step1: Getting Qualified

understanding the qualification process

The first step in the financial aid process is to understand the qualification process for college and federal student aid. This process is used to qualify you for college scholarships, grants, student loans, and other aid-based programs.

Terms will include college costs, dependency status, and expected family contribution (EFC)..

Below are four (4) quick summary tasks on Aid Step1:

Page Topics:

financial aid summary note

Financial Aid Eligibility

Varies by student grade level. The higher your credit earned, the higher amount of loan amounts: see loan chart

  • display a need for financial aid (except for unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans)
  • complete high school and have been awarded a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) Certificate
  • pass a college entrance exam approved by the U.S. Department of Education, and/or meet other standards your state may establish
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working at least half-time toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program
  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • have a valid Social Security number
  • make satisfactory academic progress
  • sign a statement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) certifying that you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes
  • sign a statement on the FAFSA certifying that you are not in default on a federal student loan and that you do not owe money back on a federal student grant
  • register with the Selective Service (for young men age 18 and over) - you can register online

financial aid summary note

Aid Awarded Based on Status

Different eligibility loan amounts will be awarded for dependent and independent students: see loan chart

  • students who have access to parental support are classified as dependent students
  • the award amounts for dependent students are generally lower than the amounts for independent students
  • dependent students and their parents must report respectively their income and assets on the FAFSA form

Students who display at least one of the following requirements are classified as independent students:

  • you were at least 24 years of age on January 1 of the academic year you begin school
  • you are married on the day you apply (even if you are separated but not divorced)
  • you will be enrolled in a graduate or professional program (beyond the bachelor's degree) at the beginning of the academic year
  • you have legal dependents other than a spouse who receive more than half their support from you
  • you are an orphan or ward of the court (or were a ward of the court until age 18)
  • you are veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces ("veteran" includes a student who attended a U.S. military academy who was released under a condition other than dishonorable)
  • if none of the above criteria apply to you, you will be classified as an dependent student

    not living with parents or not being claimed by them on tax forms does not determine dependency status for federal student aid

financial aid summary note

Understand Expected Family Contribution

Needs-based financial aid programs are awarded to students and families who display a financial need.

The government calculates financial need based upon the following formula:

+(add) Total cost to attend college (tuition, books, housing, etc.)
-(minus) The "Expected Family Contribution (EFC) " towards the cost of education for 1 year
=(equals) Eligible Financial Need

To be considered for needs based financial aid, both parent and student must submit the FAFSA form

  • the FAFSA form is completed by both parent and student for dependent status; and by the student and spouse for independent status.
  • The FAFSA form collects information about your financial position and compares it with your filed IRS forms

financial aid summary note

What Makes Up College Costs

Schools determine costs based upon average budgets that students spend for the following categories:

  • School Tuition and Fees:
    cost to attend class instruction and the use of facilities, labs, libraries and all other related services
  • Books and Supplies:
    the estimated amount for books and supplies the student will be required to purchase for classroom instruction
  • Laptop Computer:
    may include a desktop computer along with a printer and other necessary electronics
  • Room and Board:
    the estimated cost for housing and food
  • Transportation:
    the estimated cost for 2-3 round trips from your home to school
  • Personal Living Expenses:
    the estimated cost for clothing, grooming supplies, laundry and limited entertainment
  • Other Personal Costs:
    personal expenses that are specific to the student such as disability expenses, dependent care, loan fees, etc.
  • Miscellaneous:
    any other expenses that you can identify with your school's Financial Aid Office