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 www.fafsa.gov 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.
When Are Financial Aid Disbursements?
Pell Grant and S.E.O.G. Funds: Once a student has enrolled, their Federal Aid moves to an authorized aid status until the 10th day prior to the start of the term at which point it becomes an official disbursement. Students with excess aid are allowed to charge their text books against the overage within a specific window prior to the start of the term. The book charge dates will be published annually. Once a student's instructors have confirmed his or her attendance in all classes, the Business Office will refund any remaining overage amounts to the student according to the method that the student previously selected (student debit card, direct deposit, or paper check).
Federal Direct Stafford Loan Funds: Once a student has enrolled, their Federal Aid moves to an authorized aid status until the 10th day prior to the start of the term at which point it becomes an official disbursement. Once a student's instructors have confirmed his or her attendance in all classes, the Business Office will refund any remaining overage amounts to the student according to the method that the student previously selected (student debt card, direct deposit, or paper check) with the exception of first time borrowers or students doing a one term loan. Students who are a first time borrower have a mandatory 30 day wait period from the start of class before the funds are allowed to disburse. Students who are requesting a one term loan will have the first half of their requested funds processed as explained above and the second half of their funds will disburse at the mid-point of the term.
Can Financial Aid Be Used to Buy Textbooks?
Yes, pending that the student meets the qualifications. Once a financial aid Pell recipient has completed all of the necessary paperwork and has a financial aid award in place in a pending status, the Financial Aid Office will prepare a list of students who have excess funds pending on their account by the published date each year. This list will be provided to the book store so that those on the list can obtain books for class.
The students on the list will be notified via their Vol State email address that they have a credit available for use in the campus bookstore. This credit will be accessible to the students for up to a five day window starting by the seventh day prior to the start of the term. If the student wishes to opt. out of using this book credit the student simply does not do anything and no part of the credit will be charged out of their account. If the student wishes to use the book credit, after receiving the email, the student will purchase their books at one of the campus bookstore locations and provide proof of ID to use the credit.