Financial Aid Simplified
To qualify for federal financial aid, students must meet the following general requirements:
- Have a high school diploma or GED certificate
- Be a US citizen or eligible noncitizen
- Be enrolled in an eligible degree-seeking program on a least a half time basis
- Have a valid social security number
- Not be in default on a federal student loan
- Be registered with Selective Service if required
- Sign a statement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid certifying that you will use federal student aid for educational purposes only
Financial need is the difference between annual college expenses and a determination of what a family can afford to contribute toward those costs. It is need, not income alone, that determines financial aid eligibility.
Cost of Attendance
The cost of attending an institution includes both "hard" and "soft" costs. Hard costs are actually billed to the student, such as tuition, room, board, and required fees. Soft costs are estimates of costs that may be incurred such as books, personal expenses, and travel.
Expected Family Contribution
The Federal government established a formula, using the information you and your family provide on your application, to determine your financial strength. The result is an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is used to determine your financial need:
Cost of attendance
- Expected Family Contribution
Eligibility for Financial Aid
Eligibility for financial aid is calculated based on factors such as family size, number of students in college, income and assets of both student and parents (if the student is dependent). Eligibility is also based on the school's cost of attendance. If your EFC exceeds the cost of attendance, you can still receive assistance through non need-based programs.
Financial Award Package
The total amount of financial aid that a student receives is described in a financial aid package. The package outlines the institutional costs, the amount and types of aid a student is eligible to receive and the out of pocket expense. The institution will send a financial aid package to students who complete the application process.
Prospective full-time students - upon completion of the FAFSA by March 1, award packages are mailed on a rolling basis beginning the first week in March.
Returning full-time students - upon completion of the FAFSA by April 1, award packages are mailed on a rolling basis beginning the first week in July.
Students are considered dependent or independent based on the idea that students and their families (which may include parents or their spouse) have the primary responsibility to pay for educational expenses.
For the 2014-15 academic year, a student is dependent unless he or she can answer "yes" to at least one of the following questions:
- Were you born before January 1, 1991?
- Will you be working on a master's or doctorate program during academic year 2014-15?
- As of the application date, are you married?
- Do you have any children who receive more than half of their support from you?
- Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2015?
- At any time since you turned 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
- Are you currently or were you an emancipated minor?
- Are you currently or were you in legal guardianship?
- Are you homeless or are you at risk of being homeless?