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Financial Aid and You

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    Financial Aid 

    The Financial Aid (FA) process can be very intimidating and confusing for first time college students and it can be difficult to know where to begin and how the process works. The goal of the CCC is to make the financial aid process as easy as possible. In the section you will find information on the following:

     

    • What is the FAFSA?
    • Types of Aid
    • Applying for Aid
    • Who is eligible for Aid
    • How Financial Aid Works
    • How to Videos
    • Your FAFSA done, now what

     

    If you have any questions about the financial aid process please contact me!

Types of Aid

  • Types of Federal Financial Aid 

     

    Pell Grant: A Pell Grant is a federal grant awarded to students for post-secondary education at colleges, universities, and career schools. Pell Grants are awarded on the basis of financial need and doesn’t have to be repaid, unless you withdrawal from school and owe a refund.

     

    State Aid: this is primarily available to students who attend a college in their state of residence. These funds are limited, so the earlier you apply the greater the chance that you may qualify for this kind of aid. 

     

     

    Federal Work Study: Is federal student aid program that provides part-time employment while the student is enrolled in school to help pay his or her education expenses. The student must seek out and apply for work-study jobs at his or her school. The student will be paid directly for the hours he or she works and the amount he or she earns cannot exceed the total amount awarded by the school for the award year. The availability of work-study jobs varies by school.

     

    Federal Direct Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized): these are available to undergraduate students attending college at least half-time. These will need to be repaid regardless of whether you finish your education.

    • Subsidized Loans: Are loans for undergraduate students with financial need, as determined by your cost of attendance minus expected family contribution and other financial aid (such as grants or scholarships). Subsidized Loans do not accrue interest while you are in school at least half-time or during deferment periods.

     

    • Unsubsidized Loans: Are loans for both undergraduate and graduate students that are not based on financial need. Eligibility is determined by your cost of attendance minus other financial aid (such as grants or scholarships). Interest is charged during in-school, deferment, and grace periods. Unlike a subsidized loan, you are responsible for the interest from the time the unsubsidized loan is disbursed until it’s paid in full. You can choose to pay the interest or allow it to accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, added to the principal amount of your loan). Capitalizing the interest will increase the amount you have to repay.

Applying for Financial Aid

  • Applying for Financial Aid 

     

     

     

     

    STEP 1 – UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

    • It is important to understand what FAFSA is and how it will work for your educational journey after high school. This video will offer you and your family an overview of FAFSA and how much aid you might receive.
    • Step by step Financial Aid Application Process helps you understand and complete each step appropriately.
    • The FAFSA form is available every October 1st for the next school year (for our Red Hawks, this will be your Senior Year).
    • Students attending college in the Fall of 2025 will complete the 2025-2026 application.
    • Fill it out as soon as possible to meet school and state deadlines.
    • Schools and states often use FAFSA information to award non-federal aid, but their deadlines vary. Check with the schools that you’re interested in for their deadlines and find state and federal FAFSA deadlines.

     

    The first and suggested step is to visit the Federal Student Aid web page, which explains the financial aid process from start to finish. It is highly recommended that you review this page prior to starting the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

     https://studentaid.gov/

     

     STEP 2 – CREATE YOUR FSA ID

    • Your FSA ID: The FSA ID is a username and password that you create and is used to sign your FAFSA and access certain Department of Education websites. Each student and parent will need to create their own FSA ID. Students and parents are required to use an FSA ID to sign their FAFSA form online and to access information about their financial aid on U.S. Department of Education websites.

       

      • Creating an FSA ID is easy, and this video will help you walk through each step.
      • Students should never create an FSA ID for their parent or guardian. Their FSA ID may be needed for other siblings or needed if they chose to go back to college themselves.
      • Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity and electronically sign your federal student aid documents.
      • Your FSA ID has the same legal status as a written signature.
      • Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone or allow anyone to create an FSA ID for you.
      • To create an FSA ID, click here and create an account.

     

    IMPORTANT: Do NOT create an FSA ID on behalf of someone else. That means parents should not create FSA IDs for their children and vice versa. Doing so may result in issues signing and submitting the FAFSA form and could delay financial aid. (Also, it’s against the rules to create an FSA ID for someone else.)

    For step-by-step instructions, watch How to Create your FSA ID.

     

    Your Social Security Number: You can find the number on your Social Security card. If you don’t have access to it, and don’t know where it is, ask your parent or legal guardian or get a new or replacement Social Security card from the Social Security Administration. If you are not a U.S. citizen, but meet Federal Student Aid’s basic eligibility requirements, you’ll also need your Alien Registration number.

     

    Parents Without a Social Security Number: The ability to create an FSA ID has historically been limited only to parents who can be verified with a Social Security Number. However, starting in December 2024, all parent and spouse contributors without an SSN may now create one using the Department of Education's newly developed system to validate identity.

     

    STEP 3 – APPLY FOR FAFSA

    • Go to www.fafsa.gov to apply or click here!
    • After you apply, you’ll receive a FAFSA Submission Summary 
    • Your FAFSA Submission Summary contains the information reported on your FAFSA form and usually includes your Student Aid Index (SAI).
    • The SAI is a number (not a dollar amount) used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Review your FAFSA Submission Summary information to make sure it’s correct.
    • The school(s) you list on your FAFSA form will get your FAFSA Submission Form data electronically.
    • Need more help? This video is a complete walkthrough of every page and tab of the FAFSA application.

     

    Your 2023 Tax Records:

    • On the 2025–26 FAFSA form, you (and your parents, as appropriate) will report your 2023 income information.

     

    • Since you’ll probably already have filed your 2023 taxes by the time the FAFSA form launches, you’ll be able to use the Future Act Direct Data Exchange for contributor tax information. 

     

    • IRS Direct Data Exchange (DDX) makes entering tax information easier and will be required for students, spouses, and parents to transfer their 2023 tax information or non-filing status.

     

    • You cannot use your 2024 tax information. We understand that for some families, 2023 income doesn’t accurately reflect your current financial situation. If you have experienced a reduction in income since the 2023 tax year, you should complete the FAFSA form with the info it asks for (2023), and then contact each of the schools to which you’re applying to explain and document the change in income. They have the ability to assess your situation and make adjustments to your FAFSA form if warranted.

     

    • You cannot update your 2025–2026 FAFSA form with your 2024 tax information after filing 2024 taxes. 2023 information is what’s required. No updates necessary; no updates allowed.

     

     

    List of school(s) you are interested in attending:

    • Even if there is only a slight chance you’ll apply to a college, list the school on your FAFSA form. You can remove schools later if you decide not to apply, but if you wait to add a school, you could miss out on first-come, first-served financial aid.

     

    • The schools you list on your FAFSA form will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically. They will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive.

     

    • If you add a school to your FAFSA form and later decide not to apply for admission to that school, that’s OK! The school likely won’t offer you aid until you’ve been accepted anyway.

     

    • You can list up to 20 schools at a time on your FAFSA form.

     

     STEP 4 – GET TO KNOW YOUR COLLEGE FINANCIAL AID COUNSELOR

      • Contact the school(s) you might attend. Make sure the financial aid office at each school you’re interested in has all the information needed to determine your eligibility.
      • If you’re eligible, each school’s financial aid office will send you an aid offer showing the amount and types of aid (from all sources) the school will offer you.

      You can compare the aid offers you received and see which school offers you the most affordable option once financial aid is considered.

Basic Eligibility For Federal Aid

  • Basic Elgibility for Federal Aid 

     

    The basic eligibility requirements for federal financial aid:

    • demonstrate financial need(for most programs);
    • be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen;
    • have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau);
    • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular studentin an eligible degree or certificate program;
    • be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct LoanProgram funds;
    • maintain satisfactory academic progressin college or career school;
    • sign the certification statement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSA®) form stating that
      • you are not in default on a federal student loan,
      • you do not owe money on a federal student grant, and
      • you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes; and
    • show you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education by
      • having a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate;
      • completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law (or—if state law does not require a homeschooled student to obtain a completion credential—completing a high school education in a homeschool setting that qualifies as an exemption from compulsory attendance requirements under state law); or
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    Terminology:

    Contributor- Refers to anyone required to provide information on a student's form (such as a parent/stepparent or spouse). A student or parent's answers on the FAFSA will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.

     

     Contributors will receive an email informing them that they've been identified as such and will need to log in using their own FSA ID (if they don't already have one) to provide the required information on the student's FAFSA.

     

     Being a contributor does not mean they are financially responsible for the student's education costs, but it does mean the contributor must provide information on the FAFSA, or the application will be incomplete, and the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.

     

    Student Aid Index (SAI) A notable terminology update within the new FAFSA is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). The new SAI formula will result in a new eligibility calculation for Federal Pell Grants and redefine a minimum need determination of SAI to be as low as -1500 to better target students with the highest need.

     

    FAFSA Submission Summary: This replaces the Student Aid Report (SAR) as the student’s output document, providing a summary of data input on the FAFSA form.

     

    FSA ID:

    This year it is required that all FSA ID (student and contributors) be completed and verified 5-7 days before completing the FAFSA.

     

    The ability to create an FSA ID has historically been limited to parents who can be verified with a Social Security Number. However, starting in 2024, all parent and spouse contributors without an SSN may now create one using the Department of Education's newly developed system to validate identity.

     

    FAFSA Timeline:

    October 1`st: FAFSA Opens

    Students and guardians will need to be patient as the website has a history of crashing due to site traffic during the first weeks of the opening. If you hear of students having problems logging into the site or it's crashing while completing the FAFSA you might suggest that they try to complete it early in the morning or late in the evening. 

     

    February/March: Award letters are sent to students outlining their eligibility

How To Videos

How Financial Aid Works

  • How Financial Aid Works