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Financial aid basics

Use this page to understand how your financial aid is processed. Check your financial aid status often by logging into myU and clicking on the “My Finances” tab.

Step 1. Apply for financial aid

Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). FAFSA applications are available October 1 each year.

Accuracy is important!

It is recommended that students and their parent(s) take advantage of the IRS data retrieval tool offered as part of the FAFSA on the Web process. Transferring tax data directly from the IRS to your FAFSA will eliminate the need to verify your tax information later and reduce the amount of time required to file your application. File your FAFSA online at

It is in your best interest to file the FAFSA before the priority filing date at each school you are considering. Some financial aid programs have limited funding and deadline requirements.

  • Priority deadline for incoming freshmen: March 1

    • This is the deadline to ensure that new, incoming freshmen receive an estimated award prior to the May 1 enrollment confirmation deadline.

  • Priority deadline for returning students: April 30


Step 2: Complete additional requirements

You will receive a request from the school for additional documentation by mail or email if anything is required. Step 2 must be completed before you can receive an official financial aid award.


Step 3: Financial aid under review

You may remain at step 3 until the cost of attendance is determined by the University’s Board of Regents. You will then be offered a package of financial aid awards based on eligibility (usually in late July).

What is the Financial Aid Award Notice (FAAN)?

The FAAN is your “official” offer of financial support from the University of Minnesota. It lists the financial aid you may be eligible to receive to attend full-time for one academic year (fall and spring semesters). The total aid in most cases is divided equally between semesters, one-half for fall expenses and one-half for spring expenses.

May/summer term financial aid will be awarded after you register for May/summer term classes.

You will receive a University email with instructions that your FAAN is available online by the end of July. Your grants and scholarships will be accepted for you by the school. If you have been awarded work-study you will need to accept or decline your award. (You must secure a work-study position to receive these funds). Also, if you have been awarded any loans you will need to accept, decline or reduce your loans.

If you have accepted your Federal loans you may need to wait 24 hours before completing Step 4.

Step 4: Complete any required loan documents

If you accepted Federal loan(s) you will need to complete all required promissory notes, counseling and disclosures before the loans can be disbursed. A promissory note is the legal agreement that you will repay your loan(s).

Parents wishing to borrow a PLUS loan need to complete the PLUS Active Confirmation Form, and complete the PLUS Master Promissory Note before the funds will disburse to your student’s account.

If you are applying for an alternative loan you will need to complete all necessary Alternative Loan documents required by the lender you have chosen.


Step 5: Disbursement of funds

Disbursement is the process by which financial aid funds are transferred into your student account to pay your bill. You will be sent a University email indicating that your financial aid has been disbursed.

Financial aid will begin to disburse approximately one week prior to the start of the semester and continue to disburse throughout the semester. You will have a credit balance on your student account if your financial aid exceeds the university charges on your student account. Sign up for direct deposit to receive your credit balance electronically.

You will receive a billing notice via your University email account if your financial aid does not cover the balance on your student account.

Credit requirements for undergraduates
Undergraduates must be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credits to qualify for most financial aid.

Credit requirements for graduate students
Most graduate students need to be enrolled for a minimum of 3 credits to qualify for financial aid, but these requirements vary by program.

More information on disbursement can be found here.


Optional steps: modifying your awards or eligibility

There are a few cases in which you may want to change your awards or explain extenuating circumstances that may impact your financial aid.