private or institutional aid (including scholarships, grants, work study and loans), which help you bridge the gap between the total cost of attending college and what the aid application process determines you can reasonably afford to pay.

What is a FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), is the main application that must be submitted to be considered for all forms of financial aid, including federal and state grants, student loans, federal work-study and consideration for some scholarships. For dependent students, filing the FAFSA is a collaborative effort between you and your parent(s), as both provide information to complete the application.

Can my parent(s) access information from HSU about my aid?

Applicants may view their HSU financial aid record online 24/7 on the myHumboldt and you may choose to share this information with your parent(s).

Because parents often have questions for us about their son or daughter's aid process or award, it is important to know that under the Family Educational and Privacy Act of 1974, you are extended the right of privacy of student information, including financial aid status.

If you choose, you, the student, may file an annual Consent to Release Form (pdf) with the HSU Financial Aid Office, specifying student financial aid information, which may be released and to whom it may be released. Additionally, the Financial Aid Office does not release parent information to the student. All student financial aid records are bound by the strictest of confidentially protocols.

How much does it cost to attend HSU?

The price of attending HSU varies slightly from student to student (depending, for instance, on room & board expenses, and personal spending habits). For financial aid purposes, standard averages are used based on factors such as state residency status, living on/off-campus or with parents, and degree objective (post-baccalaureate costs are a bit higher). Nevertheless, the following is an accurate estimate of what it will cost you to attend Humboldt State; careful budgeting provides an opportunity to reduce non-fixed costs such as miscellaneous and transportation items.

Tuition and Fees $7212.00
Books & supplies $1660.00
Food & housing $12638.00
Transportation $1052.00
Miscellaneous $1392.00
Total Annual Costs $23,954.00

Click here for a more detailed breakdown on average costs.

To get a ballpark estimate of how much you and/or your family might be expected to contribute to your education, go to Dept of Ed FAFSA4caster.

What kind of scholarships do you offer?

Students may apply for 2017-18 scholarships using our scholarship management system starting January 1, 2017, ending on March 2, 2017. Click on the Scholarships link in your myHumboldt portal to get started!

For general information about scholarship eligibility, visit our scholarship page.

How does federal work study work?

Federal Work Study (FWS) is a need-based financial aid program that allows you to work on campus or in the community to earn money to meet your educational costs. If you have been awarded Work Study, it will be indicated on your Financial Aid Award Notification; you will find detailed information about your FWS award in the Award Guide, and FWS recipients are encouraged to carefully review this information.

FWS awards and the types of work vary. Federal work study is earned, and the money earned does not have to be repaid. You are responsible for seeking out and applying for your own position. Work study jobs are listed online through the Career Center's Web site. Many on-campus jobs are Federal Work Study jobs because the federal government pays 70% of the student's paycheck, and the university only 30%.

University charges such as tuition/fees and housing/dining cannot be deducted from FWS funds, as FWS is paid by monthly payroll check based on hours that are worked. Students use their earnings toward any educational costs outlined in their cost of attendance.

We understand that you and your parent(s) may, at first, be concerned that hours spent earning a work study award may impact a your ability to focus on school. Bear in mind, your work study award is a maximum -- you can only work up to 20 hours per week (up to the dollar amount of your award).

There are several advantages to Work Study including:

  • Opportunities to work on campus in the field you're most interested in
  • Working on campus means a more flexible schedule, as your employers are aware of finals, semester break, and other academic events that might require time off.
  • You can also find work in the non-profit sector, with the government, or one of the schools in our area.

Work study is an excellent opportunity to "try out" your choice of career before you graduate.

Students not offered Federal Work Study may opt to seek campus-based jobs through Student Assistant positions, or community-based part time employment. Listings for these positions can be found online at the HSU Career Center website, or by making direct contact with the department or potential employer.

How is financial aid eligibility determined?

Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, calculates how much your family is expected to contribute toward your education. They call this dollar figure the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). They determine your EFC by applying a federal formula to the information you reported on the FAFSA.

For the dependent student, the EFC is a combination of an assessed Student Contribution, based on student's income and assets, and Parent Contribution, based on household size, number in college, and parent income and assets.

The EFC for independent students is based on the student's household size, number in college, income and assets.

Likewise, our financial aid office establishes an Average Student Budget based on university tuition and fees, food and housing, books and supplies, etc. By subtracting your EFC from that average budget, our financial aid office determines your financial "need" and eligibility for aid.

Throughout these FAQs the term "financial need" will refer to this cost of attendance minus EFC calculation.

For Example: If the budget for the academic year is $24,000 minus an EFC of $5,000, the student has a financial need of $19,000. He or she is eligible for need-based aid up to $19,000, which may be in the form of scholarships, grants, federal work study, loans or other types of educational benefits, based on our awarding criteria and fund availability.

If the EFC is greater than the budget, the student does not meet financial "need" criteria and is not eligible for need-based aid. However, a family is eligible for non-need based aid such as the Unsubsidized Direct Loan and Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). Merit-based aid, such as scholarships, is generally not awarded based on federal need analysis calculation.

What if we cannot come up with all of the Expected Family Contribution?

We recognize that not every family has the entire amount of the EFC available to provide to their son or daughter; in this case it is often possible to replace part or all of the calculated EFC with an unsubsidized loan. The student is eligible for loans up to a federally approved award year amount based on grade level, and it may be a combination of subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loans. The Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS Loan), in particular, is an excellent vehicle for your parent(s) to fund all or part of the EFC figure.

The EFC may be funded by a combination of resources such as parent and student savings, part time work (not work study), unsubsidized Direct Loan and Direct PLUS Loans and, as a last resort, alternative educational loans. Equity loans and lines of credit are also possible; however, note that the Direct PLUS loan, while credit-approval based, is not required to be secured by real property.

How does the family pay the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

The EFC is not an amount specifically paid by the family to the University; rather it is considered a contribution, by your family, to your cost of attendance. Your family decides how it works best to accomplish this.

Examples are lump-sum payments for residence hall charges (or payments on a payment-plan arranged with Housing and Dining), sending periodic payments for rent and utilities (for off-campus students), or for miscellaneous educational costs as outlined in the Cost of Attendance.

Some families make deposits to a bank account, which can be drawn from during the academic year, or send a check, which you can deposit to your bank account.

You and/or your parent(s) are making EFC contributions whenever you or they pay out-of-pocket for any of the costs associated with the cost of attendance.

What is the income cut-off for financial aid?

There is no income cut-off for financial aid. Most, but not all, financial aid is awarded based on the federal need analysis formula as determined by the U.S Department of Education and FAFSA data. If you think you'll need financial assistance for educational expenses, apply for it.

How many students receive financial aid at HSU?

Approximately 70% of Humboldt State students receive some form of financial aid. The average financial aid package varies based on the income and assets of each student's family, fund availability, and HSU's awarding criteria..

When is a student considered independent?

Federal law defines independent and dependent student status. It does not matter how a student is claimed for tax purposes or whether a student receives any help from his or her parents.

Rather, independent status is determined by a series of questions listed on the FAFSA. To be considered independent for financial aid purposes, you must be able to answer "yes" to at least one of the following seven questions:

  • Are you 24 years of age or older?
  • Are you working toward a master's degree or in a doctorate program?
  • As of today, are you married? (Marital status may not be projected)
  • Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you?
  • Do you have dependents (other than children or a spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you?
  • Are both parents deceased, or are you, or were you, a ward of the court until age 18?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Were you, at age 13 or older, in foster care, or a dependent/ward of the court, or homeless?
  • At any time determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
  • At any time determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in legal guardianship?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012 did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

The Financial Aid Office will consider overriding a your dependency status only in exceptional or extraordinary cases. Review Special Circumstances information for more details. You may contact Humboldt State University's financial aid office to schedule an appointment if you wish to discuss your particular circumstances with a financial aid counselor.

What is the difference between a subsidized and unsubsidized loan?

For the student borrower, the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program is either subsidized, which is need based, or unsubsidized, which is not based on financial need.

Both loans have the same fee (1.051% of the amount borrowed). Interest rates vary from year to year, but are then fixed for the life of that loans. Interest rates are currently less than 4%. To receive either loan requires that a FAFSA be filed. Both types of loans also have a six-month grace period that begins after the last day of enrollment on at least a half-time basis. You are not required to begin paying back loans until the end of the grace period.

Subsidized Direct Loans provide the benefit of not accruing interest while the student is still in school full-time. Unsubsidized Direct Loans, on the other hand, accrue interest even while the student is in school. You may choose to pay the interest at this point or let it accrue.

Although you are not required to pay the accumulating interest while in school, we suggest that you try to make this payment, if at all possible. Once the six-month grace period ends, any unpaid interest that has accumulated is capitalized, i.e. the unpaid interest is added to the principal of the loan.

The parent Direct PLUS Loan is an unsubsidized loan with a fixed 6.31% rate, a 4.2% loan fee with a 1.5% upfront fee rebate maintained as long as the first 12 monthly payments are made on time. Parents have the option of beginning repayment 60 days of the final award year disbursement or deferring payment until their student has graduated.  If they choose the latter, interest will accrue during the deferment period.  If their student withdraws or is enrolled less than full time, repayment on the loan is required.

Find more information on the Direct Loan Program here.

How will living off campus affect my financial aid?

Financial aid budget and aid eligibility are the same whether you are living off campus or in the dorms. However, if you are living at home with your parents, your cost of attendance is lower and your aid may be less.

Who can we call if we have more questions?

We understand that applying for financial aid can be confusing. We are here to help you navigate through and educate you about this process. You can speak with our staff, Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), by calling toll free 866-255-1390 or 826-4321 locally.

We heartily recommend that your take an active role in educating yourself about the application process -- and we are always pleased to assist -- because in doing so you will become knowledgeable and prepared student aid consumers.

The application process:

How do I apply for financial aid?

Begin by applying for federal, state and institutional financial aid by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Humboldt State University's priority deadline for filing these forms is March 2. Cal Grant deadlines are also March 2 for filing the Cal Grant GPA Verification Form, which is available online at the California Student Aid Commission, or as a hardcopy from high schools and colleges.

Missing the March 2 deadline does not mean you are disqualified for financial aid. However, it does mean you may have to wait longer for a response from HSU and you may be eligible for fewer aid dollars.

When and how often do I need to complete a FAFSA?

You should complete and submit your FAFSA application as soon as possible after October 1 prior to the academic year, in which you plan to attend college.

The FAFSA application must be renewed for each school year. A Renewal FAFSA, available each January for the coming award year, can be accessed online with a Federal Student Aid PIN, and is already partially completed for you, only requiring you to update information that has changed from the previous year.

You may also complete the entire FAFSA again using the most recent tax data and personal information.

How long does the FAFSA take to process?

Filing the FAFSA online is generally the fastest and most efficient way to apply -- it both reduces the likelihood of mistakes and saves information, which can be used to save time on filing Renewal FAFSAs.

At the time of processing, eligibility information is sent to the schools listed on the FAFSA, and you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), generally by email, summarizing the information provided on the FAFSA.

Delays to your financial aid award notification will result if there is required data missing from the FAFSA (your SAR will alert you to problems and how to resolve them), follow-up documents requested by the school are not submitted quickly, or email and mailing addresses are missing or inaccurate.

What is a SAR? When will I receive one?

The Student Aid Report (SAR) contains your FAFSA responses, your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and instructions for completing the application process. You can review the instructions on the SAR and submit online corrections, if necessary, via the FAFSA web site with your Federal Student Aid PIN.

If you provide a valid email address, you will usually receive your SAR within 1-3 business days of submitting your FAFSA. The SAR is emailed to the your email address provided on the FAFSA.

To reduce the possibility of spam or junk-mail filters diverting receipt of the SAR via email, the U.S. Dept of Education suggests listing the following in your email address book:

What is a U.S. Department of Education FSA ID? How do I get one?

The FSA IDis your electronic signature and can be used each year to file the FAFSA, and access your records, such as the online SAR, and for HSU borrowers (and parent borrowers), to sign their loan promissory notes and view their student loan history (once loans received) through the National Student Loan Data System, and Direct Loan Online Servicing.

Get your FSA ID

Unless you are an independent student, b oth you and your parent(s) must obtain an FSA ID, as parents will need to electronically sign any FAFSA filed online if they provide income information.

To reduce the possibility of spam or junk-mail filters diverting receipt of the Federal PIN via email, the U.S. Dept of Education suggests listing the following in your email address book:

What does it mean if I am selected for verification?

The Federal Processor selects approximately 25-30% of students who apply for financial aid for verification.

Verification is a method of assuring information accuracy. This is especially true when early filers have estimated their income and tax data on the FAFSA. Several items on the FAFSA may be targeted for verification, including, but not limited to, income, household size, and child support paid. This means the Financial Aid Office will contact you regarding documents you must submit to complete the verification process.

HSU reserves a percentage of its aid dollars for students selected for verification. However, delaying the verification process may jeopardize your financial aid. Pay close attentaion to due deadlines. Many aid funds may be unavailable if deadlines are not adhered to.

When do I need my transcripts into the admissions office?

Financial aid cannot be disbursed until you are fully admitted to the university; you are not fully admitted until our Admissions office receives an official copy of requested transcripts and verifies you meet the terms of admission.

Most high schools and junior colleges need to be notified when and where to send official transcripts. As always, check with the school sending the transcripts for specific instructions.

What's the deadline for having a local address?

Financial Aid checks are not mailed! Direct Deposit is encouraged, and can be easily requested via your Student Center. Student Financial Services, 2nd floor Student Business Services Bldg, will hold aid checks if you do not have direct deposit.

It is important to keep your student personal information -- address, email and phone numbers -- updated on MyHumboldt.

IMPORTANT: Your Humboldt State University e-mail account is an official form of communication between you and the university. You are responsible for checking your HSU e-mail account for official communications. Although you may elect to re-direct messages sent to your official HSU e-mail address to another address, you do so at your own risk. Having an e-mail lost as a result of re-direction does not absolve you from responsibilities associated with communication sent to your official university e-mail address. The university is not responsible for the handling of e-mail by outside vendors or unofficial servers.

If you will be living on campus, you will be given a local address in August. For off-campus students, the rental market being what it is, we recommend you make arrangements for a residence by early August. Either way, you will need to keep your address/email/phone contact information updated as noted above.

When will I get my award notification?

Once you've filed a FAFSA, it will take less than a week to receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the office of Federal Student Aid. The SAR will give you the results of the eligibility analysis, including the amount the family is expected to contribute to your education -- it also contains instructions, including any special alerts, for completing the application process.

Carefully review these instructions and submit any online corrections via the FAFSA website using your U.S. Department of Education FSA ID. If all the information is correct, you may print a copy of the SAR for your records. Notify our Financial Aid Office in writing of any changes or corrections.

After you receive your SAR, the HSU Financial Aid Office will contact you with either a request for additional documentation (during March, depending on when the FAFSA was filed) or an award notification (approximately mid-April, depending on when the FAFSA was filed). Upon receiving the financial aid notification email, you will be directed to the MyHumboldt to accept your award online.

If you are unable to access the online site, or have difficulties with the process, please contact our office at 866-255-1390 (toll free) or locally at 826-4321 prior to any stated deadline.

HSU scholarships are generally awarded late spring through summer, separately from the initial aid determination; scholarship recipients will be notified by email.

What deadlines do we have to meet?

March 2 is the deadline for submitting a Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA) to the California Student Aid Commission and receiving priority status for certain HSU aid and HSU scholarships. However, we recommend that you file as early as possible after October 1.

We recommend you check regularly for requested documents.  You may do this by logging in to myHumboldt. If we have received your FAFSA, you will be able to view either outstanding document requirements on your "To Do List," or view your award via the "View Financial Aid" link. You may use this site to monitor your HSU aid application, including aid status, requested documents and awards.

If you miss these priority deadlines, you are further down the financial aid recipient line. This does not make you ineligible for aid, but can reduce your overall award package as limited funds are exhausted early. Early filers, and those who provide requested verification documents speedily, receive award offers more quickly. This provides the family with more time to make necessary decisions and financial plans.

There is also a deadline for accepting your financial aid award; you will receive an email notification directing you to your online Award Offer. You must accept your award online at HSU's myHumboldt. If you are unable to access the myHumboldt or have problems with the online acceptance, call our office prior to the posted acceptance deadline. While our office can accept grants and scholarships in your name, we can't accept loans. We will, however, give you instructions on how to finalize loans you have been awarded.

Finally, you must keep Freeze Dates in mind. Once a semester, our office takes a "snapshot" of the number of units you are enrolled in. If you are dropping units and the snapshot is taken on a date when you are enrolled in fewer units than aid was disbursed for, your financial aid award will be reduced -- retroactively … meaning you may be required to pay our office back a portion of your aid award, because aid packages are based on the number of units taken each semester.

Freeze Dates will be posted in HSU's Financial Aid Office and on the Financial Aid Office webpage.

How can I update my FAFSA if my financial situation has changed?

If you or your family has exceptional special circumstances not taken into account in your student eligibility analysis, you may wish to appeal for reevaluation for special circumstances. The first step would be to send a letter, or the on-line Special Circumstances appeal form, to the Financial Aid office describing the changes that have occurred.

For more information, see Special Circumstances.

After you apply:

How do we actually get the money?

Financial aid is disbursed twice a year (generally at the beginning of each semester) - we encourage the use of Direct Deposit. Otherwise, balance checks can be picked up at Student Financial Services. Work study checks are the only exception to this rule and are issued to the student worker on a monthly basis as paychecks.

Generally, the full amount of semester aid is disbursed at one time. University charges such as tuition and fees, tuition (for non-California residents), housing and dining charges for dorm residents are deducted before the balance -- called a refund -- is issued to the student. In some cases University charges are greater than the student aid disbursement and no refund check is issued. Once your aid has disbursed, you will be able to view your online disbursement statement by logging into the MyHumboldt; this will itemize aid funds paid and University charges credited.

Parents borrowing the Direct PLUS Loan will have any refund check and/or disbursement statement mailed to them, not the student. You and your parent(s) should determine what method works best for the Direct PLUS Loan refund check to cover the student's educational costs; for instance, pre-paying rent or sending -- or depositing -- funds periodically to you for educational costs.

If all requirements necessary to disburse funds have been satisfied -- all required documents received and reviewed, admissions status finalized, and HSU courses registered for -- you can expect to receive your first aid disbursement during the week that classes begin.

We strongly recommend that you establish a bank account so you can set up Direct Deposit of your Financial Aid refund. There are many banks within walking distance of campus, including Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual, Bank of America and US Bank, and many more in neighboring Eureka and McKinleyville such as the Coast Central Credit Union, Six Rivers Bank, Umpqua, Redwood Capital Bank and several major bank branches.

We discourage students from paying money to cash their checks at a check cashing service.

What can and can't I spend my financial aid on?

Tuition and fees and on-campus room and board charges are subtracted automatically from your financial aid award before the financial aid refund is disbursed to you.

Consequently, you can spend your financial aid on any education-related item listed in the cost of attendance. This also means, however, that you are solely responsible for budgeting the aid check throughout the semester.

This is particularly important if you are living off campus, as monthly living expenses will need to be budgeted from your aid, savings, part-time employment, and family contribution. What may seem like a lot of money at the beginning of the semester, whittles away quickly with books and supplies, and cost of living expenses. Help with budgeting.

Non-fixed budget categories such as books & supplies, transportation and miscellaneous are items you might pare down by, for instance, buying used textbooks, reducing the amount spent on clothing, entertainment and travel. Big savers for residence hall students are having meals at the "J" (Housing and Dining's main cafeteria) instead at the other campus eateries, and by not bringing a car to campus (gas prices in Humboldt County are high).

Students in need of budgeting assistance may find the following resources helpful:

What responsibilities come with receiving aid?

When you accept financial aid, you accept several responsibilities. For starters, you must be admitted to, enrolled in and attending classes in an eligible program at Humboldt.

You must also complete the number of units on which your aid disbursement is based and you must maintain at least a "C" (2.0) grade point average. You can become ineligible for future financial aid if you fail to meet any of these requirements. We presume fulltime, full year attendance unless you notify us otherwise in writing in advance of aid disbursing. Some aid programs require full-time attendance. Refer to our Satisfactory Progress Standards policy or meet with a financial aid counselor for specifics.

If you receive a non-HSU scholarship or other educational resource(s) not awarded by HSU, you are required to notify the HSU Financial Aid Office in writing; other federal or state aid may be adjusted based on outside educational resources. You may need to provide the scholarship source with verification of enrollment, which is available from the Office of the Registrar, first floor Student Services Bldg.

Accepting federal student loans, Direct Loan and Perkins Loan, or parent Direct PLUS Loan, includes signing the Master Promissory Note, or MPN. When you complete the MPN, you make a legal statement agreeing to repayment according to the loan's terms.

Once you have submitted an MPN, you can use the same note to borrow future loans for up to 10 years, depending on the type of loan.

Are there other borrowing options?

To help with educational costs not met through need-based financial aid, Unsubsidized Direct Loans and parent Direct PLUS Loans are low-interest options.

If the Unsubsidized Direct Loan and parent Direct PLUS Loan fall short of funds needed, you may also consider applying for one of a number of alternative education loans available through private lenders.

Because these loans are not federal student aid, or based on financial need, all of the loans mentioned accrue interest during the time you are in school. It is recommended that parents of dependent students pursue the Direct PLUS Loan before considering letting the student take on additional debt burden.

We strongly urge you and your family to discuss these options, consider the higher cost of alternative loans, and carefully compare loan products and not to make any hasty decisions about borrowing an alternative loan. Our Alternative/Private Educational Loans page offers tips for researching loan products as well as the HSU procedure and requirements a student must meet prior to our certification of an alternative/private loan.

Note that the combination of student aid and other educational resources, such as non-HSU scholarships or alternative loan, cannot exceed the student's cost of attendance.

Will newly awarded aid/scholarships change my original award?

Maybe. Federal regulations require we coordinate all educational resources, including federal and state student aid, scholarships, fee waiver or fee payment programs, etc. After an initial aid award, some students receive new funding through the HSU Financial Aid Office or outside entity (non-HSU scholarships are a good example), and we must make sure that the total of this aid does not exceed a student's "need". If a student is fully funded and subsequently has additional resources, there will be an adjustment to the original aid award. Students are notified by email of award changes, so it's a good idea to check for emails from the Financial Aid Office frequently. Note that student aid recipients are required to notify the Financial Aid Office in writing of any additional educational resource.