Issue 4, Parents' Edition
In This Issue
Welcome New Bearcat Parents!
This newsletter is one more way for the One Stop Student Service Center to provide students and parents with the helpful information you need to make smart, informed decisions on matters related to financial aid, registration and student billing. We will also keep you abreast of One Stop services designed to help improve your overall experience. A new edition of the One Stop Insider Newsletter is published twice each semester. This special edition is designed to provide information that is most helpful to parents for decision-making and planning. We also invite you to visit One Stop's Parents Page at www.onestop.uc.edu/parents for a wider array of information.
The One Stop Student Service Center team is here to support you. We encourage you to go online, stay tuned in and plan ahead.
Victoria (Vikki) Walker, Interim Director
One Stop Student Service Center
University of Cincinnati, Uptown Campus
Accessing and Discussing Your Student's Education Records
You may have heard of FERPA, which stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy act, passed by congress in 1974. It’s a federal law that protects the rights of the student by limiting access to a student’s personal academic information to people for whom the student has given permission. This policy applies to all students that have enrolled in post-secondary education.
However, UC provides an easy way for parents to gain access to their student’s information. The student can grant permission to his/her parents (or anyone else for that matter) by completing three simple steps found on the Parent/Friend Access page on the Onestop website (www.onestop.uc.edu/parent_guest_access.html). This access will allow the university to discuss your student's account information with you as well allow you to view their information online via the Parent Portal. For the first step, the parent creates an account, or UC identity. The second step requires the student to give access to permissible areas of the student account. Then, finally, the parent views the assigned privileges. Within this function, the student can assign certain rights to his or her account, such as: view/pay the student bill, view grades, etc.
There are a few nuances to keep in mind when using the Parent Portal. For example, you must verify your address each time that you log on, so that we have the most up-to-date information on your account. You can view a tutorial video on the Onestop's Tutorials page (www.onestop.uc.edu/resources/tutorials.html ) for step-by-step instructions how to use the Parent Portal (as well as many other informational tutorial videos). If you encounter any problems with accessing the Parent Portal with your password, please contact the UCIT helpdesk at 513-556-4357, and they will assist you with your needs.
In conclusion, as FERPA is an ally for all students to protect their privacy rights, it can limit a parent’s access to their student’s account. However ,you can have access you need to stay informed on all areas of your son or daughter’s UC account by having him or her grant you with access to their account information online via the Parent Portal.
One Stop Staff
Important Billing Information for Parents
As your student prepares to attend UC, you will most likely have questions regarding your student’s bill. Student bill notifications will only be sent to your student’s UC email account (UC Connect) or students can view their bill online via www.onestop.uc.edu. Your student can provide you access to view their bill via the Parent Portal. You and your student can set-up Parent/Friend Access online at www.onestop.uc.edu/parent_guest_access.html. Student bills are generated when students register for classes.
Bill Due Dates
Bills are due 5 days before the start of the full semester. When viewing the bill online, students may click the “Pay Bill” button to make an online payment. Credit cards and debit cards are both processed as credit cards and incur a 2.5% convenience fee. E-check payments can be made with a checking or savings account only and there is no convenience fee. When paying by eCheck, carefully enter the bank’s routing number and account number provided on the bottom on your checks. Additional information for bill payment can be found online at www.uc.edu/bursar/paying_your_bill.html.
Payment plans are offered each semester and enrollment begins prior to the start of the semester. For example, the enrollment period for the 4-pay Tuition Payment Plan for the Fall semester is
August 1–August 31. There is a $35 payment plan enrollment fee each semester. (www.onestop.uc.edu/bill/sign_up_for_paymentplan.html)
Refund Direct Deposit
Excess financial aid greater than the amount needed to cover the bill will be refunded to your student. Refunds are issued after Federal loans disburse which is approximately 5-10 days before the start of the semester. Parents will only receive refunds from a Parent PLUS loan if the amount of the PLUS loan exceeds the total amount of the student bill. Students can enroll in direct deposit to receive their refunds more quickly and safely. To enroll, students can visit the One Stop website, select “Billing, Payments, & Refunds” followed by “Enroll in Direct Deposit.”
Enrollment Changes Can Affect Your Aid
Often students will decide to make changes to their schedule by adding or dropping classes. Schedule changes may result in additional charges or a credit balance refund. Students should contact One Stop regarding the effects of dropping or adding courses on their bill. You can also view a short video that explains how adding and dropping classes can impact financial aid at www.onestop.uc.edu/resources/tutorials.html.
For more detailed billing and payment information, you can visit the UC Bursar's webpage at www.uc.edu/bursar.
Know Before You Owe
Federal Direct Loans are low-interest loans for students and parents to help pay for the cost of a student’s education. The lender is the U.S. Department of Education (ED) rather than a bank.
While most educational loans are made to the student, a Federal Parent PLUS Loan is borrowed by the biological or adoptive parent of a dependent student as determined by the FAFSA. A step-parent is also eligible to apply for a Parent PLUS loan, provided they are married to the biological or adoptive FAFSA parent at the time the FAFSA is completed. Allowing the parent to borrow helps families meet the costs of their selected college over an extended repayment period while assuring that students are not burdened with too much debt as they graduate and begin their careers. Unlike many other federal educational loans, a PLUS Loan requires a credit check on the borrower.
Loans are offered by UC at the maximum eligibility for a student and to a parent. An offered PLUS Loan amount is not what is required to meet billed costs nor is it the amount parents are required to borrow. The parent can choose any amount of loan money to borrow up to the maximum amount that is offered. The PLUS Loan is accepted, along with other aid offered to the student via the “Check My Aid” link on the UC financial aid website (www.financialaid.uc.edu). When accepting the PLUS Loan, the parent provides their name, address, birthdate and Social Security number in addition to indicating the desired loan amount.
Completing the Promissory Note
Parent borrowers, like student borrowers, need to complete their loan paperwork as well for the loan to disburse. The same parent who accepts the PLUS Loan will also need to complete a Parent PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN) through the Direct Loan Program Website (studentloans.gov). "Log in" and the follow the Parent PLUS MPN options to complete the process. The MPN is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the Department of Education. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan. The PLUS MPN is an open-ended loan note that allows borrowing for multiple years. As a result, future borrowing by that same parent for that same student will not require completion of a new MPN. Increases or additional loans can be managed solely through acceptance of the award offer.
Acceptance of the Parent PLUS Loan on the student’s financial aid award offer and completion of the PLUS MPN gives the Department of Education permission to run the required credit check. To be eligible, a PLUS borrower must not have an adverse credit history. If you are not approved, you may still borrow a PLUS Loan if you get a credit-worthy endorser who agrees to repay the loan if you do not. In some cases, you may also be able to appeal and document extenuating circumstances related to your adverse credit history.
The interest rate for Direct PLUS Loans for the 2015-2016 academic year is a fixed rate of 6.84%. That means a loan taken out on another academic year may be different but this year’s loan rate will remain unchanged. Interest is charged on Direct PLUS Loans during all periods, beginning on the date of your loan’s first disbursement. In addition to interest, you pay a loan origination fee that is a small percentage of the principal amount of the loan. The Department of Education deducts the origination fee before any loan money is sent to UC, so the net loan amount will be slightly less than the amount you borrowed.
Like student loans, the Parent PLUS Loan has a standard 10-year repayment cycle and no penalties for early repayment. Your monthly payment amount will be based on how much you borrow and how long you take to repay. The repayment period for a Direct PLUS Loan begins 60 days after you’ve received the last installment of the loan for that school year. Whereas a student loan is waiting until the student is out of school and able to work, a Parent PLUS Loan generally begins repayment while your child is still in school. Borrowers who utilize the option to defer making payments while your child is enrolled at least half-time find their loan debt increasing because interest will still be charged during all periods of deferment. If you defer repayment on the loan, you may want to consider paying the interest as it accrues. You should contact your loan servicer for more information regarding the deferment process.
A college education is one of the most important investments you and your student will ever make. Like most students and parents, we understand that you may have some concerns about paying for this education. As such, the Student Financial Aid Office and One Stop Student Service Center remain available to answer any questions that you may have regarding Parent PLUS Loan borrowing.
~ Erica Henry
Assistant Director of Financial Aid
Manage Your Student Loan Debt
As students and parents seek to cover college costs, they may find that there is a need to borrow in addition to what they have already (hopefully) saved as they prepared for college. When reviewing student loan options, there are some things that both students and parents need to be aware of in order to manage student loan debt responsibly.
1) PLUS Loans will always belong to the parent -- If you are assisting your student by taking out a Parent PLUS Loan, please know that this loan will remain in your name and cannot be consolidated with the student’s loans after he or she graduates.
2) You have the option to defer payments – As a default, parents begin repayment on PLUS loans upon disbursement of the loan. You do, however, have the option to request that payments be deferred until after graduation.
1) Borrow responsibly – Even though Federal Direct subsidized and unsubsidized student loans are very easy to obtain and are approved without a credit check, they are borrowed money that must be paid back with interest. Review this infographic to learn more.
2) Think about repayment BEFORE you borrow – What is your major and the average starting salary in your field? Will that salary support your ability to repay what you are borrowing? Use the student loan repayment tools in GradReady (uc.gradready.com) to estimate your monthly payment for the amount you intend to borrow over 4 or 5 years. If your payment would be unmanageable, make adjustments to the amount you are borrowing now.
Parents and Students:
1) Only borrow what you need – Your financial aid award offer will be based on your Cost of Attendance, which includes allowances for things such as books, transportation, housing and miscellaneous items. Please note that these allowances are estimates, and you may not need to borrow all that is offered. Think about your actual costs when deciding how much to borrow. If you have saved money for these items, you may only need to borrow what is needed to cover tuition.
2) Monitor your loan debt – Both students and parents can monitor their Federal Direct loan activity, including principal, outstanding interest, and information about your loan servicer (the “owner” of your loan and the organization to which you will send loan payments) through the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), by conducting a Financial Aid Review at nslds.ed.gov.
~ Vivian Scott
Financial Literacy Manager
Your Choice of Repayment Options Based on Needs
Several loan repayment plans are offered by the Direct Loan Program which are designed to meet the needs of most borrowers. By default, all loans are set up for the Standard Repayment plan. However, the Direct Loan Program allows you to choose your repayment plan and to switch your plan if your financial needs change.
Parent Direct PLUS Loan borrowers have the choice of selecting the Standard, Extended, or Graduated repayment plan options.
With the standard plan, you can have up to 10 years to repay your loans. The monthly payments are set at a fixed amount each month until your loans are paid in full. The payments will be at least $50 per month and are based on the total loan amount due (including interest).
The standard plan is good for those that are able to pay higher monthly payments because you wish to repay your loans more quickly and with the least amount of interest. Your monthly payment under the standard plan may be higher than it would be under the other plans because your loans will be repaid in the shortest time. Since the loan will be repaid in the shortest time, you will pay the least amount of interest in the end.
Under the extended plan, you can make lower monthly payments over a longer period of time than under the standard plan. You could be granted up to 25 years to repay your loans depending on the total amount outstanding (including interest). This plan also offers two payment options: fixed or graduated. Fixed payments are the same amount each month, as with the standard plan, while graduated payments start low and increase every two years, as with the graduated plan below. To be eligible for the extended plan, you must have more than $30,000 in Direct Loan debt and you must not have an outstanding balance on a Direct Loan as of October 7, 1998.
This is a good plan if you will need to make smaller monthly payments. However, you may pay more in interest in the end because you're repaying the loans over a longer period of time. Remember that the longer your loans are in repayment, the more interest you will pay.
With this plan your payments start out low and increase every two years. The length of your repayment period will be up to ten years. If you expect your income to increase steadily over time, this plan may be right for you. Your monthly payment will never be less than the amount of interest that accrues between payments. Although your monthly payment will gradually increase, no single payment under this plan will be more than three times greater than any other payment.
To find out more about repayment options before receiving a Direct Loan, borrowers may contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). If you currently have a Direct Loan and would like the exact payment amount on your loan, you can find it out by contacting your loan servicer.
One Stop Web & Communications Manager
Enrollment Verifications for Insurance and Loan Purposes
To provide a more efficient certification process, University of Cincinnati has contracted with National Student Clearinghouse to process all enrollment certification requests from both currently enrolled students and from interested third parties (including health insurance providers and loan lenders).
The Student Self Service link allows you to:
- Print enrollment verification certificates to send to health insurers, housing providers, or other organizations requiring proof of your enrollment.
- Check the electronic notifications sent to your lenders
This service is free for University of Cincinnati students and available 24 hours a day.
Please note, enrollment certifications for each term will be available starting on the first day of classes for that term. They are not available prior to the first day of classes.
One Stop provides advising and counseling to students and their parents on behalf of the Registrar, Student Financial Aid Office and Bursar (Student Accounts & Collections) Office. Below is a list of services offered by the One Stop Center:
- Assist with financial aid requests and inquiries
- Assist with ordering transcripts
- Help you understand your bill
- Discuss tuition bill payment options
- Offer financial literacy information and counseling
- Process Registration and Add/Drop forms
- Accept paperwork on behalf of the five main offices
- Assist with any questions or concerns that you may have for the three main offices
Housing and meal plan questions? Contact 513-556-6461
Academic advising questions? Contact the UC college office
Need to add money to the Bearcat Card? Contact 513-556-2000
Parking questions? Contact 513-556-2283