Policies and Things to Know

Completing the FAFSA each year is just the first step in the financial aid process. Each question below has important policies and information to review. Select one to get started:

▼   What is Cost of Attendance (COA)?

The Cost of Attendance or (COA) is sometimes called the Cost of Education and sometimes a student's "budget." It is composed of standard tuition, fees, books, supplies, personal expenses, transportation, and room and board. COA is the estimated amount that it will cost a student to attend the University of South Alabama during the nine-month academic year using standard costs.

  • Standard Costs:
    Standard costs reflect a modest, adequate living allowance. They include: registration fees, an allowance for books and supplies, and average living expenses. They do not take into consideration all individual circumstances or discretionary expenses.
▼   What is COA for the 2022-2023 academic year?

The 2022-2023 COA components and totals are shown in the table below for an in-state and out-of-state student living on or off campus: 

In State Description Out of State
$11,474 Tuition and Fees $22,438
$10,010 Room and Board* $10,010
$1,300 Books and Supplies $1,300
$1,872 Transportation $1,872
$2,907 Personal Expenses $2,907
$306 Loan Fees $306
$27,869 Total  $38,833

* will be slightly lower for a student living at home. 

All students are encouraged to use the Net Price Calculator for more detailed information. For the most current tuition and fee rates, visit the Office of Student Accounting website.

▼   What are a few of the important dates to note for financial aid?  


  • Spring term classes begin.
  • Aid is disbursed to eligible students beginning on the fifth day of classes.
  • Complete federal tax returns.


  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1.
    • The FAFSA takes about 4-8 weeks to be processed by the Federal Processor before USA receives the information.


  • Summer Aid Application opens for those students interested in attending Summer term classes.
  • Actual Aid Offer Notifications via JagMail begin for the upcoming Fall semester to students who have completed their all requirements with USA and have eligibility.

March 31:

  • Priority deadline for Summer term.
    • Students may continue to apply for aid by completing the FAFSA after March 31 for Summer term, though aid may not be processed by the time Summer payment is due.


  • Complete Electronic Direct Deposit Forms for the Summer semester.
    • Forms for EDD only have to be submitted once.
    • Not necessary to re-enroll each semester provided the bank account information stays the same.

May 31: 

  • Priority deadline for Fall term.
    • Students may continue to apply for aid by completing the FAFSA after May 31 for Fall term, though aid may not be processed by the time Fall payment is due.

Early June:

  • Summer classes begin.
  • Aid is disbursed to eligible students beginning on the fifth day of classes.


  • Complete Loan Entrance Counseling (if a new USA student borrowing Federal Direct Loans) at https://studentaid.gov/. 
  • Complete Electronic Direct Deposit Forms for the Fall semester.
    • Forms for EDD only have to be submitted once.
    • Not necessary to re-enroll each semester provided the bank account information stays the same.
  • Federal Work Study (FWS) orientation information is emailed to students with FWS offers.


  • Federal Direct Loan borrowers must complete Loan Entrance Counseling and sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at https://studentaid.gov/ if they have not done so already.

Late August:

  • Fall classes begin.
  • Aid is disbursed to eligible students beginning on the fifth day of classes.

October 1:

October 31: 

  • Priority deadline for Spring term.
    • Students may continue to apply for aid by completing the FAFSA after October 31 for Spring term, though aid may not be processed by the time Spring payment is due.


  • Review of FAFSAs for the upcoming academic year begins.
  • Estimated Aid Offer Notifications via JagMail begin for the upcoming academic to eligible students. 


  • Complete Electronic Direct Deposit Forms for the Spring semester.
    • Forms for EDD only have to be submitted once.
    • Not necessary to re-enroll each semester provided the bank account information stays the same.
▼   What are the eligibility criteria for federal student aid besides filing a FAFSA? 

To be eligible for Federal Student Aid at USA, students must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
  • Be accepted for admission and admitted to an eligible degree-seeking or certificate-seeking program at USA.
  • Be enrolled for at least the minimum course load required for the requested aid program. All federal loan programs require an enrollment of at least half time. Audit classes do not count.
  • Meet and maintain all requirements under the USA Satisfactory Academic Policy.
  • Not be in default on a prior student loan or owe a repayment on Title IV aid.
  • Be registered for Selective Service if a male between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.  
▼   What does 'selected for verification' mean?

Approximately 30% of all applications each year will be selected by the Federal Processor for verification, a review process which requires documentation of select data elements of a student's FAFSA. In this review, the financial aid staff compares the FAFSA with information provided in the required verification documents. Students will be directed to the USA Financial Aid Verification Portal to review their outstanding requirements and upload the requested documentation. When submitted documents are reviewed, it may become necessary to request additional information. Students will be made aware of these requests via JagMail.

The Office of Financial Aid will make corrections to the FAFSA, if necessary, as a result of verification. Students will be notified by the Federal Processor and/or our office either with a corrected FAFSA or a revised aid notification. A FAFSA that is completed correctly will not require corrections.

Failure to have a complete financial aid file at least 60 days prior to the beginning of each term may delay or prevent receipt of aid. If this is the case, students will be responsible for payment of any charges on their student account or their schedule may be cancelled.

▼   How is a financial aid offer determined?

Data provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be analyzed according to federal, state and institutional guidelines. A formula established by the United States Congress will be used to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC number is used to determine Pell Grant eligibility for undergraduates. It is also used in an equation to determine a student's financial need (undergraduates and graduates). Once all processing requirements are met, a student's aid offer will be determined and the student will be notified through their JagMail to review their offer in PAWS.

For students selected for verification, an email will be sent to their JagMail email address directing them to the USA Financial Aid Verification Portal for the requested documentation.  

  • PLEASE NOTE: It is the student's responsibility to submit  all requested information as soon as possible to ensure adequate processing time for meeting payment deadlines.
▼   How does disbursement of financial aid work?

Financial aid will be applied to the USA student account and will officially 'pay' toward the student's institutional charges beginning the fifth day of classes each term if they have met all outstanding requirements and met all eligibility requirements. All credit balances refunds of financial aid are handled by the Office of Student Accounting. Credit balance refunds for financial aid will not be made by the Office of Student Accounting until after the drop/add period.

The amount of financial aid a student receives depends on the number of credit hours they are enrolled in on the last official drop/add day. Classes MUST BE taken for credit and be required for a student's program and degree to count toward financial aid. Classes taken as audit will not count towards financial aid eligibility. The amount of financial aid a student receives may be different from that shown on their aid offer notification. Federal Pell Grants are based on full-time enrollment or 12 credit hours for undergraduates. A student's financial aid payment amount will be calculated based on their enrollment as of 5:00 pm on the 5th day of class.  No adjustments will occur for enrollment additions or original registrations after that date.

▼   What are the requirements for receiving a loan disbursement? 

Direct Loan Borrowers

Students must be enrolled at least half-time at the time loan disbursements are made to be eligible to receive loan funds. First time Direct Loan borrowers will need to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Loan Entrance Counseling before they can receive loan funds.

  • Loan Entrance Counseling is only required once when a student receives loan funds while attending USA.
  • Exit Counseling is required once each year for all student borrowers who withdraw, drop to less than half time, graduate, or do not return to USA.

Private Student Loans

Students who borrow private student loans must meet eligibility criteria as follows:

  • Be enrolled for the term in which they have applied for the loan.
  • Be degree seeking at USA. Students who are classified as transient or non-degree seeking are not eligible.  
  • Meet credit criteria as determined by the student's lender.
▼   Can loan disbursements be cancelled?
Yes! Students have the right to decline receipt of a loan disbursement, or to cancel their loan entirely. Simply notify the Office of Financial Aid if a loan disbursement should be cancelled or adjusted. Enrollment in less than half-time credits may cause cancellation of all loan disbursements for the remainder of the academic year and will be reinstated by request only. Cancellation of the first disbursement of a loan causes the entire loan to be canceled. As long as a student remains eligible, they can request loans again in future terms.
▼   How can financial aid be used at the USA Bookstore?

Students who (a) have an accepted financial aid offer at USA, and who (b) have excess funds after all tuition, fees, meals, and housing have been paid, may charge up to $1,500 (or the available balance, whichever is less) towards books at the USA Bookstore.

The Bookstore will have a student's account balance available at checkout. Bookstore charges will be placed on the student's account and covered by financial aid disbursement. Students should refer to the Academic Calendar for the bookstore charge period for each semester.

▼   What are students' rights and responsibilities at USA?

Students Have the Right to Know:

  • The names of organizations which accredit and license the University
  • The University’s programs, instruction, laboratories, physical facilities, and faculty
  • The cost of attending the University and its refund policy
  • The type of financial assistance offered by the University from federal, state, local, and private programs
  • Who the financial aid personnel are and the location of the Office of Financial Aid
  • What the procedures and deadlines are for applying for financial aid
  • How the University selects its financial aid recipients
  • How the University determines financial need
  • How much financial need has been met
  • How financial aid is received
  • About each type of financial assistance offered
  • Information about all student loans offered
  • The kind of Federal Work-Study jobs offered, hours, duties, rate, and frequency of pay
  • When and how financial aid offers are adjusted
  • About special facilities for the handicapped
  • The University’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy
  • USA Complaint Policy: departments/institutionalresearch/resources/doe_complaint_policy.pdf

Students Have The Responsibility To:

  • Review and consider all information about the University before enrolling
  • Pay special attention to the application for financial aid, complete it accurately, submit it on time and to the right place
  • Know all deadlines for applying for aid and meet them
  • Provide all required documentation, corrections, and/or information requested by the Office of Financial Aid
  • Notify the University of any information that has changed since the financial aid application was submitted
  • Read, understand, and keep copies of all forms
  • Repay any student loans borrowed
  • Perform an entrance and exit interview
  • Notify the Office of Financial Aid of a change in name, address, or enrollment status (half-time, full-time, three-quarter-time)
  • Satisfactorily perform the work agreed upon in a Federal Work-Study job
  • Understand the University’s refund policy.
▼   What are Entrance and Exit Counseling? 

Students are required by federal regulations to complete Loan Entrance Counseling prior to obtaining a Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan or a Direct Graduate PLUS Loan disbursement, and that they complete Exit Counseling prior to graduating or ceasing at least half-time attendance. 

The purpose of the session is to help the student to understand their rights and obligations as a student loan borrower. They will also prepare the student for proper management of their student loan and help them make the most of their higher education experience.


Complete Entrance Counseling
Complete Your Exit Counseling
Exit Counseling Information

▼   How does financial aid work for Study Abroad opportunities?
Student's enrollment in a program of study approved for credit by the home institution (USA) may be considered enrollment at the home institution (USA) for the purpose of applying for federal student aid. Students should contact our office for more information regarding their federal aid eligibility.