When Should I Expect My College Refund Check?

Student loans are a pretty comfortable way to fund your education. However, meandering the policies set up by providers of student loans can be time-consuming. Lenders take little time to compensate institutions but a longer time when it comes to renumerating students. As a student, if you expect a refund check, you may have to wait for some time as it is a cumbersome process to work through the financial aid system. In this article we shall see When Should I Expect My College Refund Check?

In most cases, refund checks are usually sent in the first 14 days after the beginning of the semester. This is to give you enough time to post your financial aid and any other additional financing that you may receive. However, if you have taken out a loan as a first-time student, you might receive your refund check sometime later. It is also important to note that if you eventually drop a class after the expiration of the deadline, you will not likely be eligible to receive a refund for the class that was dropped. 

When Should I Expect My College Refund Check?

What Is A FAFSA Refund Check?

A FAFSA refund check is given to students as a form of residual money left over from what financial aid covers. This includes fees, tuition, room, and board. A student who has received a refund check is often allowed to choose how the remaining money should be sent: cash, credit, or directly deposited into the student’s bank account. Since refund disbursements are done at the beginning of the semester, a student will most likely have the choice to spend the loan money as they deem fit. However, most times, a lot of money ends up back with the students. This is risky, especially for students who have a limited level of financial responsibility.

Reasons For Receiving A FAFSA Refund Check

A few factors determine the award of a FAFSA refund check to a student. The financial aid office might consider attendance costs and tuition after it has assessed a student’s aid situation. The school usually removes the ascertained contribution from the cost and determines the amount a student will need. The FAFSA loan size can also consider some variables. Once surplus from all sources of aid has been assessed, a student may then be given a refund check to cover the difference. 

How Are FAFSA Refund Checks Disbursed?

Refunds should be expected not until after the period to drop/add classes. Once this period has elapsed, the student might decide to change his or her schedule. You should note that there shall be penalties, however, for those who want to make alterations. The cost for these classes will however be set, implying that a FAFSA refund check can still be disbursed. Disbursement time is usually two to four weeks after the beginning of a semester. However, some schools have specific timeframes by which they disburse their respective refund checks. Upon disbursement of a refund check, most students choose to have the check sent over to them directly. Others opt for the funds to be deposited into a personal bank account or the school account of the student. 

A major mistake that may arise from the disbursement of a refund check usually comes after the check has been disbursed. Students who don’t know how to properly spend money might receive a refund check and spend the money on a frivolous item. Refund checks usually amount to thousands of dollars and when these students get a hold of these checks, without any guidance as to how they should be spent, it becomes a huge problem. 

What Should Be Done With A Refund Check?

The first thought of most students upon getting a refund check is to spend the money on a leisure item. There is however a better way to use the money contained within a refund check; returning the money. For students who want to spend responsibly and who have a long term at the back of their minds, returning a FAFSA refund check is always a viable option. The excess money will be deducted from the students’ financial aid package upon the return of the refund check. This means the student will be devoid of any obligations to repay that amount after graduation. Other ways to responsibly spend the money in a refund check are: 

  1. It could be used to pay for items such as books and campus meal plans.
  2. It could be used to cover transportation costs accrued to and from school.
  3. The money in the refund check could be used to pay for additional classes which can help boost your G.P.A and help make your resume stronger.
  4. The money could also be spent on expenses associated with living.

It is important to remember that no matter what a student spends the refund check on, the money contained in it still needs to be paid back with accrued interest.


The time it takes to receive a refund check is dependent on a lot of factors, one of them being the institution of the student. Some educational institutions process disbursement of a refund check to students slower than other schools do. This is evident in the disbursement time for community colleges when compared to that of colleges and universities. This might be due to a large number of students in community colleges and the number of financial aid forms they have to process.  

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the average amount of college refund checks? Around $14,000 is available to students in refund checks yearly. While these refunds are meant for living and educational expenses, no one tracks how students spend this money.
  2. Why did a get a refund on my student loan? If you borrowed money to help sort costs of college beyond fees, housing, and tuition, you’ll most likely get a refund sometime in the future. 
  3. Do all college students receive a refund check? No. A refund check is usually given to those who have fewer expenses than the amounts they borrowed in their loans. Refund check amounts may also differ from student to student.
  4. How can I check my financial aid refund? You can check your FAFSA status on the “My FAFSA” page.