Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions
- What do I have to do in order to apply for financial aid?
- What are the deadlines to file for financial aid?
- Do I have to file my taxes before I fill out the FAFSA?
- What standards are used when determining financial aid eligibility?
- How many credits do I have to enroll in to be eligible for financial aid?
- How much money can I get for school?
- I received my Student Aid Report (SAR), now what?
- What is verification?
- Why is my school asking for a signed line-by-line tax return?
- What is the definition of an independent student?
- If you get a refund from the IRS, would it affect applying for Financial Aid?
- The FAFSA is asking for parent information, but I don’t live with them. Do I have to include that?
- Can I use my grandparents instead of my parents on the FAFSA?
- I have a child, but still live at home with my parents. Am I considered an independent student?
- My parents are separated, living in different homes; do I use mom, dad, or both on the FAFSA?
- I was married, but am now separated from my spouse; do I have to provide his/her income information?
- I did not have a job and I was living with someone other than my parent, should I just put $0 income on the FAFSA?
- If I am in active bankruptcy status, will that affect my financial aid?
- If I am in default on a student loan, can I still receive financial aid?
- If I received financial aid last year, won’t I automatically be eligible this year?
- What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?
- How can I pay my tuition if I don’t qualify for Financial Aid, but don’t have enough money to pay all at once?
- Can I get Financial Aid at two colleges at the same time?
What do I have to do in order to apply for financial aid?
- File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Apply online at www.fafsa.gov. (Be sure to include the NRCC federal school code, 005223, on your application.)
- Complete an NRCC Financial Aid Form
- If you wish to obtain a Direct Student Loan, you must also complete the following:
- For scholarships, there is a separate application process.
What are the deadlines to file for financial aid?
NRCC has the following priority deadlines:
- March 15th for Summer semester
- April 15th for Fall semester
Summer term begins a new award year. Students who are awarded for Fall term will also be awarded Spring aid. Students who attend in Fall do not
need to reapply for Spring aid. Students will be awarded at the full-time level.
Do I have to file my taxes before I fill out the FAFSA?
- Ideally, yes, but estimated information may be used.
- If estimated information is used to meet specific school deadlines, the FAFSA must be updated after filing taxes.
- Expect that if final tax numbers are very different, aid may be cancelled or revised.
What standards are used when determining financial aid eligibility?
- The Federal government does a complex calculation using the FAFSA information.
- Factors include: income, age of student, number in household, assets, number of children in college, and other information.
- The only way to determine eligibility is to apply.
How many credits do I have to enroll in to be eligible for financial aid?
- It depends on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and the types of aid for which you qualify.
- Most Pell recipients can receive financial aid for as little as one class.
- Some types of aid are available for 6-12 credits, or at least half time enrollment.
- Aid could be cancelled altogether, if enrolled for less than the minimum number of credits required for that specific type of financial aid.
- Be sure to read our Grants and Loans Information flyer for the specific enrollment requirements pertaining to each award received.
How much money can I get for school?
- Financial aid varies for each student depending on the FAFSA, the enrollment level, cost of attendance for the school, and aid available to each school. Additionally, students who apply by the priority filing deadline may have access to other funds that deplete quickly.
- After receiving the FAFSA, the Department of Education takes that information and calculates an EFC.
- Financial aid is determined based upon the EFC and the cost of attendance for each student, at each college.
- Here at NRCC, a full Pell grant recipient (EFC=0) receives enough aid to cover all in-state tuition/fees and books, and usually has money left over to help pay some living expenses or buy a computer. Refund checks are typically disbursed 4-6 weeks after the refund date.
I received my Student Aid Report (SAR), now what?
- Look over the information on your SAR to see if the data is correct. Make corrections if necessary.
- If you are selected for verification, check the Student Information System’s “To-Do” list on your account.
- When the student receives the SAR, the school also receives the information provided on the FAFSA.
- Once the school receives this information, financial aid processing can begin.
What is verification?
- Verification is when the Federal government audits approximately 30% of the applications submitted.
- The NRCC Financial Aid Office must verify the information reported on the FAFSA before the student can be awarded.
- Provide Federal tax returns (if filed) or proof of income, along with a verification worksheet, to the Financial Aid Office.
- If you filed, but don’t have a copy of your tax return, you will have to order a copy from either your tax preparer or the IRS, which may take 2 weeks. The IRS can be reached at 1-800-829-1040. Time lost could be money lost; so don’t delay.
- Verification worksheets are available on the Forms page.
What is the definition of an independent student?
Because the EFC formula for a dependent student uses parental data, and the two formulas for independent students do not, the first step in calculating a student’s EFC is to determine his or her dependency status. For the 2012-2013 Award Year, a student is automatically determined to be an independent applicant for federal student aid if he or she meets one or more of the following criteria:
- Student was born before January 1, 1989.
- Student is married or separated (but not divorced) as of the date of the application.
- At the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, the student will be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program (such as MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate, etc.).
- Student is currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, or is a National Guard or Reserves enlistee called into federal active duty for other than training purposes.
- Student is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces (see the definition in the box on page 4).
- Student has one or more children who receive more than half of their support from him or her between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013.
- Student has dependent(s) (other than children or spouse) who live with him or her and who receive more than half of their support from the student, now and through June 30, 2013.
- At any time since the student turned age 13, both of the student’s parents were deceased, the student was in foster care, or the student was a dependent/ward of the court.
- As determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence, the student is now or was upon reaching the age of majority, an emancipated minor (released from control by his or her parent or guardian).
- As determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence, the student is now or was upon reaching the age of majority, in legal guardianship.
- On or after July 1, 2011, student was determined by a high school or school district homeless liaison to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.
- On or after July 1, 2011, student was determined by the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.
- On or after July 1, 2011, student was determined by a director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or was self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
- Student was determined by the college financial aid administrator to be an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
TERMS USED IN THE DEFINITION OF AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT
LEGAL DEPENDENT. Any child of the student who receives more than half of their support from the student (the child does not have to live with the student), including a biological or adopted child. Also, any person, other than a spouse, who lives with the student and receives more than half of his or her support from the student now and will continue to receive more than half of his or her support from the student through June 30, 2013.
VETERAN. A student who: (1) has engaged in active service in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard), or has been a member of the National Guard or Reserves who was called to active duty for purposes other than training, or was a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies, or attended a U.S. military academy preparatory school, and (2) was released under a condition other than dishonorable. A veteran is also a student who does not meet this definition now but will by June 30, 2013.
Why is my school asking for a signed line-by-line tax return?
- The FAFSA form asks for specific line numbers.
- The information being verified comes from the corresponding line numbers.
- Income tax summaries provided by some tax preparers will not suffice.
- Income tax transcripts provided by the IRS will be sufficient, if signed.
- All taxes must be signed by either the parties who filed, or their preparer. Electronic signatures are not acceptable.
If you get a refund from the IRS, would it affect applying for Financial Aid?
- No. Getting a refund on taxes has no direct bearing on financial aid eligibility.
The FAFSA is asking for parent information, but I don’t live with them. Do I have to include that?
- Yes, typically, a student under 24 years of age must provide parent information on the FAFSA regardless of living arrangements.
- The exceptions are listed on the FAFSA. If a student does not answer yes to any of these questions, parent information is required.
- For special circumstances (parents incarcerated, abandonment, abusive environment), please contact the Financial Aid Office, and request information about a dependency override. Rarely, a student will qualify for an override, but complete documentation of the circumstances must be provided.
Can I use my grandparents instead of my parents on the FAFSA?
- No, not unless formally adopted. See answer above for special circumstances requests.
- Legal adoption is the only way to provide someone else’s information other than the biological parents.
- Students who are under legal guardianship do not need any parent data (answer the FAFSA question and provide documentation, if requested).
I have a child, but still live at home with my parents. Am I considered an independent student?
- No, a student is not automatically considered independent due to having a child.
- The true test is whether a student financially supports him/herself and more than half of the support for his/her dependent(s).
- If the student has a child but is living at home with his/her parent(s), proof may be required to determine financial support.
My parents are separated, living in different homes; do I use mom, dad, or both on the FAFSA?
- Identify the parent who provided the most support in the last 12 months.
- Usually it is the parent the student lives with.
- If that parent is divorced and remarried, the student must also include his/her stepparent’s tax information on the FAFSA.
I was married, but am now separated from my spouse; do I have to provide his/her income information?
- A student does not include spouse information if the two are separated and no longer living together on the date the FAFSA is filed. Living together negates the separated status.
- If taxes were filed jointly, and both filers had income, W2 forms are needed in addition to tax forms.
- Consult with the Financial Aid Office for help when filing the FAFSA to avoid common mistakes.
I did not have a job and I was living with someone other than my parent, should I just put $0 income on the FAFSA?
- Report $0 earned income on the FAFSA.
- Report all unearned income (except TANF, combat pay or Social Security) by checking the appropriate box and furnishing the amount. NRCC has a specific form on which to report this information.
- Calculate your bills someone else paid by determining which bills in your name were paid by someone else (roommate, family member, etc.) for the entire year, and report under "money received or paid on your behalf".
- Consult the Financial Aid Office to request the form “Explanation of Unusually Low Income” form.
If I am in active bankruptcy status, will that affect my financial aid?
- It depends on if the student has a college loan, and if the loan is part of the bankruptcy.
If I am in default on a student loan, can I still receive financial aid?
- No. All FAFSA applications go through the National Student Loan Database Service (NSLDS) for screening.
- NSLDS will report default status to each school listed on the FAFSA.
- Schools cannot provide any aid to students who are in default.
- Students must provide documentation to the Financial Aid Office proving the loan is no longer in default before eligibility for aid can be re-established.
If I received financial aid last year, won’t I automatically be eligible this year?
- No. File a new FAFSA every year after January 1 so eligibility can be re-determined.
- Just as tax information changes, so does eligibility for financial aid.
- The minimums for Satisfactory Academic Progress must also be met in order to receive financial aid (see below).
What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?
- A Federal requirement; qualitative and quantitative measurements are used to determine if a student is making progress toward his or her stated degree objective.
- All students need to have a degree objective (certificate or associate’s degree) in order to qualify for financial aid.
- Each school is required to measure progress at intervals by checking grade point averages (GPA); completion rate (percentage of classes completed); maximum time frame allowances (150% rule); developmental credit classes limit (no more than 30 credits).
- An appeal process does exist for students with mitigating circumstances. The Appeal for Reinstatement of Aid form is located on the Forms page.
- NRCC's SAP policy is available on our website.
How can I pay my tuition if I don’t qualify for Financial Aid, but don’t have enough money to pay all at once?
- Web payment by credit card
- Cash, check, and charge accepted at the Business Office on campus
- Monthly tuition payment program
- Private Scholarships
- Veteran benefits
Can I get Financial Aid at two colleges at the same time?
- No, you can only have aid at one college or university during any given time period.They cannot overlap at all.
- However, some colleges and universities will allow a consortium agreement. You would still have to pay out of pocket at one school, but the other may count your combined enrollment to determine your aid eligibility.
For more information please visit the following websites:
Federal Student Aid: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/
Federal Direct Student loans: www.studentloans.gov
Private Scholarship Information: www.fastweb.com