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Financial Aid 101:
Overview of the Process and Application Tips

University of Denver Financial Aid

Overview of the Financial Aid Process:

One of the first steps in understanding how to finance your education is learning how the overall process works. Here is a broad overview of what you can expect over the next several months:

When: What:
By December 1st (if you'd like to receive an estimate) Complete the 2016-17 CSS PROFILE
Early February If you submitted your CSS PROFILE before December 1st, you'll receive an estimated financial aid award letter in the mail.
By February 15th Complete the 2016-17 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS PROFILE (if not already submitted).
Late February We'll process your financial aid application and notify you if we need additional documentation.
Mid-Late March If you didn't receive an estimate, you'll receive your financial aid award package in the mail, which will list all of the aid you are eligible to receive for the 2016-17 academic year.
Early April If you did receive an estimate, you'll receive your final financial aid award letter via email, which will list all of the aid you are eligible to receive for the 2016-17 academic year.
May Take the next steps outlined in your aid package, which include accepting your awards and completing student loan requirements.
June If needed, determine the ways you will manage the costs not covered by your financial aid package.
July Consider additional financing options such as a DU payment plan or a Parent PLUS loan.
August Move into your residence hall and attend Discoveries Orientation!
September The fall quarter portion of your financial aid will automatically pay toward your DU student bill.
October - May Maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 and complete at least 80% of all your classes to ensure you stay eligible for all of your financial aid.

Throughout the year, you should also be looking for additional scholarship opportunities that may supplement your financial aid package. Start your search now by utilizing our scholarship search page!

We'll go into much more detail about many of these items throughout the rest of the Financial Aid 101 series. In the meantime, however, feel free to review our more comprehensive application checklist.

Tips for Applying for Financial Aid:

Remember: To be considered for federal and institutional aid, you must complete both the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE. Although the application process might seem daunting, it doesn't have to be difficult! Follow these tips to help make applying for aid a more pleasant experience.

Submit the CSS PROFILE by December 1st to get an estimate.
If you submit your 2016-17 CSS PROFILE by December 1st, you will receive an estimated financial aid award in the mail in early February. If you miss that deadline, don't worry—you can still submit it by February 15th to receive priority consideration for all types of aid. 

Apply by February 15th.
Be sure to submit both the CSS PROFILE and the FAFSA by February 15th to receive priority consideration for all types of financial aid available at DU. If you wait too long, you may miss out on awards with limited funding. 

If possible, complete your 2015 tax return before your FAFSA.
If you have your taxes done, applying for aid will be much easier. Many of the questions refer to specific lines on the tax return. But if you can't file your taxes before February 15th, that's OK. Just use estimates!

Gather necessary documentation before completing your application.
Having all of your financial documents on hand will make the process easier. Useful documents include:

  • Tax returns
  • W-2 forms and other records of income
  • Current bank statements

Use the same information on both the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE.
Carefully read the instructions, and use the actual information from your financial documents. Doing so may prevent you from having to submit further documentation to our office.

Correctly report the number of family members in college.
Do not include parents in college or any siblings in high school who are taking college classes. When we calculate your financial aid eligibility, consideration is given to each sibling enrolled at least half time in a degree-seeking program.

Don't leave fields blank.
If a field does not pertain to you, enter a '0' instead of leaving it blank. Too many blanks can cause miscalculations and a rejected application.

Be sure to sign your FAFSA!
To complete your FAFSA, both you and your parent must sign the application. Submitting the FAFSA without signatures will delay the processing of your financial aid.

Pay attention to emails from our office.
We can't stress this one enough. Our primary method of communication to students is via email, so be sure to read any email we send you. We may need additional documentation before we can process your financial aid application. And certain emails we will only send to students—not parents. So if there's information in an email you believe your parent should know about, be sure to pass that along to them.

Additional Resources
Want more? Here are some additional resources to help simplify the application process:

In two weeks:Types of Aid Available and Finding Additional Scholarships

Contact Us:

Financial Aid • University Hall 255 • 2197 S. University Blvd • Denver, CO 80208

Ph: 303.871.4020 • Fax: 303.871.2341 • Email:

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