Financial Aid: Frequently Asked Questions
How will the Economic Stimulus Package Help Adults Return to School?
According to The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into effect in 2009, the stimulus provides an additional $17 billion in funds for the Federal Pell Grant Program, increasing the maximum award from $4,731 to $5,350 in 2009 and to $5,550 in 2010. (A $200 million increase in the Federal Work Study Program is included.) The maximum Pell grant for 2011-12 remains $5,550.
Amount awarded is determined by individual financial need, cost of education (COA), whether enrollment is full or part-time, and with sessions spanning the full academic year or less.
Further help is made available through the new American Opportunity Tax Credit (which replaces and expands the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit for two years). This new tax credit will cover up to $2,500 of college tuition and other related expenses (including books and supplies) each year for the first four years of college. The credit also makes forty percent of costs refundable to lower-income individuals who do not owe taxes. It is now available to taxpayers with a higher level of income, beginning to phase-out at $80,000 ($160,000 for married couples filing jointly). For more information on tax benefis and deductions, see Tax Benefits for Education.
To be eligible for Pell Grant and other federal funding, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA) application each year.
I Doubt I Qualify for Aid. Should I Still Apply?
Yes, you should! Never assume you don't qualify for
financial aid. Many adult students believe they don't
qualify and miss out on many sources of aid, including
grants and low interest loans that are offered regardless
of grade point average, financial need, or credit history.
Most federal and state aid programs don't have age limits,
although some scholarship programs might. The largest
portion of financial aid comes from the federal and
state governments, then colleges and universities, and
private sources of aid such as community and professional
Most financial aid comes in the form of scholarships
or grants, student loans, federal work study, or tax
credits. Many large companies have tuition
assistance programs. A complete overview on financial
aid is located in the Financial
Can I Attend Part-time, or Do I Have to Go Full-time
to Get Financial Aid?
There is no minimum course load; you can register for
as many or as few classes as you like. Part-time students
are also available for financial aid (however, the amount
awarded depends upon the number of units being taken.)
How Do I Apply for Financial Aid?
Your first step in applying for aid is to complete the
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Submit
the FAFSA form as soon as possible on or after January
1. (Don't wait until you complete your tax return, but
use estimates of income.) Any errors can be corrected
later, and most states need to receive the FAFSA by
March 1 to qualify for state aid.
The application can't be submitted before January 1, because the need
analysis methodology for financial aid uses the income and tax information
from the most recent tax year (the base year) to judge eligibility for
need-based financial aid for the upcoming academic year (the award year).
Since the base year ends December 31, a a financial aid application can't
be submitted until January 1.
You can complete a paper application of the FAFSA or
file electronically through the Internet.
You can a get the paper FAFSA from the financial aid
office at a local college, your local public library,
or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID. Filing on the Internet
is the quickest way to get the FAFSA processed, and
provides a helpful check for errors in completion. You
will need to provide information regarding household
size, income and assets. Follow directions carefully
(if corrections are needed it can cause delays.) If
you choose the paper FAFSA, be sure to make copies and
obtain a dated receipt for proof of mailing. (For additional
information on obtaining and completing the FAFSA, visit
our Financial Aid section.)
you need help, you do not need to pay someone to
help you complete the FAFSA. Help is often available
from your school (contact your financial aid administrator),
or you can call the Federal Student Aid Information
Center at 1-(800)4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).