FAQ, Docs & Info

(Changes to the Federal Pell Grant) What has happened?

In December 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (Public Law 112-74). This law has significantly impacted the Pell Grant Program. Beginning in Fall 2012, Students are now limited to 12 semesters (or 600%) of Pell Grant eligibility during their lifetime. This change affects all students regardless of when or where they received their first Pell Grant. Students that are currently receiving the Pell Grant in the academic year 2011-2012 and have already used 600% of their Pell Grant eligibility will no longer be eligible to receive a Pell Grant starting Fall 2012.

(Changes to the Federal Pell Grant) How do I know if this affects me?

If you have attended college for 4 years or longer, receiving the Pell Grant each year, you are likely to exhaust or have already exhausted your lifetime limit of 12 semesters of Pell Grant eligibility during the 2012-2013 school year.  If you have attended college and received the Pell Grant for 4 years or less, you will likely not surpass the lifetime limit during the 2012-2013 school year.

Whether you have used all of your Pell Grant eligibility or only half, please be conscious about the lifetime limit of the Pell Grant when changing majors and/or scheduling classes.

(Changes to the Federal Pell Grant) Can I see my lifetime Pell Grant used?

You may view your Pell Grant used by logging into www.NSLDS.ed.gov

(Changes to the Federal Pell Grant) How is the percentage used calculated?

The percentages are based off the annual award at fulltime enrollment status. For students with an annual award for 2011-2012 academic year, at the maximum award, $5,550 and attended 12 or more credits in two semesters (Fall and Winter for example), the percentage used for the 2011-2012 academic year is 100%. If you only attended 9 credits for two semesters, your percentage used for the academic year is 75%.

(Changes to the Federal Pell Grant) I have questions about this, who do I call?

Our Office of Financial Aid Staff is available to discuss the change in the lifetime Pell Grant eligibility with you. Please call us at 716.286.8686 or email finaid@niagara.edu.

Why can I no longer send signed copies of tax returns to the Financial Aid Office to complete federal verification requirements?

The federal Department of Education has instituted changes to the verification process beginning with the 2012-13 award year. According to the federal Department of Education Dear Colleague letter GEN 11-03:

"Since most applicants can quickly and easily access IRS data through the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval process, we no longer consider it reasonable for an institution to accept anything less reliable than IRS-supplied evidence for verification of income data.  Therefore, if an applicant selected for verification has not successfully transferred information from the IRS, or one who did transfer the information but then changed it, the Department expects the institution to require the applicant, and if necessary the applicant’s parents, to provide an official IRS transcript of their Federal income tax information."

What is IRS Data Retrieval

If you or your parents are tax filers and have already filed your federal tax returns, when completing FAFSA on the Web, you are presented the option to retrieve your income information directly from the federal IRS website. 

If applicants choose this option and DO NOT change the income information retrieved from the IRS website, you will not be required to submit to the Financial Aid Office an IRS tax transcript.

What if i/my parents are tax filers and choose not to use the IRS Data Retrieval process when submitting my FASFA?

If applicants decide not to use the IRS Data Retrieval Process and the application is chosen for verification, the applicant and the parents will be required to submit an IRS tax transcript. 

Also, if the IRS tax retrieved information is changed on the FAFSA, the applicant will be required to submit an IRS tax transcript.

How do I/my parents obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript?

Click here for information on how to obtain a free copy of an IRS Tax Return Transcript.

Are there circumstances when an applicant cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Process when submitting the FAFSA?

The IRS Data Retrieval process may not be available for an applicant in the following circumstances:

  • A joint tax return was filed for 2011 and the student or the student's parents have filed the FAFSA with a martial status of separated, divorced or widowed.
  • If the tax filer is married to someone other than the individual included on the 2011 joint tax return.
  • If the parent or student was not married in 2011 but is married at the time the FAFSA is filed. The current spouse's income must be reported on the FAFSA.
  • If the parents or the student is married but filed tax returns separately.
  • If an amended tax return was filed.

In these cases, applicants will need to request an IRS Tax Return Transcript. Click here for information on how to obtain a free copy of an IRS Tax Return Transcript.

I only receive a merit-based Niagara University Scholarship/Grant. Do I need to complete a FAFSA?

No. If you only want to renew the Niagara University merit-based scholarship/grant for the following year and do not intend to apply for any federal or state aid, you need only complete the NU Application for Financial Aid. The NU application is available online on WebAdvisor.

When can I expect to hear about my financial aid package?

Returning students begin receiving notice of renewal financial aid packages in June.

What if my family's financial circumstances change drastically during a given year?

Anytime there is a change due to loss of employment, death of a parent, serious medical condition, etc., we encourage the student or parent to contact the Financial Aid Office.  The family may be asked to complete a Special Circumstances form. If warranted, the student will be sent a revised financial aid award letter.