How Financial Aid Works

Financial Aid can seem intimidating at times, but it doesn’t have to. We are here to help you through the financial aid process.

Your first step in the Financial Aid process is to complete and submit your FAFSA. This application is completed yearly to be considered for federal financial aid.

Once you have submitted your FAFSA, the information on your FAFSA will be processed by the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid. The colleges you listed will be notified so they can begin their process of awarding aid.

Within a few days of filling out the FAFSA, you will get your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR summarizes the information you submitted on the FAFSA. You can access your SAR online by logging in with your FSA-ID.

  • Check your SAR for mistakes. Make corrections if you need to; such as, if you estimated your tax information incorrectly or if you provided incorrect information on the day you filled out the FAFSA.
  • On your SAR, you'll see reference to your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This number is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid; it doesn't mean you have to actually contribute that amount.

It is possible that the Financial Aid Office may require you to verify the information you submitted on your FAFSA. If that happens, you will be notified via email to log in to the student Self-Service and click on your “Financial Aid Counseling” and review the “Required Financial Aid Documents”.

Check your student Self-Service to see if you need to submit any additional documents or information.

How is my financial aid eligibility determined?

Your Financial Aid eligibility depends on:

  • Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • Your year in school
  • Your enrollment status
  • The Cost of Attendance (COA)at the school you will be attending.

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index number calculated based on information from your FAFSA. The EFC is calculated according to a formula established by law. Your family's taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) all could be considered in the formula. Your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year are also included in the calculation.

To determine your award, the financial aid staff starts by looking at your Cost of Attendance (COA). They then consider your EFC and subtract your EFC from your COA.

Cost of Attendance (COA)
-- Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
= Financial Need

How will I know if I have received my financial aid offer?

Once you’re accepted into college and you have met all financial aid requirements, you will get an email notification for your financial aid offer. If you have any questions about your award offer, contact the Financial Aid Office. Log in to your student Self-Service to view your financial aid offer.

How do I accept my financial aid offer?

You will log into your Student Self-Service to review and accept your financial aid award package. You can reduce your offered loan amounts or decline them here.

Once you have accepted your aid, your grants and loans will be applied to tuition, fees and other charges on your student account first, then any leftover money is paid to you.

Student Work-study funds are earned hourly throughout the term, if you have been hired into a work-study position.

Are there other requirements for financial aid?

To be eligible to receive financial aid, federal regulations require that a student be a “student enrolled in an eligible program”. The student must maintain good standing and make satisfactory academic progress according to federal, state, and institutional standards in his/her course of study. Students receiving financial aid must be enrolled in a course of study leading to an associate degree, advanced technical certificate, intermediate technical certificate, or technical certificate. Federal regulations also require financial aid students to either have graduated from high school or have completed a recognized equivalent (such as the GED).

What is considered Fraud?

A student who attempts to obtain financial aid fraudulently may be suspended from college and from all financial aid program eligibility. The College will be required to report such instances to local law enforcement agencies, the U. S. Department of Education, and the Office of Inspector General. Restitution will be required of any financial aid received under fraud.

What is an overpayment?

Overpayment is the disbursement of more federal student aid funds to a student than they are eligible to receive. Students who owe a Title IV program overpayment are not eligible for federal aid. If a student owes an overpayment, the debt must be cleared before any federal aid will be disbursed.

John E. Christofferson
Multi-Purpose Building

Room 353
Phone: (208) 524-3000
Fax: (208) 525-7026