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UC Answers: How do I apply for financial aid?

How to pay for college never more relevant than during COVID-19 crisis

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Dave Peterson, assistant vice provost for enrollment management at the University of Cincinnati, has fielded countless financial aid questions during his career. Below are some of the most common questions and answers.

Q1: Where do I start?

A: To see if you qualify for aid, start by completing the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid). It’s the mandatory first step to claiming Pell Grants, work-study opportunities, student loans and other aid awarded annually by the federal government. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for federal aid (or don’t want it), many colleges and universities require that you fill out the FAFSA before they’ll determine how much they’re willing to offer in scholarships or other institutional aid.

Q2: My parents experienced income loss due to layoffs, closures, etc., can we be reconsidered for more financial aid for the upcoming year?

A: Your need-based financial aid eligibility is based on income levels and your filing of the FAFSA. For 2020-21, the FAFSA used 2018 tax information. Given current circumstances, those earnings may no longer be appropriate. Therefore, families can file a special circumstance appeal to have their need-based aid eligibility re-examined. The full appeal process likely will require a projection of 2020 income that may be delayed until you know any re-employment status. Any effect the appeal review could have on your aid eligibility is unique for each student/family situation.

Q3: My family makes (X dollars) a year. Will we qualify for financial aid?

A: It depends. The factors that influence financial aid depend on such things as:  How many are in your family? How old are your parents? How much of your family’s income comes from investments? How much of your family’s income is liquid? The answers can be complicated. But there are simple steps you can take to make the financial aid process as straightforward as possible.

Q4: How do I know if I've done everything I need to do?

A: To make sure your financial aid application is complete, check your financial aid status in Catalyst. You should also continue to check your campus email for correspondence from our office. We will email your UC email if you have any missing information or further action to take to complete your aid application. If you have submitted all requested information and accepted your aid, financial aid will apply directly to your bill 10 days prior to the first day of classes.

Q5: What else should I be thinking about when it comes to paying for college?

A: At the University of Cincinnati, students often find they graduate with less debt because of the university’s co-op program. In fact, UC invented co-op in 1906 and has been innovating career preparation ever since. Co-op gives students a chance to alternate classroom learning with on-the-job experience – and earn money doing it. UC co-op students earn a collective $75 million annually, working for 1,800 local, regional, national and international employers such as Apple, Boeing, Disney, Fisher Price, General Electric, HBO, Kroger, NASA, Nike, Toyota and many more.

Q6: I’d really like to talk with a staff member one on one. Is there a way to do that?

A: Students can meet with one of our One Stop staff virtually via WebEx daily from 9:30-11:30A and 2:30-4:30P, Monday through Friday. The link for a virtual face-to-face walk-in session is on our website at  No appointment is needed. We also provide chat capability on our website. Students can chat with us online daily from 9:00-11:00A and 3:00-5:00P. This chat capability is also available on our website at

Get Help with Financial Aid

Applying for financial aid does not have to be a daunting task, and our UC team is ready to walk you through the process. Begin the conversation.

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