Skip to content
Search Icon

Financial Aid FAQs

Welcome to Southwest Minnesota State University from the Office of Financial Aid. The information provided here is designed to answer some of the questions asked by students and parents and to ease some of the anxiety often associated with financial aid. If, after reading the information you still have questions, please feel free to contact our office at (507) 537-6281.

How do I request a Tax Transcript?

You can request a tax transcript from the IRS free of charge.  Simply access the IRS website at

  • Click on "Get Your Tax Record"
  • You will need to enter the SSN, date of birth and address of the primary taxpayer shown on your tax return.
  • The Type of Transcript you want is a RETURN TRANSCRIPT.
  • If successfully validated, a tax return transcript will be mailed to you that you may then submit to our office.
  • PLEASE include your Mustang or STAR ID number.

How is My Financial Aid Eligibility Determined?

Financial Aid is offered to students in accordance with the guiding principles set forth by the Federal Department of Education; the basic responsibility for financing a college education rests with the student and their parents. When family resources are insufficient to meet the anticipated expenses of the school year, financial aid is offered to enable the student to continue their educational goals.

The amount of financial aid offered a student is determined by the student's "financial need." A student's financial need is determined by the difference between the total cost to attend the institution and the student's student aid index (SAI). A student's SAI is calculated from the information given on the student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), using a formula determined by Congress. The SAI is a set number and does not change from one school to another. The SAI used at Southwest Minnesota State University is the same as the SAI used at any other college or university.

When Should I Apply For Financial Aid?

The priority deadline for top consideration for all types of financial assistance is February 15. If the application is filed via the web, it will take approximately two days for the student to receive an e-mail response back from the Federal Processors. If the application is processed on paper the response time will be about two weeks. You should complete your financial aid application as soon as possible after October 1, using complete income tax information.  

How to Apply For Financial Aid

Step 1:
All Students:
If you do not already have an FSA ID you  may apply for one at  (NOTE: At least one parent for dependent applicants must also have their own FSA ID)

Step 2:
Using your FSA ID; log in and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at

You will receive the following communications as a result of completing Steps 1 and 2:
One or two days after submitting your FAFSA, you will receive an e-mail from the Federal Processor with a website link to your FAFSA submission summary. Review the FAFSA submission summary to make sure all of the information is correct. If you notice an error, corrections should be submitted to the FAFSA. If you have questions regarding this process, contact the Financial Aid Office.

You may use your FSA ID to make corrections electronically. Be sure to keep your FSA ID handy and confidential. In the event that your FAFSA submission summary indicates that it has been rejected or if more information is needed before further processing can occur, please follow the instructions listed, or contact the SMSU Financial Aid Office for assistance.

Offer Notification

Once the SMSU Financial Aid Office receives your FAFSA results, and you are accepted for admission to SMSU, we will check your file for completeness. If additional forms and/or information is needed, we will send you a letter explaining what is necessary. Once we have complete and accurate information from you, we will send you an official notification of your eligibility for assistance.  This notification will include a review of your eligibility for the following programs: Minnesota State Grant, Federal Pell Grant, Federal TEACH Grant, Federal Direct Loans, College Work Study, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and SMSU scholarships.   Financial Aid offers and status can also be accessed at 

  • Click on Menu
  • E-Services
  • Enter your STAR ID and Password
  • Financial Aid                  

My parents aren't helping me pay for college. Do I need parental information on the FAFSA?

Even if your parents don't contribute money toward your education, you're considered a dependent of your parents and need their information unless:

  • You are 24
  • You are married
  • You are enrolled in courses for your master's or doctorate program
  • You are a veteran or on active duty (not in training)
  • You have children or legal dependents (other than a spouse) who will receive more than half of their support from you
  • When you were age 13 or older, both of your parents were deceased, you were in foster care or were a ward of the court
  • You are an emancipated minor
  • You are in legal guardianship as determined by a court
  • You are an unaccompanied youth who is determined to be homeless by your high school, school district homeless liaison, a director of an emergency shelter program, runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program.

Do I include a stepparent's information on my FAFSA?

Yes. If the parent who has supported you the most in the past year has remarried as of the date you complete the FAFSA, answer the questions on the form about that parent and the person whom your parent married.

Are graduate students eligible for Pell Grants?

No. The Federal Pell Grant and (Federal Supplemental Grant) are funded only for financially eligible undergraduate students who have not completed a Bachelor's or professional degree.

Will I receive Federal Work-Study every year?

Unfortunately, no federal (or state) funds are guaranteed.  Each year students must complete the FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA.  The most current FAFSA results will determine which federal financial aid programs students are eligible for.  A student may or may not be offered work study  accordingly.

In addition, the university receives limited work study funding every year.  To have a better opportunity to receive work study be sure to have your applications in by the priority deadline.

What is the difference between a Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan?

If you are eligible for and take out a Subsidized Federal Direct Loan, the federal government will pay the interest for you while you are enrolled in school (at least half-time).

If you are eligible for and take out an Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan, you are responsible for all the interest that accrues. You will have the option of either paying the interest as it accumulates or capitalizing the interest (adding it to the principal balance). If you choose to pay the interest back as it accumulates you will pay less in interest overall. Like a Subsidized loan, you will have to begin payment six-months after you cease to be a student (at least half-time).

Do I need to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) every year?

Yes. You need to complete a FAFSA for each academic year you would like to receive federal financial aid.

Last Modified: 3/29/24 10:16 AM | Website Feedback