The Office of Financial Aid recognizes that all students are entitled to receive professional and courteous service when making application for financial assistance. The office furthermore recognizes that each student has certain rights which are inherent to the financial aid application process.
The office wants each student to understand that certain responsibilities are also a part of the application process. The following information describes the rights and responsibilities of students as they relate to the University financial assistance programs and the Office of Financial Aid.
A. Student Rights
Access to Consumer Information
All students have the right to know what financial assistance programs are offered by Oklahoma Panhandle State University and the criteria used to determine eligibility. In addition, students have the right to the following information upon request:
- What need-based and non-need-based federal, state, local and private programs are available at OPSU.
- For each program referred to in paragraph (a) of this section, the information must include the procedures and forms by which students apply, the eligibility requirements, the criteria for selecting recipients and the criteria for determining the amount of the student’s award.
- How OPSU distributes aid among students.
- The rights and responsibilities of the student receiving financial aid at OPSU.
- The terms and conditions of any financial aid a student is receiving.
- How and when financial aid will be disbursed.
- The terms and conditions of any employment that is part of the financial aid award.
- The terms of, schedules for, and the necessity of loan repayment and required loan entrance and exit counseling, as well as access to student loan information published by the U.S. Department of Education.
- The criteria for determining whether or not a student is maintaining satisfactory academic progress and the procedure by which a student who has failed to meet satisfactory academic progress may re-establish eligibility for financial aid.
- The cost of attending OPSU, including tuition and fees, books and supplies, estimates of typical room and board costs or typical commuting costs, and any additional costs associated with the program in which the student is enrolled or has expressed an interest.
- The policy regarding the return of Title IV Federal Student Aid funds when the student withdraws from OPSU.
- The information relating to individual federal student and parent loan borrowers reported by OPSU to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and which entitles will be authorized to access that information.
- Information to help students identify and prevent scholarship fraud.
- The Federal Student Financial Aid Penalties for Drug Law Violations.
Access to the Financial Aid File
The Office of Financial Aid keeps all financial records collected in support of a student’s application on file. This information is considered confidential by the Office since the documents can include copies of federal income tax returns of the student and/or parents.
Students have the right to review documentation in their files with the following exceptions:
- Students who are dependent by federal definition are not permitted to review or request photocopies of their parent’s financial records, i.e. federal income tax returns, social security statements, et al., without the written consent of their parent(s).
- Students who are independent by federal definition are assured of not having their financial records, i.e. federal income tax returns, social security statements, et al. released to their parent(s) without their written consent.
- Each student has the right to request, in writing, that financial information be released to governmental agencies, scholarship programs, etc.
- The Office of Financial Aid can, and in many cases must, release directly, upon request, financial information that is held in common by other agencies. For example, if a student applies for financial assistance through Oklahoma Panhandle State University and a state grant agency, it is legal for the agency and the Office to share and compare application data without the prior consent of the student or the parents where applicable.
Access to a Professional Counselor
Each applicant has the right to speak with a professional counselor on an appointment basis, or by telephone. It is not, however, the right of any student to be seen “upon demand” by any professional staff member.
Understanding the Appeal Process
As noted under Part One (1) (Consumer Information) students have the right to know what constitutes satisfactory academic progress and the mechanism by which eligibility can be restored if students fail to make progress at any point in time. If a student does not meet the conditions of the progress policy and is in fact determined to be ineligible in a given term, the student has the right to a written appeal. The appeal is reviewed by a faculty committee and a final decision is made and communicated to the student by email to the student’s OPSU email address or, if the student has not enrolled or it no longer enrolled, in writing to the address listed by the student on the appeal.
B. Student Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of all student aid applicants to be responsive to requests made by the Office of Financial Aid. It must be understood that the Office of Financial Aid is dedicated to providing quality services to those students who take an active role in their own financial matters and who are willing to comply with all rules and regulations relative to the various assistance programs. Some of the responsibilities a student must assume to assure an efficient and timely reply to a request for financial assistance or information are:
Compliance with Request for Information
It is the responsibility of each student aid applicant to respond in a timely manner to all information requests made by the Office of Financial Aid. Requests can include, but are not limited to, applicable federal income tax returns, documentation of independent status (independent applicants), and household size verification. Once a request for information is made, the Office does not continue to process the student’s application until the information is received.
Avoiding Submitting Fraudulent or Intentionally Misleading Information
If upon review of a given student aid applicant’s file, fraudulent or intentionally misleading information is found by the Office, the following actions are taken:
- The Oklahoma Panhandle State University Police are consulted. If the OPSU Police feel that a criminal investigation is warranted, they act accordingly.
- In extreme and clear cut-cases where the action of the student and/or parents are intentionally fraudulent and may involve multiple federal agencies, i.e., the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Education, Health and Human Services, etc., the Office of Financial Aid contacts the U.S. Inspector General’s Office. The Inspector General’s Office then determines if criminal investigation is warranted and follows up accordingly.
Adherence to Application Priority Dates and Deadlines
It is the responsibility of the student aid applicant to be aware of the application priority dates and deadlines specific to each aid program administered by the University. The Office strives to process all applications in a timely manner and is not responsible for the deferment of University debts owed by financial aid applicants.
Proper Use of Financial Assistance
It is the student’s responsibility to use all federal financial assistance received for educationally-related costs. Educationally-related costs include tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, transportation (this does not include car payments or the purchase of a car), and personal expenses (this does not include the accumulation or servicing of consumer debt). Students are encouraged to consult with the Office of Financial Aid if they have questions regarding the use of federal student aid.
Responsibilities Specific to Student Borrowers
The majority of student aid recipients at Oklahoma Panhandle State University are funded by one or more federally insured and/or subsidized educational loan programs. It is the responsibility of all student borrowers to understand the payment provisions of the various loan programs as well as other requirements.
Student Behavior in the Office of Financial Aid
All students shall interact with the Office of Financial Aid in a responsible, rational manner. Students who verbally abuse or physically threaten any office employee are either asked to leave the office by a supervisor or are removed from the office by the OPSU Police. If called for, a complaint is filed with the Dean of Student Affairs and disciplinary action may be taken. Students who are abusive or hostile on the telephone are asked for their name and student ID number. If the requests are denied, the conversations are immediately terminated. If the requests are honored and the student remains abusive or hostile, a complaint will be filed with the Dean of Student Affairs for possible disciplinary action.