Student Financial Services

Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Aid

How do I apply for financial aid?
Why is USM requesting a tax transcript and other verification forms?
When will I receive my Financial Aid Package?
What is the minimum number of hours required to receive financial aid in the summer, fall or spring semesters?
What is the main difference between a Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loan?
What is the “ESTIMATED PLUS and/or ALT Loan” showing on my financial aid award?
I have received my financial aid package. What else do I need to know?

Student Accounts

Will I receive a paper billing statement?
How can I find my charges before receiving a paper bill?
What is the due date for payment of charges on my student account?
What are my payment options?
What is the deadline for financial aid to post to my account?
How can I determine if I am eligible for a tuition waiver?
Why hasn’t my financial aid posted to my student account?
I have been awarded work-study. Will it reduce the balance due on my account?
How can I make a payment?
How do I enroll in direct deposit?
If financial aid exceeds charges on my account, when can I expect a refund?
If I drop a class or withdraw from the semester, can I expect a refund?
What are the deadlines to drop a class or withdraw from the semester with no financial or academic penalty?
Should I log into Maine Street frequently?
Should I check my official University e-mail account frequently?

Payment Plan Related Questions

Does USM have an installment plan for payment of charges for tuition and fees?
Is there interest added for use of a USM payment plan?

Late Payment Fee Related Questions

Why do I have a late payment fee on my account?
Can I appeal the late payment fee(s)?
Is there a grace period for due dates?
Why do I have a financial hold on my student account?

Miscellaneous Questions

How do I obtain access to the parking garage and/or get a parking decal for ground lots?
How do I request a change of residency?
If I have a third party (e.g. Employer) paying my tuition, what do I have to do?

My employer is paying my tuition. Can I defer payment?
I have received an outside (not from USM) scholarship, what do I do?

What is the Financial Responsibility Statement and why do I need to complete it?


How do I apply for financial aid?

You can apply for most forms of federal, state, and institutional aid by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year, available online at FAFSA on the Web. You must include the University of Southern Maine school code (009762) to be considered for financial aid at USM. Please note, the FAFSA should be filed by January 15th to meet our February 1st priority deadline in order for you to be considered for the maximum amount of funding.

Once your FAFSA is submitted, you'll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education. Carefully review this to make sure that all the information is accurate as USM will receive the same information. After your SAR is processed, we will determine your financial aid eligibility and send you a financial aid notification that lists the funding you can receive.

You may be selected for a process called verification in which case you will be required to submit additional documentation to our office. We may also request documentation to satisfy additional federal eligibility requirements. Please submit all required documents in a timely manner so that we may send your financial aid notification as soon as possible.

Scholarships may require the submission of other applications, depending on the scholarship source. See scholarships for more information.

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Why is USM requesting a tax transcript and other verification forms?

Schools that disburse financial aid are required to verify any FAFSA that is chosen by the federal government for the verification process. If your FAFSA has been chosen for verification, there will be a comment on your Student Aid Report (SAR). The federal government stipulates specific documents that may be used to verify items on the FAFSA. If you have questions about the documents required, please don’t hesitate to contact our office directly.

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When will I receive my Financial Aid Package?

Students who have submitted the FAFSA as well as any other required documentation by our February 1st deadline, and meet all financial aid requirements, typically receive notification of a financial aid package by April 1st. If you submit your FAFSA after our initial awarding rush in April and May, you should be awarded within three weeks after submission of your FAFSA, provided all eligibility requirements have been met.

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What is the minimum number of hours required to receive financial aid in the summer, fall or spring semesters?

The awards on your Financial Aid Package are based on a specific enrollment, so any changes in enrollment could affect eligibility for certain types of financial aid.

The minimum level of credit hours to receive most kinds of financial aid is six credits each semester.  Federal loans require a minimum enrollment of 6 credits.  This is the same for undergraduate, graduate, and law students in summer, fall and spring semesters.

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What is the main difference between a Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loan?

Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while a student is enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program. Upon dropping below half-time enrollment, interest will begin to accrue.
Interest begins accruing immediately on an Unsubsidized loan regardless of a student's enrollment status.
See Federal Student Aid: Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for additional information.

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What is the “ESTIMATED PLUS and/or ALT Loan” showing on my financial aid award?

This refers to potential eligibility for either Federal PLUS loan or Alternative Loan. The most current information on Direct PLUS and private Alternative loans is available here.

FEDERAL DIRECT PLUS LOANS
Graduate students, law students and parents of dependent undergraduate students may choose to borrow a credit-based Federal Direct PLUS Loan to cover the student’s educational expenses.
Parents may apply for Direct PLUS loan at www.studentloans.gov.

Graduate and Law students only – your Graduate PLUS Loan offer is available on MaineStreet. You may ACCEPT / DECLINE your award options once and only once by visiting MaineStreet at http://mainestreet.maine.edu. By accepting your Direct PLUS Loans on MaineStreet you authorize that the U.S. Department of Education and its agents to conduct a credit check and use the information from that report to determine your eligibility for a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. If you do not authorize the U.S. Department of Education and its agent to conduct a credit check, you must provide a written statement to the USM Student Financial Services. Your Graduate PLUS loan will then be canceled.

Please visit the USM Student Financial Services web site for additional information on the Federal PLUS Loan.

ESTIMATED ALTERNATIVE LOAN ELIGIBILITY

The amount listed on your award letter may be accessed by applying for a private educational loan. Alternative Loan information is available online.

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I have received my financial aid package.  What else do I need to know?

Please review our Understanding Your Award brochure for important information regarding your rights and responsibilities.

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Will I receive a paper billing statement?

One paper bill is mailed each semester (except Summer, see below). If you are adding classes or incurring other campus charges after the paper bill is mailed, you will need to log in to your MaineStreet Student Center for an updated balance due.

Paper bills for Fall will be mailed in mid-July.

Paper bills for Spring will be mailed in early December.

USM does not send paper bills for Summer courses. You will receive an email notification that Summer charges have posted to your account; the charges can be accessed on MaineStreet.

If your address changes, be sure to update MaineStreet with current information.

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How can I find my charges before receiving a paper bill?

Charges for Fall will be available on MaineStreet in early July.

Charges for Spring will be available on MaineStreet in late November.

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What is the due date for payment of charges on my student account?

Payment for Fall charges is due on August 15th.

Payment for Spring charges is due on January 5th.

Payment for Summer charges is due on April 15th.

Payment for any charges posted to your student account after the payment deadlines must be received at USM no later than ten (10) calendar days from the date the charge was incurred. If you add a class or incur other campus charges, be sure to check MaineStreet for the updated balance due.

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What are my payment options?

Methods of payment include: payment in full, sufficient financial aid to cover the entire balance, enrollment in an installment payment plan or confirmation of payment by a third party.

No payment action is necessary if anticipated financial aid or third party funding is sufficient to cover the balance due in full.

Any charges not covered by financial aid or third party agency must be included in an installment payment plan or paid in full by the due date.

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What is the deadline for financial aid to post to my account?

As per federal guidelines, most aid will begin posting to student's accounts 10 days before the start of the semester.
USM extends the payment deadline for those students expecting aid to cover the balance due in full.

Any charges not covered by financial aid or third party agency must be included in an installment payment plan or paid in full by the specified due date.

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How can I determine if I am eligible for a tuition waiver?

Information about three of the most commonly used waivers can be found here.
If there is another waiver that you think you may be eligible for, contact our office for assistance.

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Why hasn’t my financial aid posted to my student account?

Financial Aid will not post to your account if you have not completed the entrance interview, signed a master promissory note or if your credit hours do not match the number reported to Financial Aid.

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I have been awarded work-study. Will it reduce the balance due on my account?

Work-study is paid directly to students employed by a campus organization, office, or academic department. It will not post to your student account.

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How can I make a payment?

Online payment can be made by accessing the Pay My Bill link on your MaineStreet Student Center.

Payments made with a credit card are accessed a 2.75% fee by the vendor processing the transaction.

Payments made with e-checks are not accessed a fee. The site will request savings or checking account routing and account numbers.

Paper checks can be mailed to:

USM Student Financial Services
PO Box 9300
Portland, Maine  04104-9300

Cash payment and checks are accepted at our offices in Portland, Gorham, and the Student Success Center at Lewiston-Auburn College. Credit and debit card are not accepted in the offices.

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How do I enroll in direct deposit?

Instructions for enrolling or modifying direct deposit can be found here.

If financial aid exceeds charges on my account, when can I expect a refund?

Refunds for eligible students begin to disburse on the first day of the semester and are thereafter issued twice a week throughout the remainder of the semester. The easiest and fastest way to receive a refund is by enrolling in direct deposit.

Paper checks will be mailed to eligible students who have not enrolled in direct deposit.
If you expect a paper check be sure that your address on MaineStreet is current.

Refund checks are not available for pickup at Student Financial Services offices.

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If I drop a class or withdraw from the semester, can I expect a refund?

If either of these actions results in a credit to your student account, and your financial aid does not require adjustment, a refund will be issued within ten (10) calendar days.
If you are a financial aid recipient, be sure to contact your Financial Aid advisor to discuss the potential impact on your award if you drop a class or withdraw from the semester.

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What are the deadlines to drop a class or withdraw from the semester with no financial or academic penalty?

Deadlines vary and can depend on the length of a class.
The add/drop/withdraw schedule can be found at here.
Deadlines to drop specific classes can also be found on the calendar icon on your MaineStreet Student Center.

NOTE: it is especially important to check the drop deadlines for any class that is that is scheduled for less than 12 weeks.

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Should I log into Maine Street frequently?

YES! We recommend at least once a week.
The most current information regarding activity on your student account can be found on your MaineStreet Student Center.

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Should I check my official University e-mail account frequently?

YES!  We recommend at least once a week.
Important communications from Student Financial Services will be sent to your University e-mail address.

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Does USM have an installment plan for payment of charges for tuition and fees?

USM offers three different payment plans. Click here for more information and due dates for each of the payment plans.

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Is there interest added for the use of a USM payment plan?

No, there is no interest for using a USM payment plan. However, there is a non-refundable enrollment fee of $30.00 for each semester you utilize a payment plan.

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Why do I have a late payment fee on my account?

If a balance exists on a student account after the semester due date  a late payment fee will be assessed to the account.  If the outstanding balance still exists the balance is liable for up to $200.00 in late payment fees per semester.

Also, late payment fees apply to delinquent payment plan payments.  If a payment isn't made by the payment due dates, a $50.00 late payment fee can be assessed to the account on each installment, up to $200.00 per semester.

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Can I appeal late payment fee(s)?

Yes, a student may appeal late payment fee(s). See the Late Fee Appeal Form for details.

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Is there a grace period for due dates?

No. All payments must reach Student Financial Services by the specified due date. Outstanding balances are assessed a late payment fee of $50.00, maximum $200.00 per semester. This applies to all students who owe an outstanding balance to USM.

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Why do I have a financial hold on my student account?

A financial hold is placed on a student's account when the balance for the semester is 30 days past due. If there is a past due balance on your Student Account:

  • You will not be permitted to register at USM or other University of Maine campuses

  • You will not obtain an official transcript

  • You will not receive your diploma

NOTE:  A financial hold may lead to potential future collection efforts.  

To get a financial hold removed from the student account, the balance must be paid in full. To discuss payment arrangements, contact Student Financial Services at (207) 780-5250.

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How do I obtain access to the parking garage and/or get a parking hang tag for ground lots?

Students who are registered for a Portland or Gorham class pay a transportation fee which covers garage access. To access the USM parking garage on the Portland campus, you must have a valid USM ID card. To obtain the USM ID card please visit the USM Card Office.

To access the USM ground lots, a parking hang tag can be obtained at the Parking and Transportation Offices at either the Portland and Gorham campuses

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How do I request a change of residency?

The University of Maine System governs which students are eligible to receive Maine Residency status. Please check the guidelines to determine if you may qualify.  

To begin the change of residency process an application must be received at Student Financial Services before the start of the semester. Please allow the review committee 2-3 weeks for a complete assessment. 

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If I have a third party (e.g. Employer) paying my tuition, what do I have to do?  

3rd Party Billing

It is the student’s responsibility to obtain authorization from the third party sponsor. The student or the third party sponsor will need to provide a hard copy of the authorization form to Student Financial Services before the payment due date (A late authorization could result in a late payment fee).

An authorization requires specific information pertaining to what the third party sponsor is willing to pay on the students’ behalf (i.e. tuition, fees, books, room, or board) and the specific dollar amount(s). However, the third party sponsor must be willing to pay in advance of the student completing the class. If the third party sponsor will not pay until completion of the class the student is responsible for the bill before the payment due date. USM offers payment plans to help assist students in paying for their classes.   

The authorizations can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to the following:

Student Financial Services
University of Southern Maine
37 College Avenue
Gorham, ME  04038

Fax #: (207) 780-5143

Email:  cdecosta@maine.edu

NOTE: It is the student responsibility to make payment for any portion of the bill not covered by the third party sponsor, by the payment due date, to avoid late payment fees.

For questions about third party billing, contact Cindy DeCosta at Student Financial Services at (207) 780-5108 or by email at cdecosta@maine.edu

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My employer is paying my tuition. Can I defer payment?

If your employer offers tuition reimbursement benefits, USM now offers a deferred tuition plan that lets you take classes and remit payment within 30 days of the end of the term.

Your employer must offer tuition reimbursement benefits. (Please check with your employer for their guidelines on tuition reimbursements. For instance, many employers require a passing grade to reimburse employees for courses.)

If you qualify, please follow these steps:

  • Register for a credit class and determine final cost (tuition and mandatory fees).
  • Download the Deferred Billing Promissory Note.
  • Secure Employer approval on the promissory note (employer signature is required on the form).
  • Fax to Student Financial Services at (207) 780-5143 as soon as possible after registration. The form must be received by the payment due date for the semester. Promissory notes received after the due date will result in late payment fees.
  • Tuition and fees not covered by the employer must be paid by the payment due date. They are not deferred until the end of the semester.

Please note that textbooks and other required material costs are not eligible for deferred billing. If you have questions about your student account, contact Student Financial Services at (207) 780-5108 or by email at cdecosta@maine.edu

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I have received an outside (not from USM) scholarship, what do I do?

The student needs to provide copies of the outside scholarship(s) to Student Financial Services. Copies of award letters can be faxed to 207-228-8591.

NOTE: Student Financial Services will mail out a bill for the scholarship after the add/drop period of each semester if indicated in the award letter or at the request of the student. Further questions can be directed to Michele Reagan at (207) 780-4028 or michele.reagan@maine.edu

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