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Financial Aid FAQ

  1. How do I apply for Federal Financial Aid?
  2. What is a Student Aid Report?
  3. When and how will I receive my financial aid?
  4. What expenses can I expect financial aid to cover?
  5. Do I have to reapply every year?
  6. How do I compare awards from several schools?
  7. How is my "financial need" determined?
  8. What is a "Student Budget," or "Average Cost of Attendance?"
  9. Will our savings be considered when our financial need is being determined?
  10. How do I become an Independent Student for Federal Aid purposes?
  11. If I'm planning to marry, can I fill out my FAFSA as "married"?
  12. If my parents are divorced or separated, whose financial data should be used for my FAFSA?
  13. How do I apply for aid for summer semester?
  14. Can audit courses be used to receive financial aid?
  15. How do I find and apply for scholarships?
  16. I want a Federal Work-Study job. How can I get one?
  17. Do I have to pay taxes on the money I earn through Federal Work-Study?
  18. What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?
  19. Is there a charge for a Stafford loan?
  20. How much can I borrow per year in the Federal Stafford Loan Program?
  21. What is the aggregate limit for the Stafford Loan Program?
  22. What is a PLUS loan
  23. How does my parent apply?
  24. Can I receive aid on less than full time enrollment?
  25. What is verification?
  26. What if I am selected for verification?
  27. What will happen if I drop a class?
  28. What happens if I withdraw from the College?
  29. What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?
  30. What are the Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress?
  31. What if I have unusual circumstances?
  32. Can my financial aid change?
  33. What is the Enrollment Freeze date and how does it impact my financial aid?
  34. How do I return a check to the school?
  35. What the minimum requirements for receiving a student loan?
  36. How can I purchase my books if I'm still waiting for my financial aid to disburse?

How do I apply for Federal Financial Aid?
If you are a senior in high school, or have already completed high school or your GED, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit it to the colleges you are considering attending. This begins the financial aid process. You may still qualify if you have not obtained a high school diploma or GED, and are over the age of compulsory attendance. Please see a campus Student Services Center for assistance.

You will be contacted about how to continue the process after your college receives your FAFSA from the Department of Education. PCC Financial Aid will mail you a Welcome Letter with instructions regarding your application.

What is a Student Aid Report?
The U. S. Department of Education will process your electronic FAFSA and e-mail you a Student Aid Report (SAR) to you. The SAR will reflect the information from your application and, if no further information is needed, your SAR will provide your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This number is used in determining your eligibility for federal student aid. The lower the EFC, the more likely you are to be grant eligible.

When and how will I receive my financial aid?
If all requirements have been met, and eligibility has been determined, financial aid awards will begin to be released to your student account when classes for the semester begin. Your financial aid award funds will first be used to pay your tuition and fees. After all your tuition and fees are paid for the semester, the Student Accounts Office (206-4574) will begin to issue refunds.

What expenses can I expect financial aid to cover?
Financial aid is awarded based on an average Cost of Attendance (COA) COA includes tuition/fees, books/supplies, and other educational expenses such as housing, transportation, personal and miscellaneous expenses that you may incur during the school year. Your financial aid won't cover ALL costs incurred while attending college. Your Cost of Attendance is reflected as a Student Budget Group and is calculated based upon the number of credits that you enroll in.

Do I have to reapply every year?
Yes. You must apply for financial aid every academic year. After your first year, you will receive a "Renewal Application" from the federal processor (by e-mail). The renewal application contains pre-filled information from the previous year's FAFSA. Your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college or a significant financial change. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on you making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.

How do I compare awards from several schools?
Evaluate financial aid packages based on quantity and quality. To measure the quantity of your aid package, figure out how much financial aid money you will have left after paying your tuition and fees instead of simply considering the total amount. A financial aid package is considered high quality if it allows a reasonable level of self-help awards (loans and work-study) compared to the total cost of education at the school, and is consistent from year to year.

How is my "financial need" 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. If you meet the qualifications to be an independent student, your parents’ information will not be necessary. 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.

What is a "Student Budget," or "Average Cost of Attendance?"
The Student Budget is the amount the College estimates it will cost to attend college for the academic year. Costs include: tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing, meals, transportation, and personal expenses. Budgets are calculated differently for students who are independent and dependent, or who are enrolled in certain programs with costs that differ from the standard credit-hour programs or are enrolled in less than full-time hours.

Will our savings be considered when our financial need is being determined?
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. The government rules for eligibility for Federal financial aid provide, among other things, allowances for retirement needs in computing this contribution.

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:

  • were born before January 1, 1990 (2013-2014)
  • 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, or meet one of the conditions listed at www.fafsa.gov
  • have a legal dependent for whom you provide more than half of his/her support

Please visit a campus Student Services Center if you feel you have special circumstances that should be considered for determining your dependency status.

If I'm planning to marry, can I fill out my FAFSA as "married"?
No. You must indicate your marital status as of the date you are completing the FAFSA. You can update your status once it changes.

If my parents are divorced or separated, whose financial data should be used for my FAFSA?
Use the natural parent with whom you lived the most in the past 12 months. If you lived with neither parent, or lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent that provided the most financial support to you over the past 12 months. If that parent has remarried, you must also include the step parent's financial information on the application, and parent and step parent should report themselves as married on the FAFSA.

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 family members they support.

How do I apply for aid for summer semester?
If you are requesting Federal aid (student loans, college work-study, or Pell grant) for the summer term, you must have a valid, verified FAFSA (Student Aid Report) on file in the Office of Financial Aid. If you have not completed a FAFSA for the current year, be sure to do so as soon as possible.  You must enroll in your summer courses and your eligibility will be reviewed by our office.  If you received a loan in the Spring semester AND you meet all the Summer loan eligibility requirements, you will automatically be offered a Spring/Summer loan.

Can audit courses be used to receive financial aid?
No. Audit course hours cannot be used to fulfill your hour requirement for financial aid and cannot be paid for with financial aid.

How do I find and apply for scholarships?
Visit PCC’s scholarship web page to see what is available. You can also visit www.fastweb.com or www.finaid.org to search for scholarships available across the country. BEWARE of any applications requiring a payment. Legitimate scholarship offers never require a fee to apply. Check back regularly as these pages are constantly updated with new awards.

I want a Federal Work-Study job. How can I get one?
Work-Study is a need-based program. To qualify, recipients must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), with the results indicating financial need. To be considered for Federal Work-Study as part of your financial aid award, you MUST apply early in the year-before the April 1st priority deadline. Work-study funds are limited.

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 W2 form from the College at the end of the year. This form will indicate how much you earned at the College. Note that although you should list those earnings as income on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you may also report them as exclusions in the appropriate section of your FAFSA.

What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?
A subsidized loan is awarded based on financial need. You won't be charged any interest before you begin repayment or during deferment periods. The Federal government “subsidizes” the interest during these periods.

An unsubsidized loan is not awarded on the basis of need. You will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. If you allow the interest to accrue (accumulate) while you are in school or during other periods of nonpayment, the interest will be capitalized. This means the interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan, and additional interest will be based on that higher amount.

Is there a charge for a Stafford loan?
There is an origination fee of 1.072% on the loan. These fees are deducted proportionately from each disbursement of your loan before the funds are sent to PCC.

How much can I borrow per year in the Federal Stafford Loan Program?

Dependent undergraduate student Stafford Loan eligibility:

  • Freshman: $3,500 per year plus an additional $2,000 unsubsidized.
  • Sophomore: $4,500 per year plus an additional $2,000 unsubsidized.

Independent undergraduate student Stafford Loan eligibility:

  • Freshman: $3,500 per year plus an additional $6,000 unsubsidized.
  • Sophomore: $4,500 per year plus an additional $6,000 unsubsidized.

Note: The amounts given above are the maximum yearly amounts you can borrow in both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. You may receive less than these yearly maximum amounts if you receive other financial aid to cover a portion of your cost of attendance. You may also be limited in the amount you can borrow by the cost of attendance of the program in which you are enrolled. PCC cannot certify a loan for an amount greater than the cost of attendance.

What is the aggregate limit for the Stafford Loan Program?
When taking out student loans, think about your educational goals, how long it will take and how much it will cost. Plan accordingly. Undergraduates cannot borrow more than the amount listed below:

  • Dependent student: $31,000 (of which no more than $23,000 can be subsidized).
  • Independent student: $57,500 (of which no more than $23,000 can be subsidized).

What is a PLUS loan?
This is a loan offered to parents of dependent students. The interest rate is fixed at 6.41%. Repayment begins 60 days after the last disbursement unless an in-school deferment is requested. The borrower (parent) is subject to a credit check.

How does my parent apply?
Your parent applies for a PLUS loan by contacting the lender of their choice and filling out an application for the loan. The lender will contact PCC to notify the school that the parent is interested and will also explain how it would like the parent to complete a Master Promissory Note for the funds. Your parent must also complete and submit the PLUS loan request.

Can I receive aid on less than full time enrollment?
Your financial aid is awarded based on estimated full-time enrollment. If you will enroll for a different number of credits, please complete and submit a Change of Enrollment Plans form. Your financial aid will be adjusted to reflect your actual enrollment. You will be notified on your MyPima Financial Aid tab of any changes made to your financial aid package due to this adjustment. You must be enrolled at least half-time (6 units) to maintain eligibility for loans. Additionally, if you are enrolled in courses that are less than the traditional 16 weeks, your payments will occur 10 days prior to the start of your courses, as your enrollment level changes.

What is verification?
Verification is a federally mandated quality control process in which the Department of Education selects student files at random for review. If you are selected for verification, the school is required to check certain data on the FAFSA and compare them to your financial documents. We need additional paperwork to complete this process. If your file is selected for verification, you will be notified on your MyPima Financial Aid tab.

What if I am selected for verification?
You will need to submit to the Financial Aid Office signed copies of student and parent or spouse (if applicable) Federal tax transcripts, W2s, a completed Verification Worksheet and any other documents indicated on the "Requirements" section of you MyPima Financial Aid tab.

What will happen if I drop a class?
If you drop a course after you have already received your financial aid, you may have to pay back funds. If you drop all your courses, the probability that you will need to pay back aid increases significantly.

What happens if I withdraw from the College?
We understand that unexpected events occur in life that could cause a student to withdraw from PCC. Federal regulations require financial aid to be awarded under the assumption that a student will attend the institution for the entire period in which federal assistance was disbursed.

We suggest staying in at least 6 units if at all possible, your loans don't enter repayment. Your aid will be recalculated if you completely withdraw. Those funds then need to be returned to the Department of Education, you will then need to repay those funds. We encourage you to read all the information on the Dropping and Withdrawing page to help you understand the effect of withdrawal.

What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?
U.S. Department of Education regulations require students to maintain satisfactory progress toward a degree or certificate. Therefore, PCC will evaluate students for compliance with the three Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards. Failure to meet these standards may result in the loss of financial aid eligibility. Students at risk are strongly encouraged to contact academic and financial aid advisors.

What are the Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress?
The three satisfactory progress standards PCC evaluates are:

  • Minimum number of credits successfully completed
  • Minimum GPA
  • Maximum number of credits necessary to complete your program

For full details of your requirements see the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards page.

What if I have unusual circumstances?
If any of the following circumstances apply to you or your family, and occurred during the application year, please complete a Request for Special Circumstances Review.

  • Divorce of parents, or you from your spouse
  • Death of a major wage earner in your household
  • Loss of employment of a major wage earner in your household
  • Loss of other income or benefits (such as Social Security or child support) by you, your parents, or your spouse

Can my financial aid change?
Yes. Initial financial aid awards are the best estimate of your eligibility. Most changes in awards, however, involve factors that are under your control and of which you should be aware. Your award may be increased, reduced, or even canceled, if:

  • Your family financial circumstance changes, causing your need to change.
  • You receive any additional outside resource, such as a privately awarded scholarship.
  • You provided incorrect data on your FAFSA.
  • You do not maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  • Your level of enrollment is less than full-time. All initial awards are based on the belief that a student will enroll full-time. If you do not enroll full-time, you will be placed in a student budget that accurately reflects your level of enrollment.

What is the Enrollment Freeze date and how does it impact my financial aid?

This is the date your financial aid is locked based on your enrollment. The Financial Aid Office will make the necessary adjustment to your aid based on your enrollment level on that date. If you received more financial aid than allowed based on this enrollment, the Financial Aid Office will notify the Student Accounts Office of the overpayment and bill your account for the amount owed.

If you add any classes today or after this date, the Financial Aid Office cannot increase your financial aid offer; however, your financial aid award may be decreased if you drop late-start courses after this date.

How do I return a check to the school?

In the case that you need to return money to the school you will need to bring the un-cashed check to any Campus Cashier's Office or the District Student Accounts Office.  Be sure to complete and print the Return Check Form, attach the voided check to the form, and submit to the cashier.  If you are a financial aid recipient and you wish to cancel or reduce your financial aid award, you must also complete the Federal Aid Cancellation/Reduction Form and submit the form to the Financial Aid Office separately.

What are the minimum requirements for receiving a student loan?

In order to be eligible for any Federal Stafford Loan or Parent PLUS loan, you must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours for the semester.  Additionally, you must be eligible for financial aid with regards to Satisfactory Academic Progress standards.  Students may also consider borrowing Alternative/Private loans from their preferred lender even if they are not meeting the standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress; however, Alternative/Private loans are credit-based, typically have variable interest rates, do not always provide deferment periods, and often have shorter repayment terms than Federal student loans.

How can I purchase my books if I'm still waiting on my financial aid to disburse?

If your financial aid is certified and your award has been authorized on your student account, you may borrow against the portion of aid that exceeds your other expenses still owed to the school to purchase books at any Pima bookstore.  In order to take out a book loan with the use of your financial aid, you must bring your Pima ID Card (or government-issued ID and your student ID #) with you to the Pima bookstore and present it for identity purposes.  Be aware that your student account will be billed for the loan charges you incur and you are responsible for ensuring that this loan is repaid to the school.