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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

...AND ANSWERS!

 

Answers to your questions about:


THE APPLICATION PROCESS


How do I apply for financial aid?

  • To apply for all federal and state financial aid you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student aid (FAFSA).  This form can be completed online at www.fafsa.gov

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Do I have to apply for Financial Aid each year?

  • Yes, your financial situation must be reviewed each year.

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When should I apply for financial aid?

  • You must apply for financial aid every year.  The best time to apply is as soon as possible after January 1, prior to the school year for which you are applying.  If you apply prior to February 1, 2013, you may be eligible for need-based grants such as, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and/or Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG).  Even if you apply after February 1, 2013, you should still apply as soon as possible with the understanding that some programs have limited funds and are awarded to eligible students on a first come, first served basis. 

     

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Must I be accepted for Admissions before I apply for Financial Aid?

  • No, you may apply for financial aid any time after January 1 for the upcoming academic year; however, you will need to file an Admissions Form and register before you can receive financial aid.

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Do I have to wait until I file taxes to file the FAFSA?

  • No, you should file the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 each year.  You may use estimated tax figures by indicating on the FAFSA that you 'Will File', but have not yet done so.  Remember, some financial aid funds are quite limited and are awarded to eligible students on a first come, first served basis.

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When is the last date to apply for aid?

  • There technically is a deadline at the end of each school year, but students may apply anytime during the year until that date.  Earlier applications often receive consideration for certain limited funds.  Pell Grants are always available to eligible students but Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans have term application deadlines.

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What is CGCC’s School Code? 

  • The Federal School Code is 041519.

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How do I correct a mistake on my FAFSA?

  • If you find incorrect information on your FAFSA or you originally used estimated information and need to report actual figures, changes can be made online at www.fafsa.gov.  If the information is found to be incorrect after you have been awarded, you will need to contact the Financial Aid Office for further instructions. 

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How can I estimate my aid eligibility?

  • You may estimate the amount of Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and financial need by filling out the requested information at http://www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov.

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What is the EFC?

  • The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the calculation of the student’s ability to meet college expenses and serves as an indexing number to compare you and/or your family’s ability to meet expenses with every other student at college in the U.S.

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How is financial need determined?

  • A student’s financial need is determined by using the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) derived from the FAFSA and federal law.  The EFC takes into account the number of people in the household, the number of people in college, the state the student and/or parent resides in, the age of the student and/or parents, as well as the student’s and/or parents’ income and assets.  The Cost of Attendance (COA) is determined by the CGCC financial aid office each year in conjunction with federal guidelines and actual per credit tuition.

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Why do I have to provide parent information?

  • Parent information is used because the U.S. Congress has stated that families have the primary responsibility of funding a college education.  Parent information is not necessary if you are independent. 

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How can I be considered independent?

  • To be considered an independent student when completing the FAFSA, you must meet one of the following criteria:

    • At least 24 years of age by 12/31 of the year prior to filing.
    • Married at the time of filing.
    • Have a child or other legal dependents for which you, personally, provide more than 50% of the support for that child or legal dependent and are able to document that support.
    • An orphan or ward of the court at any time since turning 13 (for reasons other than juvenile incarceration).
    • Documented homeless youth.
    • Legally emancipated.
    • Earned a Bachelor’s Degree.
    • A veteran of the armed forces or currently on active duty in the armed forces.

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Can I appeal my dependency status?

  • You are not automatically independent for financial aid purposes simply because your parents stop claiming you as a tax exemption or refuse to give you support for your college education or because you move away from home.  Unwillingness or reluctance of parents to help pay for your educational costs, or becoming emancipated does not make you independent by federal law.  Except in very unusual and mitigating circumstances that can be documented, parents have the primary responsibility to financially assist in their dependent child’s education to the extent determined possible.  In circumstances of abuse, or extreme estrangement or other extenuating circumstances, a student may obtain the Appeal to Apply without Parent Information form.

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What is Untaxed Income for Financial Aid purposes?

  • Untaxed Income is income received that is not subject to U.S. income taxes and is required to be reported on the FAFSA.  It includes Social Security, welfare, child support and untaxed pensions.  Even if you filed a tax return, complete the untaxed income portion of the FAFSA and Verification Worksheet.

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Do my stepparents’ income and assets have to be reported on the FAFSA?

  • If the parent whose information you are reporting on the FAFSA is married or remarried at the time you complete the FAFSA, you must include information about your stepparent even if they were not married the year previous to your applying.

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My parents are separated or divorced, what financial information should I include on the FAFSA?

  • The parent you lived with most during the last 12 months.  If you didn’t live with either parent, or if you lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent who provided the most support to you during the last 12 months or during the most recent calendar year that you were actually supported by a parent.

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What if my parents or I had an unusual drop in income or increase in expenses?

  • You do not need to do anything until after you receive your Award Letter.  Your original Award Letter will reflect the year’s information from your FAFSA.  You may then file a 'Change in Financial Situation form' available by contacting the Financial Aid Office.

          

Parent and student request for reevaluation based on unusual changes in financial circumstances during the calendar year will be reviewed after the initial award letter.  If it is determined that your financial need has increased, this increase could be funded with loans and possibly an increased Pell Grant.  Do not submit documentation of changes until after you receive your first official award notification.

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What is the maximum income limit for financial aid?

  • CGCC’s financial aid office uses the results of the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for need-based federal and state aid.  Although there is no maximum income limit for financial aid, students with a lower EFC are typically eligible for more financial aid.  Certain loans are available regardless of income.  There are many factors besides income that determine the EFC such as the size of the student’s household, number of people in the household attending college, the age of those in the household and the state of residence.

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Can I adjust my budget?

  • A student’s budget or Cost of Attendance (COA) consists of standard costs for tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses. If a student incurs more costs in one particular area it may be possible to increase the budget.  An Additional Expense Appeal form will need to be filled out.  Increasing a student’s budget does not necessarily result in more aid, but may increase loan eligibility.

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What is a Student Aid Report (SAR) and what do I do with it?

  • The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a report of the information you provided on the FAFSA.  You should review this information carefully for accuracy and any special messages from the Department of Education.  If you find incorrect information or you originally used estimated information and need to report actual figures, make your changes at www.fafsa.gov

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What is the verification process and why must I complete it?

  • Verification is the process to ensure the accuracy of the information reported on the FAFSA.  Approximately 50% of students are selected each year for verification.  This process also helps to ensure the integrity of the federal student aid programs.  Application information is compared with documents supplied to the financial aid office by the applicant and corrections are made, if necessary, to the student's FAFSA.  Requested documents often include tax returns as well as other verification documents.  If you are selected for verification by the federal Department of Education, complete and return all requested documents to CGCC’s financial aid office as soon as you can.  We cannot determine your eligibility until the verification materials are received and processed.

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How long does the verification process take?

  • The total processing time is about 3 – 4 weeks.  Processing time can be longer, particularly at the beginning of the school year or at the beginning or ending of a term when financial aid staff are busy with other financial aid processes.

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How Do I Request a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS?

  • If you have been asked to provide a copy of you and/or your parents’ Tax Return Transcript, you may order one from the IRS by one of the following methods.  All methods result in a paper copy mailed to you in 5 – 10 days.

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What if My Parents Won’t Provide Their Tax Return Information?

  • If tax information is required from your parents, it must be provided on the FAFSA before CGCC will be able to continue processing your application.  If it is not provided, you cannot receive aid.

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What is an Award Letter and How Can I Access It?

  • An Award Letter is your notification of the different types of aid (grants, loans, work study and scholarships) that you’re eligible to receive for the academic year.  You can access your Award Letter by logging in to your student account then selecting ‘Check Financial Aid Status’, then ‘What Has Been Awarded to Date?’. 

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When will I get an Award Letter?

  • You can anticipate receiving an award letter in 6 – 10 weeks from the date your application and file at CGCC are complete.  This time certainly varies depending on the time of year and how early your application is received after January 1.  All applicants completing the FAFSA and any additional requirements for aid at CGCC will be notified formally of eligibility through the student's college email account. 

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I received confirmation that my FAFSA was processed, what’s the status of my financial aid application?

  • When you receive notification from the Department of Education that your FAFSA has been processed, CGCC will also receive a copy of your record and will begin processing your application for financial aid. CGCC has a two level review of all FAFSA applications. 

    • Initial Review - the first review to determine what documents are needed to make your file complete.  We will notify you through your student email account of any additional documents needed to complete your file. 
     
    • Verification Review - the second review to ensure that your aid meets all of the federal laws related to financial aid eligibility.  An award letter will be sent to your student email account once this review process has been completed.

     

You may obtain information about your financial aid status by logging in to your student account and selecting 'Check Financial Aid Status'.

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What happens if school starts and my financial aid award is not ready yet?

  • Financial aid refunds begin the second Friday of each term.  After this point,  if you have not been awarded, a late fee will be added to your account but removed once your award letter is processed.  Any credit balance remaining on your account (after tuition, fees and books are deducted) will be refunded to you.

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Can I have more aid?

  • CGCC’s financial aid office will process your FAFSA and award you the maximum amount of aid you are eligible to receive.  You may contact our office if you have questions regarding your award.  If you have not borrowed the maximum amount of Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans and you are at least half-time, you can borrow additional funds.

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Why is my aid different this year than last year?

  • Each year students must complete the FAFSA reflecting the prior year’s tax information.  Your (and/or your parent’s) income and asset information may have changed since the prior year.  Even small changes can affect certain eligibility for aid.  Each year the federal government reviews and modifies the formulas used to calculate a family’s financial strength that is reflected in the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

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I got a Pell Grant and/or Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG) last year, why did I not get the same thing this year?

  • Most likely your or your parents’ income increased.  In some cases, the household size or number in college has changed reducing or eliminating eligibility.

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If the aid I’m getting is not enough, are there other options?

  • Some students may be able to borrow additional funds from alternative sources.  If you are interested in an alternative loan, contact the financial aid office at CGCC to determine if you have eligibility to do so.  In no case will a student be able to borrow alternative loan funds until they have borrowed the maximum in Federal Direct Loan funds.

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How can I get Federal Work Study (FWS)?

  • At CGCC, a student must be an early FAFSA applicant and indicate an interest on the work study question on the FAFSA.  If eligible, you will be notified on your Award Letter then you must contact the Financial Aid Office for next steps. CGCC has a limited number of work study positions each year.  An email will be sent to interested students at the beginning of summer term and fall term giving further directions on how to receive a Federal Work Study position.

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Why has my aid been canceled and what can I do?

  • The main reason for aid being canceled is due to lack of enrollment prior to the beginning of the term.  Aid will also be cancelled if the student is not Making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and has not successfully appealed.  Loans must be cancelled if there is a period of non-enrollment (not counting summer).  In each of these cases, aid can usually be reinstated by contacting the financial aid office and completing the required documentation.

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My friend applied the same time I did.  He was awarded.  Why has my award not come yet?

  • Awards are completed in the order the application is received.  Some applications require much more review than others.  Verification, for example, is required of about half of all applications.  This involves collecting documents, reviewing and correcting any errors.  Several other types of review can add some time to the review of a particular file.

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Why is the aid offered by CGCC different than the aid I received at another college?

  • Financial aid offers can be different from one college to another for many reasons.  Some types of financial aid are awarded based on criteria established by the institution.  Though federal law assigns rules as to how aid should be distributed, the college is expected to maintain a more specific set of rules as to how limited funds are given to students.  Additionally, there are some types of funds that are quite limited and are awarded on a first come, first served basis to eligible students.  Programs such as Federal Work Study (FWS) and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) are exceptionally limited.  While you might receive them at one school, you may not receive them at another.  Cost of attendance (COA) also varies from college to college and is a factor in how much aid you may receive.  Some loan limits are higher at four year colleges as compared to community college.

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My siblings attend another school, why is my aid different?

  • It is possible your sibling is eligible for different forms of aid.  Universities often have institutional aid that a community college does not have.  Stafford Loan limits increase as a student moves to third and fourth year levels.  Your sibling may have a different EFC.  This could be because they earned a different amount of income during the year than did you.  Your aid may be different because, though there are federal guidelines for certain funds, each school must have a specific process for awarding these funds.  These school-specific practices are within the federal guidelines, but often differ from other college’s practices.  Certain funds are quite limited.  If a student is an early applicant at one school and the sibling is a later applicant at another school, award levels can be quite different.  Additionally, each school establishes a set of common student budgets based on actual and expected costs of going to school.  This serves as somewhat of a ceiling to the total amount of aid a student may receive in a year of school.  Elements of this budget can be quite different depending on the costs of the college each student is attending. 

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I am going to transfer to/from CGCC, what do I need to do?

  • If you wish to transfer to CGCC, you need to add CGCC’s school code (041519) to your FAFSA.  You can do this by going online to www.fafsa.gov and updating the school code your processed FAFSA.  If you know your Data Release Number (DRN) which is located at the top of your Student Aid Report (SAR), you may call the Central Processing System (CPS) at 800-433-3243 and add CGCC’s school code over the phone.  We cannot process your request for aid until we have received your FAFSA data.  You must also release your aid from the school you are transferring from, please contact them directly.

  • If you are transferring from CGCC to another school, you should contact our office by using the Enrollment Change Form to insure that all remaining aid can be released allowing the other college to award you.  It is also advised that you be familiar with and in contact with the financial aid office of the college you are transferring to.

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GETTING YOUR MONEY

When will I get my money?

  • Generally, financial aid awards are placed on your CGCC student account during the week before the term begins, this allows you to charge books and supplies at the Bookstore.  Refund checks (if a balance remains after all charges are applied to your aid) are mailed to students beginning the second Friday of each term.  If your enrollment level (# of credits) for any term do not match your current award level, your funds may be delayed.  Providing an Enrollment Change form to the financial aid office prior to the second week of each term can help you avoid delay. 

How do I get my refund?

  • Refunds checks are mailed to students at the address on record beginning the second Friday of each term.


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LOANS

How many credit hours do I need to take to be eligible for loans?

  • You must be enrolled for at least 6 credit hours each term to be eligible for loans.

If I decline loans now and later decide I need a loan, can I obtain one?

If I’m in default on my student loan, what can I do?

  • You must resolve defaulted loans directly with your lender to be eligible for Federal aid.  You can determine your lender by logging into your account at www.nslds.ed.gov

If I take two terms off from school, will I go into repayment?

  • Yes, you will be contacted by your loan processor to begin repayment.  If you subsequently enroll in school, you can obtain an in-school deferment by providing enrollment information to your lender.   You can determine your lender by logging into your account at www.nslds.ed.gov.

I don’t want a loan…do I have to take one?

  • No, you do not have to take a loan.  You may be eligible for a loan but no actual loan will exist until you return the Pre-Award Loan Estimate and specify the amount you wish to borrow.  If you have sufficient funds to meet your expenses, a loan may not be necessary.  Always borrow only what you must have.  Repayment can be difficult with large aggregate loan amounts.

Why haven’t I received my loans yet?

Your loan may not have disbursed for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Prior to disbursement, your enrollment level dropped to less than half time making you ineligible for loans
  • You have not submitted the Federal Direct Loan Revision/Request form
  • You have not completed Entrance Counseling
  • You have not signed the Master Promissory Note, if you are a first time borrower
  • Your Loan Request form was submitted, but sent back to you because it is incomplete
  • You are currently in “disqualification” status based on grades or non-completion of credits
  • You are a first time borrower and are subject to a 30 delay in your first disbursement
  • Your loan request has been received but your loan has not yet been certified
  • Your loan has been certified by CGCC but electronic funds have not yet arrived

I need more Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans than I originally applied for.  I had additional eligibility (that I may have originally declined)…can I increase my loan?


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SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS (SAP)/ENROLLMENT

What is my SAP status and how is it determined?

  • Refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Which classes are not eligible for financial aid?

  • Refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

What happens if I don’t complete all credits I signed up for?

  • Refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Which grades count/don’t count toward satisfactory Academic Progress Standards?

  • Refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

What if my GPA is going to be below a 2.0 for the term?

  • Refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

What if I have to withdraw from ALL my classes and I have already received my financial aid?

  • You will be subject to the policy on Return of Title IV Funds and may have to repay part of your aid.  If this happens, the Director of Financial Aid reviews your last date of attendance and applies the regulations accordingly.  To receive future aid at CGCC, you must successfully complete a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal.

I never received aid at CGCC and paid for classes on my own so why am I disqualified?

  • Under the federal laws regarding Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), all terms of a student’s college experience at CGCC must be reviewed.  Non-aid recipients cannot be treated differently than aid recipients when assigning SAP status.

Will my award change if I drop my enrollment from full-time to part-time?

  • Yes, Pell grants are prorated to 3/4, 1/2 and 1/4 of full-time award.  Oregon grants and SEOG are also affected by less than full-time enrollment and are not available to less than half-time eligible students.  Federal Work Study and Stafford loans are not changed by enrollment changes but do require at least half-time enrollment.

 

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SCHOLARSHIPS

How can I find out about scholarships?

  • The Columbia Gorge Community College Foundation average annually award is over $80,000 in scholarships to students each year in both full year and quarterly scholarships as well as full year scholarships for graduating high school seniors.   You may also research private scholarship opportunities through web-based scholarship search services such as www.FASTWEB.com  and www.GetCollegeFunds.org as well as local organizations and libraries.  Also, see Scholarship link on the Financial Aid Home Page. 

What if I get a private scholarship from a source outside CGCC?

  • Scholarships from non-CGCC agencies are often disbursed based on the donor’s request.  This often requires verification of enrollment.  Usually outside funds are sent to the college to be posted as a credit to your student account.  If you receive a scholarship from an outside source that comes in the form of a check made out to you, and does not go through CGCC, you are obligated to notify the CGCC financial aid office that you have received it and the amount of the award.  If you receive a scholarship your aid may be reduced, usually in the loan area to keep you within the limits of your Student Budget.

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Columbia Gorge Community College, Financial Aid Office, 400 East Scenic Drive, The Dalles OR  97058 – P (541) 506-6029 – F (877) 368-6370

 

 

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