Financial Aid

Financial Aid 101

What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid refers to funding intended to help students pay expenses related to their education. Sources may be from grants, scholarships, loans and work-study programs from federal, state , institutional and private sources. Financial aid from these programs may be combined in an "award package" to meet or defray from the cost of education.

Financial aid is not intended to cover all basic living expenses. However, in many cases it is available to help students achieve their college goals without placing a financial burden on their families.

Financial aid may be awarded based on merit or need. Merit-based aid is awarded based on the recognition of special skills, talents or academic ability. Need-based aid is awarded based on the applicant demonstrating financial need for the award.

What is Financial Need?

Financial need is the difference between the cost of attending Volunteer State and the family's ability to pay. The family's ability to pay, called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):

  • Filing the FAFSA is a free service that enables students to apply for all types of need-based student aid. The application, which collects income and asset information, must be submitted for analysis and computation of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Who Should Apply?

Students must have a high school diploma or HSE before federal or state financial aid eligibility will be determined. Student must be degree seeking, with a declared major. U.S. citizens or nationals or eligible non-citizens (as outlined by FAFSA) are eligible to apply for aid.

How Do You Apply?

Complete the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, on line at You will need to include Volunteer State's school code - 009912 - to have your FAFSA information sent to our financial aid office. After we receive your FAFSA, we will send an email notification to you regarding the additional forms needed to complete the process.

When Do You Apply?

You must complete a FAFSA application each academic year. Your financial needs may change and must be re-evaluated each year. April 15, is the priority date for apply for fall semester financial assistance. After this date, some types of aid will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis as long as money is available. It is to your advantage to apply early.