FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

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I can't pay my tuition until I receive my financial aid. What do I do?

You must pay each semester’s basic tuition and fees before registering for your classes, unless you qualify to postpone (delay) the payment until your financial aid is available. If you are not a California resident, out-of-state tuition is an additional cost and is due at the beginning of the semester.

Watch "Postponing Payments" for a short video guide.

How to qualify for a Financial Aid Tuition and Fee Payment Postponement

  • Logon to AidLink and review the "Tuition and Fee Payment" section.
  • Your financial aid, including activated and approved loans, must be enough to pay full time basic tuition and fees (plus out-of-state tuition for 12 units if you are not a California resident).
  • The Parent PLUS Loan must be activated and credit approved before the parent loan amount can be considered in determining postponement eligibility for basic tuition and fees and/or out-of-state tuition.

Payment options if you do not qualify to postpone paying

There are different payment options including an installment plan. Refer to the "Money Matters" section of your Class Schedule or the Student Account Services Web site.

Installment Plans
  • The basic tuition and fee installment plan allows you to pay in 3 installments, beginning with an initial payment of $800 plus a $60 service charge.
  • If you are required to pay out-of-state tuition, there is an additional installment plan for those charges.
  • Additional information and sign up instructions are in the "Online Services" section of the Student Account Services Web site.

How and when are financial aid and scholarship funds released?

Student Account Services processes disbursement of students' financial aid funds including grants, student and parent loans, and scholarships.

Read more about receiving your funds. Also refer to the Student Account Services Web site for more information about direct deposit, your online student account, and more.


Direct deposit is the only way you are able to receive financial aid and scholarship funds at SDSU. Sign up online at Student Account Services.

After all money you may owe the university for various fees, tuition, and charges are deducted from your awarded funds, your remaining funds (eRefund) are deposited directly into your designated bank account.


You must have an SDSU Award on AidLink and meet all of the conditions for receiving your funds.

  • Your initial award amounts are based on you enrolling full time. You must be enrolled at least half time before any amount is released.
  • Student Account Services usually releases funds to pay university charges and by direct deposit beginning the Thursday before classes start each semester.
  • Parent PLUS Loans are mailed to the parent borrower after all university charges have been paid for the semester. The parent borrower has the option to authorize excess loan funds be deposited directly to the student's designated bank account.
  • Disbursement continues throughout the semester as new awards are processed and changes to awards occur.

How You Will Know

Check your transaction history online anytime at Student Account Services. They will send you an e-mail when they:

  • deduct funds from your award to pay university charges of basic tuition and fees, out-of-state tuition, and housing, if applicable, and
  • deposit funds directly to your bank account.

TIP: Apply before March 2nd, submit requested documentation no later than April 1st and activate your loan(s) at least one month before you need the funds.

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How much money will I need and how much should I bring with me for expenses until I receive my financial aid?

When you arrive on campus, bring enough money with you to cover your expenses until your financial aid money is ready.

Aid is deposited directly to your bank account only. You will not pick up funds on campus.

Books and supplies

You must have money when you purchase your books ($500 - $800 or more). Financial aid funds cannot be transferred to the campus bookstore.

Basic tuition fees and out-of-state tuition

  • Know how much it will cost to register for your classes (undergraduate, graduate, and teaching credential have different costs).
  • Know how much it will cost to pay out-of-state tuition (an additional cost for non-California residents).

On-campus housing and meals

  • Plan ahead for the $375 initial housing payment that is due to reserve a space in on-campus housing (due when you submit your Student Housing License Agreement).
  • Know how much the room type (single or double with a roommate) you selected will cost (refer to the Office of Housing Administration Web site). Make selections you can afford.
  • Know how much the meal plan you selected will cost.
  • Bring enough money to pay for food until your meal plan begins.

Will the actual amount of funds I receive be the same as on my initial award?

If your award was made before the first few weeks of the semester, it was based on the assumption that you would be enrolled full time. And your funds will be disbursed based on your units at the time of disbursement.

If you are enrolled less than full time at census (after add/drop), your award will be adjusted to reflect your actual units.

You may be billed if you already received money for more units than your final units at census. Find more about how financial aid is awarded.

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How do I apply for financial aid?

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at the federal FAFSA Web site. Check out how to apply at SDSU for more specific information.

Does SDSU have a deadline for applying for financial aid?

All students: Always apply as soon after January 1 as possible for the following academic year or at the latest, in time to receive aid before your last day of enrollment for the semester or for the academic year (fall and spring semesters).

Priority deadline: To receive priority evaluation, complete your FAFSA by March 2 and by April 1, submit all financial aid documents requested. A FAFSA and documents submitted after these dates will receive second priority evaluation and aid awarded based on available funding at the time.

First time Cal Grant Applicants: If you are applying for a Cal Grant for the first time, make sure your FAFSA and GPA Verification form are completed before March 2.

Tax returns: If your federal tax returns will not be completed in time to apply early and to use the IRS Data Retrieval process, you may use estimated income tax information when you complete your FAFSA. We may later ask you to order a tax return transcript from the IRS and submit it to us. A personal copy of your federal tax return is not acceptable as verification of the income you reported on your FAFSA.

The university has a limited amount of grant and work study funds. The money is awarded to eligible students on a first come, first served basis.

Don't wait until it's too late: Financial aid funds, including student loans, must be disbursed during the semester.

To make sure your aid funds are available before the end of the semester—

  • provide us with documents that we may request to verify your eligibility and/or
  • clear any holds,
  • activate your loans which may include signing an electronic master promissory note. and
  • complete the FAFSA before the last day of your final examinations

If you waited: Funds cannot be disbursed until we determine that—

  • your semester grades have been posted to your academic transcript, and
  • you have completed the required number of units to qualify for the funds awarded.

What is SDSU's Federal School Code?


I did not list SDSU on my FAFSA. How do I add SDSU?

Correct the information online at the FAFSA Web site or call the Central Processor at
(800) 433-3243.

  • Our Federal School Code is 001151.

Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?

Yes. You must complete the FAFSA every year.

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If parents are divorced or separated, whose information do I include on the FAFSA?

Use the information of the natural or adoptive parent with whom you lived the most in the past 12 months.

If you lived with neither parent, or lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent that provided the most financial support to you over the past 12 months.

If that parent remarried, both your parent and stepparent must report information on the FAFSA.

Do I have to be a US citizen to receive financial aid?

You must be one of the following to receive federal financial aid—

  • US citizen
  • US national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swain's Island)
  • US permanent resident who has an I-151, I-551, or I-551C (Alien Registration Receipt Card)

If you're not in one of these categories: You must have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) showing one of the following designations to be eligible—

  • Refugee
  • Asylum Granted
  • Indefinite Parole and/or Humanitarian Parole
  • Cuban-Haitian Entrant, (Status Pending)
  • Conditional Entrant (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)

You are not eligible for federal financial aid if you—

  • only have a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence (I-171 or I-464),
  • are in the United States on an F1 or F2 student visa only
  • are in the United States on an on a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa only
  • are in the United States on a G series visa (pertaining to international organizations)

When will I find out how much financial aid I am receiving?

The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will send an e-mail instructing you to go to AidLink to view your award. Before we send can award—

  • your financial aid application must be complete,
  • you must be admitted to SDSU

Find more about how financial aid is awarded.

How can I have my family’s loss of income considered?

If you (student or parent) experience a significant loss in income or other change in circumstances since submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you may submit a Request for Review form for evaluation. More information can be found in the Eligibility and Your Award section.

Changes that may be considered after submitting a FAFSA are—

  • Decrease or substantial reduction in earnings due to loss of a job, child support, public assistance or other resource.
  • Significant changes such as death, divorce, or loss due to a natural disaster.
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Does SDSU participate in loan programs?

SDSU participates in the Federal Direct Loan and the Federal Perkins Loan Programs. The Direct Loan program includes subsidized, unsubsidized, Grad PLUS, and Parent PLUS Loans.

Subsidized loans: The federal government pays the interest on the loan while you are enrolled at least half time.

Unsubsidized loans: You are responsible for the interest that begins as soon as the funds are disbursed to you and if not paid, the interest is added, capitalized, to the loan principal.

Grad PLUS loans: You may apply for the PLUS after you have been awarded the unsubsidized Direct Loan. You are responsible for the interest on the loan as soon as the funds are disbursed to you.

Parent PLUS loans: Parents are responsible for the interest on Parent PLUS Loans, as they are not subsidized.

Federal Perkins Loan: This is a 5% interest loan awarded to eligible students with exceptional financial need. Interest and repayment of the loan begins nine months after you leave school or are no longer enrolled at least half time.

Find more about student and parent loans.

How do I apply for student loans?

Your financial aid award will include the loans and amounts you are qualified to borrow. However, to receive loan funds, you must activate the loan online through your AidLink account.

Find more about student loans.

Do I have to complete a promissory note to receive a student loan?

Yes, you must complete a promissory note for your first loan.

Once you complete the E-MPN (Electronic Master Promissory Note), it may be used for up to 10 years of loans.

We will direct you to complete a new promissory note if needed.

What is loan counseling?

If you are receiving your first Direct Loan at SDSU, you must complete loan counseling online before your funds can be disbursed.

The option to complete loan counseling will be available when you check your award on AidLink. Loan counseling tells you about the loan you are borrowing as well as your responsibilities as a student borrower.

How do I apply for work study?

If you were not awarded Work Study and would like to find out if you qualify, please call our office, at (619) 594-6323.

Find more about work study.

I received aid for the semester, then dropped units. What happens?

If you drop units after your aid was deposited to your bank account, you may have received full-time money you were not entitled to receive.

  • You will need to repay any overpayment.
  • We will notify you of your revised eligibility.
  • Student Account Services will send you an electronic billing notice for the amount due.

You'll find more information about dropping units in the section about receiving your funds.

What happens if I completely withdraw after getting financial aid?

If you've completely withdrawn from SDSU, you may have to pay back some of the financial aid you received. SDSU will notify you if you must repay.

In some cases, you may receive a refund of basic tuition and fees and/or out-of-state tuition that may offset any aid that you may owe.

Find more about how withdrawing will affect your aid.

What if I don't pass some of my classes?

Federal regulations require that students adhere to standards of satisfactory academic progress in the pursuit of their degree or certificate. If you do not complete the units in which you are enrolled, and do not maintain a minimum cumulative GPA, you are jeopardizing your eligibility for financial aid.

Find more about how how your grades affect financial aid.

Must I tell you if I received funds from other sources?

Yes! You must notify our office about any funds you receive from sources other than our office.

When we calculate your eligibility, we must consider all sources of assistance that you receive. Examples of other funding sources include, but are not limited to—

  • research and trainee stipends
  • research or teaching assistantships
  • fellowships
  • tuition remission or tuition reimbursement
  • conference, travel, or mileage reimbursement
  • private scholarships
  • AmeriCorp grants
  • alternative (private) loans
  • gifts from friends or relatives

All types of assistance affect the amount of award for which you are eligible. Unreported resources could result in an overaward, which you must repay immediately.


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