Frequently Asked Questions

I don't think I qualify for aid. Should I apply anyway?

YES! Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as unsubsidized and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free.

Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid at MSUN?

No. You can apply for financial aid any time, usually after October 1. (For the 24/25 academic year, the FAFSA should be available sometime in December 2023.)  To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted and enrolled at the university.

What and when is the priority filing date?

The priority filing date is the date set by a university by which the federal processor must receive your financial aid application for priority consideration for financial aid. At MSU-Northern, the priority filing date is in February of the year for which you are applying for financial aid. 

How do I apply for financial aid at MSUN?

The first step to apply for financial aid at MSU-Northern is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Certain types of aid do require additional paperwork after you have been awarded, but the FAFSA is the only application required to determine your eligibility.  How to apply

What is the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application for all federal and state aid programs. Indicate Montana State University-Northern's code (#002533) in the school release section of the application.

What is a FSA ID?

The FSA ID is a username and password and must be used to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID confirms your identity when you access your financial aid information and electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents. If you do not already have an FSA ID, you can create one here.

What records will I need to complete my FAFSA?

Generally, all you will need is your federal tax return (IRS 1040, 1040A). You may also want to have your W-2 forms and any other records of money earned in the tax year you are using to complete the FAFSA. This would include records of untaxed income, such as welfare, social security, AFDC or ADC, or veteran's benefits. You may also need to use current bank statement, business or farm records and any records of stocks, bonds or other investments.

Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?

YES! You must reapply for financial aid each year by completing the next year's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.

What are the general eligibility requirements?

  • Be properly admitted or currently enrolled in a degree-granting or certificate program.
  • Be enrolled at least half-time to receive aid for most programs.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Have a valid social security number.
  • Not be in default on any educational loan.
  • Not owe a refund on a Federal Pell Grant or on a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.

How do I know my application was processed by the federal processor?

You will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), which is verification that you filed the FAFSA and that it has been processed, by e-mail 3-5 days after your FAFSA has been processed, if you provided an e-mail address when you applied. This e-mail will contain a secure link so you can access your SAR online. If you have a “junk” folder or “spam” folder in your e-mail files, check it. The e-mail from us might be delivered there instead of to your inbox. You will receive a paper Student Aid Report (SAR) by mail in 7-10 days after your FAFSA has been processed, if you do not provide an e-mail address when you apply. FAFSA will automatically send your data electronically to the schools you listed on your FAFSA. Questions about FAFSA processing can be directed to the Federal Student Aid Information Center (1-800-433-3243). You can also determine the status of your FAFSA application through the Department of Education's FAFSA web site.

How can I verify that MSU-Northern will receive the results?

Check to make sure MSU-Northern is one of the schools listed in Step Six of your Student Aid Report (SAR).

My Student Aid Report (SAR) isn't accurate. Do I need to correct it?

Since corrections to your financial aid application data may affect your eligibility, you should contact the Financial Aid Office to find out whether or not the corrections are necessary and whether or not the Financial Aid Office can make those corrections electronically. You may also be able to correct your information through the Department of Education's FAFSA web site.

MSU-Northern isn't listed on my SAR, how can I add Northern’s School Code?

You can make a correction to your FAFSA online and add MSU-Northern’s school code (002533) electronically. MSUN can do this if you provide the Financial Aid Office with certain information from your Student Aid Report including the DRN. You can also call the federal processor at 1-800-433-3243 and have MSU-Northern added by phone. You will need to provide the federal processor with some information from your Student Aid Report and the Title IV School Code Number for MSUN which is: 002533.

Am I considered an independent or dependent student for the 2023-2024 award year?

TO BE INDEPENDENT, you must meet ONE or MORE of the following requirements:

  • Born before January 1, 2000
  • Married (or separated but not divorced)
  • Enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program at the beginning of the 2023-2024 academic year
  • Currently serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces (other than training)
  • A veteran of the US Armed Forces
  • You have children who receive more than half their support from you between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024.
  • You have dependents other than your spouse or children who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you (now through June 30, 2024)
  • Any time since you turned age 13: if both your parents were deceased, you were foster care, or you were a dependent or ward of the court
  • You are or were an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence
  • You are or were in a legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence
  • Any time on or after July 1, 2022, you were determined by your high school or school district homeless liaison to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2022, a director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2022, a director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or was self-supporting and at risk of being homeless

Why was I picked for verification and what do I have to do now?

Were you picked for verification by the Pell grant Processors? (You will find this information on your SAR.) If you were picked for verification you will need to contact the Financial Aid Office at 406.265.3787 or refer to your Banner Web MyInfo account.