Santa Clara University

Undergraduate Parents Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding financial aid. Do not hesitate to contact the Financial Aid Office with any further questions.

Your Student's Award FAFSA
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE Scholarships
Cal Grants Student Employment
Student Loans Parent Loans
Special Circumstances Verification
General Questions


Your Student's Award

How will you notify my student of his or her award?
All students (except for new students who have not registered for classes yet) are assigned a University e-mail account. Most of our communications with your student will be done via this University account, including notification of the financial aid award. Students will receive an e-mail with directions on how to access their awards online to accept or decline them. If they want a paper copy of it, there is a printable version they can download. For new students who have not registered yet and have provided an e-mail address on their admissions application, we will be using that e-mail address to communicate with them until they are assigned their university e-mail account.

How does my student view and/or print their award?
If your student received financial aid e-mail notification, your should should log-on to the ecampus system. To view or print award letter:

  1. Go to
  2. Type student' ecampus id number and password
  3. Under "Finances"select "View/Print Award Letter"
  4. Select the View link to access award. Student can print the award letter by selecting the icon under Print

NOTE: Student's ecampus account was created when the student applied at Santa Clara University. If the student forgot their password, select "Forgot your Password" and a new password will be sent to the e-mail address on student's admission application.

Once my student receives their financial aid award, is there any reason the award could change at a later date?
There are a number of circumstances that could have an effect on your student's original award. Verification of their application, change in your family's financial situation, student's failure to maintain academic progress, notification after award of outside aid such as a scholarship, or not enrolling for the required number of units to receive aid through programs awarded are all examples of things that could change the award.

When is financial aid available to students?
Federal regulations prohibit us from disbursing funds to a student's account any earlier than 10 days before the start of classes each term. Once aid is disbursed to the account, it will pay any tuition charges. Tuition is paid each term; likewise, a third of the student's financial aid is available each term. Any excess will be refunded to the student to be used for other educational expenses such as books, rent, food, etc.

My student will need additional funds beyond the financial aid offered. Where should we look?
If you are willing to borrow to assist your student with educational expenses, you may want to consider the Federal Direct PLUS Loan program. If you are denied the Federal PLUS Loan because of the mandatory credit check, your student will be able to borrow some additional funding through the Federal Direct Loan - unsubsidized program. You would need to supply our office with a copy of the denial along with a request from the student for an unsubsidized loan.

My student received a better financial aid award from another college. Will Santa Clara University match the other college's award?
Santa Clara University does not negotiate or match financial aid awards from other colleges and universities.

Why is the aid offered by Santa Clara University different from aid my student was offered by other schools?
Financial aid offers can be different from one institution to another for many reasons. Schools and their applicant pool are different. Your student's academic credentials and a school's selectivity will influence the amount of institutional funds offered. Some types of financial aid are awarded based on criteria established by the institution. Funding for some federal programs is limited. Institutions receive an allocation, or set amount, for each of the campus-based aid programs (Federal Work Study, Federal Perkins Loan and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) from the U.S. Department of Education. Since schools receive different allocation amounts, institutions will have different rules and methods for awarding their allocation of limited funding. Institutions also have different costs of attendance, which can change a student's eligibility for need-based financial aid funding and can affect the total amount of financial aid offered from one institution to the next.

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What is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application used to determine eligibility for federal and state student grants, federal work study and federal loans. The U.S. Department of Education accepts applications beginning January 1 of each year for the upcoming academic year.

What is Santa Clara University's Federal School Code?
Santa Clara University's Federal School Code is 001326.

I do not think my student qualifies for financial aid. Should we 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. A number of factors in addition to family income are considered in determining your financial eligibility, including the size of your family and number of family members in college. Although most grant awards are based on financial need, some loans and scholarships are available regardless of financial need.

Where can I get help if I have questions about the financial aid forms?
You can call or e-mail the Financial Aid Office if you have questions about a financial aid form. We can assist you over the phone. Or you may arrange an appointment with a financial aid counselor for assistance. If you have questions specifically about the FAFSA, you can call the Federal Student Aid Center at 1 (800) 433-3243.

My student is paying for college on his or her own. Why do I have to submit my information on the FAFSA?
Congress has defined, in the law, when parental information is required. Being claimed on a parent's tax return is not relevant to determining dependency. It is also not relevant if the family's decision is that paying for college is the responsibility of the student. A student becomes independent when they meet one of the conditions described in the FAFSA. Congress' intention is to establish that the primary responsibility for a student's education is the student's and student's family for their undergraduate degree.

Is it required for parents to fill out the parent portion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), even if they no longer claim their child as a dependent on their federal taxes?
Federal financial aid guidelines for dependency are different than Federal tax guidelines. Federal financial aid guidelines state that a student is dependent unless:

If the student does not qualify under at least one of these conditions, the student must be considered dependent. A dependent student must provide their parent's income information on the FAFSA. Only under special circumstances may the student be considered independent without meeting one of the above conditions.

How can we complete the FAFSA without having completed our federal tax information?
We suggest students and their families estimate their income and tax information before completing these applications. Do not skip or leave blank, this may cause a delay or miscalculation. If your income has not changed in the past year, the easiest way to estimate your taxes is to use last year's tax information. If family income has slightly changed, use these steps to estimate taxes:

How often do you need to apply and when should we start the process?
Students must re-apply for financial aid each school year. The process can be started as soon as January 1 for the next school year or as soon as you have completed your federal tax returns.

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CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE

What the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE?
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is the financial aid application service of the College Board. More than 600 colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools and scholarship programs use the information collected on the PROFILE to determine eligibility for non-federal student aid funds. The PROFILE is a fully web-based application system that provides students a secure and efficient method for reporting their financial data to higher education institutions.

What is Santa Clara University's CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE school code?
Santa Clara University's CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is 4851.

Where can I find the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE website?
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE can be found at College Board Web site at

When I reviewed the Acknowledgment, I realized that I made an error on the submitted CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE application. Can I change the application and re-submit it to Santa Clara University?
After you submitted the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE application it is not possible to change the information that was provided. If the information is not accurate, print out the Acknowledgment, update the incorrect data, and send a copy to our office.

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What about scholarship?
Unlike grants and student loans for which a student applies by filling out the FAFSA, scholarships are not usually based on financial need. Scholarships are based on a student's academic achievement and come from hundreds of different sources (e.g., private organizations, colleges/universities). Santa Clara University offers a number of scholarships each year to incoming first-year students. These scholarships are generally based upon high school academic performance and no special application is required.

Information on private scholarships that are awarded on the basis of special skills, community activities or other criteria is available at local libraries and on the internet. High school guidance counselors are excellent sources of information about these kinds of awards. Sources for these private scholarships may include civic or church groups, labor unions, PTAs or employers.

Does Santa Clara University offer merit scholarships?
Yes. Santa Clara currently awards merit scholarships: Presidential at Entry Scholarship, Provost Scholarship and SCU Dean's Scholarship. For some scholarships, special consideration is given for exceptional ability or performing arts talent. These awards include Athletic, Theater Arts, Dance and Music.

My student wants to apply for merit-based scholarship only. Do we have to fill out the FAFSA?
No. However, to be considered for scholarships where financial need is part of the criteria, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We recommend that every student fill out a FAFSA.

How is the treatment of scholarships coordinated with federal taxes?
Treatment of scholarships under the IRS publication 970 and Tax Topic 421 of the Internal Revenue Code provides that you may exclude from your gross income only scholarship amounts used for:

How does Santa Clara University handle scholarships your student receives that are not included on their award?
The treatment of the award will depend on the source of the funds.

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Cal Grants

What is Cal Grant?
Funded by the State of California and administered by the California Student Aid Commission, a Cal Grant entitles students to funding to pay for college expenses at Santa Clara University. Depending on the Cal Grant program (Cal Grant A or Cal Grant B), funding can be used for tuition, room and board and supplies.

Is there a separate application for Cal Grant?
All students who wish to apply for a Cal Grant must submit a Cal Grant GPA Verification form to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) by March 2. Students may obtain a Cal Grant GPA Verification form from their high school counselor or from the California Student Aid Commission.

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Student Employment

What is Federal Work Study?
This is a federal program which provides jobs for students with federal need, allowing them to earn money to help pay expenses incurred while in school.

How does the Federal Work Study Program work?
Students who complete the FAFSA may see Federal Work Study listed on their financial aid award. This is an option for students to assist them with their day-to-day expenses while on-campus. Students can secure a part-time job on-campus through the Career Center website. Students who participate in the Federal Work Study program are paid directly through a bi-weekly payroll check. Since the program is based on participants working and earning income, the funds are not directly applied towards the student's billing statements. Earnings vary depending on the number of hours worked and the rate of pay.

How will my student receive Federal Work Study funds?
Students who participate in the Federal Work Study program are paid directly through a bi-weekly payroll check. Since the program is based on participants working and earning income, the funds are not directly applied towards the student's billing statements. Earnings vary depending on the number of hours worked and the rate of pay.

Are there jobs available for students who want to work?
Santa Clara University has job opportunities for students. Most students do well academically while working between ten to fifteen hours/week. Students who are offered Federal Work Study in their financial aid award can apply for work study designated positions student who have not applied for federal aid or were not offered Federal Work Study can still apply for on-campus positions. Information on current positions can be found by linking to BroncoLink.

What will happen with Federal Work Study awards if my student wants to begin working Winter or Spring term rather than Fall term?
Students who do not participate in the Federal Work Study program and were offered Federal Work Study. Students will lose their Federal Work Study award if you do not secure employment or defer it by end of the Fall term.

Where can my student find student employment?
Your student can secure student employment through our Career Center.

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Student Loans

What is the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan?
The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program (FDLP), often referred to as Direct Loans, is a U.S. Department of Education program that provides loans to help students pay for education after high school. The U.S. Department of Education acts the lender.

What is a Master Promissory Note?
A legally binding agreement the borrower signs, in which the borrower promises to repay the loan with interest in periodic installments. Under a Master Promissory Note (MPN) the borrower may receive multiple loans for either a single period or multiple periods of enrollment. If used as a multi-year note, most borrowers will sign the Master Promissory Note (MPN) once and the note remains valid for a 10 year period for reuse.

Who signs the Master Promissory Note for the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan?
Your student will need to sign the Master Promissory Note for their William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan, whereas you will sign a Master Promissory Note for your Federal Direct PLUS Loan, if you choose to borrow in this manner. Both notes can be completed online at

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Parent Loans

Are there any financial aid options for parents?
There are financial aid options for parents. Parents should not feel discouraged from helping to pay for their child's cost of attendance at Santa Clara University. It is understood that often parents do not have spare funds that they can use to pay for their student's tuition or additional expenses. For this reason, the federal government has the William D. Ford Federal Direct PLUS Loan program. This educational loan program may be used by the parent to pay for all or a portion of their student's cost of attendance.

Are there any resources that a parent can receive to help pay for a student's education?
Yes. Parents may be interested in borrowing through a program called the William D. Ford Federal Direct PLUS Loan program. This is a program that allows parents to borrow up to the cost of education less any other financial aid the student has been offered.

What is the Federal Direct PLUS Loan?
The Federal Direct PLUS Loan is designed for parents who wish to use an educational loan to cover all or a portion of their student's college expenses. The Federal Direct PLUS Loan program is a federal program that offers parents a low interest loan with repayments beginning while the student is in school. This loan is in the parent's name and cannot be transferred to the student's name.

Who is eligible for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan?
Federal Direct PLUS Loans are available to natural or adoptive parents, stepparents, grandparents or legal guardians of dependent students. Parents/legal guardians must be U.S. citizens or eligible non citizens.

Do we need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to obtain a Federal Direct PLUS Loan?
Yes. The FAFSA must be completed to obtain a Federal Direct PLUS Loan, even if the family only wishes to obtain this loan. In addition, it is the custodial parent that is required to file the FAFSA with the student – regardless of which parent (custodial, non-custodial or step) wishes to obtain the Federal Direct PLUS Loan.

Is the parent required to borrow a Federal Direct PLUS Loan?
No. A Federal Direct PLUS Loan is an option a parent may choose to apply for and borrow. At no time is a parent required to borrow a Federal Direct PLUS Loan.

How much can a parent borrow?
Parents may borrow up to the full cost of their dependent student's education, less any additional aid the student may receive.

Is there a credit requirement for the Federal Direct PLUS Loan?
The credit requirements for the Federal Direct PLUS Loan program are substantially more flexible than credit requirements under non-federally guaranteed programs. If the parent does not meet the credit requirements, the parent may still receive the loan if s/he obtains an endorser (cosigner) who does meet the minimum credit requirements.

NOTE: Santa Clara University is not involved in the credit decision.

How does a parent apply for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan?
A parent can apply for the Federal Direct PLUS Loan online at after July 1 each year, for the upcoming academic year.

What happens if a parent is denied a parent loan?
The parent applying for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan can be denied for credit reasons. If that happens the student is eligible to borrow additional funds in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan - unsubsidized. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you been denied for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan. We will work with the student to get the additional Federal Direct Loan - unsubsidized.

When does Federal Direct PLUS Loan repayment begin?
Generally, repayment begins within 60 days after the last disbursement of the loan. The standard repayment term is 10 years. If necessary, the repayment of Federal Direct PLUS principal and interest can be deferred by contacting the Direct Loan Servicing Center at 1 (800) 848-0979.

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Special Circumstances

What if our family circumstances change after we file the financial aid forms?
You may appeal for reconsideration of the student's aid eligibility. Appeals are usually successful only if a family's income or expense information changes from the information originally submitted for the school year. To appeal, visit the Professional Judgment webpage.

What if the parent income level decreases after the FAFSA has been submitted?
If the parent's income decreases significantly after the FAFSA has been filed or any time during the academic year, a parent need to refer to the "professional judgment" section of the Financial Aid website. Federal guidelines allow each university to make adjustments to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based on special circumstances in which a parent may lose a job, receive a pay cut, become disabled, have medical expenses not covered by insurance, become separated or divorced from a spouse, suffer from a natural disaster, or any other circumstance that may decrease a parent's annual income. Such special circumstances are reviewed by the Financial Aid Office.

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What is Verification? What is the Federal Quality Assurance Program?
Each year about thirty percent of students' financial aid applications nationwide are chosen for verification: a process of confirming data supplied by the applicant and/or parents on aid applications. Santa Clara University also must resolve discrepancies on students' aid applications and participates in the Federal Quality Assurance program. Participation in this program allows us to establish verification criteria for Santa Clara University and determine which student files must be verified.

  • If your student application is selected for verification or quality assurance, your student will receive an e-mail from us alerting your student to submit certain provided forms.
  • Aid funds cannot be disbursed to your student until they have submitted all requested documents and the accuracy of their information has been checked. Do not submit any documents unless we request that your student do so.

Do I have to turn in paperwork in addition to the FAFSA?
Schools are required by federal law to review a certain percentage of financial aid applications. This process is called verification. Your answers to the questions on the FAFSA are checked using the federal tax returns and other forms. Most applicants will not have to turn in any additional paperwork. However, if the U.S. Department of Education selects your FAFSA for review we will request the additional documents needed for the verification process.

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General Questions

Do not only students with the best grades qualify for financial aid?
No. There are scholarships that are merit-based, awarded on a student's academic performance. However, most financial aid, including grants and loans, is need-based, or awarded based on a family's ability to pay for college.

Must my student be accepted for admission before we apply for financial aid? Must my student be admitted before we receive aid?
No. You may apply for financial aid any time. However, you must be admitted and enrolled at Santa Clara University before you receive any funds.

If I saved money for college, will it hurt my student's chances of qualifying for grants?
The amount in a parent's savings account is indeed used in the federal formula that determines the contribution expected from parents. However, a large portion of those savings are protected from consideration; only a small percentage of the remaining amount is assessed in the calculation of the parent contribution

How much is expected of parents to contribute to the cost of their student's education at Santa Clara University?
The amount expected from the parents depends on the family's ability to pay. An Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated by the U.S. Department of Education based on the provided family FAFSA information taking into account current income, assets, family size, how many family members attend college, how close parents are to retirement and many other important factors. However, the EFC is not a set amount that a family owes to Santa Clara University or will pay towards their student's cost of attendance; sometimes a family pays more than their EFC, and sometimes they pay less. It is better to view the EFC as a tool, which helps us to determine the type of aid for which a student is eligible and enables us to create a student's financial aid package.

What is the income threshold for a family before financial aid is not offered to a student?
There is no income threshold for student aid eligibility. All of the questions on the FAFSA are used to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which results in the financial aid award put together by the school. A family may have too much income to be awarded a Federal Pell Grant, but this does not mean that they will not be eligible for other types of financial aid. At a minimum, application for Federal Student Aid, via the FAFSA, will result in eligibility in the Federal Direct Loan program.

What are the total costs?
Although tuition charges are the same for all full-time students depending on their residency and classification, the other costs in a student's budget will depend on many factors. You can view available tuition rates at the Bursar's website.

What if we have questions about our tuition bill?
Tuition bills are produced by the Bursar's Office; any financial aid that has been accepted by the student will be reflected on the bill either as anticipated aid (if the funds are not yet available) or as a credit. If your student's financial aid is not reflected on the bill, you should contact our office. If you have questions regarding specific tuition charges, the availability of bills, or refunds, contact the Bursar's Office at (408) 551-1000.

When can my student be considered independent for aid purposes?
Federal regulations for independent status for financial aid purposes do not mirror Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations for dependents on your tax return. It does not matter whether or not you claim your student on your tax return. Generally, if your student is an undergraduate under the age of 24, the student will be considered dependent for aid purposes and will be required to supply parent data on the FAFSA.

How do we pay for housing if we want to use financial aid?
Any financial aid funds received will be applied to the student's tuition account at the Bursar's Office. If tuition is fully covered by the funds and there is an excess, the refund is mailed to the student at his/her mailing address. The student is then expected to use these funds to pay for other expenses, such as housing, books, supplies, etc.

Should students bring credit cards to school?
It depends. Some students have no problem using a credit card wisely, especially if they have some experience with one and understand the terms. Other students may find it hard not to overspend and as a result may find themselves unable to make minimum payments. They might even drop out of school in order to make their payments, or end up ruining their credit rating for a long time.

If you decide to have your student bring a credit card, we recommend having just one card and it may be wise to get one with a low credit limit to discourage overspending. We also recommend that students develop a spending plan to help them determine what expenses they can afford based on the income and/or savings they have.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C., 1232g: 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. This law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education record. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the right have transferred are eligible students.

The Financial Aid Office is limited to what student information can be released to parents of all eligible students. The Financial Aid Office may not release a student's award status, award amount and disbursement information of students funds without consent from the student.

Federal regulations regarding the confidentiality of information about financial aid applications and awards, provide that an institution must obtain prior authorization form the student before sharing any information with other individuals such as parents. In order to simplify and expedite the need for such information sharing, it is recommended that students authorize the Financial Aid Office and Santa Clara University to communicate with their parents by completing the FERPA Release form.

For additional information on the FERPA, please visit Santa Clara University's FERPA website at

Can I talk to your office about my student's financial aid?
Federal law protects the privacy of student education records, under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The Financial Aid Office and Santa Clara University must have written permission from the student to release any information about their financial aid.

Are there tax benefits related to my student’s education?
There may be tax benefits for educational expenses that could help you. See IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education for specific tax benefits.

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