Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I apply for financial aid?
To apply for grants, loans, work-study and some scholarships you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for federal, state, and university aid programs. Even if you think you may not be eligible, we encourage you to apply. The FAFSA is available beginning October 1. We encourage you to file your FAFSA online as soon as possible to avoid errors and ensure faster processing. ECU’s priority deadline is March 1.
How do I obtain a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID)?
You may obtain the FSA ID on the Federal Student Aid website by clicking on “Create an Account”. The FSA ID consists of a username and a password. You will need your social security number, date of birth and a valid email address. They suggest that you do not use your school email address. You will continue to use this account after you leave school, including during loan repayment if you receive student loans.
What is ECU’s Federal School Code?
ECU’s School Code is 002923.
Do I have to complete the FAFSA every year?
Yes. Complete the FAFSA beginning October 1 for each academic year in which you plan to be enrolled. ECU’s priority deadline is March 1.
What is my expected family contribution (EFC)?
The Expected Family Contribution is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established into law by the Department of Education. Your family’s taxes, untaxed income, assets, and benefits such as unemployment are all considered in the formula. Also considered are your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the academic year. Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used to calculate the amount of Federal and State aid a student is eligible to receive.
How much does it cost to attend ECU?
The Cost of Attendance (COA) is an estimate of what it will cost a student to attend ECU for a given academic period (Fall, Spring, & Summer). The COA includes tuition & fees, room & board, books & supplies, transportation, loan fees, and personal expenses. The COA will vary depending on your current status (i.e. undergraduate, graduate, BSOM, SODM) with the university, whether you are an in-state or out-of-state resident, and whether you are living on campus, commuting or are a distance education student.
Why haven’t I heard from ECU about my financial aid?
You may contact the Office of Financial Aid to determine when you will be notified concerning your financial aid award.
Am I considered an independent or dependent student?
If you answer “YES” to one or more of the questions listed below, you are classified as an Independent Student. If you answer “NO” to all the following questions, you are classified as a Dependent Student.
- Were you born before January 1, 2000? (for 2023-24 aid year)
- Are you married? (Also answer “Yes” if you are separated but not divorced).
- At the beginning of the academic school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program?
- 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?
- Do you now have, or will you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you for the next academic year?
- Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through the next academic school year?
- At any time since you turned 13, were both parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
- Does someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardianship of you, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- At any time on or after July 1, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 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 or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 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?
Who is considered my “parent” when I fill out the FAFSA?
It will depend on their current living arrangements at the time the FAFSA is completed.
- If your parents are married and living with each other, you will answer the questions about them.
- If your parent is widowed or single, answer the questions about the parent. If your widowed parent is remarried answer questions about the parent and the person whom your parent married (your stepparent).
- If your parents are divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived more during the past 12 months. If you lived the same amount of time with each parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or the most recent year that you received support from a parent. If this parent is remarried as of today, answer questions on the FAFSA about that parent and the person whom your parent married (your stepparent).
- Grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brother or sisters, and uncles or aunts are not considered your parents unless they have legally adopted you. If you live with them and they have not legally adopted you, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss your options.
What if I have no contact with my parents?
If you do not know where your parents live, or you left home due to an abusive situation, fill out the student information section on the FAFSA and contact our office.
What if I don’t live with my parents?
You are still required to answer the questions about them if you are considered a dependent student.
What if my parents refuse to help me pay for college and will not provide their information on my FAFSA?
You cannot be considered independent of your parents just because they refuse to help you with this process. If you do not provide their information on the FAFSA, the application will be rejected and prevent awarding of financial aid. Please contact the Financial Aid Office with questions on what we can do to help.
Why do I have to complete Exit Loan Counseling if I am still enrolled at ECU?
You are required to complete the Exit Loan Counseling if you drop below half-time status (Undergraduate less than 6 hours, Graduate less than 5 hours).
My household income has changed significantly from the information I used on my FAFSA. What can I do?
You may file a Special Circumstances Petition. All requests must include supporting documentation. Failure to provide proper documentation will result in a denial of the petition. Students with approved petitions will be notified of changes via their ECU email account. The Special Circumstance Petition can be found under the (2023-24) Forms section of our website.
How do I submit documents to the financial aid office?
Documents may be faxed to 252-328-4347 or mailed to:
Office of Student Financial Aid
East Carolina University
2103 Old Cafeteria Complex
Mail Stop 510
Greenville, NC 27858
You may also bring them to our office: 2103 Old Cafeteria Complex.
I filled out my FAFSA, is there additional information I need to submit to the Financial Aid Office?
If additional information is needed, the Office of Financial Aid will contact you via your ECU email. Students can always check their Pirate Port > Financial Aid Self Service > Home to see what information is needed.
How do I use my financial aid to pay my bill?
The University Cashier Office bills students for tuition, required fees, housing, and dining charges. Ten days prior to the start of the term the Office of Student Financial Aid will disburse each student’s financial aid directly to their Cashier account. This account is part of an automated system the Cashier Office uses to manage the billing and payment of tuition, fees, campus housing, dining, and other miscellaneous charges. Before aid is disbursed to a student’s account, they must meet all eligibility requirements.
Am I considered full time, three-quarter time, half-time or less than half-time?
- Full Time = 12 or more hours
- Three-Quarter Time = 9-11 hours
- Half-Time = 6-8 hours
- Less than Half-Time = 1-5 hours
- Full Time = 9 or more hours
- Three-Quarter Time = 6-8 hours
- Half-Time = 5 credit hours
- Less that Half-Time = 1-4 credit hours
How much money will owe if I withdraw from the semester (term withdrawal)?
The amount of money you owe will depend on the date of your official withdrawal. Once you have officially withdrawn, the Registrar’s Office will notify us. Once notified, we will calculate the amount you owe and notify you in writing.
How much money will I owe if I drop a course?
A student must be enrolled at least half-time (6 hours undergraduate and 5 hours graduate) to receive financial aid. If a student reduces the number of credit hours for which they are registered, he/she may be required to repay financial aid already received. Before dropping a course, students should consult their Academic Advisor and Financial Aid Administrator.
I am taking classes at ECU and another regionally accredited institution. Am I eligible to receive aid?
Yes. If a student is obtaining their degree from ECU, they will need to obtain a signed permission form from their Academic Advisor or Department Chair. Once the permission form has been signed the student will need to submit a copy to our office. We will initiate a Consortium Agreement with the host school. If a student is taking classes at ECU and obtaining their degree at another institution, they will need to discuss financial aid options with their home institution.
Financial Aid Eligibility
Will my outside scholarship affect my aid?
Yes. It could result in an overaward. Federal and State regulations prevent students from receiving Federal and/or State aid in excess of the estimated cost of attendance. An overaward can occur when students receive funds from other sources or outside agencies. When an overaward occurs the Office of Student Financial Aid is required to adjust the student’s award. As a result of this adjustment, a student may be required to repay funds. It is very important to notify the ECU Office of Student Financial Aid of any assistance you receive that is not listed on your award notice (scholarships, North Carolina veterans education benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, NC Child Welfare Collaborative, Resident Advisor benefits). You can do this for the 2023-24 aid year by completing the Additional Aid and Other Resources form (PDF).
Do I qualify for Federal Work Study?
In order to determine eligibility for Federal Work Study you must complete a FAFSA. If you qualify for Federal Work Study it will be included on your award notification
Do I qualify for PELL Grant?
In order to determine eligibility for Federal Pell Grant, you must complete a FAFSA. You will be notified via your award notification of your eligibility.
I’ve been offered Stafford Loans, but what is the difference between Subsidized and Unsubsidized, or the interest rate?
Interest rates are set every July through the Department of Education. You can find more information about the Stafford Loan distinctions, including the current interest rates here.
Why did my financial aid award or refund change?
Withdrawing, dropping a class, or adding a class could cause a change in your award and/or refund. You should consult your Academic Advisor and the Office of Student Financial Aid before withdrawing, dropping a class, or adding a class because it may impact Satisfactory Academic Progress as well.
Does living off campus reduce the amount of my financial aid?
No. Living off campus will not reduce the amount of your financial aid. The Cashier’s Office will only bill you for tuition and fees and excess financial aid will be disbursed to you based on your chosen eRefunds option to cover off-campus expenses. For information regarding the student account eRefund process, please visit the Cashier’s office website.
When will I receive my Financial Aid award?
Provided that your FAFSA is received and all requirements have been met, incoming freshman typically receive their award letters in March for the next academic year, while our current students will receive their award once the semester grades post for the current academic year. This generally occurs near the end of May each year.
When will I receive my refund?
Excess financial aid is disbursed within the first week of school each semester. For information regarding the student account eRefund process, please visit the Cashier’s office website.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Why am I not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress?
You are not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress because you failed to meet the standards outlined by the Department of Education and the Office of Student Financial Aid. Please visit the Satisfactory Academic Progress page for more information.
Why do I have to complete a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal?
You are required to complete an appeal because you failed to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress for the last term of attendance and have been placed on Financial Aid Suspension. You will be notified by ECU email if you need to complete this step.
How do I check my SAP status?
- Log into ECU Pirate Port
- Find and Select the “Financial Aid Self Service” card
- Select “Satisfactory Academic Progress”
- If the status is “Financial Aid Suspension” then that status may be appealed. Visit our SAP Policy page for more information.
Am I eligible to receive financial aid if I am planning to study abroad?
Yes, as long as the program is approved by the Registrar and the Office of Global Affairs. Visit the ECU Study Abroad website for more information on available programs.
What is verification?
Verification is the process in which the Department of Education randomly selects approximately 30% of a school’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application population for review. Verification is used to compare information provided on the student’s FAFSA with Federal tax returns, W2’s, and/or other financial documents. If a student is selected for verification, they will receive notification via their ECU email account listing the additional information required. If a student’s file is selected for verification, the student and/or parent(s) must provide an IRS Tax Transcript, a singed copy of their Income Tax Return and all schedules, or match income data on the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
Why am I selected for verification?
The U.S. Department of Education selects approximately 30% of a school’s population for verification. Our office also has the right to select a student for verification if there is reason to believe we have conflicting information.
What is an IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter?
An IRS Verification of Non-Filing letter provides proof that the IRS has no record of a filed Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ for the year requested.
How do I request an IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter?
Non Tax filers can request an IRS Verification of Non-Filing of their tax return status, free of charge, from the IRS by completing IRS Form 4506-T, which is available below. Mail or fax the completed IRS Form 4506T-EZ (PDF) to the address (or fax number) provided on page 2 of Form 4506-T. Please do not mail, email, and/or fax IRS Form 4506-T to our office.
An IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter can also be obtained via the IRS Get Transcript Online tool.
Verification of Non-Filing Letter – IRS Form 4506-T (PDF)
- Complete lines 1-4, following instructions on page 2 of the form.
- Line 3: Enter the non-filer’s street address and zip code or postal code. Use the address currently on file with the IRS.
- Line 5: Provides non-filers with the option to have their IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter mailed directly to a third party by the IRS. Do not have your IRS Verification of Non-Filing letter sent directly to ECU.
- Line 7: Select the checkbox on the right-hand side for Verification of Non-Filing.
- Line 9: Year or period requested field (for 2023-24 use 12/31/2021)
- The non-filer must sign and date the form and enter their telephone number. Only one signature is required when requesting a joint IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter.
- Mail or fax the completed IRS Form 4506-T to the address (or fax number) provided on page 2 of Form 4506-T. Please do not mail, email and/or fax IRS Form 4506-T to our office.
- If the 4506-T information is successfully validated, tax filers can expect to receive a paper IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter at the address provided on their request within 5 to 10 days.
- Submit the IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter to ECU; make sure to include the student’s name and Banner ID on the IRS Verification of Non-Filing letter.
How do I use the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to link my tax information to my FAFSA?
This video will direct you to a step by step video that will walk you through the process of retrieving your tax information.
Course Program of Study
What is Course Program of Study (CPOS)?
Course Program of Study (CPOS) is a U.S. Department of Education requirement that only considers courses counting toward a student’s program of study for financial aid eligibility. This federal requirement is not new but is monitored at ECU through a reporting process beginning with Spring 2024 registration.
For more information, view our CPOS page.