Federal Student Aid

Sonoran Desert Institute

Find all the information related to Federal Student Aid right here.

Federal Student Aid (FSA)

Federal Pell Grant Program

The Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. A student’s eligibility for a Pell Grant is calculated using a formula developed by the U.S. Congress and information submitted by the student on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Only undergraduate students are eligible for Pell Grants. The amount awarded to a student depends on the student’s cost of attendance, expected family contribution (EFC) and enrollment status (full-time, 3/4 time, half-time, or less-than-half-time).

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant Program

This program is another form of aid that does not have to be repaid. However, unlike the Pell Grant program, it is not based on financial need. The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant Program is intended to assist students who are not Pell-eligible, but whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 and who, at the time of the parent’s or guardian’s death, were less than 24 years old or were enrolled in college at least part-time. The amount awarded to any eligible student is equal to the maximum Pell Grant for the award year, not to exceed the cost of attendance.

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program

Federal loans provided through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program are referred to as Direct Loans, because the federal government, through the U.S. Department of Education is the lender. Unlike grants, student loans are borrowed money that students are legally obligated to repay, with interest. Students must maintain an enrollment status of at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loans. Additionally, all first-time Direct Loan borrowers must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Counseling before funds will be disbursed. Repayment begins after a six (6)-month grace period following graduation, withdrawal from school, or if the student’s enrollment status is less-than-half-time.

Direct Loans options for eligible SDI associate degree and certificate-seeking students include:

  • Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans: Subsidized loans are awarded only to undergraduate students on the basis of financial need. If a student is eligible for a subsidized loan, the U.S. Department of Education will pay (subsidize) the interest on the loan while the student is in school, for the first six (6) months after the student leaves school and during periods of deferment.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans: Unlike subsidized loans, the borrower is responsible for interest that accrues on Direct Unsubsidized Loans from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full and financial need is not required to receive an unsubsidized loan.

The interest rate for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Undergraduate Loans is 4.45% at the time of publication. The current rates and additional information may be found at: https://studentaid.ed.gov/types/loans

Return of Title IV Funds

When a student withdraws from the Institute, the law specifies how the school must determine the amount of Title IV program assistance that was earned. The Title IV programs administered by SDI that are covered by this law are:

Federal Pell Grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and Direct Loans

If the student (or Institute, on the student’s behalf) received less assistance than the amount earned, the student may be able to receive those additional earned funds. If the student received more assistance than earned, the excess funds must be repaid by the student or by SDI.

The Institute will use a Department of Education approved refund calculation that determines the percentage of Title IV funds earned by the student. If the student did not receive all of the funds earned, the student might be due a post-withdrawal disbursement. If the post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, the Institute must obtain the student’s permission before disbursing funds. There are some Title IV funds that a student might have been scheduled to receive that cannot be disbursed once the student withdraws because of other eligibility requirements. For example, if the student is a first-time, first-year undergraduate student and has not completed the first 30 days of his/her program before withdrawal, then the student will not receive any Direct Loan funds would have been received if the student remained enrolled past the 30th day. If a student receives excess Title IV program funds that must be returned, the Institute must return a portion of the excess equal to the lesser of:

  • Student’s institutional charges multiplied by the unearned percentage of the student’s funds, or
  • Entire amount of excess funds

The Institute must return this amount even if it did not keep that amount of the student’s Title IV program funds. If the University is not required to return all of the excess funds, the student must return the remaining amount. Any loan funds that the student must return must be repaid in accordance with the terms of the Master Promissory Note. That is, the student may make scheduled payments to the holder of the loan over a period of time. Any amount of unearned federal grant funds that a student must return is called an overpayment. The maximum amount of a Grant overpayment that a student must repay is half of the Grant funds received or scheduled to receive. The student does not have to repay a grant overpayment if the original amount of the overpayment is $50.00 or less. The student must make arrangements with the Institute to return the unearned grant funds. The requirements for Return of Title IV program funds when a student withdraws are separate and different than the SDI Institutional Refund Policy (see Catalog). Therefore, the student may still owe funds to the Institute to cover unpaid institutional charges. SDI may also charge the student for any Title IV program funds that the University was required to return on the student’s behalf.

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For information on Federal Student Aid (FSA) Academic Years, please visit the Academic Calendars page of our website. Please direct any questions to financialservices@sdi.edu or call (800) 336-8939.