Financial Literacy Program
Organizing Your Financial Aid Records: Putting It Together
Organizing your financial aid records is one of the first things you need to do. To accomplish this task, you will need your financial aid award letter, loan disclosure statements, semester tuition invoice, and personal budget. You will also need to have the contact information for your student loan servicer, Student Financial Aid Services, and the Student Accounting Office. This information should be kept together in folders and arranged by school year.
Student Financial Aid Services and the Student Accounting Office have unique functions and responsibilities, and it is important to understand the function of each office.
Student Financial Aid Services
Student Financial Aid Services is responsible for processing your financial aid application. Your financial aid application may include but is not limited to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), student loan entrance counseling, appropriate promissory notes, and loan request forms. You may be required to provide additional documentation. Once you have completed all of the required paperwork and your application has been approved, the funds are ready to be released to the University. (Please see the Student Financial Aid Services’ website for additional information regarding the required application forms at http://www.musc.edu/em/financialmanagement.)
Student Accounting Office
The Student Accounting Office receives your financial aid funds from the funding sources and prepares your refund. Student Accounting checks to see if your semester’s tuition has been paid and if you have an outstanding balance with the University. Their office will apply your financial aid to your tuition account. It is recommended that you review your tuition bill on WebAdvisor (https://webadvisor.musc.edu/) at the beginning of each term to ensure that all of your financial aid has been credited to your account and that you do not owe a balance to the University. An outstanding balance may delay the release of your refund. Please contact the Student Accounting Office (http://www.musc.edu/studentaccounting/stepstoapply1213.html) should you have questions regarding any charges on your account. Refunds are released during the first two weeks of the term.
To receive your refund faster, we recommend that you enroll in direct deposit. It may take the University at least 10 business days to print and mail a check. All checks are mailed to the address on file. It is important that the University has your correct mailing address. You may use WebAdvisor to update your address or contact the Office of Enrollment Management at (843) 792-5396.
Monitoring Your Financial Aid
To monitor your financial aid, you will need your award letter, loan disclosure statements and access to WebAdvisor. Your financial aid award letter will provide you with information regarding the gross amount of your awards. Loan disclosure statements give details information regarding gross and net amounts of your loans, fees, estimated repayment amounts and disbursement days.
You should receive a disclosure statement for each of your federal loans. The information contained in your loan disclosure statements can also be reviewed at www.nslds.ed.gov.
Campus Based Loans
For campus based loans such as Perkins, Health Professions, Primary Care, Loans for Disadvantage Students, and Nursing, the disclosure statements are provided by a third party servicer which is currently Education Computer Service Incorporated (ECSI). The information is available to you online at http://www.ecsi.net/.
Consider creating your personal budget for the entire year before accepting any student loans. The amount you accept should be based on your budget. You should also understand the cost of borrowing. Borrow no more than you need. (For an in-depth discussion of the cost of borrowing see "Borrowing for Booze.")
Student Financial Aid Services can provide you with the cost of your tuition, books, supplies and living expenses. They can also estimate your living expenses. Use this information as a guide to develop your personal budget. Remember to “live like a student while you are a student.”
In creating your budget, it is important that you be aware of the disbursement of your funds. Most budget guides recommend that you create a monthly plan based on the assumption that your income/financial resources will be available monthly. Financial aid funds are usually available at the start of each term.
It is also important that you know how your academic year is defined since the disbursement of your funds are tied to that definition. For example, if your academic year consists of fall, spring, and summer terms, you will receive three financial aid disbursements, usually in equal amounts. These disbursements have no relationship to your expenses or budget. You may receive more funds than you need for a particular term. Remember that these extra funds need to be saved for future terms or returned to avoid compound interest charges which increase your debt.
All private loans and some federal loans are governed by Regulation Z of the Federal Truth in Lending Act. Regulation Z promotes the informed use of consumer credit by requiring disclosure of terms and costs of credit in a clear and consistent manner. It also gives consumers the right to cancel the loans.
It requires lenders to provide consumers with three disclosures and a self certification. Loan funds may not be disbursed until the right-to-cancel period has ended. There is an additional waiting period of three days before funds are eligible for release. You may check with Student Financial Aid Services and Student Accounting Office to see if any of your loans are governed by Regulation Z.
Student Financial Aid Services, Student Accounting Office, and MUSC WedAdvisor are resources available to assist with managing your financial aid. You may also use WebAdvisor to keep track of your MUSC student loan indebtedness. Contact the National Student Loan Data System (www.nslds.ed.gov ) for information on all your federal student loans. Remember there may be some lag time before the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is updated. We recommend that you borrow the absolute minimum with the lowest loan cost, know the terms of your loans, and keep good financial records.