Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions
- What is financial aid?
- Who receives financial aid?
- Who can apply?
- How do I apply?
- How is eligibility determined?
- How do I remain eligible for financial aid?
- How do I receive payment?
- Can I charge my books each semester?
- How much can I earn before I disqualify for aid?
- What happens if I have to withdraw from all my classes?
- What is ACC's school code?
- What is ACC's priority date for filing the FAFSA?
- I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?
- Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid?
- Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
- How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?
- Where can I get information about Federal student financial aid?
- Where can I get a copy of the FAFSA?
- Is it better to wait until the income tax forms have been completed in order to complete the FAFSA?
- I sent in my FAFSA over four weeks ago but haven't heard anything. What should I do?
- What do those acronyms on the Student Aid Report (SAR) mean?
- When can I expect to hear about my financial aid package?
- What is the status of my financial aid?
- Can I expect to receive the same financial aid package throughout my undergraduate years?
- Will I have to borrow loans in order to attend ACC?
- Are there any programs that provide student financial assistance to homeschooled children?
- What if my family's financial circumstances change drastically during a given year? What can be done?
- My parents no longer claim me on their tax form. Am I an independent for financial aid?
- Are my parents responsible for my student loans?
- If I leave school for a period of time, do I have to start repaying my loans?
- What is the difference between a subsidized and unsubsidized loan?
- What is a private or alternative loan?
To receive any financial aid, you must:
- Apply for financial aid.
- Be admitted to ACC by completing the Admissions Application.
- Be enrolled in a program leading to a degree, diploma or certificate.
- Be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours.
- Be making satisfactory academic progress toward your educational goal.
- Submit an application to the proper agency administering the financial aid programs.
Who can apply?
You can apply for financial aid if you're a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and are admitted or plan to be admitted to ACC. Students holding F-1 or J-1 visa are not eligible to apply for federal or state financial assistance. Clarifications about student eligibility based on citizenship and residency can be obtained at the Financial Aid Office.
How do I apply?
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You may be required to submit other documents before aid is received. The Office of Financial Aid will send you a letter or email in the event we need more information from you prior to awarding your financial aid.
How is eligibility determined?
Eligibility for financial aid is determined by the US Department of Education (The Department). Once your FAFSA is complete, the Department will send your FAFSA application to ACC in approximately 1-2 weeks. If required, the Office of Financial Aid will collect any additional information from you. Once all information is collected and processed the Financial Aid Office will determine the type and amount of aid you are eligible to receive.
How do I remain eligible for financial aid?
To receive financial aid, you must be "in good standing" (undergraduates must earn a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher to be in good standing), you must complete at least 67% of the credits. Additionally, you must complete your program of study within 150% of the total credit hours required for the program. For example, if your degree/certificate program requires 60 credits, you are allowed to attempt up to 90 hours to earn your degree or certificate. Completed hours are those hours you have enrolled in and received acceptable grades. Attempted hours are those hours you have enrolled in and received a grade of F or have withdrawn.
Aid will be suspended if you fail to complete the required credits with the minimum GPA or exceed the maximum number of semesters or credit hours. Any student whose aid has been suspended may appeal that decision. A written appeal that states the reasons for the failure to maintain satisfactory progress standards and the steps taken to meet those standards in the future is required. Appeals should be directed to the appeal committee, which will determine if the satisfactory progress requirements will be waived. The satisfactory academic progress requirements are subject to change due to changes in federal or state law and institutional policy. A complete description of the satisfactory progress requirements is available at the Financial Aid Office.
How do I receive payment?
Tuition, fees and all other amounts due ACC at the time of disbursement must be paid before the proceeds of your financial aid are released to you. All forms of aid you have accepted (except work study) will disburse to your student bill, pay outstanding balances for the term and the remainder is given to the student via the CCCS Refund Card.
Can I charge my books each semester?
Students with sufficient pending financial aid awards are allowed to charge up to $750.00 for books and academic supplies each semester at the ACC Bookstore. If your financial aid has been awarded, and is greater than your tuition and fee balance, you can charge your books to your student account by simply letting the Bookstore cashier you would like to charge your books to your financial aid. You will be required to show a valid photo ID in order to do this.
How much can I earn before I disqualify for aid?
There are no income cutoffs when determining a student's financial aid eligibility. Many factors are taken into consideration when determining a family's ability to pay beyond parental income such as household size, number of dependent children in college, family assets, and cost of the institution; so it is impossible to determine your eligibility based strictly on income. To know if you will qualify for financial aid, you must apply at FAFSA.gov.
What happens if I have to withdraw from all my classes?
If you receive federal financial aid and totally withdraw from classes during a semester, you may be responsible for repayment of a portion of the federal financial aid received for that semester. The amount to be repaid is based on the number of class days in attendance before withdraw compared to the total days in the semester and the amount of federal aid received. If you are entitled to a refund of tuition and fees charges, all or part of the refund may be returned to the federal financial aid programs. The amount of a refund, repayment or return of federal financial aid is based on the U.S. Department of Education regulations concerning return of federal financial aid. Any refund or repayment calculation exceeding the amount of the refund that was determined by ACC will be charged to the student. Financial aid recipients are strongly encouraged to confirm the amount of any personal liability before processing a total withdrawal from classes.
The federal school code for the FAFSA: 001346
ACC's priority date for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid each year is April 1. If you have not filed your tax returns before this time period, it's okay to estimate your financial figures to ensure you get the FAFSA filed by this date. Once your taxes are complete, you will then be asked to update your FAFSA if necessary.
I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?
Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as Unsubsidized Direct and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free, so the only cost is your time.
Do I need to be admitted to ACC before I can apply for financial aid?
No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1. To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted and enrolled at ACC. ACCs priority deadline is April 1 for the following academic year, which starts in the fall.
Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
Yes. The FAFSA must be completed each academic year. After your first year you may complete a "Renewal Application" which contains information from the previous year's FAFSA. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if the amount of family members in college changes. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as maintaining an overall 2.0 GPA and completing 67% of your classes.
How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?
Complete a FAFSA. To indicate interest in student employment, student loans and parent loans, you should check the appropriate boxes within the FAFSA. Checking these boxes does not commit you to accepting these types of aid. You will have the opportunity to accept or decline each part of your aid package later. Leaving these boxes unchecked will not increase the amount of grants you receive.
Where can I get information about federal student financial aid?
The most effective way is to visit StudentAid.ed.gov. You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 1-800-730-8913 (if hearing impaired) and ask for a free copy of The Student Guide: Financial Aid from the US Department of Education. This toll free hotline is run by the US Department of Education and can answer questions about federal and state student aid programs and applications. You can also write to:
Federal Student Aid Information Center
PO Box 84
Washington, DC 20044
Where can I get a copy of the FAFSA?
ACC encourages students to apply for financial aid online at FAFSA.gov due to dramatically increased security and processing time. The U.S. Department of Education produces very few paper FAFSAs, which are available by either calling 1-800-4-FED-AID or visiting ACC's Financial Aid Office.
Is it better to wait until the income tax forms have been completed in order to complete the FAFSA?
Waiting for your taxes to be complete increases the chance of being able to use the FAFSA's IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which in turn decreases the chance that your FAFSA will be selected for verification. However, if you miss ACC's priority deadline of April 1, you may miss being considered for certain types of financial aid. Although it is better to do your taxes early, it is ok to use estimates of your income. You will have to correct any errors later once your taxes are complete.
I sent in my FAFSA over four weeks ago but haven't heard anything. What should I do?
If you haven't received a Student Aid Report (SAR), call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (toll free). You must provide them with your Social Security number and date of birth as verification.
You can also write to Federal Student Aid Programs to find out whether your FAFSA has been processed or to request a duplicate copy of your SAR: Federal Student Aid Programs, PO Box 4038, Washington, DC 52243-4038.
ACC typically begins processing FAFSAs early April and communicates next steps with either a Missing Information Letter or an Award Letter to the student's email.
What do those acronyms on the Student Aid Report (SAR) mean?
The acronyms on the bottom of the SAR represent intermediate results in the need analysis. To fully understand their meaning, you will need to be familiar with the federal need analysis methodology. The meanings of the acronyms are as follows:
|EFC||Expected Family Contribution|
|ATI||Allowances Against Total Income|
|STX||State and Other Tax Allowance|
|IPA||Income Protection Allowance|
|CAI||Contribution from Available Income (Independent Student)|
|DNW||Discretionary Net Worth|
|APA||Education Savings and Asset Protection Allowance|
|PCA||Parents' Contribution from Assets|
|AAI||Adjusted Available Income|
|TPC||Total Parents' Contribution|
|TSC||Total Student's Contribution|
|SIC||Dependent Student's Income Contribution|
|SCA||Dependent Student's Contribution from Assets|
If an asterisk appears next to the EFC figure, the student has been selected for verification. ACC will be ask you to verify your income or other information in order to determine your eligibility for financial aid. Typically, ACC will ask for a tax transcript (available from the IRS) and a Verification Worksheet.
When can I expect to hear about my financial aid package?
At ACC, we make every effort to notify students within 2 weeks of receiving your FAFSA information from the US Department of Education or when the file is complete with any additional information requested from the student. Since the US Department of Education can take 2-3 weeks to process your FAFSA, if you don't hear from ACC after 4 weeks from submitting the FAFSA, you should contact our office at 303-797-5661.
Can I expect to receive the same financial aid package throughout my undergraduate years?
You are required to apply for financial aid each year. Changes in federal regulations or changes to your monetary or family situations can impact the types and amount of aid you are offered.
Will I have to borrow loans in order to attend ACC?
Whether a student attends state university or private college, student loans are a component of the aid package and help families meet their educational costs. Depending on your family's ability to pay, you may be packaged with a student loan. Loan acceptance is voluntary and not required. If you chose to accept a loan, borrow wisely. Accept only what you need.
Are there any programs that provide student financial assistance to homeschooled children?
Homeschooled students are eligible for federal student aid for college if they have "completed a secondary school education in a home school setting that is treated as a home school or private school under State law" (Section 484(d)(3) of the Higher Education Act of 1965). Homeschooled students have not been required to take the GED or take an ability-to-benefit test since the Higher Education Amendments of 1998. High school dropouts must take a GED exam or an ability-to-benefit test, but students who have completed a home schooled secondary education that satisfies the requirements of state law do not. For additional information, see Federal Requirements for Homeschoolers Seeking College Admission and Financial Aid.
Many private scholarships are open to homeschooled students. Some scholarships, however, require a high school diploma or GED. If a scholarship requires a high school diploma or GED, ask for a clarification or exception before applying. There aren't many scholarships specifically targeted at homeschooled students, other than those sponsored by the Home School Foundation.
If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from private or government sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office. ACC will adjust your financial aid package to compensate for this type of financial aid you received.
What if my family's financial circumstances change drastically during a given year? What can be done?
There are circumstances that will enable the ACC's Office of Financial Aid to adjust a student's aid. These circumstances could include: job loss due to unemployment or illness, a one-time benefit that affected your federal adjusted gross income, separation or divorce, or unusual medical expenses. If conditions such as these occur, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
My parents no longer claim me on their tax form. Am I an independent for financial aid?
No. Whether your parents claim you on their taxes has no bearing on your financial aid. Financial aid dependency is determined when you complete the FAFSA.
Are my parents responsible for my student loans?
Typically, no. Parents are responsible for Federal PLUS loans and for any loans that they co-sign (typically private/alternative loans). In general you alone are responsible for repaying your educational loans.
You do not need to get your parents to cosign your federal student loans, even if you are under age 18, as the 'defense of infancy' does not apply to federal student loans. (The defense of infancy presumes that a minor is not able to enter into contracts, and considers any such contract to be void. There is an explicit exemption to this principle in the Higher Education Act with regard to federal student loans.) However, lenders may require a cosigner on private student loans if your credit history is insufficient or if you are underage. In fact, many private student loan programs are not available to students under age 18 because of the defense of infancy.
If your parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can have your billing statements sent to their address. Likewise, if your lender or loan servicer provides an electronic payment service, where the monthly payments are automatically deducted from a bank account, your parents can agree to have the payments deducted from their account. However, your parents are under no obligation to repay your loans. If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancel the electronic payment agreement, you will be held responsible for the payments, not them.
If I leave school for a period of time, do I have to start repaying my loans?
Not immediately. The Federal Direct Loans have a grace period of 6 months before a student must begin repaying a loan. When you leave school, or take less than 6 credit hours, you will not have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you use up the grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repaying your loan immediately.
- Subsidized loans are awarded based on need.
The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest while the student is in school at least half-time.
- Unsubsidized loans charge interest from the beginning of the loan until full repayment.
Students can either pay the interest as they go or allow the unpaid interest to compound upon the principal.
What is a private or alternative loan?
Private/alternative loans are loans through private agencies (i.e. a bank) that are willing to lend to students for education purposes. These loans are unsubsidized and allow the student to defer the payments until after they graduate or drop below half-time status.
What benefits am I eligible for if I am a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
Contact your local Veterans Affairs Office, www.gibill.va.gov or visit the Office of Financial Aid for more information on receiving VA Benefits.
How do I find a job on campus?
All students who show a work study award on their financial aid award letter may apply for jobs on campus. Job postings are listed online as well as outside the Financial Aid Office on our bulletin board. We give supervisors the right to accept or decline a current worker who plans on returning for the following year.
Are Work Study earnings taxable?
The money you earn from Federal Work Study is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than half-time). Federal Work Study earnings during the calendar year should be included in the totals for AGI and earnings from work on the FAFSA. The student should also be careful to report amounts based on the calendar year, not the school year.