Financial Aid is the cause of most of the complaints and problems you will hear.  Much of this is because it CAN BE a very complicated process. 

In addition, a lot of students leave it to the last minute to apply or take care of certain things.

So that you can provide as much help to your students as possible, here is a fast summary of the important issues:


The Financial Aid office communicates with students via e-mail. E-mail will be sent to their preferred e-mail address provided at

Students can also check the status of their financial aid in many ways. The best option is to log into to look for updates. They can also call a Financial Aid customer service representative at (713)743-1010, send an e-mail to Ask Shasta, or stop by the welcome center and sign in to speak to a Financial Aid Officer (the last 3 are awfully busy most of the time!)


Students have to complete a federal form WELL IN ADVANCE of school starting (FAFSA). 

The FAFSA goes to the Department of Education for processing. They send the processed FAFSA to the student in the form of a Student Aid Report or SAR and to the University in the form of an Institutional Student Information Report or ISIR.

Once the SFA office receives an ISIR, they will review the information and notify the student via e-mail if there are any additional documents that they need in order to complete their file.

Not only might these be things left out by the student, but the Department of Education randomly selects about 50% of the students who submit the FAFSA for this process and requires UH to check the FAFSA for accuracy. All students selected like this need to submit a copy of the Institutional Verification Form (available at and a copy of their signed 2008 tax return.. Dependent students also have to submit their parent’s signed tax return. Some students may have to submit additional forms, but this will be determined on a case by case basis.

If additional documents are needed, the student needs to submit them to the SFA office ASAP so that they can continue to process your application.

If they do not need any additional documents, or if they have already been submitted and the SFA office has finished processing them, then they are awarded financial aid.

This can be in the form of scholarships, grants, loans etc as a FINANCIAL AID OFFER.

Students then have to accept this offer on

If they have only accepted grants or scholarships, there are no additional requirements.


Loan information may be found at


Most of the problems associated with financial aid have to do with students being unclear about the process or being slow in taking care of issues.

So – before you start contacting anyone, ask:

“When did you submit the Federal Form?”

“Were you asked to supply any further information?  If so, when did you do this?”

“Did you get an offer from the University of Houston Financial Aid?  If so, did you accept this?  When?”

If the answer to any of these are no, or a few days ago, then the paperwork is undoubtedly still being processed.

If it sounds like the student took care of things in a timely fashion then:

a) every student has been assigned a Financial Aid counselor.  Tell them that this person is the one they need to contact.

List is at

b) if they have an issue with their counselor, or seem like they’re at the end of their rope, then contact your EMERGENCY CONTACT.  Tell the student you’re doing this and who it is that you’re talking to.

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