George Mason University

Important Updates

Summer Aid

Students who will attend classes during the Summer term(s) may request a review of their summer financial aid eligibility by submitting a Summer Aid Request form to the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA). The Summer Aid Request Form is available here.

Year-Round Pell

A recent change (2017) in the Federal Pell Grant program allows eligible students to receive additional Pell Grant for the summer term. Students who were enrolled full-time for the fall and spring semesters may be eligible to receive additional Pell for summer, as long as they enroll half-time or more (at least 6 credits). In addition to enrolling at least half-time, students must also be meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).

To ensure timely awarding of additional Federal Pell Grant awards and any other financial aid eligibility, students should submit the 2018 Summer Aid Request form, which is available on the Office of Student Financial Aid website on April 2, 2018. Although it is not a federal requirement to complete the form for Pell, submitting the form will help the Aid Office determine if you are eligible for other aid in addition to your extra Pell Grant.

VGAP (Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program) Changes

NEW:  Beginning fall 2018, entering independent freshmen will be considered for VGAP. This fund was previously limited to dependent students only. Additionally, to be considered for renewal of VGAP awards, students must progress to the next grade level each year. Full eligibility requirements are listed below.

This is a state-sponsored grant program. To be eligible for the VGAP award at George Mason, a student must:

  • Be classified as a first-time freshman or have participated in VGAP during the prior academic year
  • Be admitted for enrollment in an undergraduate degree program at Mason
  • Be enrolled as full-time student every semester in an approved degree or certificate program
  • Be a domiciliary resident of Virginia
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Submit a FAFSA and all requested verification documents to the Office of Student Financial Aid by March 1 each year
  • Demonstrate significant financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Graduate from a Virginia high school or complete a program of home school instruction in accordance with § 22.1-254.1 (students who obtain a GED are not eligible)
  • Have at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale or its equivalent at the time of admission or according to final academic transcript
  • If a home school completer: achieve a SAT verbal and math combined score of at least 900 or ACT Composite score of at least 19
  • Be classified as a dependent student for federal financial aid purposes(Note: Beginning fall 2018, entering independent freshmen will also be considered for VGAP)

Awards may be renewed provided that the student meet the eligibility requirements stated above AND

  • Maintain continuous full-time enrollment
  • Progress to the next grade level each year
  • Maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale

Students may only receive one State Grant at a time, with the exception of the Virginia Two-Year College Transfer Grant. Students who have completed a bachelor’s degree are not eligible to receive a VGAP Award.

Financial Aid Data Sharing Policy

April 1, 2018

Based on the FY 2018 spending bill passed on March 23, 2018, the Mason Office of Student Financial Aid may provide, with explicit written consent from the student, FAFSA information to scholarship-granting organizations or tribal organizations.

What is not allowed is eligibility determinations for state benefits programs, even with the student’s written consent. This includes Vocational Rehabilitation, food stamps, and income verification for rent, low-income housing, and other social services requests.

Students who need financial aid information for non-scholarship granting organizations or tribal organizations may provide requested data directly to third parties using the following methods:

  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) can be found on the Student Aid Report (SAR), which is available by logging in to the student’s FAFSA at https://fafsa.gov/. After logging in, the student should click the link to view the SAR.
  • Financial Aid awards can be printed from https://patriotweb.gmu.edu. After logging in, click Financial Aid, Award, Award by Aid Year. Please note that awards for continuing 2018-19 students will be available beginning in June 2018.
  • Federal loan borrowing history and status can be printed by signing into www.nslds.ed.gov.
  • Cost of Attendance: Estimated cost of attendance information can be found at: https://www2.gmu.edu/admissions-aid/paying-for-college. Students who have a financial aid award may also print their estimated cost of attendance from logging in to https://patriotweb.gmu.eduFinancial Aid, Award, Award by Aid Year. Please note that award packages for continuing students will not be available until mid-June, 2018.
     

2018-19 FAFSA NOW AVAILABLE TO COMPLETE

The 2018-19 FAFSA will become available to complete on October 1, 2017. For priority consideration of limited funding, students should submit their FAFSA and all required verification documents by March 1, 2018.

Students should complete the 2018-19 FAFSA using tax data from 2016. The Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will be available to transfer your 2016 tax data (both student data and parent data) from your 2016 IRS Tax return to your 2018-19 FAFSA. We encourage you to use the DRT. Using the tool will decrease the chance that your FAFSA is selected for verification.

PLEASE NOTE – Because of increased data security, when you use the DRT to transfer your data from your tax return to your FAFSA, you will NOT BE ABLE TO SEE THE DATA that was transferred. It will be “masked.” Please be assured that using the DRT will transfer the correct information to your FAFSA.

Please DO NOT update your tax data on your FAFSA after using the Data Retrieval Tool. Doing this will increase the likelihood that your FAFSA is selected for verification. If you attempt to make any changes to your FAFSA data after using the Data Retrieval Tool, you should request a copy of your 2016 tax return transcript and submit it to the Financial Aid Office, as you will likely need it for verification purposes.

The Financial Aid Office will begin loading 2018-19 FAFSA data into our system sometime in late November or early December of 2017.

Important Information for Pell Grant Recipents!

If you are receiving Pell funds and choose to drop credits between September 5, 2017 (last day to add classes/census date) and September 29, 2017 (last day to drop classes with partial refund), your Pell Grant will be reduced to reflect your new enrollment load.

For example, if you are a full-time student on September 5th but drop to half-time on or before September 29th, your Pell Grant award will be prorated to reflect your half-time enrollment status.

For spring semester, if you drop classes between census (January 29, 2018) and the scheduled Last Day to Drop Classes (February 23, 2018) your Pell grant will be pro-rated to reflect your new enrollment load.

If dropping a class does not reduce your enrollment load (for example you start at 15 credits but drop to 12 - still full-time), your Pell Grant will remain the same.

Please consult with your Financial Aid Counselor and Academic Advisor before dropping any class during this period.

Prior-Prior Year

Starting with the 2017-18 FAFSA, families will now use tax data from two years ago. On this 2017-18 FAFSA families will once again use 2015 tax data. This is referred to as “Prior-Prior” year data because it uses tax data from two years before the academic year. For 2018-19, families will use 2016 tax data. For 2019-20, they will use 2017 tax data, etc.

Along with this change, the Department of Education is changing when the FAFSA is available for families to complete. Previously, this was not available until January 1st. Beginning with the 2017-18 year, the FAFSA will become available for families to complete on October 1st. Therefore, families can begin applying for aid (using accurate completed tax data) about one year prior to the academic year in question.

All families are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to use the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to link their 2016 taxes to their 2018-19 FAFSA. Using this will decrease the likelihood of the FAFSA being selected for verification and if the FAFSA is flagged for verification, will make that process easier.

Enrollment and COA adjustments

Until Census, your aid and Cost of Attendance is adjusted based on the number of credits you are taking. IF you add credits you will see your budget go up. If you drop them, you will see your budget go down. Once the census date has passed, your enrollment level is locked and no changes are made either up or down, with the exception of Pell which will be adjusted up to the last day to drop classes.

Disbursement of Aid

If you are attending less than full-time, we will disburse your aid 10 days before the beginning of the term, just as we have done in the past with full time students. Your federal and state grants, as well as institutional grants, will be pro-rated depending on your enrollment status (3/4 time, 1/2 time). Scholarships will ONLY disburse if you are FULL TIME. Direct Loan funds will only disburse if you are taking 6 or more credits (4.5 credits if you are a graduate student). Loans will not be pro-rated, they will disburse at their full amount.

Refunds

You may be eligible for a refund after your aid is paid to your account and your charges are covered for the term. HOWEVER, if additional charges are added to your account after a refund has been processed for you (if you add credits or meal plans after your refund is processed), you will incur additional charges which you need to pay from your refund. Late fees will apply if charges are not paid in full.