by Kathy Sweeney, NCRW, CPRW, CEIC, CCM
Have you been recently downsized
and want to go back to school? Are you having trouble paying
for your education? Have you ever wondered who qualifies for
Financial Aid? Confused about all the different types of financial
aid? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then
we may have some answers.
Financial Aid is separated
in two categories: Federal Aid and Scholarships. Both of these
categories have their own process that must be followed to
Federal Financial Aid is
divided into two categories: Pell Grants and Federally Backed
Student Loans. Pell Grants consist of money that is provided
to the student based upon need, which does not have to be
repaid. Federally Guaranteed Student Loans, including subsidized
and unsubsidized Stafford loans, are available to all students.
These loans are repaid to the financial institution from where
the money is borrowed. While not every student is qualified
for a Pell Grant, every student can borrow money for their
Scholarships are monies
made available through certain organizations or educational
foundation grants that may be set-up by individuals or companies.
In addition, fee waivers may be available for students in
the athletics or honors programs. These scholarships or fee
waivers are not based upon income needs, but rather a certain
set of criteria, which are established by the benefactor.
These could include GPA, participation in school organizations
or community involvement.
In order to apply for Federal
financial aid, you must complete a Free Application for Federal
Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA application can be found on
the web at www.fafsa.ed.gov or in the financial aid office
on campus in paper form.
The deadline for this application
is June 30th, prior to the start of the fall semester in August
and November 1st prior to the start of spring classes in January.
Completing your FAFSA information early will ensure the process
is completed prior to classes starting. However, you may be
able to apply once you have started your semester, but you
will need to pay for your classes and then you will be reimbursed
if you qualify.
The information needed to
determine if you qualify for Federal financial aid is income
earned in the prior year, any investments which could be used
for education, the number of people in your household (dependents)
and your anticipated cost of attendance based upon the number
of credits you are enrolled in.
In addition, a determination
will be made whether you are a dependent of your parents.
This status can affect your eligibility for financial aid.
In the State of Arizona, you are considered a dependent until
the age of 24, unless you are married, are a veteran, have
a dependent other than a spouse that you are responsible for
50% of their support or are a ward of the court. Be prepared
to provide any information that proves these exceptions.
Students must be accepted
by an accredited institution and registered in a degree or
certificate program. All students must be registered for classes
prior to release of any financial aid funds. Financial aid
is based each semester on the number of credits for which
The "Minimum Required Credits"
is listed on the Financial Aid Notification letter. Full time
assistance requires 12 or more credits per semester, three-quarter
time is 9-11.99 credits, half-time is 6-8.99 credits, and
less than half-time is 1-5.99 credits. To maintain your financial
aid you must be making satisfactory academic progress and
complete 2/3 of the classes you attempt. For a complete explanation
of these terms, page 19 of the SCC course catalog defines
Students need to realize
that financial aid is not free money. The biggest problem
encountered are students who borrow too much money and are
unable to repay the loans in the future.
When determining how much
you will borrow, ensure that the earning potential to repay
the loans is practical with the degree you choose or borrow
only what you need. Student loans are reported on your credit
report and you cannot claim these loans in a bankruptcy proceeding.
If you borrow the money, you will be required to pay it back.
After you have completed
your application, you may be notified that you must provide
additional information. If this happens, comply with the instructions
on the letter. If you do not supply the information immediately,
your financial aid may be denied or delayed.
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