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Financial Aid 101

Get the Basics: Financial Aid 101 

Many students worry that tuition and the other costs of continuing their education will be out of reach. But don’t let the price tag stop you. It’s only part of the picture. Keep in mind the major benefits of investing in your education.

Most students receive some kind of financial aid to help pay for the cost of their education. With your determination and assistance from financial aid, you can make the education you dream about a reality.

Types of Financial Aid

Scholarships: Scholarships are gifts. They don’t need to be repaid. Some scholarships are merit-based. You earn them by meeting or exceeding certain standards set by the scholarship-giver. They might be awarded based on academic achievement, on financial need.

Apply for Scholarships

Grants: Grants are also gifts, but they’re usually based on financial need. Most often, grant aid comes from federal and state governments and individual colleges. Available federal grants include:

  • Pell Grant. These are federal grants awarded to undergraduate students.
  • FSEOG. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need.

Work-Study: The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program provides part-time jobs for students with financial need to help them pay for their education. It’s designed to put you to work in the community, or in a job related to your studies, whenever possible. For more information on Work Study programs at ACC call 989.358.7286.

Loans: Loans are a contract to borrow money and repay it over time, with interest. In the case of most federal student loans, you do not need to begin repaying them until several months after you leave college or are no longer enrolled at least half-time.

Student Loan Application: Complete an Online Loan Application HERE.

What you pay
The aid you qualify for depends on your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. The EFC is a number used to determine how much federal aid you would receive to attend school. When you apply for federal student aid, you will be asked to provide information about your or your family’s finances, such as income, assets and family size. After you submit the application, you will receive an EFC based on this information.

Who gives aid?
The U.S. Department of Education is your first source to access financial aid. They award about $150 billion a year in grants, work-study assistance, and low-interest loans. Aid also comes from scholarships from state governments, schools, employers, individuals, private companies, non-profits, and professional organizations.

What aid covers
There are five basic costs associated with going to college. Financial aid may be used for: Tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and travel.

Applying for Federal Aid
At some point, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To help you prepare, read more about the FAFSA here. You can also get information and help from ACC’s Financial Aid Office.

Apply for Financial Aid

Terms to Know

  • Cost of Attendance (CoA)- This is the estimated cost including tuition, fees, books, transportation, living allowances, etcetera that it will cost you for a full year of college.  It is not necessarily how much you will end up paying.
  • Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) - This number is calculated by a federal formula that factors in your family's income, the number of students in the family attending college, and other information.  It is not necessarily how much you will end up paying.
  • Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) - This law says that the College may not discuss your academic records and/or financial information with parents, spouse, guardian, etcetera, without your authorization.
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - This is the first step in applying for federal aid such as Pell Grants and student loans.  The form helps calculate your EFC and CoA.  You must file every year that you attend school.
  • Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID) - This is a personal identifier you use to securely electronically sign the FAFSA so that you do not need to mail in an actual signature.
  • Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) - This policy states that students must continue making reasonable progress toward their programs to continue receiving financial aid.  For example, if you are withdrawing or failing classes, your SAP may be in jeopardy and you may lose your aid.  Financial Aid Policies
  • Subsidized - This means that the federal government or another body pays the interest on your loan while you are enrolled in college.
  • Student Aid Report (SAR) - This report is available after you file your FAFSA.  It's a summary of all the information the government uses to estimate your eligibility for Financial Aid and it will tell you what your EFC is.
  • Unsubsidized - This means that interest will be accruing on your loan while you are enrolled in college.