What is financial aid?
“Financial aid” is any type of financial assistance students receive outside of what families contribute.
Federal financial aid is usually referred to as need-based aid. Family income determines the amount of need-based aid students are eligible for and there are a variety of need-based aid sources, including the Pell Grant (federal assistance) and Stafford Loans, which are federally subsidized loans. Other sources of aid include Stafford unsubsidized loans and Parent PLUS loans.
How do I apply for financial aid?
Students and their families are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for need-based
financial aid. The FAFSA is mostly based on family income and establishes a family’s ability to contribute to a student’s college
education using a formula maintained by the federal government. The FAFSA form may be completed online at www.fafsa.gov. A hard
copy is available by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4FED-AID. The FAFSA application should include
federal codes for colleges and universities students are interested in attending. The Golden State College code is 041501.
The colleges listed on a student’s FAFSA form will receive the information automatically.
How is “need” determined?
Need is the difference between Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the Cost of Attendance (COA). COA is established by adding a college’s tuition and room and board costs with education-related expenses such as books, travel and administrative fees. If the cost
of attendance for a particular school is $30,000, and expected family contribution is $10,000, remaining financial need is $20,000.
Once financial need is calculated, the financial aid office provides students with a financial aid award package that contains a variety
of options to help students pay for college. A package may include a combination of Pell, Direct Loans and Parent PLUS Loans.
What happens after I submit my FAFSA?
Once a FAFSA form has been submitted and processed by the federal government, students receive electronic notification with a
Student Aid Report (SAR) via e-mail. The SAR contains FAFSA data submitted by the students as well as an Expected Family Contribution, which is essentially a dollar figure for how much the federal government determines the student’s family can afford to contribute to college costs. The SAR should be reviewed by students for accuracy. Be sure to respond to questions included on the SAR, correct inaccuracies and make updates if requested. The colleges designated on the original FAFSA will receive an Institutional
Student Information Report (ISIR), which is their version of the SAR.
What is a Parent PLUS loan?
Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (“PLUS” loans) are credit-based, low-interest loans available to parents to cover their portion of the cost of education. The financial aid award package sent to you by the college will explain the application process.
Will the college send financial aid payments to me or put them toward my bill?
Financial aid payments are applied to tuition bills first. If there is financial aid in excess of the tuition bill, the amount is refunded to the student for other costs associated with education.
Why am I receiving a FAFSA verification request from the college?
The Department of Education randomly selects FAFSA applications for verification as part of quality control. If your application has
been selected, you will be notified and requests for copies of IRS Tax Transcripts and other documentation will be made by the
colleges named on the original form. Requests for verification documentation are required by federal regulation and federal
financial aid cannot be disbursed until verification has been completed by the college. (Errors on the FAFSA form picked up
electronically also may elicit a verification request.)
Does one have to apply for financial aid every year?
Yes, financial aid is awarded on an annual basis. You will need to complete a FAFSA every year that you are in college.
How are federal student loans activated?
If federal loans are part of your financial aid package, entrance counseling is required, which is found through www.studentloans.gov.
Net Price Calculator?
The calculator is a tool to help families estimate their out of pocket expenses to attend college. Using this tool will help you understand how financial aid policies may apply to your specific situation.