Financial Aid Questions - Iowa College Access Network - ICAN

Financial Aid Questions

What Is a Financial Aid Package?

A financial aid package is the amount of financial aid you can expect to receive. Your package will come in the form of an award letter, which lists your financial aid awards, including the amount you are eligible to borrow in student loans. If you have any questions about the terms or conditions of any of your awards, contact the financial aid office at your college.

Who Can Help Me With a Financial Aid Question?

Start with your college's financial aid office. If you haven't chosen a college yet or if you need more help, please call ICAN. Spanish speakers are available (se habla español).

What Is Verification?

One out of every three applicants is selected by the government to have their paperwork looked at more closely. This is not to punish you, but to make sure the process is working for everyone.

If you are selected:

  • Provide copies of signed tax returns and requested documents.
  • Respond right away so your application is not delayed.

What Is the EFC and How Is It Used to Determine My Financial Aid?

The EFC is your Expected Family Contribution, an index that colleges use to determine your financial aid eligibility. Colleges subtract your EFC from the total cost of attending their school to find out how much financial aid you need.

Who Decides How Much Financial Aid I Receive?

Your college's financial aid office determines your financial aid package by using the information from your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a free form that may be completed without professional assistance via paper or electronic forms provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

The financial aid office will subtract your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the cost of attendance at the college, and that tells them your financial need. They'll try to meet your financial need with any funds that are available to you. These may include grants, scholarships, loans or work-study.

Who Should I Contact About a Question on My Financial Aid Award?

Get in touch with the financial aid office at the college. The staff there has tried to give you the best combination of the different types of aid you are eligible for at that school. Unfortunately, funds are usually limited, and they must be split between you and all the other worthy students.

Will My Financial Aid Package Be the Same Each Year?

Your package won't necessarily stay the same. It could change if your income and assets change, you move on or off campus, or your grades change. Some awards may not be renewable, or you may not meet the renewal criteria. It's important to understand the terms and conditions of the awards you accept. Please note that you must also be making satisfactory academic progress (as defined in your school's catalog) to receive financial aid.

How Do I Decide How Much I Need to Borrow in Student Loans?

Your award letter will tell you the maximum you can borrow in federal student loans, but you may not need to borrow the entire amount. Remember that everything you borrow must be repaid with interest. You should also think about your monthly loan payments after college when you decide how much to borrow.

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