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Financial Aid

FAQs for Financial Aid

I probably do not qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?

Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA (Free Application Federal Student Aid) form is free. You may apply online at There is no good excuse for not applying.

Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid?

No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1. To actually receive funds, however, you must have received a High School diploma or GED and be admitted and enrolled at the college/university.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

Yes. Most financial aid offices require that you apply for financial aid every year. This should be done around the time taxes are filed. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. After your first year, you will receive a "Renewal Applications" which contains preprinted information from the previous year's FAFSA. Your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a difference in income or a different number of family members in college. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.

How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?

Submit a FAFSA. You may now apply on-line at To indicate interest in student employment, student loans and parent loans, you should check the appropriate boxes. Checking these boxes does not commit you to accepting these types of aid. You will have the opportunity to accept or decline each part of your aid package later. Leaving these boxes unchecked will not increase the amount of grants you receive.

Are my parents responsible for my educational loans?

No. Parents are, however, responsible for the Federal PLUS loans. Parents will only be responsible for your educational loans if you are under 18 and they co-sign your loan. In general you and you alone are responsible for repaying your educational loans. Although your parent information may have to be listed on your Financial Aid application, the student loan is in your name. On the other hand, if your parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can have your billing statements sent to their address. Likewise, if your lender or loan service provider allows electronic payments, where the monthly payments are automatically deducted from a bank account, your parents can agree to have the payments deducted from their account. But your parents are under no obligation to repay your loans. If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancel the electronic payment agreement, you will be held responsible for the payments, not them.

I received an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?

Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from university or government sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office. Sometimes the college or university will have to adjust your financial aid package to compensate.

Where can I get information about Federal student financial aid?

  • Visit the Department of Education School Portal
  • Contact your local college Financial Aid Office
  • Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243), for hearing impaired call 1-800-730-8913
    Request a free copy of The Student Guide: Financial Aid from the US Department of Education.
    This toll free hotline is run by the US Department of Education and can answer questions about federal and state student aid programs and applications.
  • You can also write to:
    Federal Student Aid Information Center
    P.O. Box 84
    Washington, DC 20044

How do I apply for Financial Aid?

Apply using the online FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) using your computer or, if you prefer, go to Chattanooga State's Financial Aid Office in the student service center and the staff will assist you in completing your online application.

Are photocopies of the FAFSA acceptable?

No. Only the original FAFSA form produced by the US Department of Education is acceptable. Photocopies, Reproductions, Facsimiles and electronic versions are all not acceptable. (See DCL GEN-95-21)

What kind of financial aid is available?

Grants, scholarships, student employment and loans are available at Chattanooga State.

What do I have to do to qualify for financial aid?

The qualification process is lengthy. In order to determine if someone is eligible, they need to apply.

What is a Pell grant?

A Pell grant is a federal grant for education that does not need to be paid back. You must qualify for a Pell grant, which is based upon your income.

Do I have to pay back the financial aid I receive?

Loans always need to be paid back. Pell grant monies need to be paid back if they are awarded and the student does not attend classes.

Why do I have to have a high school diploma?

It is required by The Department of Education and the federal government that each student who receives financial aid have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Why do you need a copy of my tax returns?

Thirty percent of all financial aid applicants are selected for verification. Applicants are required to furnish income information on the FAFSA application.

If I am in the National Guard or an Active Duty military member, am I considered a veteran for purposes of filling out the FAFSA?

If you were a member of the National Guard or were a Reservist who was called to Active Duty for other than training purposes and can verify that your release from Active Duty was other than dishonorable, you are considered a veteran for FAFSA purposes.

If you are on Active Duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, but will be a veteran by June 30th of the year you are applying for aid, and can verify that your release from Active Duty as other than dishonorable, you are considered a veteran for FAFSA purposes. If your Active Duty will continue past June 30th, however, you are not considered a veteran for FAFSA purposes.

I am entering financial information for my mother and stepfather on the form. Should I list my father's Social Security Number (SSN) and last name, or my stepfather's information?

You should provide the SSN and last name of the same person or people for whom you are reporting financial information. In this case, provide the SSNs and names of your mother and stepfather.

How does a family decide who should be counted in the household size?

Anyone in the immediate family who receives more than 50 percent pf their support from a dependent student's parents or an independent student and spouse may be counted in the household size, even if that person does not reside in the house, as in the case of a sibling who is over 24-years-old but still in college and receiving the majority of their support from parents. Siblings who are dependent as of the date you apply for aid are also included, regardless of whether they receive at least 50 percent of their support from their parents. Any other person who resides in the household and receives more than 50 percent support from the parents may also be counted, such as an aunt or cousin, so long as the support is expected to continue from July 1, through June 30, of the current academic year. An unborn child who will be born during the award year may also be counted in the household size.

Household size and tax exemptions are not necessarily the same. Exemptions look at the previous year or tax year and household size refers to the school year for which the student is applying for aid.

My brother is 28-years-old and still lives with us. Do we count him in the number in my parents' household?

Include your brother if he receives more than half his support from your parents and will continue to receive more than half his support from July 1, through June 30, of the current academic year.

My parents separated four months ago. I live with my mother. My parents filed a joint tax return and claimed me as an exemption. Do I report both their incomes or just my mother's information?

Report only your mother's income and asset information because you lived with her the most during the past 12 months. Use a W-2 Form or other record(s) that show her share of the income reported and taxes paid on the tax return.

Who qualifies to be counted in the number of people enrolled in college?

Any person who is counted in the household and will be attending any term of the academic year at least half time. Do not, however, count your parents in the number in college. The enrolled family member must attend an eligible program at an eligible institution. You (the student) need not be enrolled half time, however, to be counted in the number in college. To be counted in the number in college, the person must also be working toward a degree or certificate leading to a recognized education credential at a post-secondary school that is eligible to participate in federal student aid programs.

What is the difference between Student Employment and Job Placement?

Student Employment offers part-time jobs that help students gain skills and experience while attending college. These are usually not career oriented positions. The Job Placement service is focused on finding positions for students once they graduate. The service also offers help with resumes and interview techniques.

What is ability to benefit?

The U.S. Department of Education has identified a list of commonly administered standardized tests any one of which an individual who is a non-high school graduate can take to demonstrate that s/he has the intellectual ability to benefit from a college education. Each test has a pre-determined passing score.

When should I apply for aid?

You should apply as soon as possible after January 1 each year. You should apply and complete your file by July 1 for fall term, December 1 for spring term, and April 15 for summer term to ensure that you receive aid (if you are eligible) in time to pay your fees. If you complete your file after these dates, you will be expected to pay your own fees and will be reimbursed if you are eligible.

What is verification?

The U.S. Department of Education randomly selects students for verification of information submitted on the FAFSA. The Financial Aid Office also may select a student for verification. The Financial Aid Office will notify you regarding documentation to submit (tax returns, verification forms, etc.) to verify information on your Student Aid Report.

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