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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are my chances of receiving financial aid?
A: The only way to determine your eligibility is to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The likelihood of receiving some form of financial assistance is probably better than most students and their families anticipate. Normally, more than 80 percent of the students who apply for financial aid demonstrate some financial need.

Q: How do I apply for financial aid? 
A: The first step is to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA form is available on the web at The application determines your eligibility for grants, loans, and work study. It must be completed EVERY YEAR. For maximum consideration, the Federal Processor must receive the FAFSA by March 1. The FAFSA for the upcoming academic year becomes available October 1.  The Undergraduate Financial Aid Checklist provides step-by-step instructions to help you with the financial aid process.

Q: I received a letter that states I am selected for verification. What does that mean?
A: A number of applications are required by the Department of Education to submit an IRS tax return transcript and other financial documentation to the financial aid office as well as a verification worksheet to verify the financial information reported on the FAFSA. This worksheet will be available on the Financial Aid Office website as soon after October 1 as possible. Students and parents can request a free copy of their tax return transcript from the IRS website at or use the IRS data retrieval tool to fill in the correct tax information on the FAFSA.

Q: What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?
A: The IRS data retrieval tool allows FAFSA applicants to retrieve their tax data directly from the Internal Revenue Service in order to auto-fill the tax portion of the form. The IRS data retrieval tool typically becomes available in late February. IRS information will be available within several days for electronic tax filers or several weeks for paper tax filers.

Q: Who determines how much aid I get?
A: The federal government has established the basic formula approved by Congress, called Federal Methodology. When we receive your application, it includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is determined by the formula. We subtract your EFC from the total cost of attending Shepherd University. This gives us your financial need and allows us to develop your financial aid award or package.

Q: How do I apply for privately funded scholarship assistance?
A: Some businesses and social organizations offer scholarship assistance to employees, members, or other students that meet designated application criteria. Students should inquire about such assistance from their current employers, their parents’ employers, or any local organizations. Information of scholarship sources may also be obtained at the library. Scholarship searches are also available on the Internet. Visit our scholarships page for more information.

Q: What is a “Financial Aid Package” or “Award Letter”?
A: Your financial aid package is composed of the different types of financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, and work) combined to form your award. Most students have a combination of grants, loans, and work study in their packages. We begin sending award letters in April.

Q: What happens after my first year in college?
A: You need to reapply for aid each year using the FAFSA. Aid changes each year based upon changes in the family’s financial situation and changes in college expenses. Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards will also apply.

Q: What happens if I have to withdraw from school?
A: The Office of Financial Aid is required by federal statute to recalculate federal financial aid eligibility for students who withdraw, drop out, are dismissed, or take a leave of absence prior to completing 60 percent of a payment period or term. The federal Title IV financial aid programs must be recalculated in these situations.

If a student leaves the institution prior to completing 60 percent of a payment period or term, the Office of Financial Aid recalculates eligibility for Title IV funds. Recalculation is based on the percentage of earned aid using the following Federal Return of Title IV Funds formula:

Funds are returned to the appropriate federal program based on the percentage of unearned aid using the following formula:

If a student earned less aid than was disbursed, the institution would be required to return a portion of the funds and the student would be required to return a portion of the funds. Keep in mind that when Title IV funds are returned, the student borrower may owe a debit balance to the institution.

If a student earned more aid than was disbursed to him/her, the institution would owe the student a post-withdrawal disbursement which must be paid within 120 days of the student’s withdrawal.

The institution must return the amount of Title IV funds for which it is responsible no later than 30 days after the determination of the date of the student’s withdrawal.

Refunds are allocated in the following order:

Please keep in mind this repayment policy is in addition to the institution’s refund policy. A student who withdraws from school could owe federal financial aid as well as repayment back to the West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program, Promise Scholarship Program, Shepherd University, etc.

Failing to Earn a Grade in Any Class: If a student who began attendance does not officially withdraw and fails to earn a grade in at least one course, he/she is considered to have unofficially withdrawn for financial aid purposes. A recalculation of federal Title IV financial aid eligibility is required. The recalculation will be based on 50 percent of the period unless documentation supports a last date of attendance to the contrary. Generally, the student will owe a return of funds. A grade of F is considered earned failure. An IF is considered failure due to irregular withdrawal.

Q: What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?
A: To receive funds administered by the Office of Financial Aid at Shepherd University, a student must be making measurable academic progress toward completion of an eligible degree. Federal regulations require evaluation of both quantitative and qualitative academic progress. You can find the complete Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy HERE.

Q: Can I appeal my financial aid if I am not meeting SAP standards?
A: Unusual circumstances may occur which impact a student’s ability to be successful during an enrollment period. Examples of such unusual circumstances would be death of an immediate family member or legal guardian, personal injury or illness of the student, or other documented circumstances. Documentation such as death certificate/notice, physician’s statement, etc., or other comparable documentation of unusual circumstances will be required. A student who wishes to appeal his/her SAP status based on documented unusual circumstances may do so using the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal Form–Level 1

Q: Is there anything I can do if the Office of Financial Aid denies my appeal or I am not meeting the SAP standards following the one semester of probation?
A: If the appeal is denied by the Office of Financial Aid, or the student does not meet the SAP policy following the one semester of probation and did not follow the Advisor’s Academic Plan for Progress, the student may initiate a new appeal to be reviewed by the Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee. A student who wishes to appeal to the Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee may do so using the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal Form–Level 2

Q: Do I have to be a full-time student to receive financial aid?
A: No. Part-time students often qualify for financial aid.

Q: How does financial aid for the summer term work?
A: To be considered for summer financial aid, students must have a current FAFSA on file, enroll in a minimum of 6 credit hours and be compliant with the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy. Once the student has finalized their summer schedule, the Office of Financial Aid will offer awards to the student via their RAIL account.

Q: What happens if I am convicted of a drug law violation during a period of enrollment during which I was receiving Title IV aid?
A: If you are convicted for any offense during a period of enrollment for which you were receiving Title IV program funds, under any federal or state law involving the possession or sale of illegal drugs, you will lose eligibility for any Title IV grant, loan, or work study assistance.

Q: Why am I receiving communication from Inceptia?
A: Shepherd University has partnered with Inceptia, a division of National Student Loan Program (NSLP), to provide you with FREE assistance on your Federal student loan obligations to ensure successful, and comfortable, loan repayment. Inceptia’s friendly customer representatives may reach out to you during your grace period to answer questions you have about your loan obligation and/or repayment options. Inceptia is not a collection agency. We’ve partnered with them to inform you of a wide variety of possibilities such as alternative repayment plans, deferment, consolidation, discharge, forgiveness, and forbearance options. Inceptia will stay in touch with you via phone calls, letters, and/or emails to help you understand your repayment timing and options. For additional resources including information on repayment options, please visit Inceptia’s Federal Student Loan Overview website at