Click on a question below to view the answer to some of our most frequently asked questions. If you can't find the information you need, please don't hesitate to contact us.
- How do I apply for financial aid and are there any deadlines?
- You can apply for financial aid by completing the FAFSA after January 1st. Paper forms are available by contacting the Central Processing Center at 1-800-433-3243. You can complete your application electronically at www.fafsa.gov. We strongly recommend that first year students complete their aid application by February 15th. WSCC's priority deadline is June 30. Students who apply after this date or who turn in required documentation a after this date, may have to pay for tuition and fees until a determination of aid can be determined.
- I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?
- Yes. We encourage everyone to apply! Often students who don't think they will be eligible are eligible. The FAFSA form is free. There is no good excuse for not applying.
- How do I start the financial aid process?
- If you are a senior in high school and it is after January 1, complete a Free online Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This begins the financial aid process. If you are not yet in the second half of your senior year, you still have time.
- Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid?
- No. You can apply for financial aid anytime after January 1; however, we will not receive the electronic copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) until admissions is complete.
- Why can't I submit my financial aid application before January 1?
- The need-analysis process for financial aid uses your family's income and tax information from the most recent tax year (the base year) to determine your eligibility for need-based financial aid during the upcoming academic year (the award year). Since the base year ends December 31, you cannot submit a financial aid application until Jan. 1.
- Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
- Yes. You must apply for financial aid every academic year. When filing the FAFSA for the first time, you will receive a pin number. You will use this pin number each year to complete the FAFSA. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly from year to year based on household size, income number of family members in college, etc. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA. Yes. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.
- What happens if I purposely provide inaccurate information and I am caught?
- If you use the FAFSA to apply for Federal student aid funds and provide false information, you are subject to fines and/or imprisonment under the U.S. Criminal Code. State and local laws may also apply in such cases.
- When can I expect to hear about my financial aid package?
- For new applicants to Walters State, you must be accepted for admission before your FAFSA will be loaded into our college system. Depending on the time of year you file and/or turn in requested documentation, it may take 2-6 weeks for processing. Processing for the upcoming award year begins in early April of each year. The first batch of award letters is generally sent in late April. Students may also check their StarNET account for the current status of their application. Generally speaking, the closer it gets to the term start date, the longer it takes to process the FAFSA. This is due to the volume of applications that are received after the 6/30 priority deadline. Hence, apply early!
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Where can I get a copy of the FAFSA?
- If you are in high school, you can ask your guidance counselor for a copy. You can also get the FAFSA from the financial aid office at a local college, your local public library, or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID. The online version of the form is available at http://www.fafsa.gov. (WSCC recommends using the electronic version for faster filing & results).
- Are photocopies of the FAFSA acceptable?
- No. Only the original FAFSA form produced by the US Department of Education is acceptable. Photocopies, reproductions, facsimiles and electronic versions are all not acceptable. However you may apply online at www.fafsa.gov.
- How soon after January 1st should the FAFSA form be sent in? Is it better to wait until the income tax forms have been completed?
- Send in the form as soon as possible after January 1. Although it is better to do your taxes early, it is ok to use estimates of your income, so long as they aren't very far off from the actual values. If you use estimates, you will most likely be selected for a process called verification. Thus, the school will need to collect copies of your (and your parents if you are dependent) tax returns to verify the information you put on your FAFSA is correct.
- 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) from the U.S. Department of Education either by mail or e-mail after 4 weeks, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (toll free) or 1-319-337-5665. You must provide them with your Social Security number and date of birth as verification.
You can also write to: Federal Student Aid Programs PO Box 4038 Washington, DC 52243-4038
- I will turn 24 on January 1st. Can I check Yes in the answer to the FAFSA question "Were you born before January 1, ..." to qualify as an independent student?
- The official answer is no. If you check yes, your Student Aid Report (SAR) will be flagged for verification.
- We won't have our taxes done until April, so I can't complete the FAFSA. What do I do?
- Many families do not have their federal and state income taxes completed until April; however, this should not prevent you from applying for aid on time. The FAFSA allows you to use estimated income figures on its form. You can always update your application at a later time and the school will adjust your aid eligibility. Estimating income will subsequently cause you to be selected for Verification. Thus, be sure to keep copies of all tax documents; the school will request copies in order to make necessary corrections to your FAFSA.
Family Relationship / Personal Status Questions
- How do I become an Independent Student for Federal Aid purposes?
- How do I become an Independent Student for Federal Aid purposes? You may be considered independent if you meet at least one of the following requirements:
Additionally, in extraordinary situations such as: abuse, abandonment or estrangement, the college may make a "professional judgment" and declare you independent for the purposes of receiving financial aid. Contact the Financial Aid Office for additional information regarding dependency overrides.
- were 24 years of age at the time you filed the FAFSA,
- are a veteran of the US Armed Forces
- are married
- are a ward of the court, or were a ward of the court until age 18
- have a legal dependent for whom you provide more than half of their support, or
- enroll in a graduate or professional program.
- Serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
- I was married last year and am no longer married. How do I file?
- You file as divorced or separated and report only your portion of income, taxes and assets.
- I plan to marry after the school year begins, can I fill out my FAFSA as married?
- No. You must indicate your marital status as of the date you are completing the FAFSA. Once you have indicated your marital status you cannot change that status for the academic year that you have applied for financial aid.
- My parents are separated (or divorced). Which parent fills out the FAFSA?
- If your parents are separated or divorced, the custodial parent should file the FAFSA. The custodial parent is the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months. Note that this is not necessarily the same as the parent who has legal custody. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, the parent who provided you with the most financial support should fill out the FAFSA. This is probably the parent who claimed you as a dependent on their tax return. If you have not received any support from either parent during the past 12 months, use the most recent calendar year for which you received some support from a parent or lived with either parent.
- My parents had no income or assets, should I leave the parents' part of the FAFSA blank or enter all (0's)?
- It is virtually impossible for anyone to live for a year without having some sort of income or spending accumulated assets. If parents have no earnings or assets, they probably had untaxed income from some source. Be sure an answer the questions related to income received from other sources than work for both you and your parents However, if indeed your parents truly had no income or assets, enter zeros (0's). Then the processor will know you didn't just forget to answer the questions.
- My parents are divorced, and the parent I'm living with has remarried. Does my step-parent have to report his or her income and assets on the FAFSA?
- Yes, provided that the parent you're living with is the one filling out the FAFSA (your custodial parent). If your step-parent is married to them at the time you fill out the FAFSA, they must report their income and assets even if they weren't married to them in the previous year. Example: You have been living with your mother and stepfather for the past 12 months. You would use your mother's income and stepfather's income, and you would report on the FAFSA as the number in family: yourself, your mother, your stepfather, and any other children that they support.
- My custodial parent remarried and signed a prenuptial agreement that absolves the step-parent from financial responsibility for my education. Why does my step-parent have to provide financial information on the FAFSA?
- My custodial parent remarried and signed a prenuptial agreement that absolves the step-parent from financial responsibility for my education. Why does my step-parent have to provide financial information on the FAFSA? Prenuptial agreements are ignored by the federal need analysis process. After all, two individuals (parent and step-parent) cannot make an agreement between them that is binding on a third party (the federal government). The federal government considers the step-parent a source of support regardless of any prenuptial agreements to the contrary. If a step-parent marries the parent, he or she is considered responsible for supporting the parent and children even if he or she is unwilling to do so.
- What if my family's financial circumstances change drastically during a given year? What can be done?
- There are circumstances that allow the Financial Aid Office to review student's current income and make a professional judgment in regard to eligibility. 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, contact the Financial Aid Office and request information regarding a "Request for Recalculation." Do not send any letters to the federal aid processing center. They are not able to adjust your aid eligibility.
- Can I obtain an estimate of my federal family contribution (EFC)?
- You can use FAFSA4caster to learn about the financial aid process and get an early estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid. Additionally, the College Board, originators of the well-known SAT tests, has a page on their web site for families to determine their federal expected family contribution. You can find this web site at www.collegeboard.com.
- 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). High school dropouts must take a GED exam but students who have completed a home schooled secondary education that satisfies the requirements of state law do not.
- How is my financial aid award determined?
- The federal processor determines your individual family's ability to contribute to the cost of education ("Expected Family Contribution") by using the information you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and a formula called "federal methodology." The formula considers your parents' and your income and assets, your family size and the number of family members enrolled in college. The EFC will be the same at any college you attend. After receiving your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) amount from the federal processor, the Office of Financial Aid then subtracts your EFC from the standard student budget (average cost of attendance). In formula form: Cost of Attendance - EFC = Student Financial Need.
- How do I find a job on campus?
- To qualify, recipients must apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), with the results indicating that they have a financial need. Additionally, a Work Study application is required Open the work-study application now. Students who qualify for work-study will be assigned a campus job. We give supervisors the right to accept or decline a current worker who plans on returning for the following year. Students will be assigned their jobs according to openings we have on campus. Work Study is a need-based program.
- 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
- How much financial aid will I receive?
- You must submit an application before an award amount can be determined. Financial aid depends upon a variety of circumstances including enrollment status, student, and student's family economic condition, and assets. You will be sent an award letter indicating your award amount and you may also view award amounts on your StarNET account.
- Do I have to pay taxes on the money I earn through Federal Work-Study?
- Yes. Work-study income is taxable. You will receive a W-2 form from the WSCC Business Office at the end of each year, and this form will indicate how much you made from all employment at the college, including work-study employment in the prior year.
- Can I expect to receive the same financial aid package each year?
- No, although the amount maybe close if your situation does not change. You are required to apply for financial aid (FAFSA) each year. Many types of financial aid are based on "need" and therefore may vary per year.
- Can my financial aid award amount change?
- Can my financial aid award amount change? Yes. As stated in the student award notification, initial financial aid awards are based on full time enrollment and are best estimates of what you are eligible to receive. Most changes in awards, however, involve factors that are under your control, such as enrollment changes. Your award may be increased, reduced, or even canceled, if:
- You receive any additional outside resource, such as a privately awarded scholarship, which was not listed on your award notification.
- You provided incorrect data on your FAFSA.
- You do not maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.
- You are suspended by WSCC.
- Transcripts, award amounts or other information that impacts eligibility is received from a college where you previously received aid.
- You do not enroll for the required number of hours to receive aid through the programs awarded to you.
- What expenses will financial aid cover?
- Financial aid is awarded based on an average Cost of Attendance that includes appropriate tuition/fees for your educational program, books/supplies and other educational expenses. Other educational expenses consist of living, transportation, personal and miscellaneous expenses during the academic year
- Can I charge my books each semester?
- Students are responsible for purchasing book until their balance of aid checks is disbursed.
- Will savings and other assets be considered when my financial need is evaluated?
- Family assets, such as stocks and bonds, net business worth, and savings are taken into account in determining the student's expected family contribution toward his/her education. Eligibility for federal financial aid funds is determined by rules set by the government that provide, among other things, allowances for retirement needs in computing this contribution.
School Related Questions
- Can I get aid for summer school?
- It depends. If you have not already used up your full eligibility in the student loan program or Pell grant program, you may not have any eligibility available. Many scholarships are not available during the summer. Work Study may be available in some cases.
- How do I compare aid from other schools?
- Financial aid packages should be evaluated based on quantity and quality. A good measure of the quantity of your aid package is to figure out how much financial aid money you will have left after paying your tuition and fees instead of simply considering the total amount.
- Can audit courses be used to receive financial aid?
- No. Audit course hours cannot be used to fulfill your hour requirement for financial aid.
- Are transfer hours and/or aid received from other schools considered when evaluating Satisfactory Academic Progress status (ie. max hours)?
- Yes. Federal directives allow students to receive aid for 150% of the program length. Thus, for a 60 credit hour program, a student may receive aid for no more than 90 hours. Additionally, an aggregate loan limit of $31,000 is enforced at WSCC. Loan amounts received at other schools are considered in this figure.
- Will outside scholarships affect my financial aid package?
- Outside scholarships must be included in your financial aid package as a resource to help pay for your educational costs. However, it is the goal of Walters State to ensure students are awarded for achievements and efforts by first applying these funds to any unmet need the student may have occurred. If need has been met 100%, we will lower the student's recommended loan amount. It is the responsibility of the student to notify the financial aid office of all outside scholarship awards.
- I received an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?
- Yes. If you are receiving any kind of aid from any source, you must report the scholarship to the Financial Aid Office.
- What happens to my financial aid status if I withdraw from school?
- Contact the Financial Aid Office before withdrawing from school. Depending upon when you withdraw from school, you may be required to repay a specified percentage of any aid you have received in the term in which you are withdrawing, since the funds you receive are designed to help you meet your living expenses for the entire term.
- If I take a leave of absence, do I have to start repaying my loans?
- Not immediately. The subsidized Stafford loan has a grace period of 6 months before the student must begin repaying the loan. When you take a leave of absence 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.
- What is a Student Aid Report (SAR)?
- The U. S. Department of Education will process your FAFSA in approximately one week. You will then receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) in the mail. The SAR will reflect the information from your application and, if there are no questions or problems with your application, your SAR will provide your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is the number used in determining your eligibility for federal student aid. Be sure to list Walters State's school code 008863.
- 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. The meanings of the acronyms are as follows:
EFC Expected Family Contribution
TI Total Income
ATI Allowances Against Total Income
STX State and Other Tax Allowance
EA Employment Allowance
IPA Income Protection Allowance
AI Adjusted Income
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
PC Parents' Contribution
SIC Dependent Student's Income Contribution
SCA Dependent Student's Contribution from Assets
- What if I don't get a Student Aid Report (SAR) or I need another copy
- You will receive a student aid report immediately if you file your FAFSA online. Additionally, you will have access to it by signing into your account for a few weeks. Print a copy for your records because after a specified time period you will not have access to the SAR through your account. If you do not receive a SAR within four weeks, call this federal student aid information number, 1-800-4-FED-AID. It is not necessary for you to send your SAR to the school, all schools you selected on your application will receive and electronic copy.
- What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?
- As required by federal regulations, all students requesting financial aid must maintain a cumulative grade average of 2.0 "C" or greater and complete an acceptable percentage of the program's scheduled objectives as defined in the SAP policies. A student who does not maintain Satisfactory Progress will lose financial aid eligibility. A copy of SAP policies are available here and are mailed with every award notification. It is the student's responsibility to read and understand the policy.
- When will I receive my Pell Grant?
- Financial aid awards are normally released at the start of each semester. As a financial aid recipient, your financial aid award funds will first be used to pay your tuition/fees, any other charges on your account. After all WSCC bills are paid for the semester, the balance of your financial aid money will be issued to you in the form of a check from the Business Office. Balance of aid checks (awards over the cost of tuition and fees) are disbursed beginning 10-14 days after the term begins. Students should check the term appropriate timetable or WSCC website for actual dates and locations of check distribution. After the initial distribution, balance of aid checks can be picked up in the Business Office. Generally checks are ready after 1:00 pm the day after "Financial Aid Recipient Check" appears on the student's account. Students should contact the Business Office to request checks be sent to off campus sites.
- How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?
- You must submit a FAFSA in order to determine eligibility for federal and state aid. Also, visit the federal website for more information and guidance about applying for aid.
- What is Verification?
- Verification is a federally mandated quality control process in which files are selected at random to check certain data elements on the FAFSA. If your file is selected for verification, the school is required to compare these data elements with the information on your tax returns to "verify" their accuracy. Your SAR will tell you if you have been selected for verification. Approximately 30% of all students are selected for verification. Answers to certain questions automatically trigger verification, such as: reporting no or very low income relative to number of people reported in the household, drastic changes in income or household size from previous year, changes to SAR by student or parent after submission.
- What do I do if I am selected for verification?
- You will receive a green postcard in the mail from WSCC indicating you were selected for verification. The card will contain instructions directing you to view your StarNET account for a detailed listing of what is needed to complete the process. Verification forms are available here.