Paying for College: A Financial Aid Primer

April 6, 2018 | Betty Proctor | Internal Press Release

Financial Aid

With the influx of graduating students who have taken advantage of TN Promise, and still other adult students who are ready to come or get back to college through TN Reconnect, it’s not too early to start planning for the Fall 2018 semester to make sure your dreams become a reality.

One of the most confusing things for students and perhaps parents is figuring out how to pay for college. This is the exactly why preparation should figure in first and because choosing Chattanooga State is a wise choice. As a public institution, Chattanooga State can save students and/or their parents' thousands of dollars in educational costs. The College is well known for its outstanding faculty and commitment to workforce development – a testament to the 97 percent overall job placement rate.

Throughout the preparation stage, students should be looking for scholarships through Chattanooga State as well as national and community organizations. A good starting point would be to research scholarships and information on Chattanooga State’s website at Also, keep in mind that many states have funding programs. See a Student Support Center or a Financial Aid staff member for help.

Following preparation, it’s time to apply for financial aid and that means FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – the only way to apply for federal aid. FAFSA can be accessed at Chattanooga State’s School code is 003998, which is used to evaluate the need and determine how much federal aid a student may receive. FAFSA must be filed each year and includes personal and tax information. The tax year information you will use is always two years prior to the FAFSA year: for example, when completing the 2018-2019 FAFSA, you will use 2016 financial information. Once FAFSA is filed, students will receive an electronic Student Aid Report (SAR), that summarizes information on the FAFSA. Be sure to look it over and correct any inaccurate information.

Having completed this important step, schools will then determine the types of federal student aid that a student can receive. U.S. Department of Education federal student aid includes grants, loans or work-study options. Knowing the difference between these types of aid is very important. Grants are FREE money that does not have to be repaid; student loans are real loans and DO have to be repaid - with interest; while the work study option gives students the opportunity to EARN money at the institution they are attending to help pay for educational expenses.

The award letter outlines the combination of federal grants, loans and work-study being offered. Be aware that the offer may also contain state and institutional aid. Examining all awards letters will help students decide which school is the best fit.

Once all the pre-entrance financial work is completed, students can get down to the business of enrolling. There has never been a better time to enroll. The TN Promise program is now in its third year and the class of 2019 should have already met all deadlines to begin classes in the fall of 2018. TN Promise students must pay close attention to all notices they receive and follow up promptly to ensure they complete each step fully. TN Promise is a last dollar scholarship, so students still have to go through the necessary financial aid channels to receive this scholarship.

Beginning this fall, the “new kid on the block” is TN Reconnect. This program gives qualified Tennessee adults, aged 24 and older, who have not earned an associate or bachelor’s degree the opportunity to attend an eligible institution like ChattState, free of tuition and mandatory fees while attending at least part-time. Students complete the application at, apply at, file the FAFSA and then enroll. For TN Reconnect information email or call 423.697.3346.

Financial Aid assistance is available. Email or call 423.697.4402.