Frequently Asked Questions
You can also watch Financial Aid videos online on our FA TV and get your questions answered by clicking on FATV.
Q. What is student financial aid?
A. Financial aid is money from federal, state, and private institutions used to pay college costs. There are two general types of aid: gift aid and self-help aid.
- Gift aid: The two types of gift aid are grants and scholarships. Grants and scholarships are similar- aid given to a student for which the student does not have to work or have an obligation to repay.
- Self-help aid: There are also two kinds of self-help aid, employment and loans. Employment- part time campus or off campus job. Loans-money used to pay current expenses with an obligation for repayment at some future time, usually with interest.
Note: MJC does not participate in any loan programs except for the Nursing Program Loan.
Q. How do I apply for financial aid?
A. You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Cal Dream Act Application.
FAFSA filers: Apply online at www.fafsa.gov. You will need an FSA ID so you can electronically sign the FAFSA. An FSA ID can be obtained at www.fsaid.ed.gov. If you are a dependent student, also get an FSA ID for your parent. Alternatively, you can complete a PDF FAFSA (Note: PDF FAFSA's must be mailed for processing) or request a paper FAFSA by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). If you are hearing impaired, please contact the TTY line at 1-800-730-8913. You will then need to mail the completed application in the envelope provided. Whether you apply online or with a paper application, use the appropriate FAFSA School Code for all of the schools you are considering. MJC's federal school code is 001240.
Dream Act filers: You may apply online at www.caldreamact.org. You will need a User ID and Password so you can electronically sign the Cal Dream application. If you are a dependent student, also get a PIN number for your parent. MJC's school code for the Cal Dream application is 00124000.
In addition to the FAFSA or Cal Dream Act application, a separate form may be required to apply for a Cal Grant, called the GPA Verification Form. A GPA Verification Form may be completed and mailed to the California Student Aid Commission. The form is available by accessing the Cal Grant website at www.calgrants.org. The MJC Student Financial Services Office submits GPA's electronically for students who have completed a minimum of 16 degree-applicable units and have attended MJC within the last five years. You may log on to Pirates Net to verify your GPA has been submitted.
Q. What are college costs?
A. College costs vary widely. Most of the difference is in tuition and fees, which are lower at public institutions. Other costs are much the same at public or private institutions. Costs that are generally considered are: tuition, fees, books and supplies, room, meals, personal expenses and transportation.
Q. I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?
A. Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don't qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. The financial aid application is free. There is no good excuse for not applying.
Q. Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
A. Yes you should apply for financial aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have 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.
Q. How do I know if I am dependent or independent and who’s information I need to
provide on the FAFSA or Cal Dream Act application?
A. Answer all questions in this step to determine if you will need to provide parental information.
- Were you born before October 1, 1993?
- As of today, are you married? (Also answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced.)
- At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
- Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017?
- Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2017?
- At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
- Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2015, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2015, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2015, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
If you (the student) answered "No" to every question you are considered dependent and must provide parent information.
If you answered "Yes" to any question you are considered independent and do not have to provide parent information.
Q: What are the eligibility requirements for financial aid?
A: You must meet the following criteria:
- Be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen
- Demonstrate financial need as determined by an analysis of your FAFSA information
- Be enrolled in a degree, certificate or transfer program at Modesto Junior College
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent, or pass an "ability to benefit" (ATB) test prior to receipt of Federal funds
- Be registered with Selective Service, if applicable. (Males born after 12/31/1959)
- Demonstrate financial need as determined by an analysis of your Cal Dream Act application information
- Be enrolled in a degree, certificate or transfer program at Modesto Junior College
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent, or pass an "ability to benefit" (ATB) test prior to receipt of State funds
- Be registered with Selective Service, if applicable. (Males born after 12/31/1959)
Q: Must I be enrolled full-time to receive financial aid?
A: Depending on your eligibility, you may receive financial aid if you are enrolled in fewer than 12 units. The amount you receive is based on the number of units in which you are enrolled.
Q: Will my fee waiver cover my books? How often do I need to apply?
A: The Board of Governor's Fee waiver (BOGW) covers the cost of enrollment only. You need to apply for the BOGW once each academic year. You may have a BOG Fee Waiver if you already filed a 2016-2017 financial aid application.
Q. Am I Eligible for Financial Aid?
A. A student is eligible for Financial Aid if he/she satisfies the following criteria:
- Have a high school diploma, GED (or equivalency), or have passed an independently administered “Ability to Benefit” test approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Be enrolled in an eligible program leading to an associate degree, certificate or transfer to a university.
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen. (FAFSA filers only) Eligible non-citizens: U.S. Permanent Residents with an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-551) or Conditional Permanent Residents (I-551C) or those with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) showing the designations of Refugee, Asylum Granted, Parole or Cuban-Haitian Entrant.
- Submit all required forms and documents requested by the Financial Aid Office.
- Meet and maintain satisfactory academic progress requirements for financial aid.
- Have financial need, as demonstrated by a financial aid office review of your completed financial aid application.
- Be registered with the Selective Service if you are a male at least 18 years of age.
- Do not owe a refund or a repayment on a federal grant.
- Not be in default on a federal educational loan.
- Have a valid Social Security Number (FAFSA filers only).
- Dependent students must also provide parents’ Social Security numbers if applicable.
Q. What is the income threshold for a family before financial aid is not offered to a student?
A. There is no income threshold for student aid eligibility. All of the questions on the financial aid application are used to determine the Expected Family Contribution which results in the financial aid award put together by the school. A family may have too much income to be awarded a Pell Grant, but this does not mean that they will not be eligible for other types of financial aid.
Q. Financial Aid Deadlines. Are there any?
A. The priority processing period for the FAFSA, Cal Dream Act application and GPA Verification form is October 1 through March 2. You may still submit a FAFSA after March 2nd, however, if you apply after the March 2nd deadline you will not receive priority consideration for a Cal Grant. You can still be considered for other types of financial aid.
Q. Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid at a particular university?
A. No. You can apply for financial aid any time after October 1. To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted and enrolled at a college or university.
Q. Why can't I submit my financial aid application before October 1?
A. The need analysis process for financial aid uses the family's income and tax information from the most recent tax year (the base year) to judge your eligibility for need-based financial aid during the upcoming academic year (the award year). Since the base year ends December 31, you cannot submit a financial aid application until October 1. After all, your parents might earn a year-end bonus or realize capital gains from selling stocks on December 31. If you submit the financial aid application before October 1, it will be rejected.
Q. I am paying for college on my own. Why do I have to submit my parent's information on my financial aid application?
A. Congress, in the law that governs the federal student aid programs, defines when parental information is required. Being claimed on a parent's tax return is not relevant to determining dependency. It is also not relevant if the family's decision is that paying for college is the responsibility of the student. A student becomes independent when they meet one of the conditions described on the financial aid application. Congress' intention is to establish the primary responsibility for a student's education is the student's and student's family for their undergraduate degree.
Q. Where can I get a copy of the FAFSA?
A. It is recommended that you submit your FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov
Alternatively, you can complete a PDF FAFSA (Note: PDF FAFSAs must be mailed for processing) or request a paper FAFSA by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). If you are hearing impaired, please contact the TTY line at 1-800-730-8913.You will then need to mail the completed application in the envelope provided.
Q. Is filing on the Web really faster?
A. Yes, electronic filing is faster than filing a paper form. In fact, it may be as many as 14 days faster if you sign your application with your FSA ID as soon as you complete it.
TIP: FAFSA on the Web also edits your application before you submit it. This helps ensure that the data you submit is ready to be processed.
Q. How soon after October 1 should the FAFSA form be sent in? Is it better to wait until the income tax forms have been completed?
A. Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1. Do not wait until your taxes are done. Although it is better to do your taxes early, it is o.k. to use estimates of your income, so long as they aren't very far off from the actual values. You will have an opportunity to correct any errors later. If you wait too long, you might miss the deadline for state aid. Most states require the FAFSA to be submitted by March 1, and some even as early as mid-February.
Q. I submitted in my FAFSA over four weeks ago but haven't heard anything. What should I do?
A. If you haven't received a Student Aid Report (SAR), you can go to www.fafsa.gov and print a copy of your Student Aid Report. If you have trouble accessing your SAR, you may call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (toll free) or 1-319-337-5665. You must provide them with your Social Security number and date of birth as verification.
Q. How do I request my tax return transcript from the IRS?
A. Click on"IRS" for instructions.
Q. Are work-study earnings taxable?
A. The money you earn from Federal Work-Study is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than half-time).
Federal Work-Study earnings during the calendar year should be included in the totals for Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). The student should also be careful to report amounts based on the calendar year, not the school year. You should recieve W-2s at the end of January.
Q. I got an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?
A. Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from outside sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office.
Q. Where can I get information about federal student financial aid?
A. Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)
or 1-800-730-8913 (if hearing impaired) and ask for 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.
Q. Where can I get information about state student financial aid?
A. Call the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) toll free at 1-888-224-7268.
Q. Where do I get financial aid forms?
A. The FAFSA and FAFSA worksheets are available at www.fafsa.gov You can also check with your local high school counselor's office or the financial aid office at a college or university near you.
Q. Where can I get help if I have questions about the financial aid forms?
A. You can contact the Student Financial Services Office if you have questions about the FAFSA or Cal Dream Act application. If you have questions specifically about the FAFSA, you can also call the Federal Student Aid Center at 1-800-433-3243.
Q. Can I use Corrections on the Web to make corrections or updates to an application
I have already submitted?
A. Yes. If the information you entered on your FAFSA was incorrect as of the day you signed the FAFSA, you can use Corrections on the Web to correct your answers.
You cannot change:
- Your Social Security Number (SSN). If your SSN is incorrect, you must complete a new application with the correct SSN.
- Your financial information, unless it was incorrect as of the day the FAFSA was submitted.
- Your marital status, unless it was incorrect as of the day the FAFSA was submitted.
If you feel you have unusual circumstances that should be considered after your FAFSA is processed, you should contact your school's financial aid office to find out how you might be able to correct your application
Q. I submitted my FAFSA under the wrong Social Security Number (SSN) or name. What
should I do?
A. If your SSN is incorrect, you must fill out a new FAFSA with your correct SSN. The application you already submitted cannot be deleted from the database. Contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 1-800-730-8913 (if hearing impaired). Also, tell your school's financial aid office that the database may contain two applications under your name or SSN and let the school know which application is correct.
Q. What if my FAFSA application is missing signatures?
A. You can apply missing signatures in any of the following ways:
1. If you have an FSA ID you can electronically sign your application by selecting "Sign Electronically With Your FSA ID" under the "Filling Out a FAFSA" section of the home page.
2. Select "Check Status of a Submitted FAFSA" or "Print Signature Page" under the FAFSA Follow-Up section of the home page to print a signature page, then sign it and mail it in.
3. If you have a paper Student Aid Report (SAR), sign and mail it in.
4. Check with the Student Financial Services Office to see if they are able to apply your signatures electronically.
EFC - Expected Family Contribution
TI - Total Income
ATI - Allowances Against Total Income
STX - State and Other Tax Allowance
EA - Employment Allowance
IPA - Income Protection Allowance
CAI - Contribution from Available Income (Independent Student)
DNW - Discretionary Net Worth
APA - Education Savings and Asset Protection Allowance
PCA - Parents' Contribution from Assets
AAI - Adjusted Available Income
TPC - Total Parents' Contribution
TSC - Total Student's Contribution
PC - Parents' Contribution
SIC - Dependent Student's Income Contribution
SCA - Dependent Student's Contribution from Assets