FREQUENTY ASKED FINANCIAL AID QUESTIONS
Q. WHAT IS FINANCIAL AID?
Financial aid is the name used for federal, state and private resources that may help pay for college costs. Typically financial aid consists of grants, scholarships, loans and student employment. Grants and scholarships generally do not have to be repaid. Loans must be repaid with payments usually beginning after the student is no longer enrolled at least half time. Student employment consists of opportunities for students to earn money to pay for educational expenses. Financial Aid is available for those who qualify.
Q. HOW DO I APPLY FOR FINANCIAL AID?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA, is the single application needed to apply for all sources of federal aid. The FAFSA can be completed online at fafsa.ed.gov. It helps to complete the FAFSA with your FSA username and password, which can be created, or retrieved by clicking here to expedite the process. If you are a dependent student for aid purposes, both you and your parent will require a username and password to sign the application electronically.
Q. WHY DO I HAVE TO PROVIDE PARENT INFORMATION? MY FAFSA?
Students are considered dependent or independent for federal financial aid purposes based on certain criteria determined by the Department of Education. For example, students who are under the age of 24, not married, have no dependents, are currently not serving on active duty, and not a veteran, have no children who he/she supports 50% or more, parents were typically considered dependent for financial aid purposes. Dependent students are required to have parents provide financial information in order to determine eligibility for the various federal aid programs. Check with the financial aid office to determine your dependency status if you are unsure.
Q. HOW OFTEN DO I HAVE TO REAPPLY FOR AID?
Students must reapply for federal and state aid each year. Students should renew their FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st.
Q. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GRANT AND A LOAN?
A grant is money that does not have to be repaid. Loans must always be repaid regardless of whether you complete the program or are unsatisfied with your educational experience. Failure to repay your loans can result in serious consequences and negatively impact your ability to obtain credit in the future.
Q. WHEN DO I HAVE TO REPAY MY LOANS?
Repayment on most loans will begin after the student is no longer enrolled at least half time. Some loans are interest free while the student is enrolled. Interest may accrue on other loans even while the student is enrolled. Check with the financial aid office, they can help explain the differences in the types of loans you have. In all cases, loans must be repaid regardless of whether you complete the program or are satisfied with your educational experience. Failure to repay your loans can result in serious consequences and negatively impact your ability to obtain credit in the future.
Q. WHY SHOULD A PARENT BORROW FROM A FEDERAL PLUS LOAN INSTEAD OF A CO-SIGNING ON A PRIVATE LOAN IN THE STUDENT’S NAME?
Federal Parent PLUS loans are part of the Federal Student Aid Program. Parents who co-sign on a private loan are just as responsible for repaying the loan (usually at higher rates) as the student if the student fails to make payments. In other words, whether one is the borrower or co-borrower, both the Federal PLUS loan and the private loan appear on a credit report and the financial responsibility is the same.
Q. WHAT DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR FINANCIAL AID?
The FAFSA is the most important document to complete when applying for financial aid. In addition, there are a few other things that you need to have on hand before you start.
Your Social Security Number
Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
Your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
An FSA ID to sign electronically.
Q. HOW IS MY ELIGIBILITY FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID DETERMINED? WHICH FORMS OF FINANCIAL AID WILL I QUALIFY FOR?
The financial aid staff starts by deciding upon your cost of attendance (COA) at our school. They then consider your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). They subtract your EFC from your COA to determine the amount of your financial need and therefore how much need-based aid you can get.
Q. WHAT IS THE EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION? (EFC)
Your EFC is an index number that college financial aid staff uses to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school. The information you report on your FAFSA is used to calculate your EFC.
The EFC is calculated according to a formula established by law. Your families taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) all could be considered in the formula. Also considered are your family size and the number of family members who will attend college or career school during the year. The EFC Formula guide shows exactly how an EFC is calculated.
Q. MY PARENTS MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY FOR ME TO RECEIVE FINANCIAL AID. WHAT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE TO ME?
Regardless of how much money you or your parents make, you should still complete the FAFSA. Some sources of aid are not need-based, and are available to those who qualify.
Q. WHAT DOES DEPENDENT VS. INDEPENDENT MEAN?
Your COA is the amount it will cost you to go to school. Most two-year and four-year colleges will calculate your COA to show your total cost for the school year (for instance, for the fall semester plus the spring semester). Schools with programs that last a different period of time (for instance, an 18-month certificate program) might give you a COA that covers a time period other than a year.
If you're attending at least half-time, your COA is the estimate of
tuition and fees;
the cost of room and board (or living expenses for students who do not contract with the school for room and board);
the cost of books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and miscellaneous expenses (including a reasonable amount for the documented cost of a personal computer);
an allowance for child care or other dependent care;
costs related to a disability; and/or
Reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs.
Q. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FEDERAL STAFFORD LOAN AND A PRIVATE LOAN?
Federal student loans: These loans are funded by the federal government.
Private student loans: These loans are nonfederal loans, made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency, or a school.
Q. WHAT IS GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT?
A The U.S. Education Department's Gainful Employment (GE) regulations require disclosure of certain program information to students and prospective students. Gainful Employment programs are defined by the Federal Government and are those "that prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation and which meet certain other stipulations."
Gainful Employment regulations require disclosure of the following information for each "gainful employment" program:
Program length (in months)
Program costs including tuition and fees a student would incur while completing the program within normal time
The typical costs for books and supplies
Median loan debt incurred by students who completed the program
On-time completion rate of recent graduates Job placement rate of recent graduates
Financial Aid is available for those who qualify.