College costs play a major factor in first deciding where to attend college and often when deciding where to transfer. By attending CCBC and earning an Associate Degree, students save money before transferring to a four-year college or university. Some students get all of their education expenses covered (even books) thanks to financial aid. Students who start their first semester in the fall of 2012 as well as returning students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) now in order to determine how much money they are eligible to receive. All students are encouraged to apply for aid.
Applying online through FAFSA is quicker and easier than you think! Below are some pointers to get you started and tips to make sure you stay on track with your aid.
How to apply for federal student aid
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA form is used to apply for federal financial aid (grants, work-study, and loans). CCBC also requires a complete FAFSA when you apply for any scholarships as well as to award state aid. Complete FAFSA every year for the next year you plan to attend.
What you need to apply
Before you apply online, gather the documents needed to complete the application. You need:
- Your Social Security card
- Your driver’s license (if you have one)
- Your W-2 forms and other records of earned income
- Your (and your spouse’s, if married) Federal Income Tax Return
- Your parents’ Federal Income Tax Return (if you are a dependent student)
- Your untaxed income records
- Your current bank statements
- Your current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond and other investment records
- Your alien registration or permanent resident card (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
After you submit FAFSA
The application is processed and results are sent electronically to the schools you listed on your application. You receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes all the information you provided on your FAFSA. Make sure all information is correct. If you apply online and provide a valid e-mail address, you receive your SAR in three to five days.
What to do next
Follow all directions on any communications from CCBC or from the U.S. Department of Education, and respond by any deadlines. If you haven’t already, complete an admissions application for CCBC. CCBC sends a financial aid award letter to you. This letter outlines the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive from federal and state (if you completed the application) sources.
About PA State Grants through PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency)
You must complete FAFSA and the PA State Grant Form at www.aesSuccess.org. To be considered for a Pennsylvania State Grant, you must demonstrate financial need and meet other criteria determined by PHEAA. Visit www.pheaa.org to learn more.
Quick FAFSA tips
- Apply early so that you qualify for the maximum funding. The processing of all financial aid takes 4-6 weeks. Once your forms are received in CCBC’s financial aid office, the process begins. If you plan to use your extra aid to cover the cost of books (you can use your aid in CCBC’s Bookstore), applying early is very important. Be aware that all aid is processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you apply late, you may have to pay for your tuition or books upfront.
- We recommend that you file your 2011 Federal Income Tax Return prior to submitting your FAFSA and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA website. This tool is accessible to you in one to two weeks after filing your federal tax return electronically or six to eight weeks if filing via U.S. mail. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows you to view and securely transfer federal tax information directly from the IRS to your FAFSA. Using the tool will save you time and increase the accuracy of your FAFSA.
- Remember your PIN so that you can easily renew your FAFSA every year and update your information as needed. The PIN is needed to authenticate your identity then electronically sign your FAFSA. You can register for your PIN at www.pin.ed.gov.
- Check and recheck the information that you enter. If you are a dependent student, make sure you work together with your parent(s) or guardian(s) to accurately complete all required information. This will also help you get to know the process, what types of aid are available, and how to reapply next year.
- Be prepared for verification. Verification does not mean that filled out something incorrectly. The Department of Education randomly selects students to complete additional forms and provide additional documentation. This is the verification process. Thirty percent of all FAFSA applicants are randomly selected to verify their information. If you are selected for verification, CCBC’s financial aid office will send you a letter requesting that you complete and return the verification forms to our office.
- Your financial aid package may include federal student loans. Remember that you’ll have to pay back the amount you borrowed plus interest. This is important to keep in mind when deciding what aid to accept and how to use the money if you receive a financial aid refund. If you receive a refund, you were eligible for and accepted more money than needed to cover your expenses. Part of the refund can include loans which you will later have to pay back with interest.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Our financial aid office is located in the Student Services Center. During peak times, the line can get long. Plan ahead to decrease your wait time.