Financial Aid

How to...

How to check your financial aid file

If a student is selected for "verification" they will need to submit any outstanding requirements requested before aid becomes official and can disburse. Outstanding requirements can be viewed on the student’s WebOPUS account.

  1. Sign into WebOPUS via theFort
  2. Click on the Financial Aid tab
  3. Click on My Overall Status of Financial Aid
  4. Click on appropriate aid year
  5. If you have outstanding student requirements they will be noted in blue text. Click on blue text to be linked to either the directions to complete the requirement or the form that is needed.

How to accept your financial aid

Accepting your financial aid is a two part process…

Step One

  1. Login to your WebOPUS account
  2. Click on Financial Aid
  3. Click on My Award Information
  4. Click on Award for Aid Year and select the appropriate aid year from the drop down box and submit it
  5. Click on Terms and Conditions. Read the terms and conditions all the way to the bottom of the page and click on the accept button. Accepting the Terms and Conditions is not accepting loans or any kind of Financial Aid. To do so go to Step Two.

Step Two

Once you have accepted the Terms and Conditions of your Financial Aid Offer, you will be redirected to the "Accept Award Offer" screen. There you will be able to accept or decline each individual award based on your needs. You may notice that certain types of aid are automatically accepted on your behalf. After you chose which awards you would like to accept or decline, click on "Submit Decision". If your financial aid awards change, we will notify you via your Fort Lewis College email.


How to borrow federal student loans as a first time borrower

If you are a first time student borrower at Fort Lewis College complete the following steps:

  1. Log into your WebOPUS account and accept the loan(s) you want.
  2. Go to and log in. (You will need your FAFSA FSA ID)
  3. Click on Counseling and complete Entrance Counseling (not Awareness Counseling) AND
  4. Then complete a Master Promissory Note for Subsidized/Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans.
  5. The Office of Financial Aid will receive electronic notice once your counseling and master promissory note requirements are met. Your loan funds will be applied to your student account.


How a parent borrows a Parent Plus Loan


1. Parents must complete a Parent PLUS Loan Authorization Form and return it signed to the Office of Financial Aid. This form can be faxed, mailed or emailed to the address or fax number listed below. To print a Parent PLUS Loan Authorization Form for your parent, the student can log into WebOPUS, click on the Financial Aid tab, in the next screen click on My Eligibility and in the drop down window, click on Student Requirements.  Then, you should be able to see the Unsatisfied Disbursement Requirements field and click on the Parent PLUS Loan Authorization Form.

2. New Parent Borrowers must complete a Master Promissory Note for Parent PLUS Loan in their name at  Your Parent must use his/her FSA ID (his/her username and password) when logging in.


If you wish to borrow a Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan, complete the required steps listed below after June 1st of 2017.  

  1. Complete the application for a Direct Parent PLUS loan at is a credit-based loan so a credit check will be completed.

    • The parent logs in by using their (the parent) FSA ID username and password.

    • Click on ‘Apply for a Direct PLUS Loan’, then ‘Direct PLUS Loan Application for Parents’ START’’

    • Complete application. Specify to whom any excess funds (refund) should be sent (parent or student) AND specify loan amount or select ‘maximum’ loan amount.

  2. If you are a first time borrower at Fort Lewis College, you will need to complete the Electronic Master Promissory Note at

  3. If your loan was denied and you needed an endorser on the PLUS loan, or you have successfully challenged an adverse credit decision, you will also need to complete PLUS Counseling at

How to sign a FERPA release


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, helps protect the privacy of student records. The Act provides for the right to inspect and review educational records, to seek to amend those records, and to limit disclosure or information from the records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal funding under any program administered by the Secretary of Education.  The FERPA policy and additional information can be viewed on the Registrar’s Office webpage.

If a student would like the Office of Financial Aid to discuss their financial aid file with anyone else, they must sign a FERPA release indicating who their information can be share with. The on-line FERPA release can be completed by:

Clicking on the A-Z directory on the top of the Fort Lewis College website  – click on the letter “F” – then click on FERPA (Online Consent Form).        


How to create an FSA ID


The FSA ID ― a username and password ― has replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN 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 allows you to electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents.  If you do not already have an FSA ID, you will need to establish one before you can submit a FAFSA application, make corrections to an existing FAFSA, or log-on to to complete loan entrance or exit counseling.

To create your FSA ID:  

  1. Go to FAFSA.GOV and click on FSA ID, located on the top of page.
  2. Click on “create an FSA ID now”.
  3. In the pop-up box click on the green log-in box.
  4. Now, click on the middle tab “Create an FSA ID” and follow the steps to create your username and password.  Your user name must be from 6 to 30 characters long.  Your password must be between 8 and 30 characters long. You can use any combination of the following as long as it contains at least three of the four criteria:
  • numbers
  • uppercase letters
  • lowercase letters
  • non-alphanumeric special characters ! @ # $ & * ( ) [ ] _ - . ?
  1. From there you will be asked to enter your e-mail address, name, date of birth, Social Security number, contact information, and challenge questions and answers.  (Please be aware that you will have to customize your last two challenge questions.)
  2. If you have a Federal Student Aid PIN, you will be able to enter it and link it to your FSA ID.  You can still create an FSA ID if you have forgotten or do not have a PIN.
  3. You will need to open another internet tab to retrieve the secure code that will be emailed to you. You will then return to the screen and enter this code to complete the process.

Review your information, and read and accept the terms and conditions. You can use your FSA ID to sign a FAFSA right away, if you were able to link it to your PIN. If you created your FSA ID without using your PIN, you will need to wait 1-3 business days before you can use your new FSA ID.  For additional information, visit

If you have having difficulties completing these steps you might try the following:

  • Use Google Chrome instead of Internet Explorer.
  • Clear internet cookies.
  • Make sure you do not have any misspellings and that you are using the correct social security number and/or date of birth.
  • Call CPS(Central Processing System) at 1-800-433-3243 for assistance

How to order a tax return transcript


The most common verification request is the IRS Tax RETURN Transcript. If the financial aid office has asked for a student and/or a parent IRS tax return transcript they can only accept Federal Tax Return information received directly from the Internal Revenue Service.  Copies of individual taxpayer tax returns or copies from a paid tax preparer are not acceptable.  

There are three ways in which a student and/or parent can request a Federal Income Tax Return Transcript from the IRS, on-line, by mail, or over the phone.  If they qualify, they can also use the IRS Data Retrieval toll in the students’ FAFSA.  

How does the IRS Data Retrieval Tool in FAFSA work?

Students and parents who have filed their current year taxes will be given the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when completing the Financial Information portion of the FAFSA application. This option is available approximately 2-3 weeks after electronically filing Federal Income Tax returns and 8-11 weeks after mailing Federal Income Tax returns.

Please note, there are two separate financial information sections on the FAFSA for dependent students. Students will use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for the Student Financial Information section and parents of dependent students will use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for the Parent Financial Information section.

  • Upon selecting the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, users will be directed to the IRS website.
  • Users will then need to authenticate their identity before any personal information is displayed or transferred onto the FAFSA application.
  • After viewing tax data, you will then have the option to "Transfer" the tax information directly to the FAFSA application.

Who can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

Applicants who are completing an initial FAFSA, completing a renewal FAFSA or making corrections to their initial FAFSA and meet all of the following criteria:

  • Must have valid Social Security Number(s).
  • Must have filed a current year Federal Income Tax Return electronically 2-3 weeks prior to filing out the FAFSA or 8-11 weeks if Federal Income Tax Returns were mailed, prior to filling out the FAFSA.
  • Must have an unchanged marital status as of December 31, of the previous year. Or, did not file separately from their spouse.
  • Must not have amended their tax return.
  • Must not have filed a foreign tax return.
  • Must have a valid FSA ID (Formerly known as the federal PIN#)

Who can NOT or should NOT use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

Students or parents who:

  • Have filed an amended tax return for the current tax year.
  • Are married filing separately for the current tax year.
  • Filed a foreign tax return for the current tax year.
  • Anyone who provided all zeros for Social Security Numbers on tax returns.
  • Have a marital status date of January 1, of the current tax year or later.

When will I be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

FAFSA on the web is available to complete January 1st of each year.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is available February 1st of each year.

Tax return data is available through the IRS Data Retrieval Tool within 2-3 weeks after electronic tax filing or 8-11 weeks after paper tax filing.

What happens if I am selected for verification and do not use or cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

If you did not or cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer Federal Tax Return information to your FAFSA, you will need to obtain an official Federal Income Tax Return Transcript from the IRS and submit it to our office. If you are a dependent student, we will also need a copy of your parent(s) Federal Income Tax Transcript.

Tax filers can request Federal Tax Return Transcript information free of charge by:

  1. Online request at  “Order a Return Transcript
  2. Telephone request by calling 1-800-908-9946
  3. Paper request form using IRS Form 4506-T (form on IRS website)

What happens if I haven't filed my current year taxes yet?

Even if you have not completed your current year Federal Tax Returns, you should complete your FAFSA using tax estimates. Once current year Federal Income Tax Returns are filed, you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to update the FAFSA by logging back onto your FAFSA using your FSA ID number assigned to you during FAFSA completion. Students will use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for the Student Financial Information section and parents of dependent students will use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for the Parent Financial Information section. If you are not eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you will need to submit and official IRS Tax Return Transcript to our office.

What happens if I file an IRS form 4868 "Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns?

Even if you have not completed your current year Federal Tax Returns, you should complete your FAFSA using tax estimates. If your file is selected for verification, you will need to provide the following information to the Office of Financial Aid to continue the processing of your financial aid:

  • Copy of your current year IRS Form 4868, ‘‘Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.’’ that was filed with the IRS for tax year 2014;
  •  If an extension was approved beyond the automatic six-month extension you must also submit a copy of the IRS’s approval of the extension.
  • A copy of IRS Form W-2 for each source of employment income received in tax year 2014.
  • A singed statement estimating the amount of the individual’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and the U.S. income tax paid for tax year 2014. (Your financial aid award will be based on the estimate you provide. Please be as accurate as possible because every change in dollar amounts could affect the final award amount.)
  • A signed copy of the Tax Extension Form.  Click here for the form.

If the required tax transcript is not received by the last day of the term the aid awarded based on estimated income will be cancelled.

If the actual tax transcripts reflect different amounts than the estimated income, financial aid awards will be adjusted accordingly.

If any balance due to the college results from the adjustments made the student will need to pay the balance immediately.

What happens if I file an amended tax return changing the information I originally submitted to the IRS and to Fort Lewis College?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will transfer information only form an original income tax return and NOT an amended income tax return. Provide amended tax information to Fort Lewis College by submitting the following information:

  • An individual taxpayer copy of IRS form 1040X "Amended" U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
  • A signed copy of the original tax return filed the IRS.
  • An IRS tax transcript which can be requested from the IRS 3-8 weeks after submitting the amended 1040X form.
    • Online request at
    • Telephone request by calling 1-800-908-9946

What happens if I was a victim of IRS identity Theft and cannot obtain a current Tax Return Transcript?

  • Beginning with the 2013 tax year, tax filers who because of IRS identity theft are denied an IRS Tax Return Transcript will be referred to the Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) at toll-free number at 800-908-4490. Filers who believe they are victims of identity theft do not need to be referred to the IPSU; they may call the number directly or go to the ID theft website on IRS.GOV. Tax filers can request that the IRS mail to them an alternate paper tax return transcript called a TRDBV (Transcript Database View). It will look different from the regular IRS Tax Return Transcript



How to check your overall loan balance

On the National Student Loan Database System you can find your total student loan debt, get contact information on your federal loan servicer, and complete exit counseling. To sign in:

  1. Go to the web site.
  2. Click on Financial Aid Review
  3. Read the Privacy Statement and click Accept
  4. Log in to NSLDS using your FSA ID (username and password)

How to apply for summer aid

Summer financial aid is usually limited to only Federal Direct Loans (Stafford and/or Parent Plus), unless the student has remaining Federal Pell Grant eligibility that they did not use during the Fall 2016 or Spring 2017 terms.


  • Student must be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours during the summer to be considered for Federal Direct Loans;
  • Student must have a valid 2016-17 FAFSA application on file;
  • Student must not have borrowed their annual loan limit during the 2016-17 school year;
  • Student must not have reached their aggregate Pell Grant or Federal loan limits.

If a student has unused financial aid, their eligibility amount is based on the number of credit hours they enroll in each summer session (module).  Any changes made to their summer enrollment can cause their eligibility to change.  Changes to summer enrollment after aid has disbursed can result in the student having to repay some of the aid they received. Students MUST consult with the Office of Financial Aid before making any adjustments to their summer schedule to avoid having to pay back any of their summer aid.

To apply:

  1. Student completes a Summer 2017 Aid Request Form and returns it to the Office of Financial Aid before their first summer session begins. (Form availabe beginning March 6, 2017)
  2. Student should watch their Fort Lewis College email for notification regarding their eligibility.
  3. Student accepts financial aid through their WebOPUS account.

Please contact the Office of Financial Aid with any additional questions you may have.