Helping students navigate financial aid and paying for college is a popular coaching session at College Forward. No matter where you are on your post-secondary journey, we know financial concerns are on the top of your mind. To help you with some of those questions, and help you navigate this conversation with your CoFo coach, we have compiled our frequently asked questions.
Additionally, If your aid award doesn’t cover all of your expenses, we included a sample financial aid appeal letter. You can use it as you navigate the financial aid appeal process with your financial aid officer or an appropriate school representative.
Financial Aid FAQ's
Financial aid helps students pay for college. Financial assistance covers educational expenses including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. There are several types of financial aid, including scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study.
In order to receive financial aid from a postsecondary institution, you must first complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or TASFA (Texas Application for State Financial Aid).
The FAFSA is an online application that sends you and your parent’s info to schools in order for them to decide how much money you need for school. Many colleges also require the FAFSA to determine eligibility for other types of financial assistance. The information provided on the FAFSA is used to determine your expected family contribution (EFC).
You are automatically applying federal and state aid when you fill out the FAFSA form. The FAFSA can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
You will fill out the FAFSA if:
You’re a US citizen
Permanent US resident with Alien Registration Card (I-55)
Noncitizens with Arrival/Departure Cards (I-94)
Refugee, Asylum Granted, Parolees (for a min, one year), Cuban-Haitian entrants
In order to receive financial aid from a postsecondary institution, you must first complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or TASFA (Texas Application for State Financial Aid). The TASFA is a paper application used to determine state aid eligibility for Texas residents who are not eligible for federal aid.
TASFA is only for state aid and for those that don’t qualify to submit a FAFSA. Higher education institutions use TASFA and it’s corresponding documents to determine eligibility and disperse state aid. The TASFA can be found at CollegeForAllTexans.com.
You will fill out the TASFA if:
- You don’t meet the requirements for FAFSA
- Are a Texas Resident
i.e. Lived in Texas for three years before graduating from high school or receiving GED certificate
- The FAFSA/TASFA must be filled out every year by either you or parents with necessary tax info. Financial aid award letters are for one year and are broken down by semester.
In most cases, you will need to provide your parents’ financial information on the FAFSA/TASFA unless you are deemed an “independent” student. If you have questions, refer to http://studentaid.gov/dependency or contact your CoFo Coach or Coordinator.
Financial Aid Award letters from school can be tricky to decipher sometimes. We suggest contacting your CoFo Coach or Coordinator to read through them with you. Letters can differ in the language they use, but here are some things to look for, as well as some tips and tricks.
- If you choose to take a class pass/no pass or credit/no credit rather than receiving an A-F grade, this should not impact your financial aid. Talk to your financial aid office if you are considering dropping a class, or if your school canceled your class.
You can appeal if you believe that your financial need is greater than what your college or university offered. We have created a sample appeal letter for you to use when appealing. Download a copy of this letter, fill it out with your information, and save it as a .pdf file to attach to the email you send to your financial aid office.
COVID-19 and Financial Aid Questions
If you are experiencing financial hardships related to COVID-19, you should contact your financial aid office ASAP to ask what options are available to you.
Contact your financial aid office ASAP, by phone or email, to ask this question. Schools have emergency funds available to support students in this situation. You will likely need to complete a form and describe your situation to receive these emergency funds.
Your financial aid office can help with this too! Call or email their financial aid office to ask this question. The CARES Act emergency funds are available to support students in this situation too. You will likely need to complete a form and describe their situation to receive these emergency funds.
Students experiencing this change should file a special circumstances appeal with their financial aid office ASAP. A special circumstances appeal allows the school to assess your financial aid and make adjustments to your financial aid package. Most institutions will have a form that you can complete to describe your situation. Financial aid officers will be available to help.
You can file a FAFSA or TASFA for the 2019-2020 academic year until June 30, 2020. Contact your financial aid office ASAP to let them know that you are applying for aid. Ask them what additional steps you need to take beyond submitting a FAFSA or TASFA.
You should contact your supervisor directly.
Institutions have the option to continue paying Federal Work-Study wages. This applies even if you can no longer perform your duties. Contact your supervisor and the financial aid office to ask about pay continuation.
You should be able to submit documents through your online student portal. If you are unsure how to do this, call the related office. Please, do not use email to send your social security number or other confidential information.
It does not seem like any schools are offering any refunds for classes that switch to an online format. If your school cancels your class, you should inquire about a refund.
Yes, students should be receiving refunds for most of these costs at most campuses. Contact the appropriate department to inquire about the process. The departments might include:
- Financial Aid
- Parking and Transportation
- Their specific program lead or college dean’s office
If you have financial holds on your account you should contact your financial aid office. You will very likely be able to register for the summer and fall 2020 courses despite having a hold on your account.
Now it's Your Turn!
Complete the worksheet below to identify the Financial Aid Resources on your Campus.
Financial Aid Appeal Template
Download a copy of this letter, fill it out with your information, and save it as a .pdf file to attach to the email you send to your financial aid office.