Priority deadline for Fall is April 1. Priority deadline for Spring is November 1.
Where do I begin?
The (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), or FAFSA, is the first step in the financial aid process. Use it to apply for federal student financial aid, such as the Pell Grant, student loans, and college work-study. In addition, most states and schools use FAFSA information to award state or institution-level financial aid.
If you'll be attending Collin College, you will need to include our school code on the FAFSA application.
Collin's school code is: 016792
Click here to go the Department of Education - FAFSA web site.
There is an extremely helpful document on the FAFSA web site that walks you through the FAFSA and answers virtually any question you may have. Click here to view this document.
The Dept. of Education enters your FAFSA responses into a formula (known as the Federal Methodology), which is regulated by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The result is your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. The EFC is a preliminary estimate that measures your family's financial strength. Your EFC will be subtracted from the Cost of Attendance at the school(s) you plan to attend to determine your eligibility for federal student aid.
How do I find out what my EFC is?
FAFSA will send you a report, called a Student Aid Report (SAR) by e-mail or by postal mail depending on the addresses they have on file for you. The SAR lists the information you reported on your FAFSA. At the upper right of the front page of the SAR, you'll find a figure called the EFC.
At the same time, FAFSA will send your information to the school code(s) you entered on the application.
Is that it?
Not usually. Once the school receives your FAFSA data, there may be additional forms to fill out, clarification needed on one or more of your answers or tax documents to collect. (These are just a few examples of additional processes they could be flagged by FAFSA or by the institution based on federal requirements.)
You will be notified of any requirements via the email you put on the FAFSA as well as being posted in the financial aid section of your Cougar Web account.
For specific information about verification, please click here.
IMPORTANT NOTE: While it is common for students to put more than one school code on their FAFSA when applying early (because they may not know at that point which school they will attend) please submit follow-up paperwork to just one school. Students CANNOT RECEIVE FINANCIAL AID FROM MORE THAN ONE SCHOOL AT A TIME, and so therefore can cause all sorts of issues by having more than one school processing them for aid, including owing back ALL monies disbursed.
This includes situations where you are actually attending two schools at the same time. You must choose one school to receive aid from, and then follow up with them only.
How much aid will I get?
Schools use your EFC to prepare a financial aid package (grants, loans, and/or work-study) to help you meet your financial need. Financial need is the difference between your EFC and your school's cost of attendance (which can include living expenses).
Specific amounts and types of aid depend on a wide variety of elements in addition to the need calculation.
For example, many types of grant aid only pay for the exact number of credit hours you are attending. Usually, the more credit hours (up to full time), the more money you receive. Also, some grants will pay out something for as little as 1, 2 or even 3 hours (depending on your EFC and the grant).
Stafford loans, however, are a little different. Students must be attending at least half time hours as determined by their school in order to receive the loan money. Students who do not attend at least half time or drop below half time during the semester could forfeit all or some of their student loan money.
In some cases, if you meet the college's priority deadline for financial aid, you may qualify for additional state grant monies. This also depends on other eligibility factors such as your EFC and academic standing. (Note: "meeting the priority deadline" is defined as the school having a correct and accurate FAFSA and all other required paperwork by the specified date.)
Click here to see the priority deadlines for Collin.
Finally, the federal government puts limits on the annual amount of funds that can be disbursed and in some cases, such as with student loans, limits on the life-time amounts and grade-level amounts that can be disbursed. This means that if you have reached your limit for that year, you will not receive any additional aid in that category until the following academic year.
What if I'm taking developmental classes?
The answer to this question depends on a couple of different factors.
The Dept of Education states that as long as a student is admitted into an eligible program at the college, the student can take remedial classes and still be eligible for their financial aid; even if the student is taking all remedial classes before taking any regular courses.
The caveats to this statement are as follows:
- The student MUST be admitted into an eligible program. This means that if the student is enrolled solely in a remedial program, they would not be considered in an eligible program. This typically happens when a college makes acceptance into an eligible program contingent on completion of the remedial course work.
- Students are eligible for up to one academic year's worth of remedial coursework. Meaning, students can take a maximum of up to 30 semester hours of remedial coursework and still be eligible for financial aid. A student is NO LONGER eligible for financial aid for any remedial coursework taken above the 30 hour limit.
- Similar to other remedial coursework, a student may receive FSA funds for ESL courses that are a part of a larger eligible program. ESL courses do NOT count against the one year limitation on remedial coursework mentioned above.
How do I get books and supplies?
If you have been awarded aid, and accepted it (where applicable), and it has moved into a memoed status, students can go to the bookstore on any campus and "charge" books and supplies against their financial aid.
However, in order to do so, students must first meet certain criteria:
- Students must first log into their CougarWeb and agree to using their financial aid for this purpose and allow the business office to deduct the purchase amounts from their financial aid award (i.e. post a charge on the student's account), and
- Students cannot charge more than any remaining balance on their account after tuition and fees have been deducted from their financial aid award, and
- Students can only charge during the allotted time frame for bookstore charges. Please see the Financial Aid Calendar located here for exact dates.
For students who do NOT want to charge against their aid, they can opt out of the program by choosing decline to this question in CougarWeb.
Note: Students who have not been awarded by the end of the bookstore charge period will have to purchase books and supplies using their own resources.
When do I get the aid?
Again, this depends on a variety of factors.
If you met the college's priority deadline, you are guaranteed to have an estimated* financial aid award posted to your account by the payment deadline for that semester. (However, this does not mean you are eligible for the types and/or amounts of aid you wish to receive.) If you are one of these students, this estimated aid may post weeks before the payment deadline, and will first be used to pay tuition, fees, book store charges, etc.
This estimated award will be adjusted to your actual award on the census date of the school and is based on your actual enrollment and attendance at that time. The census date at Collin is the 12th class day in fall and spring, the 4th class day in summer I and II, and the 7th class day in summer III. A "snapshot" of all students' enrollment is taken at the close of business on that date, and that is the official enrollment on which your aid is based. Because schools must wait until the census date to adjust students' aid, no refunds can be disbursed prior to this date.
To read more about the college's census date, click here.
For information on when your money will disburse if you're in mini-sessions, please see the section below.
Based on the above information, the first round of refund checks (or direct deposit) mails out according to the refund schedule on the financial aid calendar here.
What if I'm in mini-sessions?
For students who are enrolled in mini-sessions, also called express classes, your financial aid money WILL NOT DISBURSE until the class has started. This is generally applicable regardless of the type of aid you are receiving.
For example: If a student registers for 12 hours or 4 classes at the beginning of the semester, but only 3 of those classes start at the beginning of the semester, with the final class beginning two months later, the student would only receive his financial aid grant for the 3 classes when the first disbursements are sent out. The money for the last class would disburse on the first disbursement date AFTER that class has started.
Using the same example above, if the student was receiving student loan funds, the first disbursement would go out on time because students only need to be enrolled half time in order to receive student loan funds. So in this case, the late starting class would not effect the student loan funds.
Let's look at one more example: If a student enrolls in only 2 classes, or 6 hours, and one of those classes starts at the beginning of the semester, but the other one doesn't start until a month and a half later, and the student is receiving student loan funds, the first disbursement would NOT go out until that second class began. This is because the student would not be half time until that mini-session began.
Caveat: For those students who were awarded prior to the census date and who are receiving federal grant funds, they MUST BE ENROLLED in the mini-session class(es) BY the CENSUS DATE to be eligible for that award.
Student's receiving student loans and other types of aid however, can enroll in mini-sessions at any point in the semester. In these cases, the student needs to keep the Financial Aid Office informed so that we can ensure timely disbursement of their student loan or other funds.
What if I didn't meet the priority deadline?
Generally, If you didn't meet the priority deadline, there are a couple of possible scenarios.
Since the Financial Aid Office processes files in the order in which they were received**, if you missed the priority deadline but still submitted your paperwork near that date, there is a chance that your aid will be awarded prior to payment deadline (although this cannot be guaranteed.) If that is the case, the information in the section above will most likely apply to you.
If your aid has not posted to your account prior to payment deadline, you will be responsible for paying your balance before or at that time. However, we will continue to process your file in order, and if your aid posts by census date, your refund will probably go out in the first check run as described in the section above, although loans may take longer due to additional processing requirements.
For additional information, please see the other Financial Aid sections on this web site.
For specific questions, please feel free to contact us at the phone numbers provided on the About Us page.
*We use the term "estimated financial aid award" because students are initially awarded aid based on full time enrollment. Because aid is adjusted on census date to the actual enrollment/attendance, the award may be more or less than that initial award.
**The date a file is assigned for processing is based on the date the last piece of information or last form was submitted. A file is not considered ready to process until all required information has been submitted. For this reason, it is very important that students check their Cougar Web and/or email frequently and submit any required forms or information as soon as possible.