UNDERSTANDING THE GMS AWARDING PROCESS: A RESOURCE GUIDE FOR GATES MILLENNIUM SCHOLARS

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1 UNDERSTANDING THE GMS AWARDING PROCESS: A RESOURCE GUIDE FOR GATES MILLENNIUM SCHOLARS

2 Table of Contents 1. GMS Greeting page 1 2. Applying for Federal Financial Aid page 2 3. Meet with Your Financial Aid Counselor page 3 4. Award Determination page 5 5. Award Checks page Revised Awards page Summer Term Awards page 13

3 GMS Welcome The goal of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program (GMS) is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for thousands of outstanding students with significant financial need to reach their full potential. Accordingly, an important component to achieving your educational, professional and personal goals as a Gates Scholar is to better understand how the Gates Millennium scholarship works to your benefit. Understanding the GMS Awarding Process: A Resource Guide for Gates Millennium Scholars is a publication designed to explain the who, what, when, where and why of your Gates Millennium scholarship in detail. The financial aid process can seem very confusing, so we hope this brief guide can help you to better understand the process by learning how it works in relation to your Gates Millennium scholarship. If you have any questions regarding the information in this packet please refer to the Administrative Guidelines located via the FORMS section of the Scholar Website at Additionally, GMS Staff members are available via telephone at GMSP (4677). The GMS Staff

4 Applying for Federal Financial Aid All Gates Scholars must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year in order to receive GMS funding. We encourage you to complete the FAFSA by March 1 of each academic year so that GMS can receive the required documents in time to conduct a review and send the scholarship award to your college or university. Start the process by applying, with your parent, if applicable, for a federal PIN at You will need this PIN to electronically sign the FAFSA, each year. Once you have your PIN, you can proceed with the FAFSA. Use income estimates to get your FAFSA form completed on time and update the information once taxes are filed. You will find the form at Save printed or electronic proof of your filing and the application data. You will receive a response from the FAFSA called a Student Aid Report (SAR). Review it to see if you need to respond to any questions or send any updated information. Save the report and print a copy and place it in a file with your financial aid application materials. You may be selected for a process called verification. Verification is a process of checking information where your institution will ask you for specific documentation to prove the accuracy of the information provided on your FAFSA form. Reasons for being selected for verification include: You may be chosen randomly by your institution, an incomplete FAFSA submission, the FAFSA data is estimated, or the information provided on the FAFSA was inconsistent. If you are selected for verification, this means that you will have to provide your financial aid office with specified paperwork. That is why you need to save the initial paperwork used to complete the forms. Speak with your financial aid counselor as soon as possible to determine what documentation is needed. It is very important that you follow through by having the necessary documentation completed and returned to your financial aid office. The sooner you verify your information, the sooner you will be able to receive financial aid.

5 Meeting with Your Financial Aid Counselor Your financial aid counselor is the most important person to speak with regarding the terms of your GMS award. Go to your financial aid office after you get to campus and tell them that you are a Gates Scholar. Meet with your financial aid counselor to discuss the Cost of Attendance they used to tell GMS what you will pay for school and what your other educational expenses are for the academic year. Your GMS award is based on the Cost of Attendance at your school 1, your need for assistance based on the FAFSA data, and the aid that your college has offered to meet your need. GMS awards are based on a nine-month academic calendar (e.g., fall, winter and/or spring terms), which does not include summer. When meeting with your financial aid counselor, ask the following types of questions about what your Cost of Attendance includes, and what can be adjusted to reflect actual costs: What are my tuition and fees and are they included in my Cost of Attendance? Did you use an estimate or is it an actual cost that reflects my expenses? What is the cost of my housing (either on or off campus)? Is this cost an estimate or is it my actual housing cost? How do I receive my housing funds if I live off campus? Should I plan for a month s rent and expenses or will I receive the funds when I arrive? What is the allowance for my meals? How is the cost determined for my meals and is that included in my Cost of Attendance? If I live on campus, which meal plan can I buy based on the cost allowance? If I choose a campus meal plan with more or fewer meals, is that reflected in my Cost of Attendance? If I live off campus, how much money will I receive to buy food? How soon can I receive my funds when I return to campus for the fall/winter/spring term? 1 Computer costs are not included among items covered in the cost of attendance.

6 Are my books and supplies included in my Cost of Attendance? Does my book and supply allowance take into consideration my major and/or the classes that I am enrolled in for the coming year? Will I receive a refund check or voucher to purchase my books and supplies? How soon will the funds be available for me to purchase my books and supplies? What happens if my books and supplies cost more than my allowance? What is my allowance for my personal expenses and is it included in my Cost of Attendance? What types of expenses are considered as personal? What is my allowance for transportation and travel; and is it included in my Cost of Attendance? Is my transportation allowance for local transportation only? I am an out-of-state student. Will I receive funds to travel to and from my home? Does my allowance include the cost of travel to get home during the winter break and at the end of the academic year? Will I receive a refund check or voucher for my travel expenses? What is my allowance for other 2 expenses that are included in my Cost of Attendance? Most importantly, don t forget to ask this very important question: Do I have enough financial aid to cover my total Cost of Attendance for this academic year? Your Cost of Attendance must be determined in accordance with federal regulations and must be consistent with the Cost of Attendance for the institution s entire student body. Many schools have a process to allow adjustments to the Cost of Attendance, based on documenting your personal costs. 2 Other expenses may include childcare, approved study abroad, learning disabilities, research, etc.

7 EXAMPLE: Your Cost of Attendance Tuition $10,202 Housing $ 7,062 Personal/Miscellaneous $ 2,000 Books and Supplies $ 976 Transportation + $ 124 Cost of Attendance = $20,364 Award Determination The GMS scholarship is what is known as a last-dollar award, which means that it is designed to replace a Scholar s unmet need. GMS will review how much it will cost you to attend the institution of your choice for the academic year (also known as your Cost of Attendance or COA). GMS will then factor in how much money your family and you are expected to contribute toward your schooling expenses for the academic year (also known as your Family Contribution or FC). Your Family Contribution is determined, in part, by the information provided on the FAFSA form by your parents and you. It is important to be aware that GMS scholarship awards do not replace Family Contributions or loans that replace the Family Contribution. Some schools use formulas that expect different Family Contributions than what you see on the Student Aid Report and that will affect your GMS award. If you see a difference between the Student Aid Report and what the college expects from your family, talk with your institution s financial aid counselor. Families may have to borrow from other sources to pay their Family Contribution. As a Gates Scholar, you will be granted a full academic year award based on the information provided on your financial aid award letter and on the GMS Information Sheet, which asks your institution s financial aid office to report your Cost of Attendance and Family Contribution for the academic year.

8 In order for the GMS Staff to determine a scholarship award that is a true estimate of your individual educational expenses, your financial aid award letter should always be accompanied by the GMS Information Sheet. NOTE: GMS awards must be applied to your fall, winter and/or spring educational expenses as reflected on the financial aid award letter (i.e., tuition, fees, room and board, books, and/or living expenses). So how does GMS determine your unmet need and your scholarship award for the academic year? GMS determines unmet need by taking a Scholar s Cost of Attendance and then subtracting your Family Contribution as reported on the financial aid award letter and GMS Information Sheet. The difference between these two figures is the remaining amount of money (also known as financial need) that is needed to pay for your educational expenses. EXAMPLE 1: GMS Award Determination STEP 1: DETERMINING NEED ESTIMATE OF COSTS: Estimate of Resources: Tuition $10,202 Parent Contribution $ 3,897 Housing $ 7,062 Student Contribution + $39 Personal/Miscellaneous $ 2,000 Family Contribution = $ 3,936 Books and Supplies $ 976 Transportation + $ 124 Cost of Attendance $20,364 Cost of Attendance = $20,364 Family Contribution $ 3,936 Financial Need = $16,428 Based on the information you provided when completing the FAFSA, your institution s financial aid office will prepare a financial aid award letter, which may combine various types of financial aid (e.g., federal, institutional, state and/or private sources of aid, including grants, loans and work programs). GMS will look at your financial aid award letter to find out more about the type of aid you were offered to cover your educational expenses for the current academic year (i.e., not to include the summer term).

9 EXAMPLE 1 continued: STEP 2: EXAMINING TYPES OF AID OFFERED Federal Pell Grant $ 1,000 Institutional Scholarship $ 6,000 Private Scholarship $ 3,000 *Stafford Loan $ 3,000 *Federal Work Study + $ 2,000 Total Aid Offered = $15,000 STEP 3: CALCULATING UNMET NEED Financial Need $16,428 Total Aid Offered $15,000 Unmet Need = $ 1,428 STEP 4: ACCOUNTING FOR SELF-HELP AID Self-Help Aid*: *Stafford Loan $ 3,000 *Federal Work Study + $ 2,000 Total Self-Help Aid = $ 5,000 Unmet Need $1,428 Self-Help Aid + $5,000 GMS Award Total = $6,428 * Self-help aid Unmet Need + Self-Help Aid = GMS Award Total

10 The GMS Staff cannot advise Scholars on whether or not to decline the educational loans or self-help aid listed on the financial aid award letter. You should submit your financial aid award letter and the accompanying GMS Information Sheet to your GMS administrative office as soon as they become available, even if there are loans listed on your award letter that you plan to decline. You will not be penalized by GMS for having educational loans on your financial aid award letter. However, you should discuss your loans and your Cost of Attendance and/or Family Contribution calculations with your institution s financial aid counselor. Your financial need is the difference between your Cost of Attendance and your Family Contribution. Your financial aid office will address your financial need by preparing an award letter that aims to give you enough total financial aid to cover your financial need. The financial aid package can be any combination of gift aid (e.g., grants, scholarships or waivers) and self-help aid (e.g., educational loans or campus employment). When you do not receive enough aid to fill the difference between your Cost of Attendance and Family Contribution, what is left over is unmet financial need or unmet need. Fortunately, your GMS award is designed to pay any unmet need, which is the outstanding balance of your Cost of Attendance when there is a gap that is not funded through other sources, by grant or scholarship aid, and does not represent the educational expenses your family is expected to cover through the federal formula (e.g., books, transportation, personal costs, etc.). It is very important to remember that GMS awards do not replace Family Contribution or any portion of an educational loan (e.g., PLUS, unsubsidized Stafford or Direct loan, health professional loan, state loan, institutional loan or private loan) that replaces a Scholar s calculated Family Contribution.

11 EXAMPLE 2: GMS Award Determination STEP1: DETERMINING NEED ESTIMATE OF COSTS: Estimate of Resources: Tuition & Fees $35,860 Parental Contribution $ 290 Housing Allowance $ 5,150 Student Contribution + $1900 Board Allowance $ 4,630 Family Contribution = $2,190 Personal Costs + $ 3,060 Cost of Attendance = $48,700 Cost of Attendance $48,700 Family Contribution $ 2,190 Financial Need = $46,510 Step 2: examining types of aid offered Step 3: Calculating unmet need University Scholarship $36,850 Financial Need = $46,510 Federal Pell Grant $ 2,960 Total Aid Offered + $48,700 * Federal Work Study $ 1,800 Unmet Need = $ 0 * Federal Perkins Loan $ 2,300 * Federal Stafford Loan $ 2,600 PLUS Loan + $ 2,190 Total Financial Aid = $48,700

12 step 4: accounting for self-help aid * Federal Work Study $1,800 * Federal Perkins Loan $2,300 * Federal Stafford Loan + $2,600 Total Self-Help Aid = $6,700 Step 5: determining award Unmet Need $ 0 Self-Help Aid + $6,700 GMS Award Total = $6,700 Unmet Need + Self-Help Aid = GMS Award Total GMS Graduate Scholars must also present a financial aid award letter; even if the only aid offered are loans that you plan to decline. Graduate Scholars entering an eligible GMS Master s or Doctoral program will be awarded a graduate fellowship award not to exceed $30,000 for private institutions or $20,000 for public institutions 3. GMS fellowship awards will be allocated up to the maximum amount based on the self-help items identified on the financial aid award letter and GMS Information Sheet. 3 GMS fellowship awards are subject to change from year to year. 10

13 EXAMPLE 3: GMS Graduate Fellowship Using the Capped Amount public Institution 1. Aid Offered: Stafford Loan: $18,000 Unmet Need $18,000 GMS Fellowship Award = $36000 $20,000* Balance to be met by other aid = $16,000 *GMS Fellowship maximum for Public Institutions = up to $20, Self-Help Aid Offered: Stafford Loan: $ 8,000 Unmet Need $ 2,000 GMS Fellowship Award = $10,000 Private Institution 1. Self-Help Aid Offered: Stafford Loan: $18,000 Unmet Need $20,000 GMS Fellowship Award = $38,000 $30,000* Balance to be met by other aid = $ 8,000 *GMS Fellowship maximum for Private Institutions = up to $30, Self-Help Aid Offered: Stafford Loan: $18,000 Unmet Need $11,000 GMS Fellowship Award = $29,000 11

14 Award Checks Your GMS scholarship award is payable to your institution for your educational expenses as reflected in the financial aid award letter. Multiple Scholar awards are included on a single check and mailed directly to the institution. GMS award checks are disbursed at the beginning of each semester or quarter of the academic year. Using the Internet Explorer browser, Scholars are able to monitor the status of their GMS award at the Scholar Website ( You must log on the Scholar Website by entering your username and password and then clicking on the My Profile icon. Once your profile information displays, select the My Status link for details regarding your GMS award. By way of this online tool, you can determine whether your GMS Administrative Office has received the documents necessary to determine an award amount, and whether the award check has been mailed to your institution (checks that have been mailed to the institution will have a check mail out date). Once your GMS award check has been mailed, you are advised to confirm with the Institution s financial aid or bursar/student account office representative, that the proper GMS award amount has been applied to your student account. In addition, once your GMS scholarship award has been credited to your student account, inquire whether the GMS award and any other aid has created a positive balance to your student account. Find out if you are eligible to have these funds returned to you. However, if you determine that your GMS award has not been properly credited to your student account, you are encouraged to take the following steps: 1. First, check the Scholar Website concerning your Check Status. You will find out this information through the Scholar Website My Profile, My Status pages. 2. Take notice of whether or not your award has been mailed to the institution (i.e., does your term award have a mail date next to the dollar amount?). 3. If the website indicates that your award has been mailed, speak with your financial aid counselor to determine whether the check may have arrived at another office on campus (e.g., the bursar s office or billing office). a. Share the information about your term award with your institution s financial aid, bursar s and/ or billing offices so that they can determine the whereabouts of your scholarship award check. 4. If after speaking with your financial aid counselor and other applicable offices on campus, you are still unable to determine the whereabouts of your award check, then you should speak with your GMS Administrative Office. GMS will follow up with your institution. 12

15 Revised Awards Scholars may request consideration for a revised award allocation one time 4 each academic year. Revision requests for increased awards must be restricted to adjustments in your Cost of Attendance and/or the financial aid you are offered. GMS will not provide revised awards to offset your expected Family Contribution. Revisions are based on information reflected in your revised financial aid award letter provided by your financial aid office and can result in an increase, decrease, or no change in the award. Furthermore, GMS reserves the right to deny any requests for a revised award increase. To initiate the revision process, you must provide your GMS Administrative office with a written statement to explain the reason for the request and your financial aid office counselor s contact information. Your GMS Administrative office will fax or the GMS Revised Award Form to your financial aid counselor directly. The financial aid counselor will be asked to submit your revised financial aid award letter for the current academic year that includes the original GMS award and the completed GMS Revised Award Form. Again, your revised financial aid award letter must list your original GMS award amount. If the original GMS award is not listed on the revised financial aid award letter, you will be deemed ineligible for revised award consideration. The deadline to submit a request for revised award consideration is March 1 of the current academic year. Revision requests for Graduate Scholars will be considered up to the maximum fellowship amount for your public or private institutions based on self-help items identified on the financial aid award letter and GMS Revised Award Form. If a Graduate Scholar is funded up to the capped award amount, GMS will not allow a revision increase. Summer Term Awards GMS does not provide undergraduates with financial support for summer except when it is required by the institution and/or degree program for all undergraduate students or if the Scholar s degree will be conferred at the end of the summer term. Additionally, Graduate students may apply for summer funding provided they did not exceed their capped amount during the preceding nine months. Summer Study Abroad program requests will not be accepted. 4 If there is an emergency, please contact your GMS Administrative office immediately. Printed March

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